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From Wall Street to the Hardwoods - Joseph Vaszily ’95

From Wall Street to the Hardwoods - Joseph Vaszily ’95
Vaszily is pictured with his colleagues at a game in late 2015.

On April 6, 2014, Joseph Vaszily ’95 stood on the court of Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, taking it all in: Twenty-two thousand screaming fans. All the cameras. The bright lights.

An NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Final Four game — Stanford vs. Connecticut — was just moments away, and Vaszily was filled with excitement and pride. A referee for more than 20 years, Vaszily had officiated countless basketball games, and after years of hard work and moving up the ranks, he had finally reached the top of his profession.

“I definitely felt butterflies, but they were good butterflies,” he said. “I just remember processing that moment. This was the biggest stage of our sport, and to be on that stage was such a blessing and an honor.”

The scene that night in Nashville was quite a bit different from the day Vaszily was handed a whistle and asked to referee a Scranton intramural game as a senior. Enjoying the challenge, he later went on to officiate for CYO leagues to make some extra cash on the weekends. It was a fun second job, he thought, but not a career. He was on the business track.

“I thought coming out of school that accounting would be my trade, taking the path to partner, going that direction,” he said. “Basketball was just something fun on the side.”

For many years, the Westfield, New Jersey, resident juggled officiating jobs around a full-time career on Wall Street. His accounting career began at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. After that, he took on various leadership roles at JPMorgan until he joined Goldman Sachs and Company, serving as a vice president of the Fixed Income Sales/Trading Group.

Meanwhile, Vaszily was beginning to get noticed for his referee skills on the court. From the CYO leagues, he had progressed to officiating high school basketball, then college, starting in Division III and working his way up. He gravitated toward women’s basketball when he realized he could advance more quickly.

“I was in the right place at the right time,” Vaszily explained. “I was young and fit, and some people took a liking to me, and I didn’t fall completely on my face. I began to get noticed.”

vaszilyVaszily credits a flexible boss at Goldman who allowed him to travel during basketball season: a tough schedule that could find him in one city one night and another the next.

Despite a hectic schedule holding down two jobs, he also made it a priority to give back to Scranton, serving as a Trustee and member of the President’s Business Council and mentoring students.

“The University gave me so much,” he said. “The Jesuits had a profound influence on me: going to church on campus, celebrating in the community and hearing messages that were personal and real. It put me in the position where I had a great start to my career. I wanted to make sure to give back.”

By 2013, Vaszily was selected as an alternate referee for the Women’s Final Four. He likened getting the phone call to the excitement of opening the perfect gift on Christmas morning. “It’s an exhilarating feeling,” he said. “I knew I wanted to work hard all season to get back there the next year.”

In 2014, he got the call again, and this time he would work the game. He flew his parents to Nashville to celebrate with him. Then, after another successful season, he was invited back to officiate during the Final Four in 2015. Vaszily is keeping his fingers crossed that he is selected for the championship game in 2016.

Vaszily left his career on Wall Street last year to focus on what was once a second job. “When you get to do something you love to do, and are compensated for it, it is a great feeling,” he said.

Still, being an official takes focus, fitness and skill.

“Every year, I get older, but the student-athletes stay the same age,” he said with a laugh. “So every year, I have to work a little harder to keep up with them. But what a privilege it is.”

Caption, above: Vaszily, second from left, before the Final Four game in 2015.

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