Wagenson makes history by officiating in Football State semi-final – Reuters Sports News

MJ Wagesonwho is a member of the Rochester Area Officials Association, made history last week when she became the first female official to appear in the semifinals of a Minnesota State High State Tournament football game. School League.

Wagenson was part of the Rochester-based team that officiated Barnsville and Jackson County Central’s Class AA semifinal game Friday at US Bank Stadium.

“It’s extremely exciting,” Wagenson said. “Anytime you have the opportunity to compete in a state tournament, in any sport, it’s an honor.”

Wagenson said the Minnesota State High School League “did a great job” supporting Crews at the tournament. The only downside was that the game started at 9am and the officials had to be there at 7:30am.

“It’s a team effort,” Wagenson said. “There are five of us on the crew and we’ve worked hard to make it happen and do it the right way and also serve our student-athletes in this corner of the state.”

Wagenson was part of a team that made it to a state quarterfinal game last season.

Wagenson, 61, is from Wisconsin. She moved to the Rochester area after graduating from Winona State University in the 1980s and currently resides in Plainview. She started officiating in 1987 and currently works volleyball, football, softball and basketball games at the high school and college level.

She was also the first woman from Minnesota to officiate in a men’s basketball state tournament game, which took place in 2016. She has officiated at the women’s basketball state tournament several times, and the first time was in the early 1990s.

“It’s an honor every time you’re selected to do this,” she said. “It’s just fun and exciting.”

Her fall was very busy as she worked two or three football games a week, some below college level. She’s done with football for this season, but already started officiating college basketball games several weeks ago.

She also teaches community education as well as driver training.

“There’s only so many nights in a week you can do that,” Wagenson said of the refereeing.

During the summer, Wagenson still plays slowpitch softball and was an avid racquetball player.

With everything Wagenson has to do to run, she’s had to change her training philosophy over the years to stay in shape.

“I said in the 80s it was (refereeing) exercise,” she said. “Now I practice to be able to referee because the children are always the same age. When you step onto the pitch they are always 15, 16, 17. So I train every day and try to stay on top. As long as my body holds out, I will officiate.

Wagenson said she still loves work games and likes everyone she meets. Some of the athletes she has called games over the years have now become coaches, activity directors, teachers, or she says she encounters them in other aspects of life.

“It’s just a great network of people,” she said. “And it’s also a fantastic way to stay involved in the sport. And to see all the good things they do to bring sports and sporting events to kids is heartwarming.

Guy N. Limbeck is sports editor for the Post Bulletin. His local blog appears every Tuesday. He can be reached at

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