ATLANTA (March 7, 2023) — Dee Kantner, who has officiated college women’s basketball for more than 38 years, is the recipient of the 2023 Jostens-Berenson Lifetime Achievement, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association announced today. The award is presented in recognition of Kantner’s lifelong commitment of service to women’s basketball.
Kantner began officiating NCAA Division I women’s basketball in 1984. She has officiated in 25 Women’s Final Four tournaments, including 16 National Championship Games. In 1997, Violet Palmer and she became the first women to referee in the NBA. Kantner officiated in the NBA for five years. Additionally, she has extensive FIBA officiating experience, including the 1994 and 1998 Women's World Championships and the 2000 Olympics. Kantner received the Naismith Award for officiating in 1997. She was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2019 and the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in October of 2022.
Kantner also has served the game in a number of management roles. She was the supervisor of officials for the WNBA in 1997 (its inaugural season) and in 1998. In 2003 and 2004, Kantner was the director of referee development for the WNBA. In 2005, she assumed the role of WNBA supervisor again and remained in that position through the 2016 season. Additionally, she served as the supervisor of officials in the Southeastern Conference from 2000 through 2002. Kantner continues to officiate a full schedule of Division I women’s games and also serves as a clinician at a number of officiating camps and clinics.
Kantner is honored to be the first official to serve on the Kay Yow Cancer Fund Board of Directors and is presently the board’s vice chair. She will become chair in September 2023. Since assuming a position on the Fund’s board four years ago, she has assisted in motivating the referee community to donate approximately $327,000 in the fight against all cancers affecting women in the Play4Kay annual campaigns.
“The Jostens-Berenson Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest honor the WBCA can bestow on any individual. I am pleased to announce that the 2023 recipient is longtime game official, Dee Kantner,” said WBCA Executive Director Danielle Donehew. “Dee is respected and trusted. She has sustained her elite level, demonstrated her ability to grow and evolve at the top of the game, and invested in her peers and the next generation of game officials. The WBCA family of coaches applauds Dee for her innumerable contributions and historic career in her service to the game.”
It is an incredible honor to be this year's recipient of the Jostens-Berenson Lifetime Achievement Award selected by the WBCA,” said Kantner. “To receive this validation from the coaching community for my lifelong work, dedication and passion is truly amazing and humbling. Words simply cannot convey how honored I am.”
The Jostens-Berenson Lifetime Achievement Award is named in honor of the late Senda Berenson, who in her role as a physical education instructor at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, introduced “basketball” to her female gym students in 1892. Her actions marked the birth of the women’s game, occurring the year following basketball’s invention by Dr. James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The award has been presented annually since 1984 and is sponsored by Jostens, a longtime corporate partner of and the official ring and commemorative awards provider for the WBCA. Until 2006, it was called the Jostens-Berenson Service Award.
“Jostens is proud to be a longtime supporter of women’s basketball and it is our distinct honor to partner with the WBCA on this prestigious award,” said Chris Poitras, Jostens GM/SVP of college and pro sports. “Dee Kantner’s passion, dedication and service to the sport for nearly 40 years has been inspirational. We are privileged to honor Dee as the recipient of the 2023 Jostens-Berenson Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Visit www.wbca.org/recognize/ to see a list of past recipients.
Jostens is a trusted partner in the academic and achievement channel, providing products, programs and services that help its customers celebrate moments that matter. The company's products include yearbooks, publications, jewelry and consumer goods that serve the K-12 educational, college and professional sports segments. Founded in 1897 and based in Minneapolis, Minn., Jostens is owned by Platinum Equity and can be found online at www.jostens.com.
About the WBCA
Founded in 1981, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association is the professional association for coaches of women's and girls' basketball at all levels of competition. The WBCA offers educational resources that coaches need to help make themselves better leaders, teachers and mentors to their players; provides opportunities for coaches to connect with peers in the profession; serves as the unifying voice of a diverse community of coaches to the organizations that control the game; and celebrates those coaches, players and other individuals who excel each year and contribute to the advancement of the sport. Visit WBCA.org for more details about the association.
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