Let’s Play Hockey photo by Mike Thill
Once in a while, a scenario comes into the OS mailbox which illuminates a shaving or two of civility that somehow still exists in our game.
As a veteran Level 3 official at the age of 60, I’ve seen a lot of scenarios that have resonated with me, yet none more so than last week’s high school state game which I was lucky enough to work with an experienced, young ref who I consider a friend and would probably have never met if not for hockey and officiating.
I’m a 60-year-old father of successful daughters, so when I meet women who officiate hockey, I’m so very proud of their accomplishments. In fact, my partner on this particular game was a woman, and her life lessons continued for me and others that evening.
During the contest, one player, a 15-year-old, told my partner to stick to woman’s hockey. “That’s where you should be,” blurted out the teen, at which time he found himself glaring down the barrel of a progression that ended up with him being sent to the locker room. My partner quickly recounted the event to me as we rehashed the penalties and completed our paperwork on the way to the referees’ room.
A couple of minutes later, “knock- knock,” on the door. Amazingly, it was the coach along with his player coming to issue an apology to my partner.
And this is what she said: “You don’t know me, you don’t know who I am and what I had to do to get to this point in my career as an official. You can’t know how hard I had to work to be able to officiate at the highest levels of hockey, all the way to international competition. It’s very difficult for women to be taken seriously, even though my passion for hockey is no different than yours. Yeah, we are all players, coaches and officials who love this game, and that is what binds us together as equals on and off the ice, so please remember that, not just in this moment, but going forward in life.”
As a father of two daughters, I sat there smiling and brimming with pride as I watched this young lady hit the nail on the head in her response. Yes, she, along with the young man and his coach enjoyed the benefit of such a very important teachable moment.
OS, please consider publishing this as we don’t see it often.