While she was flattered and honored to be this year’s recipient of the Jamie Huntley-Park Award, USA Hockey official Kendall Hanley wishes there was no award to receive.
Hanley would trade the honor to be skating with Huntley-Park again.
“Jamie was one of my best friends and I'm incredibly humbled and grateful, knowing what type of person she was and what she stands for – not only within our community of officials, but also within the community of hockey as well,” Hanley said. “I wish we didn't have this award and we could go back and have her here.
“Every day, I wake up and the first thing I see is a photo of Jamie and I next to my computer. I just sit there, and I try to be like Jamie. To have people recognize me in that light means a lot.”
Hanley received the award at this year’s USA Hockey Advanced Officiating Symposium, which was held July 28-30 in Columbus, Ohio.
Huntley-Park was dedicated to the hockey community in San Diego. She played, coached and officiated in the area for years. The award was first handed out in 2022 to honor Huntley-Park after her and her husband, Ryan Park, were killed in a car crash on June 4, 2021.
Hanley lost more than a friend that day. She lost a role model, a colleague and her college hockey teammate. Hanley recalls a time when the two worked a tournament in Colorado.
“We went downstairs to grab an Uber and someone said to us, ‘Did you plan this?’” Hanley said with a smile. “We looked at each other and saw we had the same exact outfits – the same color pants, the same color shirt, the same hat. It looked like it was ‘dress like your roommate day’ but we didn't do it on purpose.”
In her career as an official, Hanley, who was a member of the AHL’s first class of 10 female officials, has broken a few boundaries for women.
In 2019, Hanley became one of the first four women to officiate an NHL Prospect tournament.
Hanley was the first woman to work at the NAHL’s Robertson Cup Championship.
In December 2021, Hanley became the first woman to officiate a professional hockey game in Wisconsin.
She won the Ben Allison Award — given annually to an official in the USA Hockey Officiating Developmental Program — in 2021, which marked the first time a woman had won the award.
Billy Hancock, the coordinator for officiating for USA hockey, called Hanley “a remarkable woman … who embodies the spirit of the person who this trophy is named after. [She has served] the sport of hockey with great passion. She has helped recruit and retain officials at all levels.”
Ironically, being an official was never one of Hanley’s career goals. According to Hanley, she had a negative perception of officials.
“That helps me relate to players,” she said. “I like to keep that edge on the ice, and we tend to relate well to one another. We all think every [official] should know everything, get everything right, and should see everything that's happening in the game.
“But it's definitely not the case. You do your best to set yourself up for success, use good habits and good positioning to see everything you can and manage the game. At least we’re going to do our best to be fair, keep everybody safe, and keep the integrity of the game intact.”
Hanley graduated with a Bachelor of Science in zoology and was doing an internship with the Dallas Zoo when she met Joy Johnston — who officiated at the Winter Olympics in 2006, 2010 and 2014 — at a pick-up game of hockey.
“[Johnston] just started chatting with me,” Hanley said. “She told me she was an official and that I should try it. I looked at her like she was crazy.”
Twelve years after the chance encounter with Johnston, Hanley found herself working the gold-medal game at the 2022 Olympics.
Hanley was fully locked into the game while it was happening, so it took some time for the significance of that game to hit her.
“I really didn’t think about it until I was off the ice, but I [realized] it was an incredible honor because we had a very strong group of officials for that game,” Hanley said.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.