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Moyer a Referee Who Can Play the Game, Too

Novato resident won a gold medal in basketball at the Bay Area Senior Games in March and now looks forward to going for a national championship in June.

Larry Moyer is best known around Novato as a basketball referee.

Now a two-time gold medalist as a player, perhaps it’s time for that to change.

Moyer, who celebrates his 68th birthday Thursday, will head to Houston in June in search of a third gold when he and five other former college basketball players join forces in the National Senior Games.

“It’s unbelievable how many Seniors are involved in athletics,” the 40-year Novato resident noted. “When I was down in Arizona (for the Arizona State Senior Olympics), there were just hordes of people there.

“I asked one lady, ‘What are you doing here?’ She said, ‘Everything I can.’”

Moyer, a former player at Serra High in San Mateo and four-year letterman as a 6-foot-5 center at the University of San Diego, does just one thing at Senior competitions: He plays basketball. And he still plays it darn well.

So do his teammates: former U.C. Santa Barbara players Dick Kolberg, Pat Grant and Howard Demmelmaier, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo’s Mike LaRoche, and Delaware resident John Lesher, a former captain at West Virginia.

They compete in the 65-and-over competition, where games are played half-court, three-on-three, for two 12-minute halves.

That’s more than ample time for the California Gold 65 squad to crush most of its competition. In going a combined 10-0 in Arizona last year and at the Bay Area Senior Games at Stanford in March, they won every game by at least 10 points.

The gold medal-winning triumph in Arizona, where Moyer and his mates beat teams from New Mexico, Texas, California, Arizona and even Illinois, qualified the squad for the National Senior Games, where stiffer competition awaits. Some teams, in fact, will have former NBA players on them.

Moyer never played pro ball. Rather, he quickly got into refereeing after his college days playing for Bay Area Sports Hall of Famer Phil Woolpert, and has worked games at pretty much every level for 40 years.

That run almost ended in 2000, when the former San Francisco resident ruptured his Achilles’ while walking to a game he was working at the Olympic Club.

“I was told I wasn't going to be able to do any more games,” Moyer recalled of a conversation with the doctor immediately following the surgery. “Turns out they were talking to the wrong guy.”

Moyer still refs high school games, including Marin County Athletic League contests, and serves as an Observer and Technical Assistant for referees in the Pacific-10 (soon to be 12) Conference. He also plays most Saturday mornings at 6:30 a.m. at the Hamilton gym.

“We run into each other and set basketball back a few years,” he said of the Saturday group.

Moyer has played four times for the California Gold team after, he claims, having earned “millions” of Novato League t-shirts in 30 years of rec competition.

He’s hoping to add even more to his collection – a third gold medal – in Houston.

“There are going to be teams from all over the country,” Moyer noted. “We're planning on being pretty darn good. They're looking for the gold medal.”

Not bad for a referee.

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