Youth hockey teams are forming across the state which means scrimmages, league games and tournaments are right around the corner. With roughly 30,000 youth hockey games expected to be played in Minnesota this season, there’s a significant need for officials to provide a safe and fair environment for all of those games.
Yet, last season the number of officials was at its lowest point in over 20 years. There were only 2,109 registered officials in Minnesota, down from a high of 2,913 in 2009-10.
With that in mind, here are five reasons you, or your young hockey player, should consider becoming an official this season.
1. We need officials.
Officials are an important part of every organized sporting event. Officials help provide a structured, safe environment and expectations of how the game is played by enforcing a set of defined rules.
2. Learning the rules can help you as a player, coach or spectator.
Becoming an official isn’t easy, and that’s for good reason. There is a fair amount of training required because officials are expected to be rule experts. Beyond the seminars and tests, it takes time, experience and yes, a fair number of mistakes to become a great official, just like it does to become a great player or coach.
The good news is the more players, coaches and spectators who know the rules themselves and appreciate how challenging officiating is the better the experience will be for everyone. Plus, the Minnesota Hockey Officials Association (MHOA) and officials associations across the state are putting more energy into mentoring and supporting young officials than ever before.
(If you want a challenge, try memorizing the rule differences between USA Hockey, high school and college hockey! Many officials in Minnesota work at multiple levels and therefore, they are required to know more than one set of rules and correctly apply the correct rules depending on which age group they’re working that day.)
3. Get paid to attend hockey games.
That’s right! You can actually get paid to watch hockey.
Officials have an important job to do on the ice, and there are high expectations for doing the job well. However, most high school or college students will have a hard time finding a job that’s more enjoyable and rewarding than officiating a hockey game.
4. Have fun being active.
There’s also the benefit of being physically active. Officials make numerous trips up and down the ice, providing a fun way to stay active, and at the older age groups, it isn’t unusual to see officials break a good sweat, especially as the referee in a 3-official system.
5. Give back to the game you love!
Last, but certainly not least, the game of hockey gives so much to thousands of young men and women every day. For those who have played the game, becoming an official is a great way to pay forward your appreciation for your experience and help ensure the next generation of hockey players in Minnesota also has a fun and positive hockey environment.
Interested in becoming an official? Get started at www.minnesotahockey.org/new-official.