Story by Steve Erickson
Given all the concern of late surrounding officiating and the “lack of” as well as the abuse that is directed at them on a daily basis, one has to wonder why anyone would become a sports official for any sport.
I hear from various sources that officiating in Canada and notably in BC that the numbers have significantly dropped off with some games going with two officials when there are to be three.
Other games have been forced to reschedule which puts the association in the situation that they have to come up with additional ice or work magic at swapping ice slots with another team.
The situation is simply and honestly abuse directed at officials at all ages and some of the comments are downright degrading and to no surprise they are coming from “so-called” Adults.
Hockey is a fast paced game and situations happen in a split second forcing the official to make a judgment call all based on their perspective of what they saw occur.
While the abuse or shouting hasn’t changed it’s become far more rampant and it comes from all nationalities and races in various games.
I watch and broadcast various games and as someone who has officiated for over 60 years and yes I am giving my age away the game I see is far different from what the Parents are watching.
The reason is simply that they are only focused on having their son or daughter’s team win at all cost, but the cost is high as it’s taking its toll on not just the officials but the game as well.
In light of all the abuse I reached out to someone who has been involved in officiating for a long time, but not as long as I have and requested to get some info to share with everyone, but mostly the parents in hope that they might understand how they are changing the game.
For those who think they know the rules and the game more that the officials currently officiating, please contact BC Hockey as they are always looking for new officials.
Enjoy the read:
Since the cancellation of our Provincial championships caused by the global pandemic in March 2020, we have learned a tremendous amount about our officials resiliency across the Province & Yukon.
It was difficult to close the season in 2020 without crowning a champion, equally difficult to have a season cut short and ended by Covid concerns without a final game to officiate. The season simply ended.
Each new season begins April 1, and we began planning a new season filled with challenges & expectations working with local, regional, provincial and national health organizations immediately after the 2020 season was cancelled.
With no clear understanding of how many games, where games would be played,or who would officiate them it was a season of resilience, resets and revisions.
With registered numbers reduced by 30% from the preCovid season, it was important to inform, educate and instruct. Communication was essential to ensure each region was informed and aware of new heath protocols and regional provincial & national health expectations.
With most communities offering all practice over play, it left few opportunities to officiate. Based on strong leadership in each association, leads organized on-ice sessions, teaching , mentoring and training officials. Practice rather than play became the norm in all associations.
As the new season arrived in April of 2021 officiating organizers chose to ensure every opportunity was used to retain each official from the first ever Covid season, but also ensure the recruitment methods were fully utilized and engaged. Organizers met virtually daily,
A plan was set to reach every corner of BC and Yukon , to ensure officials were welcomed , valued, safe and informed of a fresh start, a new season with unique restrictions , less practice and more game play. Meaning more opportunity to officiate in a full season. More games added meant more officials needed.
Under the direction and leadership of Sean Raphael , Kirk Wood & Dan Hanoomansingh, BCHockey officiating leaders were empowered to build a certification curriculum, set more than 70 specific certification dates for virtual clinic & certify digitally our officials online.
In Spring, Instructors were trained, mentored and equipped to deliver the certification clinics across BC and Yukon, first with the inaugural virtual Summer Officiating School.
Dozens of students registered across the province and Yukon logged in each week for hourly instruction thru the summer with special guests and officiating leaders during a multi week certification process teaching rules, procedures , positioning, life skills, dietary needs, health and fitness support and Hockey Canada officiating guidelines.
Dozens of students enthusiastically sacrificed their summers to participate in preparation for preseason play in a new season of play.
The Hockey Canada officiating virtual certification clinics for returning officials launched in September with new first year officials registering with their local associations for an in-person classroom presentation complete with ice session.
This ensured returning officials were welcomed back, prepared, equipped, while new officials were secure in their first experience in officiating hockey and introduced to officiating in BC and Yukon.
BCHockey returning Officials responded across each region with strong numbers while new officials were eager to launch their fresh officiating experience with an overall increase in both returning and new officials across the province and Yukon.
This new season had a substantial increase in registration both virtually and in-person over the first Covid season.
With mentorship, teaching & training returning to each association thru on-ice training sessions , classroom learning nights and game day mentorship, hockey officials are returning to the game they love.
With current Covid restrictions in every region the focus now is local, regional & district playoffs including provincial championships in March 2022.
It’s an exciting segment of the season. January officiating leadership select officials for playoffs locally, regionally and makes recommendations for provincial championships.
This year with the increase in returning officials, significant new official numbers and the suggestion of completing a full season we are cautiously optimistic headed into the final two months of the 2021/22 season for the next season set for April 1st.
Steve, in addition to the positive direction this season, Hockey Canada hired our local Dan Hanoomansingh as their Officiating leader, selected numerous BCHockey high performance officials for duty in and outside our country, revised the National Level system, removing the level 4,5,6.
Kirk Wood, Dan Hanoomansingh and Sean Raphael can provide information on their high performance program.
Also, with Hanoomansingh being promoted to a National role, our BCHockey female program welcomed Vanessa Stratton to the provincial high performance lead position and locally, in the Lower Mainland ,
BChockey added Alexandra Cole to the newly created position of lower mainland female lead, due to the tremendous growth in BCHockey females officiating hockey.
One of the many triumphs this season includes our record setting afternoon in White Rock as 4 females completed the first ever all-women officiated BCHL game attracting attention from around the world to the development of female officials in BC.
Another first in officiating history occurred this season with the complete certification of all Hockey Academy elite players at Yale as part of their curriculum inside Abbotsford School Districts’ Yale Hockey Academy adding another 50+ officials in an unprecedented opportunity to partner elite hockey players with the BCHockey officiating program this season.
The BCHockey officiating program will continue to do whatever we can to teach, mentor, equip and train the next wave of hockey official. Our thousands of constituents are resilient, they are successful because of their perseverance.
So much more than simply dropping pucks.
Thanks for the opportunity Steve.