History will be made on Saturday at Connor Field in Atherton, Calif. when Menlo hosts Whitworth in a non-conference game. For the first time in NCAA history, two women will work as part of the same officiating crew.
Catherine Conti will work as the head lineswoman while Mary Podesta serves as the line judge during Saturday's game. Both are employed by the Northwest Intercollegiate Football Officials Association (NIFOA), which makes assignments for games involving the Northwest Conference (D-III), Great Northwest Athletic Conference (D-II) and Menlo (NAIA Independent).
"The NIFOA and Northwest Conference are proud to be leaders in equality for all and will take another step toward that goal with Cat Conti and Mary Podesta working together as football officials for the Whitworth at Menlo game on October 2nd in Atherton, California," said Mike Burton, long-time Commissioner of NIFOA. "Both Cat and Mary were hired after being evaluated in their high school and community college careers and they were rated at the top in officiating ability. This first comes about due to their ability and skill. The NIFOA and Northwest Conference have some of the finest football officials in the country. As commissioner of the NIFOA I am proud to have them on my staff."
A crew from the Northwest Conference worked the 2009 Stagg Bowl, the NCAA Division III football championship game, in Salem, Va., last December.
Conti has worked the last five years in the Southern California community college leagues. She was rated the top line judge in their association before being hired by NIFOA. This year Conti worked the Southern Arkansas at Texas State game for the Southland Conference (FCS) and also was hired by the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference for five games. She works full time as high school teacher.
Podesta is originally from the Bay Area and is a former NCAA DI volleyball player. She is a coach and athletic director at Menlo-Atherton High School and was rated one of the top officials from the Northern California community college league were she worked for four years.
Ty Halpin, the NCAA’s liaison to the Football Rules Committee and College Football Officiating, LLC (CFO), confirmed to Burton on Tuesday that it is the first time two women will work the same officiating crew for a game involving an NCAA member institution.