In hockey, as in other competitive sports, officials play a vital role – without them, you don’t have a
As the female game has grown, so too has the need for elite-level officials. According to Todd Anderson,
Hockey Canada’s manager of officiating, the problem isn’t finding the officials, it’s finding the officials
in the right area of the country.
“The challenge in the system is being able to provide the officials with the experience to be able to
climb the ladder,” he says, noting that registration of female officials has doubled in the last 10 years.
“Not every branch, not every region, not every city has a high-level of hockey.”
Anderson says Hockey Canada’s big push right now is to find the most talented officials, those that show
the most promise, and do what it can to provide the best learning environment possible.
But where are these high-level officials found?
Julie Healy, Hockey Canada’s director of female hockey, says many come from playing the game at a high
level, because their knowledge of the game gives them an advantage.
“Your best officials have played the game,” Healy says. “They have a good sense of how to manage the game
and what the game is all about. Somebody who hasn’t played the game at a high level could struggle a bit with
Ideally, she says, players can begin to experience officiating during their playing days, making a little
easier to make the transition.
“We’d like to target all female Midget players and get them thinking about officiating. For those whose
dream of playing for Canada hasn’t panned out, they have a really good base of skating and understanding of
the game on which to build an officiating career.”
Examples of the transition are out there – Carolyn Laforge, and up-and-coming official in Quebec, played
in the regional under-18 program and Heather Richardson, one of the top female linesman in the world, played
university hockey with some of the players now starring for Canada’s National Women’s Team.
Anderson says the success stories are out there, but there needs to be more, possibly from players who
come up short in their quest to represent their country.
“We need more interest from somebody, for example, who might not make the National Women’s Under-22 Team,
but who could make a terrific official,” he says. “Women’s players play the game for longer, so we need to
start getting to players early, showing them there is another path that involves them staying on the ice.
“We can escalate development if the tools are already in the tool box, but that is what we are missing
right now. If they keep playing, and officiating isn’t an option for them at a young age, then we miss out on
getting them into the system at a nice age to be able to have a career in officiating.”
So how can someone get involved in officiating? Check out information on the officiating program at
hockeycanada.ca – found in the Minor Hockey section – and find out who the female officiating coordinator
is in each branch.