SHAKOPEE, Minn. (FOX 9) - A veteran and basketball referee from the Twin Cities has earned quite the acrobatic reputation for himself.
Saturday during an AAU girls’ basketball tournament, referee William Mathews showed off a few athletic moves of his own. When the game ball got stuck behind the backboard, he jumped up to the basket and nimbly put himself into position to kick the ball free.
“I lift weights and when the first one got stuck, I walked up and kind of assessed the situation and thought I could probably,” said Mathews.
Before the day was done, he pulled off the jaw-dropping maneuver two more times.
“I’ve been waiting to get scolded by someone for doing it - hasn’t happened yet,” he said.
Since then, videos captured by amazed onlookers have gone viral. The clips have gotten millions of views and were even picked up by TV producers from Good Morning America to SportsCenter.
“It was just going crazy, I thought this is unbelievable and this is my guy,” said Regina Smith, Mathews' girlfriend.
“I’m thinking the whole time, 'What if he slips?'" said Wayne Doherty, Mathew's dad. "First thing he is going to hit is his head."
At 52 years old, Mathews admits his own basketball days are over. He's been officiating games across the Twin Cities for about five years. His day job is a machine operator and he's a veteran, but perhaps he should add “referee ninja” to his resume.
“Nope no CrossFit, never thought about American Ninja Warrior, but I’m open to the idea, I guess,” said Mathews.
It’s unclear if new nicknames, like Spidey-Ref, from the online response will stick, but Mathews says the reaction has been refreshing.
“It’s rare to get an applause as an official, I’ll take it,” he said.