It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.
New and returning hockey refs were put through their paces at a half-day classroom course, followed by a couple hours of on-ice training at Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex recently to kick off the 2017/2018 hockey season.
BC Hockey North Central officiating coordinator Ross Campbell led the Level 1 on-ice training session where he taught students, some as young as 12, how to deal with players and coaches, the art of the puck drop and how to blow your whistle, to name just a few.
“It’s your voice out here,” Campbell said of the whistle. “You have to use it with authority.”
Corwin Smid is the Ref in Chief for the Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association (WLMHA) and was on-hand to watch this year’s refs – 15 first-year and 30 returning – take on the challenge.
“We have a lot of kids who are interested in reffing, which is fantastic,” said Smid, who is only into his second year of officiating himself.
Smid said he thought he’d better become a ref when he volunteered for the position of Ref in Chief with WLMHA.
“It took a little bit of getting used to. You have the pressure of making calls and dealing with the coaches and players,” Smid said of the challenges facing both youth and adult officials.
“You really see the colours of coaches behind the bench. Some of them shouldn’t be there. We have many kids quit because of the coaches.”
Most young officials have also played for the coaches they then go on to ref games with, Smid said, and that can sometimes be an eye opener.
“These kids look up to these coaches as mentors,” Smid said, noting some coaches nag the refs “just to get under their skin.”
“It’s not a easy thing, being a ref. Not everyone can do to.”
Those who do succeed in reffing reap the benefits of gaining self-confidence, learning more about the game and how to deal with the many different personalities in hockey, Smid said.
“It’s never too early to learn how to handle conflict.”
Smid enjoys working with youth and looks forward to being a positive influence with the refs for the upcoming season.
“It’s already a great game, but if we can create a culture of learning and respect, it will be an even greater game.”