NOTE: This is part of a series of biographies about inductees to the Kitsap Athletic Roundtable’s 2019 Kitsap County Sports Hall of Fame. The HOF Banquet is Saturday, Jan. 26 at Kiana Lodge. A social hour begins at noon with lunch at 1 p.m. and induction at 1:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at kitsapathleticroundtable.org.

Nancy Kelstrup has been officiating basketball games for more than 22 years for the Peninsula Basketball Officials Association (PBOA). She retired as an active official in the 2018-19 basketball season, but still contributes to the association as an observer of officials for training purposes. Kelstrup was one of seven women in the 70-plus member association and rated as one of the top officials. 

A high school athlete before programs were made available for girls, Kelstrup played on recreational softball and basketball teams through the local leagues. The highlight of her athletic career occurred when her Brem-Air slowpitch team placed second in state one year. The birth of her children reset her priorities and she became a coach for many of her children’s teams. She assisted as the girls basketball coach at Fairview Junior High and helped out Rick Peters coach women’s basketball at Olympic College for one season. 

Nancy Kelstrup was named the 2019 Dick Todd Award winner and will be inducted into the KAR Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019.  (Courtesy photo)
Nancy Kelstrup was named the 2019 Dick Todd Award winner and will be inducted into the KAR Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. (Courtesy photo)

But it was officiating that became Kelstrup’s passion. She would officiate as many as 150 games in a season as well as holding down a full-time job with the Central Kitsap School District as the Athletic Secretary and Associated Student Body bookkeeper at Olympic High School (OHS). Nate Andrew, OHS Athletic Director, said she brings tremendous energy and focus to the job while making sure the high school athletic program is doing the little things right. 

Kelstrup spent thousands of dollars going to camps trying to improve her craft. Her diligence and experience allowed her to officiate Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) women’s games, plus high school (boys and girls) varsity and junior varsity, junior high (boys and girls), rec-league games, and a few peewee games, where the more experienced officials are paired with new refs. She was selected to officiate in NWAC Championship tournaments and state high school tournaments at the Tacoma Dome. As the numbers in the PBOA decreased, she was assigned to fewer lower-level peewee games — Kelstrup stated that was not a bad thing as there’s almost nobody worse than a peewee parent, and a peewee coach falls right in there, too. 

Professional is a pretty good word to describe how Kelstrup went about her business. Her strength was in empathizing with coaches and being able to manage the game. In basketball officiating, you have to be a good people-manager. She knew when to step in and draw the line. All officials miss calls, but controlling the game is the big thing. Kelstrup understood the game, had the ability to take charge, was a good crew member, and enjoyed the game. Kelstrup saw her role as an unsung necessity of the sport, just part of the game. 

Kelstrup chose to walk away from officiating to spend more time with her family which includes husband, Gary, three grown children, and grandchildren. She enjoyed the relationships she made with other officials and knows they have challenging days ahead on the hardwood. For Kelstrup, it was worth all the time spent, even if most people don’t realize how hard officials work. 

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