USA Hockey strongly believes in rewarding dedicated officials for their commitment to the game of hockey. Relatively new, the Tenured Official program is available to officials registered at Level 3 or 4 for the past three consecutive seasons. To apply for tenured status, officials must attend the Advanced Officiating Symposium, offered annually at rotating locations across the country.
Helmut Tweer, an official out of the Kansas City area, shares his experience at the last two symposiums.
USA Hockey: Can you tell us about your background as an official
Helmut Tweer: I started as an off-ice official in the mid-90s helping to run a hockey league here in the Kansas City metro doing the stats and running the scoreboard. A little later, I started on-ice officiating. I ended up taking a couple breaks over the years, but I came back nine years ago and have stuck with it ever since.
USAH: What keeps you coming back each season?
Tweer: I love what I’m doing. I love being out there with the kids. Seeing the progression from the beginning skaters in 8U all the way up to high school. It’s just awesome to watch. It’s extremely rewarding to help a player understand a rule, and then see them apply that learning in the next game – I always tell a kid why I put them in the box. Seeing their learning success and their progression gets me back on the ice every day. But most importantly, to me, officiating is a way to give back to the game.
USAH: You’ve attended the last two Advanced Officiating Symposiums. Why did you initially decide to register for the first one and then come back for a second?
Tweer: I registered for the first symposium for the exact same reason I registered for the second one – it’s a wonderful opportunity to hear from USA Hockey directly. I saw it as a way to connect with other officials across the country. And then, of course, getting to be a tenured referee was a sweetener.
I really enjoyed the first symposium I went to in 2021. The speakers and the information were all top notch. It was something I wanted to continue supporting, so I signed up for 2022’s symposium in San Diego, and it was even better than the first one. It’s not cheap to attend, but it’s worth the cost.
USAH: What else stands out about this event?
Tweer: It makes a huge difference to be in person, and you’re not just with people from your own organization. Everything is immersive, and you have professionals right there with you – people who are doing NHL games and who’ve been in the game for 20, 30, 40, 50 years. It gives you a little bit of a boost that what you’re doing makes a difference.
Also, the symposium spans a few days. You’re able to go much more in depth than what you might get at a local training in a few hours. Anyone who wants to be a referee for a longer period of time, this symposium is a must.
USAH: Any advice for officials considering attending 2023’s symposium?
Tweer: I hope more young officials make it out for this year’s symposium. It’s a great opportunity, and they would get so much out of it. But for this training, and any training, my advice for everyone is to participate. Get engaged, be active in the discussions. Don’t just sit there and listen, get involved!
USAH: Any plans to attend a third?
Tweer: I will absolutely go to another if I get the chance – these symposiums have impacted my professional growth quite a bit. There’s always more to learn, but more than anything, it’s a great experience to get to know some referees that you usually wouldn't meet. To be in person, getting USA Hockey’s point of view and to hear how they plan to support referees and the sport is, in my experience, invaluable.