FRESNO, Calif. – Pete and Donna Caldwell have been married for 12 years, but they have known each other for 35 years.
Do you know how they met? On a bus trip to a Fresno State men’s basketball game!
“It was when we were in the PCAA,” smiles Donna. “So we were just traveling, either to Santa Barbara or Long Beach, one of the trips down there. Irvine?”
You’ll have to excuse the Caldwells for not remembering the exact destination. They have been to a LOT of basketball games over the years.
“I guess during the Boyd Grant era is when I started watching Fresno State games,” says Donna, a Fresno State alum and a valley native (Wasco).
Pete Caldwell, meanwhile, is from Wisconsin. After high school he joined the Navy, which brought him out to Lemoore.
His real name is ‘James.’ But nobody calls him that.
“The nickname came from my aunt,” he laughs. “My aunt did not like my father’s name, which was James, so she started calling me ‘Pete’ in the neighborhood and that’s the way it went.”
In high school, Pete Caldwell was a basketball player. Since 1967, he’s been a basketball official. 52 years and counting…
“I’ve done high school, men’s and women’s. I’ve done college men’s and women’s,” he said.
He has also done scrimmages at Fresno State: in the 1990’s when Gary Colson was the head coach and later for Jerry Tarkanian.
“What it does for you, if you do it, it gives you a different insight into how to officiate a basketball game,” says Caldwell. “There’s different levels of officiating with regards to high school and college. It helps you develop your game.”
‘Develop’ is an important word. Pete and Donna Caldwell are members of the Bulldog Foundation, where their goal is development: of the program and the players.
“It gives you a sense of belonging to something and you want to support the athletes, the student-athletes,” says Donna Caldwell. “I enjoyed my time at Fresno State, even though I wasn’t an athlete. But I think it’s important to affect the lives of these young people.”