Family Bonds and Basketball

Tim LaScala has been officiating for Special Olympics New Jersey basketball for 10 years. Little did he know that volunteering would turn into a family affair by the time the 2015 World Summer Games rolled around.

Members of the LaScala family are familiar faces at Riverwinds Community Center, location of the Special Olympics South basketball season. Tim has been a referee for years and recently became a volunteer officials coordinator. His wife, June, daughter, Lisa, and son, T.J. have kept score for basketball games.

Pictured (Left to Right): TJ, Lisa, June, Tim

Tim volunteered as an official under the guidance of Richard “Mike” Bartello, who coordinated referees at the time. Mr. Bartello passed away in 2015, leaving Tim to take his place.

"[Bartello] was a mentor and father figure to me,” said Tim.

Mr. Bartello passed away in 2015 at the age of 82.

Tim now leads the officials of Camden Board 34 that volunteer for the Special Olympics basketball season from mid-January to Spring Games in Wildwood at the end of March.

Lisa and June volunteer when they can and keep score for games.

June LaScala sometimes accompanied her husband to Wildwood during the Spring Games, but didn’t get heavily involved until the Special Olympics World Games that took place in Los Angeles in 2015. She and her daughter, Lisa, volunteered with spectator services. Both June and Lisa worked to control the crowds and cheer on athletes. Even after the Games, they still show up to Riverwinds for the regular SONJ basketball season.

“I used to be a cheerleader, so I like to cheer [the athletes] on and see how they do,” said Lisa.

Tim “T.J.” LaScala followed his father’s footsteps when he got his referee license this year. While Tim has been coordinating referees, T.J. has taken his dad’s place on the court.

“It’s fun,” he said on working with his father.

Tim speaks to some referees, including his son.

T.J started volunteering years ago to fulfill community service hours for the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD). His previous experience with basketball allowed him to be a scorekeeper at the 2015 World Games. T.J. now has his official license and volunteers regularly for Special Olympics basketball. He also plays on a Unified basketball team at Rowan University, and participated in the Shriver Cup held on April 2. Rowan won the Shriver College Cup Division 1 Championship, so T.J. will be heading to Ohio with his team to compete in the NIRSA National Basketball Tournament end of this month.

2017 is the first year T.J. started volunteer refereeing.

“I want to reach the college level,” said TJ, in regarding to being a referee. “But I’m still going to officiate with Special Olympics every year.”

Tim, June, and T.J. still volunteer at Riverwinds when they can. “I wish I could stay more involved,” said Lisa. “Unfortunately I got a new job and work Sundays.”

Even though the Special Olympics basketball season is over for 2017, the LaScalas are sure to be found at Riverwinds and Wildwood next year.

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