NBA first: Two women — Natalie Sago and Jenna Schroeder — to officiate same game

When the Charlotte Hornets and the Orlando Magic tip-off Monday in Amway Center, it will mark a first in NBA history — two women will work on the same officiating crew. 

The league announced Monday that officials Natalie Sago and Jenna Schroeder will share the same court. 

Sean Wright will be the game's third referee. 

In 1997, Violet Palmer and Dee Kantner became the first women to serve as referees in the NBA. It was the first time that women officiated regular-season games in an all-male U.S. professional league. Since then, two female referees have never officiated the same game. 

NBA referees Natalie Sago and Jenna Schroeder will be part of the officiating crew, along with Sean Wright, for tonight’s game between the Hornets and Magic in Orlando. This marks the first time that two female referees will officiate the same NBA game. pic.twitter.com/d1S8K9sAnK

Sago joined the league in 2018 as a full-time NBA official and Schroeder joined in 2019. They both have experience in the NBA G League and the WNBA. 

There have only been seven women to become full-time referees in NBA history with five currently serving on the officiating roster: Simone Jelks, Lauren Holtkamp-Sterling, Ashley Moyer-Gleich, Sage and Shroeder. 

In 2019, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he wanted more female officials in the league. 

"It's an area, frankly, where I've acknowledged that I'm not sure how it was that it remained so male-dominated for so long," said Silver. "Because it's an area of the game where physically, certainly, there's no benefit to being a man, as opposed to a woman, when it comes to refereeing. The goal is: Going forward, it should be roughly 50-50 of new officials entering in the league. Same for coaches, by the way. We have a program, too. There's no reason why women shouldn't be coaching men's basketball."

Contact Analis Bailey at [email protected] or on Twitter @analisbailey.

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