Patti Fernandes’ passion for basketball started in the fifth grade, when she was growing up in the south end of Stratford, Connecticut. She was a three-sport athlete at Stratford High School from 1975-78, playing volleyball, basketball, and softball. She played guard for Coach Barbara Hall, who Patti credits with having the greatest influence on her playing career. After graduation, Patti attended Illinois State University, where she played softball and basketball while earning a degree in Physical Education.
In the mid 1980’s, Patti began her refereeing career, starting with Connecticut High School girls’ basketball games. Officiating allowed Patti to stay active in the games yet divorced from the stresses of coaching. She continued to work many high school games until the mid 1990’s. She also refereed numerous college Division I, II, and III games during that time. Patti’s talents were recognized as she was selected to officiate the NCAA Division II Women’s National Championships in 1999 and 2001. She credits Louise Albrecht and Margie Wright with having the greatest influence on her officiating career. Watching both of these women -- who she greatly admired and respected --succeed and be recognized as a premier Division I officials, motivated Patti to devote herself to the leadership and service in the game of women’s basketball. She continues to referee Division I and II games.
Patti’s enthusiasm for the game of basketball has not diminished. Her goal has always been to the women athletes themselves by setting an example of independence, self-reliance and a spirit of cooperation. She would like to see players, coaches, and referees work every aspect of the game – coaches try officiating; refs try coaching; players try both coaching and officiating. She feels it would provide balance and a different perspective for all involved in the game.
Patti was the first female to be inducted into the Stratford High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998. She retired from Southern CT State University in 2004 as an instructor in exercise science and head volleyball and softball coach and earned a Master’s degree in Sports Psychology in 2006 and a sixth year degree in Public Health.