Donna Vavrinec may be a retired high school Science teacher, but she hasn’t quite retired from the world of officiating. Her love for officiating started at a young age and her strong skills in the field have led her to the highest levels in several sports.
As a varsity field hockey athlete at Notre Dame High School in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Donna was given the opportunity to take special Physical Education classes, and it was there that she was taught how to officiate basketball. She was fortunate to have many positive role models and mentors who helped her improve along the way, including her parents, her Physical Education teacher Ann Deluca, and fellow basketball officials Joan Joyce, Brenda Reilly and Debbie Chin, to name a few.
In her senior year of high school, Donna took the DGWS basketball officiating test and became certified. After graduating in 1971, Donna went on to play field hockey at Plymouth State College. She worked as an official while in college. After graduating with a BS in Social Science in 1975, Vavrinec was hired as a science teacher at Norwalk High School in 1976. While at Norwalk, Vavrinec worked as an assistant basketball coach for eight years but officiating was really her true love. After attending basketball officiating camp, Donna started to move up in the profession.
Donna became involved in officiating other sports as well, refereeing field hockey, basketball and softball games. She became a member of the CBCBO/NAGWS in 1971 and continued her membership until 1996, serving as District 1 Director of the CBCBO for a period of time. She served as a State Tournament basketball official from 1981-1990 and officiated at the college level from 1989-1996, working for several different conferences at the Division I, II & III levels. She officiated the NCAA D-III Regional tournament in 1991 and the NCAA Division I Regional tournament in 1994-95 as well as Conference tournaments for the MAAC, Patriot and Northeast Conferences. She is a USA certified official and has worked at collegiate-international games and also officiated the USA selection of the Olympic team in 1996. Donna has also taught and trained new officials at high school and college basketball camps and has served as a Conference Observer for the NEC and MAAC Conferences (Division I).
As a field hockey official, Donna has been assigned to Connecticut State tournament games, has served as an assigner, and is a member of the Connecticut Field Hockey Executive Board Official in charge of training and development of officials. For her work and devotion to the sport of officiating, Donna was named “Umpire of the Year” in 2009.
Donna was inducted into the CT ASA Hall of Fame as the first fast pitch female umpire for softball and she was inducted into the CT Women’s Scholastic and Collegiate Softball Hall of Fame. She received the 2000 Pathfinder Award from CAHPERD given to an individual who has made positive contributions to women in sports. She has served as a National Observer for the NCAA Softball Umpire program and worked as a camp clinician. Vavrinec has umpired 4 Division I National Championships, 2 Division II National Championships, and 8 Division III Softball National Championships. She has officiated many Regional and Super Regional tournaments as well as Conference Championships for the Atlantic-10, Big East, ACC and Big Ten. Most recently, Donna was hired as the NCAA Softball Umpire National Coordinator.