EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso’s Blanca Burns’ rise in the officiating ranks didn’t take long, but her start in the profession is a story worth telling.

Burns was born in Mexico and moved to El Paso when she was five-years-old. She attended Montwood High School and played on the girls varsity basketball team as a sophomore, before moving to Oklahoma with her family. Burns went on to play collegiately, which is where her basketball career took a turn.

“Like any other college student, I was struggling a little bit financially,” said Burns. “My coach told all my teammates and I that they were looking for referees at the YMCA. He told us it would be a good opportunity, it’s not bad money, and I went for it. I started doing three-year-old’s at the YMCA.”

Just eight years later, Burns is officiating men’s college basketball at the Division I level. She officiates in the Big 12 Conference, Missouri Valley Conference, and Conference USA. But the job of an official comes with criticism — some fair, some unfair.

“On the college side, the most challenging part is being one of the only females,” said Burns. “The reality is, is some people might think when they look at a female in a man’s game, they might think, ‘I’m not sure she can handle it.’ So I’m working hard to do a good job. I want to make sure I prove all those people who are doubting females, prove them wrong.”

Burns officiates regularly in the NBA G League, and is already considered a part-time NBA official. She continues to break down barriers, and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

“My only goal was to make it a reality for other females — who are also minorities — who are going to come behind me. One day, I hope they see me out there and say, ‘if she can do it, I can do it,” said Burns. “My ultimate goal would be to work in the NBA [full-time], but also to work in the Olympics. I want to represent Mexico, and when this opportunity [to become an official] presented itself, I absolutely had to take a shot.”

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