COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Each spring, the USA Hockey Officiating Education Program takes over the U.S. Olympic Training Centers in Lake Placid, N.Y., and Colorado Springs for its annual Eastern and Western Seminar Instructor Training Programs.
The goal of the specialized officiating training programs, which were held April 25-28 in Lake Placid and May 2-5 in Colorado Springs and just completed its 35th year, in essence is to teach the teacher. In other words, these programs are designed to provide ice hockey officials resources and lessons that they can then take back to their home rinks to share with colleagues at local officiating seminars, where more local officials would come to learn how to up their game.
Participants in both sessions of the training program were recommended by their District Referee-in-Chief as some of the top performers in their field, and were selected for the chance to attend after an application process.
“We try to give them a foundation to go back to the local classrooms at the beginning of each season to instruct our officials who are attending the mandatory seminars,” said USA Hockey National Referee-in-Chief Dave LaBuda. “This gets them started in learning how to use the instructor manual.”
At the beginning of the four-day event, each participant was given a Classroom Seminar Instructor Manual containing all topic guidelines, on-ice drills and other materials necessary to conduct a USA Hockey Officiating Classroom Seminar. The program was broken up into both classroom and on-ice sessions.
“In the classroom sessions, we’re covering some of the material contained in the instructor manual,” LaBuda said. “On the ice, they’re actually demonstrating having an actual ice session with real seminar participants in order to learn how to manage those drills on the ice and make the most effective use of the ice time.”
While on the ice, groups of officials would create the drills based on a topic that was given to them, explain it to the other officials and then run the group through the training. These drills included faceoffs in various zones, icing and offsides, and how to properly call a penalty among others. Once the drill was completed, the instructors received feedback from the other participants as well as USA Hockey staff on how to make sure the drill was performed as efficiently as possible.
“Getting feedback from the other participants and instructors on what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong has been good,” said Robert Pugh, an official from St. Louis, Mo. and a participant in the Western program. “We’ve been going over a lot of classroom techniques, and for those of us who aren’t teachers by nature, that has been good.”
For participants such as Matt Wilhite, becoming an official and participating in the Training Program was a great way to stay involved in hockey. He was also named the Western Instructor Training Camp Milt Kaufman Award winner.
“It was literally the last thing I had done for the sport. I had played, coached, ran a rink and ran leagues,” said Wilhite. “I felt like I needed to give back in another way.”
LaBuda said that the training program is a way to reach out to membership at the local grassroots level, and provide consistent messaging as to the expectations of officials during a game. He said that anybody that is interested in becoming a seminar instructor should contact their District Referee-in-Chief.
“Everybody has a limited amount of time on the ice. There are opportunities to stay involved in the game, and becoming a seminar instructor is certainly one of them.”
To get involved and become a USA Hockey official, click here.