Rob Pavan

Rob Pavan

Portrait by Robert Howson

When you were hit by Rob Pavan, you knew it. You felt it at the moment of impact and you certainly felt it for days afterward.

Pavan fell in love with football as a young boy, playing for the Argonaut Pee Wee team in Guelph Minor Football. From there he starred at Bishop Macdonell High School in the Royal City leading his team to three consecutive District 10 high school football championships from 1980-1982. Twice he was named defensive high school player of the year.

In 1983, it was on to the University of Guelph where the following year he became an established star and was one of the key figures in leading Guelph to its first-ever Yates Cup championship as the top team in Ontario. In the final, the Gryphons downed bitter rivals the Western Mustangs with a thrilling 31-26 victory. Four players from that team, including Pavan, were named first team Ontario University Athletics (OUAA) All-Stars. Next, it was on to the Central Bowl, which was played in Guelph before 8,500 raucous fans at Alumni Stadium, with the Gryphons securing their spot in the Vanier Cup with a 12-7 win over the Calgary Dinosaurs.

At the Vanier Cup, the Gryphons were in tough against Mount Allison. Trailing 13-7 after three quarters, Guelph stormed back to win their only national championship 22-13. “Our defence was what won the championship for us.” said game MVP Parri Ceci who caught two passes on the day, both for touchdowns. Pavan was one of the pillars on that defence blocking a Mount Allison field goal attempt.

Pavan was an OUAA first team all-star the next season and was drafted into the Canadian Football League by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1987. He played two seasons in the CFL with Winnipeg and Ottawa before being forced to retire because of a back injury.

Pavan also gave back to the game he loved, returning to the Gryphons as their assistant defensive coordinator and linebacker coach for six seasons (between 1994-1999), winning another Yates Cup in 1996. He also coached for the Centennial Spartans high school team in the mid- 2000s.

Inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame – Veteran Athlete category – on May 16, 2018