Making another short trip back home from being a professional official on the NCAA Division 1 level, Gina Cross recently was a guest speaker to share some encouraging words of inspiration to fifth grade students at Beryl Henry Elementary School in Hope.

Making another short trip back home from being a professional official on the NCAA Division 1 level, Gina Cross recently was a guest speaker to share some encouraging words of inspiration to fifth grade students at Beryl Henry Elementary School in Hope.

Cross, who currently officiates men's and women's college basketball games as well as overseas professionally, travels all over the world to maintain a successful career as an veteran official-referee.

Going up, Cross has always been a fan of the game of basketball. As a 1992 graduate of Nevada High School, in Rosston, she was an outstanding player for the Lady Jays. She was apart of the 1992 state championship team for the Nevada Lady Jays with Judy Bourne as head coach.

She went on to graduate from Southern Arkansas University in 1996 with a B.S. in Chemistry and played basketball for the Lady Muleriders two years under the late head coach Glenydon Franklin. She earned her Master’s in Computer Science from Webster University of St. Louis.

Her skill, knowledge and ability in the game of basketball, has given her the great opportunity to be a collegiate division I women’s official. 

For almost 20 years, she has officiated numerous women's basketball games from all the conferences of top university’s in the nation such as; Big 10, Big 12, the SEC (Southeastern Conference), the Sun Belt Conference and all the conference tournaments. Her experience of officiating has allowed her to call games on the professional level overseas for international championships of women’s basketball.

Due to March being "Woman's Achievement Month", Cross was invited to speak to her sister's fifth grade science classes about her career and provide some inspirational words to the students on achieving goals. Suzanne Watkins, a science teacher at BHE in Hope Public School District is very close with her sister Gina (Cross) and was delighted that she could share some empowering words of encouragement to her classes.

Cross, loves her job and expressed to the BHE students to embrace life, get an education and explore new life experiences. Cross also told the students to never let anyone stop you from achieving goals and to work hard at you want to be in life. She felt it is very important that kids grow up to be successful and dream big for achievement and be examples to other people for the future coming up behind them.

She very passionate about her profession and it's been an amazing experience and journey for her. She's been able to met several big-time names in the pro basketball. Cross has officiated NBA - D league games. She has met several NBA greats such as Hall of Famer's the late Wilt Chamberlain, Julius “Dr.J” Erving and observe NBA All-Star, 4-Time MVP and 3-Time NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James during practice workouts. 

In her duties as a collegiate women’s division I referee, she has officiated games amongst the greatest coaches and players of the Big 12 and SEC such as; Hall of Famer the late Pat Summitt (University of Tennessee Lady Vols head coach, eight NCAA titles, 16 SEC titles ), Hall of Famer Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut Lady Huskies head coach, seven NCAA titles, 15 Big East titles), Gary Blair (University of Texas A&M Lady Aggies head coach, 2011 NCAA title), Van Chancellor (retired coach with four WNBA titles of the Houston Comets, NCAA title coaching LSU Lady Tigers), (Diana Taurasi (Uconn Lady Huskie, three NCAA titles, two WNBA titles with Phoenix Mercury), Maya Moore (Uconn Lady Huskie, two NCAA ties, 1st overall WNBA draft pick 2010), Candace Parker (University of Tennessee, WNBA all-star, MVP 2008), and Chamique Holdsclaw (University of Tennessee, NCAA titles, six time WNBA all-star, 1st draft pick 1999 of Washington Mystics).

Because of her love for the game of basketball, Cross believed becoming a referee was a good tool to stay on the hardwood of the sport she desires.

“It’s a passion, I love it, and it’s an adventure,” said Cross.

She finishes out officiating during conference tournaments heading into the NCAA March Madness Tournament, she hopes to be an official at the next Olympics in Tokyo.

Cross currently lives in Nicholasville, Kentucky.