Jenn Berezowski always wanted the opportunity to officiate at a top-level
With 15 years of experience as an on-ice official, working in numerous
leagues and tournaments around Canada, Berezowski finally got the
chance when she was chosen as a referee for the 2023 IIHF U18 Women’s
World Championship in Sweden.
There was just one small dilemma. Berezowski had recently given birth to
her second daughter, Hannah.
“When I got the phone call in October 2022 to do the U18 Women’s Worlds in
January, I was about a month postpartum with my second daughter,”
Berezowski recalls. “It was going to be tight with the timing, but I
couldn’t say no.”
So, a month after Hannah was born, Berezowski resumed officiating games.
“I was back on the ice again and with my daughter attached to my hip,” she
When it came time to leave for Sweden, Berezowski, along with her mother
and baby Hannah, made the trip from their home in Trenton, Ont., across the
Atlantic. Meanwhile, her husband and their eldest daughter, three-year-old
Scarlett, remained at home and watched as Berezowski refereed three games,
including the gold medal game that saw Canada beat Sweden 10-0 to defend
its world title.
Whether it was at home or on the road, Berezowski credits friends, family
and colleagues for supporting her and Hannah.
“Everyone has taken turns coming to the arena with me so that I can be away
from home and continue to ref but also have her with me there so I can feed
her and keep her healthy,” Berezowski says. “My colleagues have been
extremely supportive, no one has blinked an eye about me feeding my baby in
between periods or having a babysitter hanging around. In doing that, they
are helping normalize this path locally, nationally and internationally.”
Since the U18 worlds in Sweden, Berezowski has returned to officiating
various leagues across Ontario with her daughter by her side. This week,
she is part of the crew working the U SPORTS Women’s Hockey Championship in
With the added logistics of travelling with her baby, on top of being a
mother of two and a referee, Berezowski is also a chartered professional
accountant. She admits that the spring season is one of her busiest times
of the year, with provincial championships and playoffs happening at the
same time as the Canadian tax season.
“It’s all about the support I receive from everyone, including my bosses
who have been very generous with allowing me to have flexible hours,”
Berezowski says. “During the spring, tax season and championships come to a
peak, so it’s all about giving some and taking some and being one of the
hardest workers out there.”
Normalizing newborns at the rink
Since donning the stripes when she was 16 years old, Berezowski says she
has only once seen a mom with her newborn at the rink. However, she is
optimistic that over time, it will be commonplace.
“We used to have to choose one of the two. I would’ve had to choose between
continuing to do this or is it time to have a family,” Berezowski adds.
“Now, people have opened their minds to the possibilities and you can do
both. I’ve been lucky to be able to pursue everything.”
Berezowski is also in contact with the growing community of women
officials. Whether it’s sharing experiences or bouncing thoughts and ideas
off each other, the community continues to be very supportive. By sharing
her story, Berezowski hopes to serve as a role model for other women,
particularly new moms.
“I have a lot of colleagues that are young, and they haven’t started
families yet, and through that online group, we’re transparent and showing
that we’re in 2023, we can do this stuff if we want to, and I love that I
can show that within my province and on the ice,” she says.
At the end of the day, Berezowski is encouraged by the support from the
“It’s super rewarding to have a career, be an official on the ice and a
mom, too,” she says. “Seeing people like Natalie Spooner and all she’s
doing, we’re showing moms what is possible, and that we can do anything
that we want to once we set our minds to it.”