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Officiating Q-and-A with Dave LaBuda

By USA Hockey, 01/23/18, 1:00PM MST


USA Hockey's National Referee-in-Chief talks membership changes, USA Hockey's Winter Meetings

Each January, many of USA Hockey’s stakeholders descend upon sometimes-sunny Florida for USA Hockey’s Winter Meetings. There is discussion among all of the organization’s different groups, including officiating.


USA Hockey National Referee-in-Chief Dave LaBuda recaps this year’s meetings for us.


USA Hockey: Briefly, how did the meeting go?

Dave LaBuda: The district referee-in-chiefs, along with the program leadership, had a focused and determined attitude. We had an aggressive agenda that we successfully completed.


USAH: What did the district RICs talk about during their meetings?

LaBuda: One year ago, the district RICs authorized a subcommittee to review the overall registration process that officials must complete at the beginning of each season. That subcommittee presented its proposals for change and those changes were the primary discussion topics. I'm pleased to tell you that the Officials Section will be making some big changes to the registration requirements that will benefit the membership over time.


The first change I’d like to talk about is that there will be a two-tier fee structure starting with the 2018-19 season. There will be one fee for Level 1 and another fee for all other levels. The fee for Level 1 will be $45 and the fee for all the other levels will be fixed at $90.


USAH: Why a fee increase?

LaBuda: There are a few reasons for this fee increase, which is the first in several years. Primarily, the officiating program needs to be self-funded. The general cost of doing business has risen during that timeframe. When we implemented the online video module program several years ago, it was agreed not to increase fees, even though this program did have a cost factor associated it.


With all the changes and enhancements that will be coming, it was felt that this would be the best time for the increase. Also, we have recognized a trend that some officials were remaining at the lower registration levels. By making the registration fee for Levels 2, 3 and 4 the same, we hope to encourage and motivate those officials to improve their officiating skills by registering at higher levels when they become eligible. At the same time, some of the other changes that are being made will hopefully encourage them to do the same thing.


USAH: What are some of those other changes that are coming for officials?

LaBuda: A few of the changes that the membership can look forward to will be all open-book exams will be level-specific with only 50 questions on each test. Returning Level 3 and 4 officials will have the option to test out of elective online modules.


The last thing I'd like to mention is that Level 3 and 4 officials who meet certain specific criteria will be able to attain ‘tenured’ status. This registration status will have a reduced amount of annual requirements, like not having to attend a seminar, as well as not having to take a close-book exam.


USAH: How would you summarize the Officials Section meetings?

LaBuda: The district RICs, along with the Officials Section leadership, have taken some bold steps to improve the overall officiating program. The changes that were approved and will be implemented over time represent the most significant changes to the officiating program since the late 1980s when we introduced the Level 4 program. Over the next few months, we will be releasing more detailed information about all of the changes that our membership can look forward to.