Gladys Sautter (holding the ball) and her teammates from her girls high school basketball team in 1936. (Submitted)

VIDEO: Fraser Valley Bandits super fan celebrates 100th birthday

Abbotsford resident Gladys Sautter surprised by Bandits representatives on big day

The number 100 has a magical aura in the sport of basketball.

Wilt Chamberlain’s unsurpassed 100-point game back in 1962 still stands as one of the sport’s greatest achievements.

The legendary centre set the mark against the New York Knicks that year, making 36 field goals and 28 free throws to reach the triple digit mark.

For the Fraser Valley Bandits the number means something different, at least for this year. It represents the age of the club’s biggest fan – Gladys Sautter – who reached the century mark on May 10.

Sautter, who was 41 back when Chamberlain hit 100 points, was surprised by Bandits representatives and star player Marek Klassen at her Abbotsford home on her big day.

“It was a big surprise and it was absolutely wonderful,” she told The News. “There were balloons and people spaced themselves out and it was such a beautiful day.”

Sautter received a Bandits jersey, as well as several items from a local Tim Hortons to commemorate the occasion.

Basketball has been a lifelong passion for the 100-year-old. Sautter was born on a farm near Acme, Alta. on May 10, 1920 and moved to Carstairs, Alta. a few years later.

It was in Carstairs that Sautter suited up for the girls high school basketball team.

She played all the way till the age of 18, traveling to nearby towns and competing in the sport. Over the years that passion for basketball never went away, but the trials and tribulations of life kept her busy.

Sautter married shortly after high school graduation and helped in the Second World War efforts for Canada. She and her husband had two daughters and then went on to manage a restaurant in Peace River, Alta. The family then moved to Calgary, with Gladys working at the University of Calgary before settling in the farming community of Rosebud, Alta for many years.

Sautter was widowed in 1996, but then decided to move to Abbotsford in 2015 to join her daughter and son-in-law.

Sautter and her family became Bandits season ticket holders in the club’s initial season in 2019, and she said she loves every part of the experience of taking in a game.

“We were on the court side,” she said, of her tickets. “My son-in-law Daniel once introduced Jamal Ray [former Bandits player] to me at one of the games and from there it went on. I just enjoy watching them.”

Sautter said she and her family had even better season tickers for 2020, and admitted to feeling a lot of disappointment about the uncertainty of the Bandits 2020 season.

Bandits operations director Andrew Savory said the team is lucky to have a fan like her.

“We are extremely grateful to have supportive fans like Gladys and her family as part of our community,” he stated.

Sautter also offered some advice to those wanting to live to see triple digits like she has.

“I don’t think a lot of young people would listen to me anyway,” she said, laughing. “But just enjoy living and keep a positive attitude. And be friendly.”

It’s likely that Sautter will have to wait until she’s 101 to see the Bandits at the Abbotsford Centre again, and for the record Chamberlain never reached that number.

RELATED: Fraser Valley Bandits season postponed

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