H.S. BASKETBALL | Officiating Becomes A Family Affair
01/26/2017 07:00 PM
“We’re known as the referee family around here now days,” Robert Gant explained.
One Thursday night in a regular-season girls’ basketball match-up at Sayer, the officials took the court. Nothing about it was uncommon, except that the entire crew was made up of a father and his two sons.
“It was great. It was like me being a kid in a candy store. You know, I was excited about it, but then again doing the ball game, you know, to try to separate daddy and official, because you’ve got a job to go out there,” Kenny Gant, a referee for 36 years said. “I kind of was more concerned about what they [his sons] were doing you know at first, but then as I saw what they were doing and they were okay. They were calm and natural about it. We just went and did our job and it was- it’s been a great experience.”
Kenny, who is also an assistant baseball coach at Centre College, has been officiating football, basketball and baseball since he was a teenager, moving through the ranks and even getting to call NCAA Regional Tournament games. His two oldest sons, Marshall and Robert joined in two years ago, but it wasn’t necessarily about following in Dad’s footsteps.
“They were coming to daddy all the time for gas money and I was like ‘hold on a second here- we need to figure something out!’” he said with a laugh.
It quickly became more than a way for the boys to earn a few bucks. Marshall said it’s become a bit of a sibling rivalry.
“We always ask our dad who is the better referee and all that stuff and he will never give us a straight answer, but when we’re one-on-one he always tells of us ‘yeah you’re better than him’ and all that good stuff.”
Kenny had retired in 2009, but that Sayer/Madison Southern game made him glad he came out of retirement.
“They got assigned their first varsity game, which my supervisor put me on the game, it was pretty neat. Pretty cool.”
His second son, Robert, agreed.
‘That was awesome. That was something I’ve been looking forward to since I started refereeing. It was everything and more that I could have imagined.”
Since that game, the boys have added another stipulation for Dad.
“They’re like ‘uh dad, you’ve got to wait around until we do a boys varsity game together’ and then they’d prefer it if it was like an inter-city, rivalry kind of game so I told them ‘well you guys better pick it up because I don’t know how much longer dad will stay around and try to do this’,” Kenny said with a laugh.
Kenny has a third son, Haydon, who is just getting into the world of officiating as well.
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