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Referee Shares Lessons Learned from Wearing the Stripes

By Luke Hanlon, 11/19/21, 9:45AM MST


Jeremy Loewenstein hoped to share a little insight of what being a referee is like

When Jeremy Loewenstein first became a hockey official after graduating from college, he did it simply as a way to stay connected to the game he’s loved from a young age.

“I had always played hockey growing up … and loved my experiences as a player and kind of wanted a way to get back in the game,” he said.

Officiating was never intended to be anything more than that, but while on the job hunt a few months ago, Loewenstein was seeking a way to stand out to potential employers. So the Denver resident took to LinkedIn to post a list of nine skills he’s learned while officiating hockey.

Loewenstein, who has already officiated more than 200 games this year, said people don’t always understand what comes with putting on the stripes.

“This was a way to humanize my experience,” he said, “so even though it’s fun and it’s a game and it’s hockey, there’s still a way to learn and grow, just as there is with anything.”

The reception he’s gotten has been overwhelmingly positive, he said, and one can see why when reading skills he highlights from his experience on the ice.

One of the first things you have to learn as an official is how to manage people of all ages, skill levels and personalities, Loewenstein explained, something that can translate into any managerial role.

“As a ref, we’re not only out there to make the calls, but we’re there to manage the game, manage the emotions and to keep everyone there feeling heard and understood,” Loewenstein said. “You’re servicing the needs of 20 players and coaches, and a lot of times as an official you’re the one facing the brunt of those emotions.”

Emotions can run high over the course of a game, and being able to manage those situations can go a long way to building strong communication skills that can translate to any job. If you’re able to handle the criticism that can be hurled your way, dealing with an upset client or coworker will seem a lot easier.

This plays into the second lesson listed in Loewenstein’s LinkedIn post: “Blown calls happen, but it’s important to take ownership, shake it off and finish the game strong.”

Loewenstein prefers to take a direct approach when addressing coaches after a missed call or a call they disagree with. Bringing a coach to the end of the bench, away from their players, goes a long way to connecting them with the human side of an official, he said.

“I think being honest with what you saw and why you made the call the way that you did goes a long way in helping coaches understand your point of view,” Loewenstein said.

While there are more life lessons he’s learned while officiating, there are perks directly related to the game itself that have helped Loewenstein.

“To the kids who might still be playing hockey, I think that officiating helps you become a better skater,” he said. “I’ve become a much better skater, backwards skater, because a lot of times you’re leading a play into the zone skating backwards to keep the action in front of you.”

On top of the skating skills, he’s also much more in tune with the rules of the game, where officials position themselves and what they’re looking for, all things that can help your development as a player.

Loewenstein didn’t have any grand plans when he first started officiating, and it wasn’t always something he thought he’d end up doing. Now that it’s a big part of his life, he’s adamant that more people who share his love for hockey should give officiating a try.

“It’s a great way to get the best seat in the house for a hockey game, it’s a great way to get a workout and stay active and it’s a great way to build some skills,” he said. “I would encourage all of the kids who are on the fence to give it a shot and see how they like it.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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