All she wanted to do was direct a drama play.
When Jackie Packet began her teaching career in the mid-1980s, she understood the responsibilities associated with her chosen profession. Extra-curricular activities were a part of the package and she wanted to be involved in the drama program.
In order to do that, however, she had to strike a deal with other teachers and part of the negotiations was that she would officiate basketball so that she could work with the drama group.
More than a quarter century later, Packet is still officiating basketball – among other sports – and last weekend in Regina she was recognized by Basketball Saskatchewan and the national body for basketball officials when she was presented the Wink Willox Award of Merit for her years of dedication as an official, scheduler and trainer.
“I was very surprised,” acknowledged Packet earlier this week. “It truly is an honour. This is a national honour and some of those who have won the award have officiated for 40 years.”
One of those previous award winners was Ed Feigel, a former teacher who mentored Packet and someone who she has always looked up to.
“Ed Feigel was my mentor and he trained me,” says Packet. “I would say that eighty per cent of the refs in Prince Albert are products of Ed Feigel.”
“That’s what I have been trying to do is train new refs,” adds Packet. “Just to be mentioned in the same sentence as someone like him is special. He always went out of his way to help.”
The executive Council of Saskatchewan Basketball Officials nominated Packet for the national honour and although she is grateful for the recognition, the development of the sport continues to be her primary goal.
“I coached basketball for 20 years too and as a coach you recognize how important it is to have strong officiating,” explains Packet. “I like the idea that we (officials) are developing basketball, especially at the junior high and elementary levels.”
In addition to being on the floor calling games, Packet takes on administrative roles that include scheduling and training. She says that there is always a constant need for officials and that anyone interested in getting involved should do so as the rewards are far greater than meagre monetary gains.
If it isn’t basketball season, Packet can be found on the volleyball courts officiating games and just for good measure, this weekend she is one of the organizers of the provincial high school golf championships being held at Cooke Municipal Golf Course.
The national recognition seems pretty fitting.