Look no further than longtime official Tim Mayer as a perfect example of how hard work can pay off.
He has worked games in more than 10 countries over the course of his career, reaching the pinnacle about six months ago as the lone American men’s hockey official at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Still, Mayer has never let his success get to his head. In fact, he brings the same intensity no matter the game he’s working, evidenced by his effort a few weeks ago in the Stars & Stripes Showdown, a charity game in memory of the late Jim Johannson.
That stuff doesn’t go unnoticed.
“It’s very important to take pride in the work we’re doing out there,” said J.B. Olson, USA Hockey officiating supervisor. “Tim Mayer is a perfect example of that. When I first got started as a supervisor, he was rising up the ranks, and he always gave his best, regardless of the level he was working.
“There are guys like that and it ends up serving them well in the long run.”
Perhaps the biggest problem is that same type of passion isn’t always as prevalent nowadays.
“There are definitely guys going out there simply to get a paycheck,” said Kelly Colyer, USA Hockey officiating supervisor. “That’s not a good way to go about it. I’ve been an official for 33 straight years and I never did it because of the money. That’s something too many people get into it for and then they don’t have a passion for the work they’re doing.”
More issues arise when officials work games with a sole focus on moving up the ladder.
“I think that coincides with the current culture of instant gratification,” Olson said. “They want to rush the process without paying their dues along the way. They get a little taste at the next level, and it goes OK, then they think they’re ready for that, no questions asked. That’s not always the case.”
Most of the time, that way of thinking sets officials up for failure, something Colyer can attest to courtesy of his long tenure.
“You can tell right away the people that want to get better and the ones who don’t really care,” Colyer said. “There’s not a game that goes by that I don’t open my rulebook afterward to kind of reassure myself that I made the right call in a certain situation. You look at it and the rulebook is 387 pages long, so there’s no way someone knows everything as well as they might think.”
That comes back to working hard no matter the level of play.
“We should always be giving our best effort, because the game deserves it,” Olson said. “We aren’t bigger than the game. Nobody is. If someone is used to working a higher level and gets a lower level, it’s a chance for them to be a mentor to somebody else that might be looking up to them. It’s all part of it.”
As much as the culture has changed over time, it’s not all bad, and Olson wanted to be sure to give credit where credit is due.
“I’m an old-school kind of guy, and I know my generation likes to bash on the younger generation,” Olson said. “That said, most of the officials coming through our system now do take a lot of pride in their work. They are better conditioned. They eat better. They train harder. My hat’s off to them for that. We just need more like that.”
Tag(s): Stripes Newsletter