With another registration season upon us and the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation, this 2020-21 season is likely to be like no other. The challenges we all face to make a safe environment requires everyone involved in hockey to be creative, flexible, respectful and patient. Although we would love to have all of the answers for you right now, the reality is the unknown still exists; so, we are doing our best to bring everyone up to speed on what to expect over the summer months for registration.
USA Hockey continues to post updates regarding COVID-19 on our main website. This information is to keep our membership informed of specific programs and the changing safety recommendations that will be in place when hockey returns. Be sure to check back regularly for the most recent news and for other hockey information.
First, a quick update on the Advanced Officiating Symposium scheduled for Providence, R.I., in late July. The current landscape has made it impossible to conduct a program of the scope and nature that we strive to achieve through the Advanced Symposium. As of now, the 2020 event has been postponed until August 6-8, 2021, and will still take place in Providence. We appreciate the interest and commitment of those who had already registered. We will simply roll over those registrations to the 2021 event. For those still interested in signing up, more information will be available soon. Registration for the 2021 Advanced Officiating Symposium will open in September.
Officials can register for the 2020-21 season on May 26. The open book exams and the online seminar curriculum is scheduled for May 27. Check out the links to the registration rules and tips that are included in this edition of STRIPES so you are up-to-date with the current process and requirements.
SafeSport Training (required for anyone born in the year 2003 or earlier) and background screening (for those who have reached 18 years of age by June 1) are also available to complete at this time. Since COVID-19 still has things slowed down in early June, this is an ideal time to fulfill these requirements.
The biggest unknown is the timing and formats in which we will be able to conduct seminars. This is where creativity, flexibility and patience will be most prevalent as our volunteer District Referees-in-Chief navigate the landscape in their respective areas. The uncertainty of availability of facilities and potential restrictions on gatherings means that in-person seminars may not be posted or scheduled as quickly as it has in the past. The use of virtual seminars is being explored and will undoubtedly become part of the solution in some areas of the country. All of the necessary information will be posted on the seminar registration page as it becomes available over the summer months. Please check there regularly.
Retention of officials continues to be a significant issue within USA Hockey. Three initiatives will be emphasized prior to the start of the next season.
The first initiative is an update to the Zero Tolerance Policy. It strongly recommends for local youth hockey associations to take a more active role in spectator behavior issues and hold those of unsportsmanlike behaviors accountable for their actions. They are also mandated to support officials by strictly enforcing Rule 601: Abuse of Officials and Other Misconduct.
The second initiative asks our experienced officials (those with five or more years of experience) to take an active role in mentoring new officials. The goal is to provide new officials with support and guidance through the registration process as well as working games. This is in an effort to create a positive experience so they will get hooked on officiating and return to our ranks year after year. Look for more information on the Mentor Project in the coming months.
USA Hockey also recognizes the critical role assignors play in the environment that is created for local grassroots officials. Therefore, additional resources for assignors and local youth hockey associations are being created. This initiative will encourage the parties to work together and hold each other accountable in following best practices in the operation of an officiating development program. It will also help create a positive atmosphere in which the game can be played.
Finally, the Officiating Program is launching a new weekly Officiating Webinar series in June. These webinars are open to all officiating members free of charge and will focus on topics that are pertinent to today’s game. USA Hockey’s top instructors from professional, international and grassroots hockey will lead the sessions and a Q & A opportunity will be included after each presentation. Stay tuned to USAHockey.com, social media and your inbox for a complete listing of June webinar topics and registration information.
Thank you for your continued support of USA Hockey. Don’t hesitate to contact us if there is anything we can do to make your hockey experience a better one. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy and be prepared to be back on the ice soon.
Tag(s): Stripes Newsletter