Sean Reid - OHL Referee
Sean started officiating when he was 12 years old in Oshawa , Ontario . His father was the Convener of the local house league and they were in desperate need of officials for the tyke and novice house league games. When his family moved to London , Ontario , he was given the opportunity to officiate "AAA" hockey. When he moved to Ottawa , Ontario to go to university, he was once again promoted to officiate at the Junior level.
Sean received his Hockey Canada Officiating Program Level VI certification last November. Every year he attends a referee seminar to upkeep his skills. Sean has had the opportunity to work the:
- Ontario Bantam Championships
- Eastern Canadian Junior A Championship ( Fred Page Cup)
- Canadian Interuniversity National Championship
- Ontario Hockey League All-Star Game
- Ontario Hockey League Championship Series
Now that Sean has reached the highest level within the Hockey Canada Officiating Program, his job is to help with the development of officials in minor hockey. He instructs at the yearly clinics and seminars that each official must participate in before they can qualify to officiate for the upcoming season. He also acts as a supervisor of officials. The development of an official happens through actual game experience, meaning it is a "hands-on learning" job. For Sean, hockey is the greatest game in the world. It is competitive, challenging, frustrating - all in an effort to put a six-ounce puck into the opposing six-by-four goal frame.
THS: Who helped you become a referee?
SR: My dad influenced me because he was a supervisor for officials. I knew I still liked the game and I wanted to stay in it and this was a great opportunity.
THS: What did you need to start refereeing?
SR: Knowledge of the game. The foundations of playing the game helped me but it isn't mandatory for others who want to get involved. It does help though.
THS: What else did you need?
SR: I had to take a mandatory course and an exam and it started off at Level I up to Level 6 which I am today.
THS: Would that be the same for everybody?
SR: You can start refereeing at a minimum age, I believe it's 12.. and they would take Level I and be a Level I until they were 16. By the way, in the US , there are 4 levels.
THS: Where can you go for these courses?
SR: Usually in the summer or fall, you can go to Referee schools which are all over Canada and the US .
THS: You have these courses. now what?
SR: Well basically, you need to get out there and just ref. It's not like a player who can practice and go play in a game. The game is our practice for refereeing. The more you do, the better you get.
THS: What are you given in the courses as direction?
SR: We get the rulebook. We get a Procedures Manual. Usually you have your own personal agenda for things like schedules and contacts.
THS: Obviously you need equipment. Anything specific other than what I see?
SR: Basically, there's a helmet, pants, white laces and ½ a visor.
THS: In minor hockey, how come officials don't have to wear a full visor?
SR: (chuckling) How will they blow the whistle with a full visor?
THS: Obviously! Good point. Let's talk about preparation for a game. When should you arrive at a game?
SR: In the Procedures Manual, it says ½ hour to a game. I like to get there a good hour before.
THS: What do you do to typically get ready?
SR: I usually identify surroundings. I talk about stuff with the other guys I'm going to work with. like, "do you know anything about the teams?" and "Do you know what the fans are like?"
THS: What happens for guys who do the 2-Official system? How does preparation change?
SR: It doesn't really but what you do need to do in a 2-Official system is you've got to communicate really well. You've got to know where the other guy is at all times.
THS: Out of curiosity, why is there a 2-Official system and a 3-Official system in minor hockey?
SR: It's usually around financial reasons. A 2-Official system will cost less than having 3 guys run the game. However, the great thing about it is that it is also a great training system.
THS: How so?
SR: In a 2-Official system, the officials have to be both linesman and referee so they get the flavor of both simultaneously.
THS: In a 3-Official system, are there specific jobs of each role?
SR: Yes. The referee will talk to captains, will talk with the coach and will run the ice. The referee will trail the play whereas the linesmen will be more ahead and right in the thick of things. Specifically, there are duties listed in the rulebook for the linesmen and the referee and I believe they are no. 42 and no. 43 for Hockey Canada .
