By Elio Elia
Winning an award celebrating one’s own success is bound to excite someone and that’s exactly the case with Penny Glover, this year’s winner of the Ottawa Sports Awards (OSA) Lifetime Achievement Award for officiating.
“I’m very, very happy to receive it,” Glover said. “It’s very special.”
Penny, however, was also shocked and humbled by the fact that she was chosen. “I’m absolutely stunned by it. I couldn’t believe it when I received the original email. … I’m very honored.”
Being recognized by the OSA is the latest decoration Glover has received for her career in officiating squash that’s spanned five decades.
Originally from Wales, Glover came to Ottawa in 1970. Since then she’s has contributed to the local squash scene as a player, official and volunteer, leading her to be inducted into Squash Canada Wall of Fame in 2014. A national official examiner and instructor, Glover played an important role in the development of squash from an officiating standpoint, going back to her involvement at the inception of the national officiating program.
As for what led her down a path of a lifetime of involvement in squash, Glover said the way she was brought up was a main influence.
“I was very lucky; I grew up with a family with a lot of sports background, and I played sports as a kid.” she said.
On how she got into squash in Canada specifically, she said she “took squash in (her) early 20s and took to it like a duck to water.”
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“Then I decided I needed a bit of adventure, so I came to Canada, got into life here, and picked up squash once I got here,” Glover said.
As she became more capable and the sport became more competitive, she just ran with it.
With regards to officiating, she said it was the “good people” she met through refereeing that kept her involved.
It wasn’t always easy for Glover to stay motivated in the sport, with her saying that in the early days of the sport’s popularity that issues around coaching competency could be discouraging.
“When I was coming up, we didn’t really have coaching the way we do now, so I had to motivate myself.” she said.
Glover said there’s not a specific aspect of playing or officiating the sport that she prefers above the rest.
“I love all of it,” she said. “I still play recreationally and I really enjoy that. It’s a sport that you can stay in even though it’s a fast sport, as you age you still can stay in the sport. On the officiating side, I really like officiating. You have to be clear of mind, and I enjoy the analytical side of applying the rules. The squash refereeing community is terrific, I’ve made lots of good friends through it, and there’s a sense of comradery. It’s been great, and that’s all the sort of stuff that’s kept me in the game.”
There were many moments throughout her career that Glover would consider among her proudest.
“Winning Ontario Championships made me feel very good.” she said. “There’s not one that comes to mind as an overwhelming thing, I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of support from a lot of different people when I have succeeded. Another proud moment was when I started out as a national level referee, when I passed the official exam. Probably those things.”
A mentoring figure to many upcoming officials, Glover plans to continue with playing an important role in the squash community.
Ottawa Sports Awards
The OSA announced in November that four other individuals will be recognized as recipients of its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards for 2019. Fernando Henderson, who has aided athletes at the provincial, national and international level since becoming a coach with the Nepean Ottawa Diving Club in 1992, will win the Brian Kilrea Lifetime Achievement Award for coaching. Bill Beelen, a long-time commissioner of the National Capital Baseball League and past president of the East Nepean Little League, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award given to a volunteer or administrator. L.A. and Bevin Schmidt will be recognized jointly as this year’s Mayor’s Cup winner, thanks to their careers in sports involvement in Ottawa, which has included making contributions to the local sports community by co-founding the Ottawa River Canoe Club. The annual OSA banquet where this year’s winners will be celebrated will be held on Jan. 29 at Algonquin College.