91-year-old Florida sports official runs last game, will retire after 47-year career

Love of the game kept Joe Galvan in action

BITHLO, Fla. – Talk about dedication —Thursday night, after decades on the fields and courts of all sorts of sports, 91-year-old Joe Galvan officiated his last high school basketball game, looking back on a 47-year career.

We caught up with Galvan, who told us being a referee in everything from basketball, baseball, football and softball kept him young.

[TRENDING: Become a News 6 Insider]

“I’ve always said, ‘You gotta keep moving, ‘cause if you don’t, they’ll put you in the ground,’” Galvan said, laughing. “...Luckily in all my years of officiating, I only got knocked down once.”

Galvan said the physical challenge at his age of keeping up with young athletes helped him make the decision to hang up the whistle.

“You get to half-court and they’re already ready to come the other way,” Galvan said. “I’m 91 but I don’t feel like that... unfortunately, my body isn’t in its 50s anymore, so that’s why this is gonna be my last game.”

Calling it for good after close to 50 years in the mix — including more than three decades in the Central Florida Officials Association — Galvan’s final game took place at East River High School in Bithlo, officiating as the Falcons took on the Lake Nona Lions at home.

“I’m really sort of sad that this is the end of my career of being on the court... but you got to move on,” Galvan said. “I look back on my years and say, ‘Hey, I had a lot of fun when I did it because I like the game, not for the money, for the game.’”

Get today’s headlines in minutes with Your Florida Daily:

About the Authors:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.