There’s a fine line on the basketball court between a coach and a referee, two distinctly different positions, that require respect and admiration. And those roles couldn’t be any clearer for the Katus family, a group devoted to the game of basketball, and their roles on the court.
Special moments happen in sports all the time, but few compare to those shared by family.
“To be able to be on the court with your daughter is pretty special,” says Scott Katus. “You know, there’s a lot of people that get to coach their daughters, but not a lot of people get to coach against your daughter or officiate your daughter.”
This week the Katus family got to experience both of those things at once, Scott Katus as the head referee, his wife Heather as the Lemmon girls’ basketball coach, and his daughter Jaci on the opposite bench as the Bowman County coach.
“One of the coolest experiences that I’m probably going to have coaching,” says Jaci Mrnak. “And the fact that we can have our family in the stands watching it too and they get to experience it… we can talk about this in ten years. You know, ‘remember that game that mom and grandma coached against each other, and then we had grandpa on the floor reffing?”
Heather and Jaci have faced off a few times, and Scott has refereed each of their games individually. But it’s the first time in his 25-year career that he’s shared the sidelines with both of them. That doesn’t mean there’s not a clear line when it comes to knowing each other’s roles.
“We don’t talk about it, because when we step on the court I’m the official and they’re the coach and that’s how we are addressed,” says Scott. “We separate the two and afterward, we’ll all go out for supper and we’re a family again, regardless of the outcome of the game.”
The lines are defined, but in a way, only the Katus family would have it.
“He’s not only my husband, he’s probably one of the best officials I’ve seen,” says Heather Katus. “If I’m going to have anybody ref my games I don’t mind having him because on the court he’s an official, I’m a coach, and we walk out the door it’s husband and wife.”
During this game between the Cowgirls and the Bulldogs, there’s no love lost
“I’m kind of a smack talker,” says Jaci. “I get into it.”
But afterward, it’s just another night for this basketball-crazed family.
“Even afterward we’ll talk about it like, what did we both do well? What did we not do well?” says Jaci.
The bond of basketball is something the Katus family will always have, and now their book of memories has a special new chapter.
“It’s a good respect for each other,” says Heather. “And respect for her dad, and my husband, and once we walk out of here we’re just a family that got to experience something that not many people get to.”