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The Summer of 2016 has been a summer filled with development

By USA Hockey, 08/08/16, 1:45PM MDT


The summer of 2016 is on track to see substantial development of American hockey officials. The USA Hockey Summer Development Camp series has concluded at all sites and there are three District Officiating Seminars to be offered across the country in August. 

Earlier this year (STRIPES – February 2016), the USA Hockey Officiating Program announced that the Summer Development Camp program sites were being changed to accommodate a wider range of officials and offer greater accessibility to participants. Additionally, the mission and strategy of each program has been updated to ensure they meet participants’ long-term development goals.

As explained by USA Hockey’s BJ Ringrose, coordinator of officiating education, “We reviewed the recent programs of the entry-level Regional Camp and decided our focus on competition was overshadowing the educational mission of working with officials at the grassroots levels and sending them home with the tools to improve themselves and their hockey communities.”

Officials are competitive by nature, and this element will exist regardless of program structure, but to expect an official from a remote area, with limited opportunities for gaining experience, to succeed against another participant from a so-called hockey hotbed was unfair, especially if both officials continued to improve through the week. Therefore, we decided to eliminate the final rank system and keep the nature of the camp education-based.

In short, this is not a make-you-or-break-you camp.

The new focus of the newly named Futures Camp series is to give all participants the tools to develop if they apply them during future seasons. While an official might be a few steps behind other participants during camp, they can use what they learn to reach full potential over time. The 2016 Futures Camps gave these tips and tools to 55 officials from all across the country.

High-Performance Camp

In addition to the re-formatting at the entry-level Futures Camps, the USA Hockey High-Performance Camp (formerly National Camp) featured its own upgrade. While this program continues to be competitive, with participants from Tier III junior, high school and low-level collegiate hockey participating in on-ice, off-ice and written testing, the mission of the program has been altered to use the camp to identify future full-time Officiating Development Program participants.

“The opportunities to live in league-sponsored housing and work a full season of high-level junior hockey are limited,” said Ringrose. “We hope this week-long program will serve the mission of placing Official A vs. Official B during games and in competitive camp sessions to find out who shows greater potential to benefit from full-time ODP experience.”

That being said, this program is not entirely about getting hired. There is still an opportunity to attend and continue to their development path for qualified officials with no desire to make officiating a career.  Similar to Futures Camp, there is an expected obligation to bring the knowledge they learn from USA Hockey’s top-level instructors back home to share with local officials.

Program of Merit

The USA Hockey Officiating Program of Merit completed its sixth program of offering advanced instruction to officials identified as showing potential for reaching the highest levels of the game. The Program of Merit is focused on game performance, with review and instruction coming from a staff of National Hockey League referees and linesmen.

“USA Hockey Officiating is very proud of the opportunity this program offers to those officials who have worked hard to improve over four to five seasons to reach the top five percent of the development pool,” said Ringrose. “Additionally, we’re very thankful to Brian Murphy (NHL linesman) for his hard work with creating program structure, recruitment of staff, and participation in the selection of the participants. We look forward to watching this program continue to give a developmental edge to participants as they compete for the highest opportunities in hockey.”

Female Officiating Development

This summer’s development was not restricted to the men. The Women’s Futures Camp program was offered to female officials with the same mission and goals of the men’s camp. The participants received instruction and game feedback from some of the top female IIHF and NCAA officials in the country.

International Participants

Additionally, the summer camp programs continued to have some international flavor as three officials from both Turkey and Israel took advantage of USA Hockey’s commitment to working with other National Governing Bodies to improve and grow the sport worldwide.

“In addition to the level of instruction and knowledge they bring home, all participants make international friendships that continue long after the program ends,” said Ringrose. “Plus, the opportunity always exists that their paths may cross again if they choose to pursue working international tournaments. We’re extremely proud of the career paths that many of our foreign guests have taken.”

District Officiating Seminar Program

The development of officials continues in August as the USA Hockey District Officiating Seminar (DOS) programs begin. These three-day programs are designed to bring extensive instruction by nationally trained instructors to the local grassroots official. While the program content is very similar to the typical annual seminar, the extended timeframe allows for more thorough presentations and opportunity for questions and answers.

Additionally, the DOS programs offer up to eight hours of on-ice instruction covering practical mechanics and positioning, along with power-skating instruction to help officials develop an efficient stride.

“The DOS programs give an opportunity to the veteran official who wants an advanced classroom experience, and possibly the opportunity to be seen by district supervisor staff for consideration for district or national playoffs.” Ringrose said.

To say this summer has been busy with development would be an understatement, but it’s worth it. We’re excited with all the progress and USA Hockey takes pride in the opportunity to help member officials achieve their goals, in addition to improving the game across the country.

For more information about any of the programs mentioned in this article, please contact your district referee-in-chief or click here.