Robin BevierRobin Bevier has one piece of advice: be non-descript.  That may sound odd coming from a lawyer.  But from a certified and experienced basketball referee, it makes perfect sense.  “You see, you don’t want the ref to be able to pick you out of the crowd,” she explains.

When Bevier’s youngest child left home for college, and she and her husband became ‘empty nesters’, she realized she would need a hobby.  Although a busy tax, business and estate planning attorney for many family businesses, the time that had been devoted to leading Boy Scouts and coaching youth sports was now at her discretion.  Five years ago, while at a Sacramento Kings game with her husband, she spied one of only two female NBA officials and made the decision to become a certified youth basketball referee.

As a lifelong sports enthusiast, with an enviable grasp of San Francisco 49er trivia, it seemed a natural fit.  But as a 54-year-old non-athlete in predominantly male company, it has been a challenge.  The certification process was rigorous, but not as demanding as the responsibility and physicality of calling a fair game.  “Just because I’m a girl, because I’m the oldest one on the court, I can’t do the job any less; I have to be technically correct.”

She knows from raising her own kids that sports have an important place in their upbringing.  To her, it’s not always about talent, whether you can dribble or dunk, but more about learning accountability, self-esteem and teamwork.  And her goal is to make sure that all deserving kids in our five-county area are able to participate, regardless of cost.

Through officiating, she realized that the fees and requested donations for many leagues can be burdensome for some families.  To make sure that doesn’t prevent anyone from playing, she donates the wages she earns refereeing to her nonprofit, Playing For Keeps. The organization covers the registration fees affiliated with extra-curricular sports.  In exchange, scholarship recipients must have ‘skin in the game’ by covering 10 percent of the cost themselves and serving five hours of community service with a younger child.  “It doesn’t have to be much – helping with homework, teaching how to throw a football.  I just want to teach them to pay, or play, it forward and the ease of giving back.  When we give kids the chance to help, they love it.  It’s inbred in us.”

Bevier currently covers the operating expenses herself but is hoping to grow the grassroots organization to expand beyond sports to include band, drama, FFA, and others.  She urges anyone who has the time to help to contact her for information on how to become a volunteer or donor.

As a professional woman who spends her days guiding family businesses through the process of tax, business and estate planning while still making time to guide and empower youth, it’s clear that Robin Bevier is anything but non-descript.