Prep sports are usually a path to larger dreams for the athletes themselves, but occasionally they provide opportunities for the adults who work in them as well. That was certainly the case in Minnesota this week, when longtime high school boys basketball official Kevin Baker was tabbed to go on tour as an official for the Harlem Globetrotters.
According to MinnesotaPreps.com, Baker was informed of the Globetrotters call-up while working the Minnesota Comet Shootout, leaving him just two days to prepare for a week-long run with the world's longest-running basketball tour. Not surprisingly, Baker was more than happy to oblige with the short notice.
"I was offered a refereeing job with the Harlem Globetrotters, and I'm leaving Tuesday to join the red team to go out for the last week of the U.S. tour," Baker told Minnesota Preps publisher Michael Much. "I'm really excited about that.
"It's like a dream come true because I've been wanting to referee on the highest plateau I could get to, so, hey, what [is higher] than being a Globetrotter?"
The honor is a well deserved one for Baker, a 46-year-old ref who has spent 15 years officiating basketball in Minnesota, predominantly in the Twin Cities area. He will take leave from his position as a Special Education Assistant Autism Teacher to go on tour for the Globetrotters' final few stops on the group's seemingly never ending worldwide campaign.
Whether Baker's brief weeklong trial will lead to a more permanent refereeing gig with the Globetrotters remains to be seen, but the spell at the psuedo-professional level will serve as a career honor for Baker regardless of what the future holds, with a full-time future with the Globetrotters appearing a likely possibility.
"After I come back from a week [on tour], they have training camp in October at their main headquarters," Baker told Minnesota Preps. "I'll go to the training camp, and then I'll be on as a full-time official."