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Atlantic District’s Officiating Development Workshop a Hit

By Jessi Pierce, 12/09/14, 11:45PM MST


Each year, hundreds of officials turn out for the USA Hockey District and Regional Camps. Some are seasoned vets while others are rookies, but they all have the same goal of improvement and development.

The camps are comprised of some of the best officials from each district across the U.S. and are a beacon of pride for each regional officiating program. Recognizing this, the Atlantic District began to notice a problem with officials representing their area at the development camps.

“A lot of our officials were performing … OK,” said Bill Maurer, the Atlantic District’s evaluation program coordinator. “But we knew we could be better. We kept seeing some kids who were really well prepared, and we wanted to have that, too. We knew we wanted to have officials who were prepared and we wanted a way to identify officials that would take this seriously.”

In came some development ideas from Ian Walsh, who refereed at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Atlantic District officials then launched Walsh’s brainchild: the Officiating Development Workshop. Its No. 1 goal was to prepare young officials in the district for USA Hockey’s Eastern Regional Officiating Camp.

“We wanted to provide younger officials a way to really develop in officiating,” Maurer said. “We wanted to make sure they had a much stronger foundation to get up to that next level of hockey.”

It seems to be working. 

January marks the workshop’s third year. In its two-year existence, the development workshop has produced more than 40 officials who have ascended to higher levels of hockey and training, including Tier 1 youth hockey, junior hockey, along with District and Regional Camps.

“(Before this workshop) I know there might have been a couple of officials who were on the bubble about coming back or stepping up their development,” said Maurer. “But with the Officiating Development Workshop and going through these experiences, they see what’s expected of them and they learn what they’re capable of doing. They take it upon themselves to improve both on and off the ice and are much more prepared for the next level.

“Plus, now we can identify officials who want to take it to the next level in the early stages of their career.”

The workshop’s target participant is usually between the ages of 13 and 17 with an eagerness to learn and develop as an official. Candidates are nominated by evaluators, supervisors and assignors throughout the district based on their potential.

But Maurer adds that the workshop is just one part a multi-phase development process in the Atlantic District.  

“The next step (for these young officials) would be working games at the District Player Development Tryout Camp, then hopefully District Camp and USA Hockey Regional Camp,” he said.

At the District Player Development Tryout Camp, held in May, officials identified at the workshop use the tournament for further development. At the District Officiating Camp, which Maurer adds was modeled after the USA Hockey Officiating Camps, officials continue to prepare for District Camp and for further advancement in officiating.

“We want to give kids some exposure and give them some idea about what their options are in officiating,” said Maurer. “We want to talk to them at an early age about their aspirations of officiating and how to get there.

“(When I was younger) I had no idea you could make a living at (officiating). I’m not sure I would have necessarily done it right then, but it never even occurred to me at the time. If we can educate and prepare (young officials) now and help them realize the value, they just might stick around.”