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Gearing up for summer development

By USA Hockey, 05/25/21, 9:30AM MDT


The 2020-21 Season has wrapped up with a lot of success in the officiating community. From the recruitment and retention of 20,000(+) members, to almost 300 officials working the 2021 Youth and Girls National Championships.

Now, as the dust settles on a challenging year, the USA Hockey Officiating program is happy to announce that the Summer Development Camp programs will be returning during the summer of 2021. Information regarding the programs can be found at the main summer camp website, but USA Hockey also spoke with BJ Ringrose, USA Hockey Manager of Officiating Education, for a quick update about the programs:


USA HOCKEY: Which camp programs will be offered this summer?

BJ RINGROSE:  Our 2021 program schedule will be a little limited due to the fact that several of the player development camps that we run our programs in conjunction with have been postponed another year. However, we still plan to offer two Futures Camp programs and our High-Performance Camp.


USAH: It still sounds like a busy summer ahead.

BJR: Definitely. While the program schedule has been cut in half, the preparation workload has doubled due to coordination delays we faced with COVID-19. The timelines for submitting applications, review and acceptance will be very tight.

Plus, there’s the overall planning we face with the host-sites. Fortunately, we have a great rapport built with the staffs in Buffalo, New York and Bowling Green, Ohio and we are looking forward to another successful series of development programs.


USAH: You mention application submission and review. What is the process to getting accepted into one of these programs?

BJR: It starts with the applicant submitting an online application and officiating resume. We give the official the chance to tell us a little about themselves, what types of games they work, any career highlights, plus share their professional references.

From there, we forward the applications to the officials’ respective District Referees-in-Chief for review. The local District RIC’s and their support staff have a great system of feedback channels to find out which officials are ready to succeed at camp versus the ones who might need another year of games before participating in something at the national level.

Once the District RIC’s have collected their feedback, they make their recommendations for each applicant official. Recommendations are based on overall skill-set, experience, attitude, and willingness to share what they learn with officials back home.

The district recommendations are then forwarded to the USA Hockey National Office, who review and make final selections of the participants. We try to balance the opportunities among the districts, while making sure the candidates with the strongest chances for success attend the programs.


USAH: That’s a lot of different characteristics to measure up to.

BJR: It is, but it’s not as though we’re expecting officials to arrive at Futures Camp and be perfect. The program is designed to teach participants advanced fundamentals on and off the ice. We teach judgement and skating, but we also teach fitness, nutrition, managing your schedule, how to get hired and other topics to help them improve and earn spots on league rosters at the higher levels of the game.

There’s still a certain base-level of fundamentals we expect officials to have before they arrive. Without that base-level, the official is not ready to learn the advanced skills necessary to compete for spots at the next level.


USAH: So where does the High-Performance Camp fit in the mix?

BJR: The High-Performance Camp is the next stepping stone in development. Most officials who attend that program have been through a Futures Camp program, have moved up to junior or college hockey and are now ready to compete at the next level.

During a normal summer, we would host four Futures Camps and only one High-Performance Camp. So, there’s a lot of competition to earn a spot in the program that really showcases some of our top developing talent each year.


USAH: Good to know! Any last thoughts to share?

BJR: Only that we look forward to offering some great development programs this summer, with all the proper COVID-19 safety protocols in place. Our player camp and officiating camp staffs are working closely with our Manager of Player Safety and medical advisory committee to make sure all USA Hockey summer programs will be safe and successful.

It will be a great summer of education and development opportunities and we look forward to coming back in 2022 in full force with all programs!