Portal Forum General Other Sports Youth Hockey Reply To: Youth Hockey

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SkiUMahLaw wrote:

We really do appreciate the work you do (and not just give lip service on social media!).

Not that you are part of this problem, but officials association leadership can help the issue– they need to modernize and recruit differently than they have in the past, and give meaningful opportunities to young officials. I’ve worked with some promising young officials who are frustrated at their inability to get into meaningful games– if only to give them good tests and a taste of the big time.

But the rest of your post is spot on. We can do better.

Absolutely! A lot of it is very much an old boys club, and why you see the same 5-10 guys working the local Bantam AA games all the time in many locales.

The trade is the expectation of perfection, even at the youth levels. The youth association I worked for wanted to work Bantam B1 games as 3-man, to help get guys experience when, at the time, only Bantam A games were 3 man. They was so much push-back and “we cannot afford that” that it was abandoned quickly. We even have a few guys volunteer to work games for free as a third official to get that experience in the 3-man system. But then, since it was only a few games here and there (because nobody was willing to pay for it) teams complain about other teams getting “special treatment” at it was scrapped within the same season. Or heaven forbid, a referee gets hit with the puck (85′ of ice, and you through the puck into the linesman’s skates???), and then the coaches complain “they cant even get out of the way, we need less officials out here.”

At Squirt and PeeWee hockey, you are getting new officials who are going to make as many mistakes as the players at that same level. The hope is they learn there, and not make those same mistakes as they move up, stakes are higher, and chances for players to get hurt go up significantly. But so many parents have zero margin for error in their Squirt B2 game, that so many officials as “is this even worth it” after barely giving it a go.

In NCAA (and Pro) hockey there is a HARD push to recruit former players as officials. And some of that is starting to pay off, the side effect being many of them are bypassing a lot of channels that your average official has to go through, and that can be extremely disheartening. But a lot of those former players have zero interest in working squirt and peewee hockey for 2 years… So I don’t have a good answer there.

It is funny (or actually, not funny at all…). The highest level of hockey I ever worked was the ECHL, where I had an extremely brief cup of coffee, and worked several levels in between. The highest level of disrespect I have ever received from players was in NCAA Division III hockey, and it isn’t even close. The highest level of disrespect I ever received from coaches and fans was youth hockey by FAR! (other than the one off of having my tires slashed, side view mirrors broken off, and taillights smashed in the parking lot of a Waterloo Blackhawks game, but the USHL paid me back for that). I am also willing to put up with a lot more at higher levels of hockey but it was really never there. Sure there is yelling and screaming, arguments, chastising, etc. but they never crossed the line. Youth coaches and parents cross the line all the time, and get so far past it, they cant even see it anymore. For a $40 game fee!!

Every year I hear stories from guys who get stopped in the dark parking lot at night on the way to their car after a game, worried they are going to have to call the police. Getting things thrown at them from a car in the parking lot. Having the locker room gone through while they were on the ice. Everything with youth sports has escalated to a point where it just isn’t sustainable.