Meet the 'Dancing Ref' pumping up Bay Area basketball teams, crowds for nearly 3 decades

"We need a director of enthusiasm, like the hype man."

Chris Alvarez Image
Monday, February 20, 2023
Meet 'Dancing Ref' pumping up Bay Area basketball crowds for decades
For nearly 30 years, Brandon Mason has been using dance on the basketball court to hype up the players and cheering fans.

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- In the heat of a basketball battle, referees don't always see eye to eye with players or coaches. But here in the Bay Area, Brandon Mason is changing that, one call at a time.

"I'm close to the game, I like being around the families and children and I'm just having fun, and I'm getting some exercise," said Mason.

That exercise, comes in the art-form that has him affectionately known as "The Dancing Ref."

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"Every game, I feel like I have the best seat in the house, but I want to approach every game, I want everybody to have fun," said Mason.

Brandon grew up in Berkeley and works as a program coordinator in the counseling center at Berkeley Youth Alternatives. He's been a youth referee for nearly three decades, calling games from the youth to high school level. For two of those decades, dancing has been a major part.

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"One of my mentors when I started said it's okay to put a little mustard on your calls, so he showed me what he meant and I just took it from there," said Mason.

Not only does he have the moves on the court, but the gridiron as well.

"I'm also the director of enthusiasm for the varsity football team and Bishop O'Dowd," said Mason. "My brother-in-law Hardy Nickerson (former Cal and five-time pro bowl NFL linebacker) said we need a director of enthusiasm, like the hype man. I go out there and get the players pumped up and the crowd pumped up."

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Over the decades, he's built quite the following especially in the Christian Youth Organization basketball games.

"There are high school players that have played CYO. So they know me. Parents have seen me, so they know me. So they will come out of the stands and ask 'are you going to dance tonight?' So, wherever I go, they know the dancing ref."

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