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84-year-old continues to pursue passion as PIAA official

Gene Groft is going strong in his 56th season as a PIAA official and doesn't plan to stop anytime soon.

HANOVER, Pa. — They say age is just a number. Take it from 84-year-old Hanover native Gene Groft, who spends his time officiating high school basketball and softball games for the PIAA.

“It keeps me young, seriously speaking," said Groft. "If I would quit, I would be a couch potato. I wouldn’t last long so that’s why I’m doing it to survive.”

Groft started officiating in 1967 and is in his 56th year. His passion for sports began through coaching his kids

“I had three children of my own," said Groft. "Basketball, baseball, football and I love working with kids and that’s why I have been doing it for so long."

Groft likes to stay local with his games and stays in the area as much as he can. With the shortage of officials, he can work up to six days. The PIAA recently celebrated Officials Appreciation Week and Groft felt the love. 

"It means a lot to be recognized, really it does," he said. "That shows they appreciate us officiating these ball games. This year, I’ve heard it more than I [have] in the past. A lot of fans, when we leave, say thank you."

Groft turns 85 in May of 2023 and he expects to continue officiating with a retirement nowhere in the near future. 

"My daughter keeps saying, 'Dad, you should quit!' [But] I still enjoy it and as long as my legs hold up I'm going to keep doing it as long as I can get up and down the floor. You are going to see me out here next year," Groft told FOX43. 

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