WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A Wichita woman is blazing a new trail for female sports officials across the state.

When Wamego’s undefeated football team visits Clearwater Friday night, the head referee will not be a man. For the first time in Kansas state high school football history, it will be a woman — a popular, up-and-coming official who’s become a leader among high school sports officials in the Wichita area.

It’s not unusual to see women officiating high school sports across Kansas. Carmen Doramus-Kinley has worn a whistle for volleyball matches and basketball games in the Wichita area since 2011.

“Four years ago, I started football and been doing it ever since,” said Doramus-Kinley.

Carmen Doramus-Kinley standing among other referees at a high school football game (Courtesy: Rich Norrod)

She also officiates small college football games in the area.

“I was very blessed last year to be hired full-time in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference. We also work KCAC (Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference) games. I was the first female on the line of scrimmage to be hired. Not the first female. Taylor Dar was actually led the way for me,” said Doramus-Kinley.

But this Friday night, Doramus-Kinley will make Kansas state high school history when she becomes the first female to wear the white hat or to be the head referee at a football game.

“I found out probably late summer, early fall when our season, our schedule came out. They just came up to us and said hey, do you want this opportunity? Absolutely,” said Doramus-Kinley. “I have to thank the Kansas State High School Activities Association, Bob Benoit, Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League, my husband (who is also a football referee), and my crew for giving me this opportunity to do this.”

The Clearwater High School and Southwestern College graduate understands the significance of being the first female white hat.

“Yes, just knowing that I’m going to be a referee. It’s what everyone wants in that position, you know. Everyone wants their own crew, and to be given that opportunity to do this is amazing,” said Doramus-Kinley. “I’ve been working really hard. I think the hardest thing is having a microphone and knowing that you’re doing a job but knowing you have everyone that’s going to be listening to you. So, I’ve been practicing my announcements. I’m nervous, but I’m very thoroughly excited to have this opportunity.”

Bob Benoit, the commissioner of the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League, says Doramus-Kinley earned it.

“That’s amazing. I have been at the line of scrimmage on my varsity crews, but to have this opportunity as the white hat, the referee, and that he has said that really means a lot,” said Benoit.

And it means a lot to this mother of a 10-year-old to serve as a role model.

“My son is my world, and I do want him to see that mommy is doing stuff and breaking ground and being the first in so many places and areas that he knows that, of course, he can do anything he wants to do as a boy,” said Doramus-Kinley. “As for little girls, if there’s a little girl in this stands, and if they say ‘mommy or daddy. That ref is a girl. Maybe one day I can be like that.’ That would be awesome.”