Anne Marie King
By John Elambo
A former player in the Scarborough Basketball Association, Anne Marie King remains grateful to be a part of the SBA community.
“You have a community that is always there, with a history of so many members that share memories, people who may have never met otherwise. Being a part of the SBA keeps you connected,” she said.
King’s family has followed in her footsteps with the SBA. Her daughter, Cyanna — currently is a member of the University of York women’s basketball team — played in the SBA from Grades 7-12, first in house league and then on the rep teams. Her son, who is in second grade, had just started playing in the SBA house league before the pandemic hit.
King is now a teacher and a basketball referee.
“I teach from 8:30 to 3 p.m. and I referee games that start between 3 and 4. I also only referee up to three games during the week and up to three games on the weekend so that I am not taking time away from my family,” she said.
King played in the SBA as a teenager for the Scarborough Lancers, who were coached by Mervin Busby. King appreciates the values Coach Busby instilled in her during her time with the SBA.
“He not only developed me as a player, but he developed me as a person,” she said. “He believed we could be better than we thought we could be and as a result, we became better.”
King has been with the SBA for almost 30 years, where she played house league and rep, mostly for Coach Busby in the 1990s.
Her time with the Lancers were a lot of fun, but also a lot of hard work. There were suicide drills, full-court layup drills and the practicing of a play until it was perfected.
“The Lancers experience was great because there were different age groups,” King said.
“You were always trying to be like a player on the older team and at the same time there was always a younger player trying to play like you.”
Traveling was another thing that she enjoyed, explaining that it was fun and their uniforms were great. King said SBA teams always walked into the gym with a sense of pride.
Her fondest memory in the SBA was traveling with the Lancers to the Peace Games in Indianapolis.
“It was so nice to be able to travel with my team and to compete against Americans and also to be able to enjoy their city and build relationships with other athletes,” she said.
Her other fond memories were when she was traveling on the TTC with her teammates, discussing pregame strategies and laughing or crying post game in the locker room.
Despite her success on the court, King never dreamed of going pro.
“I was happy that I got to play for Humber College after high school and in many competitive women’s and co-ed leagues and tournaments afterwards,” she said.
After her playing career ended, she decided to become a referee, and that reality grew in her late 20s when she noticed a few female referees officiating in the women’s league games.
“It was an eye-opening moment when I realized that women can actually become basketball referees,” she said.
“I was mentored by a female referee and became one myself so that I can be involved in the game whether I played or not. Since then, I have mentored four other females to become officials as well.”
She says the path to becoming a referee wasn’t too difficult, she had to study for a week and then take a course over three days.
“I was successful and have been officiating ever since. It has been almost 10 years now,” she said.
The benefits of being a referee is you can be a part of the game and get exercise without paying or playing. You also have a community of basketball loving referees of all ages, according to King.
“The challenges are that parents think they know the rules better than you do or they think you are being unfair when you really are just calling the game as you see it,” she said.
King does her refereeing in Toronto and Durham high schools and elementary schools, as well as the Ontario Basketball Association (OBA), other rep team games tournaments and in the women’s leagues.
She has also done some coaching in the SBA as well as coaching her school’s soccer, track and field, basketball and cross-country teams.
“I may one day go back into coaching now that I have two younger sons who already love the game of basketball,” she said.
Despite all the responsibilities that she has to meet, King still finds time for the game she loves.
“I actually do still play. My daughter and I played for two seasons on the same team in the most competitive women’s league in Toronto. I said I would retire when she is better than me. She is better but I can’t stop playing,” she said.