Veteran Official Honored With Robert Dawson Award

The goal of every official, in any sport, is to enforce the rules, keep the game under control and let the players decide the outcome.

Long-time basketball official Gary Cochran was able to demonstrate those abilities at an early point his career.

It led to more game assignments and bigger assignments.

Add up all of those factors and it leads to Cochran – a Paden City High School graduate – receiving the Robert Dawson Officials Award at the annual Samuel A. Mumley OVAC All-Star Game, which is set for Sunday, April 6 at Ohio University Eastern in St. Clairsville.

Cochran, who began officiating in 1964, got into it just to help out and work some reserve games at Paden City.

“I was doing a game and an official named Pecky Pell was doing the varsity game and asked me why I wasn’t officiating at the varsity level,” Cochran recalled.

Having really never thought about it prior to that, Cochran decided to give it some thought.

“Pecky encouraged me to get into the Ohio Valley Basketball Board and do games through them,” Cochran said.

Cochran decided to listen to Pell’s advice and, basically, the rest is history. He made his varsity basketball debut at Yorkville High School, working with Bob Montgomery.

“Wilson Murray was watching us that game and at halftime, he said he didn’t need to watch the second half because we had the game under control and he left,” Cochran said. “I received three more assignments the next week to go along with eight that I already had.”

Working primarily in the Ohio Valley, Cochran spent 27 years as an official and earned several sectional and regional tournaments along the way.

He also was honored to work a West Virginia State Girls Basketball Tournament.

“Working as many sectional and regional games as I did was the highlight of my career,” Cochran said.

After graduating from Paden City, Cochran was a member of the United States Navy, serving from 1958-1962. He worked as a Boilerman Technician in the oil shack on the USS Intrepid.

During his free time, Cochran enjoyed playing basketball on the ship. He was named MVP when he led his team to a title at the Naples Christmas Tournament in 1961.

Gary and his wife Judith have been married for nearly 55 years. The couple has five children, 17 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.