“He did a lot of good for the game” Glen Gavel remembered as more than just one of PA’s top basketball referees

Submitted photo. Longtime Prince Albert basketball ref Glen Gavel passed away on April 30.

If you happened to be at a high school basketball game in Prince Albert and area in the last 40 years, there was a good chance that Glen Gavel had the referee’s whistle in his hand.

Gavel passed away peacefully in his home in Prince Albert on Apr. 30, 2023. Gavel is survived by his two daughters, Erica and Kaila.

Erica Gavel was recently inducted into the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 in the athlete category after transitioning to play wheelchair basketball after a series of injuries on the same knee.

She credits her dad for helping her fall in love with the game of basketball.

“When I think of my dad and just growing up, definitely the first thing that comes to my mind is tagging along with him across the province, watching him ref. To be honest, I think the fact that was around the sport so often and it was such a part of my life was definitely the reason why I decided to pursue basketball at a higher level.

“Basketball was this special thing we both had, and we had it together. My fondest memories of him had to do with basketball, whether it was tagging along to the gym with him, him coming to my games, him reffing me to then being a part of my recruitment process to end up at the University of Saskatchewan Basketball was definitely a big part of our relationship, right from when I was a toddler up until I made the national team.”

Glen worked for 30 years at Canada Post as a letter carrier while also continuing to be involved in sports in the city as a coach and official.

His daughter Kaila said his sense of humor made sports enjoyable for everyone around him.

“The first one is probably sarcasm. I think everyone would agree with that, whether he was playing or coaching or reffing, he always had a little bit of sarcasm in everything he was doing, and that came with a sense of humour and as serious as he took everything, he just made it light with making jokes and he was always making sure people were having fun, whether it was while he was reffing, he was coaching us or playing sports.”

Both Erica and Kaila moved away from Prince Albert to pursue their athletic dreams. Erica moved to Alabama to be a part of the Crimson Tide wheelchair basketball team while Kaila moved to Medicine Hat to join the Rattlers women’s volleyball program.

Kaila says her dad was always supportive of her and her sister’s ambitions, both in life and sport.

“Whether it was moving across provinces or countries or (if we just needed) life advice, he was always there and no matter what we wanted to do, he was always willing to lend a hand and support us in any way that he could.”

Gavel is also remembered as one of Prince Albert’s top basketball referees and would call games at multiple city, regional and provincial championships during his four decades of experience.

“As an official, he was a very technical referee.” said Dan Sadlowski. “The best referees are from the best athletes, which Glen was. He knew exactly what to call and what time not to call.”

Sadlowski refereed alongside Gavel for many years and says he lost more than just a partner to call a basketball game with when he heard that Glen had passed away.

“We weren’t just friends on the court, it was off the court as well. I was there at his house when both his kids, Erica and Kaila, were born. He helped my wife and I move to our first home. I helped shingle his parents’ house so that the friendship was genuine and real for 35 plus years.”

Another official who called numerous games alongside Gavel is Barclay Batiuk, who says Gavel was always very into the game.

“He was just an intense individual. He was such a good referee. When I first started hanging out with him and reffing with him, his intensity was second to none. He had lots of mannerisms that sort of will die with him, unfortunately. But man, he did a lot of good for the game.”