SIOUX CITY, IOWA (KCAU) – Basketball is more than just a game for many people. The sport creates memories and connections that go beyond the court, with a pair of NAIA basketball referees exemplifying that in Sioux City.

Lauren Thomas is a NAIA referee that has been working the women’s tournament games here in Sioux City while her husband, Blake Thomas, is one of the officials for the men’s tournament in Kansas City. Today is Lauren’s birthday, with Blake making the trip from Kansas City to Sioux City to surprise her. The Conway, Ark. natives met officiating a men’s basketball league.

Blake spoke on the surprise trip and how his plan developed into fruition, making the birthday trip to Sioux City even more memorable.

“I was excited and kind of shocked. I said the same thing, she is usually the one getting me and is really good at surprises because I can be pretty oblivious. So when I thought of my original plan, I thought ‘man, this is going to surprise her really good.’ Then, I went and developed this and said ‘Okay now, this is my One Shining Moment for March Madness,’ Blake Thomas said.

“I was definitely surprised and I was for sure happy. I saw the purple first and then I saw his smile and I’m like ‘I can’t go over there, I’m going to break my concentration and I mean just look at him,” Lauren Thomas added.