When you watch a Williams Lake hockey game reffed by Nathan Kendrick and his colleagues, it’s hard to say who’s having more fun – the players or the refs.
“I love the game and I like to see the kids on the ice playing hockey,” said Kendrick, who has a real flare for the calls he makes, often making the spectators smile. “I like to have fun out there.”
At just 18, Kendrick has already been reffing for six years and said he doesn’t do it for the money, but rather the enjoyment of the game.
“I started when I was in my second year of Peewee and I just really got into it,” he said during an interview after finishing reffing his seventh game of the weekend.
Kendrick started playing hockey himself when he was just five years old, after being encouraged to join the Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association by his cousins Ben and Adam Stafford.
Kendrick grew up playing hockey from Novice all the way through, joining the rep stream during his U15 and U18 years.
Though he loves the work, Kendrick admits reffing can be challenging due to the actions of some coaches.
“Getting yelled at can be stressful, especially for the newer refs. It still even gets me nervous because I don’t like being yelled at either, but I’ve learned ways to deal with it,” he said, adding coaches should know that refs “are human, we make mistakes.”
“It’s hard to see everything out there, especially when it’s three-man but we do the best we can.”
Kendrick enjoys reffing U15 and U18 rep games as well as lining Stampeder games. He has also been mentoring younger refs for the last three or four years, who likely benefit from his good-natured way of, for example, laughing at himself when he trips and falls in front of the player benches.
Born and raised in Williams Lake by his parents Dave and Loretta, Kendrick said he loves living here and hopes to stay. He graduated in 2022 from Lake City Secondary School and had been working at Tolko Soda Creek division since August in strips and clean up, but was one of the more than 100 mill workers who were laid off in January.
Kendrick said he misses the camaraderie with his co-workers and hopes to get back to work soon.
When he’s not reffing on the weekends, Kendrick likes to spend time skating in the Dairy Fields with friends in the winter months. In the summertime he enjoys mountain biking on local trails. He always enjoys family time with his mom and dad, and older sister Chantel.
A longer-term goal of his is to become an automotive technician, something he may have to move to Prince George for in the fall.
In the meantime, Kendrick said he will continue to play his part with Williams Lake Minor Hockey and encourages anyone interested in reffing to give it a shot.
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