Michael Webster is used to Friday night basketball in Lexington.
The 2004 Boyd County graduate routinely gets to call some of the best high school games in the state.
This Friday, though, Webster will be running with the Wildcats.
Big Blue Madness, Kentucky basketball’s first official practice, takes the state’s center stage at Rupp Arena. Webster was invited to be one of the officials for the men’s scrimmage game, the feature event of the evening.
“I probably won’t have to blow my whistle one time, but it’ll be a great experience to run up and down the court with those guys,” Webster said.
In his eighth year of officiating, Webster has called high school and small college games.
The third-year Tates Creek Middle School P.E. teacher mainly works 10th and 11th Region games. This past March, he was an official for a 16th Region Tournament first round game between Rowan County and Fairview before finishing up the week in the 9th Region Tournament.
He’s been in black and white stripes on Rupp Arena’s floor before, but not in front of a capacity crowd. The arena holds nearly 25,000 fans.
“I’ll have the best seat in the house,” said Webster, who will take in all of the other festivities from the floor, including the introductions of both the women’s and men’s teams and the women’s game.
“Coming just after (Kentucky’s) eighth national title, there will be a big celebration for that,” Webster said. “I’m sure there will be some celebrities down there. They talked about possibly having last year’s national championship team there. And all the recruits coming in too. I should be in awe.
“Hopefully I can’t screw anything up,” he laughed.
Webster has been an official for three of Kentucky coach John Calipari’s live scrimmages in the Joe Craft Center the past three years.
“I’ll probably stay away from Coach Cal,” Webster said in reference to Friday night’s game. “He usually blows the whistle for us. He runs the show.
“I love watching Coach Cal and (assistant coach Orlando Antigua).”
Webster received this unique invitation with much thanks to Bart Lenox. Lenox is currently a Division I official and a good friend of Webster’s.
According to Webster, the rare opportunity didn’t look promising for a while.
“I heard that I was going to get the chance, but then I heard they were going to go away from using local officials,” he said. “But I got the call (on Monday) and asked if I’d be interested.”
Webster plans to return to the area in December to be an official for a high school basketball showcase, featuring nationally renowned teams, set to take place at Boyd County Middle School.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2664.