Oregon native Larry Garvoille and Larry Bird have one thing in common: both men have earned the nickname “The Legend” by being one of the best at their different basketball professions.
Garvoille, 72, was the recipient of the 2019 Official of the Year award for District III-Southwest on Sunday, Nov. 10. He was honored at the Officials Recognition Luncheon at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells.
Former Oregon High School athletic director Erwin “Boob” Kissling urged Garvoille, a 1965 Oregon graduate, to become an official in 1969.
“I was playing in a rec league at the time, and Erwin Kissling asked me if I would get a license from the WIAA to become an official,” Garvoille recalled. “It’s been history ever since.”
Garvoille estimated he’s officiated about 3,000 basketball games over his 50-year career, including six state tournaments (1988, 1989, 1998, 2004, 2006 and 2011). He’s also helped run officiating clinics throughout the state and reffed the Buckets For Hunger fundraiser throughout the years.
“When I first started officiating, there was no 3-point line, and the 3-seconds in the lane rule had just gone into effect,” he said. “In recent years, the emphasis has been on cleaning up the post play and rough play in the lane, as well as the new hand-checking rules.”
Garvoille is a member of the Southern Wisconsin Officials Association and State Line Officials Association. He officiates in seven conferences: the Badger, Big Eight, Capitol, Rock Valley, Six Rivers, Southwest Wisconsin and Trailways.
“I’m still registered, but I don’t have a full slate anymore,” he said. “I’ll pick up a couple games here and there. I’ve kind of wanted to ride off into the sunset.”
In 2000, Garvoille served as an assistant boys basketball coach at Oregon and a girls basketball official. He coached his son, Steve, as a senior, and the Panthers made the state tournament.
Steve Garvoille also became a local official after his playing days. He officiated last year’s Division 5 boys state semifinal game between Columbus Catholic and Bangor at the Kohl Center.