HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – Calvin George Headley, a 58-year-old Nova Scotia basketball referee, died last week at the Halifax Infirmary, after a fatal accident, according to his close friends.
Headley, who was born on May 22, 1955 and was affectionately known as “Snake”, refereed the sport for junior high, high school, university, college and professional leagues for many years.
Ken Fells, a past president with the Metro Association of Basketball Officials, said Headley died last week Wednesday, July 3, after falling down the stairs.
“Everybody knew who he was. Everybody knew he was going to call the game the way the game should have been called. When you’re called by name when you come in the door as a referee, then you know you’re popular with the fans, you’re popular with the players and you’re popular with the coaches,” Fells told CBC News. “I will miss, mostly, the camaraderie and the companionship.”
News of Headley’s death came only a day after Saint Mary’s University announced that Naomie Fequiere, a player on the Huskies women’s basketball team, had died in a car crash in Florida.
A 1974 graduate of Morrison High School, Headley went on to attend Kings College from 1975-1979, where he excelled at basketball and soccer, resulting in him being named ‘Athlete of the Year’ in 1979. He was also an assistant coach at Kings College from 1979-1987.
In 1987, Headley gave up coaching for refereeing, where he officiated at all levels – youth, junior, senior high, CCAA, CIS, as well as some Rainmen games.
In 2005, the popular referee, described by family and friends as having “personality plus”, shared a place in history – along with Wendell Skeir and Brian States – when they became the first trio of Black officials to referee an Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Basketball (ACAA) game.
Paul Hanson, who was friends with Headley for 15 years, said Headley loved all sports and was an enthusiastic supporter of Nova Scotia athletes.
“He knew all the players, he knew all the officials. He has a garage — or a barn we call it — in his yard. When you go into it, he’s got clippings from every level of sport throughout Nova Scotia for the last 50 years, just plastered all over his barn,” said Hanson.
“Any accomplishment of a Nova Scotia athlete, Calvin had a clipping up there. It wasn’t just basketball related, it was all levels of sport,” he added.
A longtime employee of Nova Scotia Community College, Headley is survived by his wife, Terry (Arnason); as well as godson, Calvin Taylor; sisters, Ruby, Deanie, Mary, Veronica; brothers, Richard, Kevin, Donald, Floyd, Bill and Benjamin; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his father, Joshua Brewster; mother, Dorothy ‘Icy’ Brewster; his sisters, Debbie LaPlante, Dolly Ashe, Winnie Lucas; nephew, Robert LaPlante; as well as other family members.
A memorial service for Headley was held on Tuesday, July 9 at 2 p.m. at St. Mary’s Church, in Glace Bay, and a funeral service will be held in Halifax at a later date. Donations in Headley’s memory can be made to Kings College, c/o Scholarships for African-Nova Scotian Athletes.