THS: So you guys are watching the game. Who's watching you guys?
SR: There's usually a supervisor and in some cases, a referee-in-chief.
THS: What do they do to help the game?
SR: The supervisor is there to provide feedback and encourage you. The ref-in-chief also does that but will also want to make sure that rules are enforced and the game is played accordingly. The whole idea of having someone there, including the officials on the ice is to make sure the game is safe. It's all about risk management.
THS: I noticed before a game, refs are usually looking at a score sheet. What kind of things are you looking for?
SR: The first thing is, I want to count the number of players. I want to see if the coaches have signed and if there is a trainer's number on the score sheet.
THS: To enforce the rules of the game, is there a specific book you work with as an official?
SR: The rulebook is the rulebook and we all follow it. coaches. players.
THS: I want to move to perceptions. In some cases, people have a negative attitude towards officials. What would you say now that you are an official?
SR: The first is presentation on the ice. I always respected the refs that looked like they were in control. things like hemmed pants, shirt done up, making confident calls. Hesitation looks like a lack of confidence. I realized to be successful, I need to understand that I am not the center of attention and the game is not about me. The number one thing for me is that the game has to be fair and safe for the players.
THS: Do you still enjoy the game?
SR: I love it because I get to meet people. It is a tough job but I feel more responsible by making sure I'm in control and calm.
THS: Is there anything that you find frustrating as a referee?
SR: Basically, the further you go down in the play-offs, there's weeding out that happens because there's a lot less games that get played and there are more officials available. So, I understand it but it is frustrating because I want to be part of the game and I know it has to do with seniority and experience.
THS: Continuing with perception, there are officials I see that are overweight and can barely skate as well as ones that are fit and strong. I admire the fact that they are on the ice but what image does that portray to a young hockey player?
SR: I can't speak for others but one of the things that I know, when you get to Level 4 and above, there are fitness tests that need to be taken. It's in the Procedures Manual. If there's anything I could say to officials it's, "get into it because you enjoy the game and take pride in yourself by staying or getting in shape."
THS: On the topic of getting in shape, what kind of things do you do to stay in shape?
SR: I ride the bike daily. I go to the gym usually on a game day for a work-out. And as far as nutrition, I make sure I drink a lot of water and I usually pack fruit and some food for after the game. By the way, for the pocketbook, it's cheaper than having to buy at the rink.
THS: We've talked about what it takes, we've talked a little bit about fitness, we've talked about rules, how does somebody advance or improve as an official?
SR: A lot of times, it's based on appointment or recommendations which could come from supervisors or referees-in-chief. There's a checklist and sometimes video supervisions to check for your positioning and how you are doing. Now, if you want to give back to the game, which is what I believe, you should become or volunteer to be an evaluator or senior official to help the younger ones.
THS: What other courses can you take?
SR: Every year there are certifications and re-certifications for officials.
THS: What would be the 3 most important things to do to become a ref in minor hockey?
SR: 1 - Get to know who runs the association or your branch and get in touch with them. 2 - Get certified or proper schooling. 3 - Know that you are not going to make anyone happy doing this job - take "respect" over "like."
THS: From my understanding, officials are paid. Who pays them?
SR: Usually it's the league. In the case of tournaments, it's the administration.
THS: Are you paid weekly?
SR: Depending on your area, sometimes you're paid at the end of every game. Some guys are on a weekly schedule.
THS: What do you in the off-season as an official?
SR: In my case, I try to stay on the ice because I enjoy it. I help out teams, here and there.
THS: Anything you feel you want to add that we haven't talked about?
SR: Yes. You only get good by doing games and this is the only position I know that no matter what level you do, the rules are the rules and you apply them the same way.
THS: Are you telling me that a guy who does Junior, like yourself, would have the same duties as someone doing Atom or Peewee?
SR: Yes. What happens is, if you have the certification, let's use Level 6 like I have, I still have to call an icing. an offside is an offside. a goal is a goal. The same stance, on-ice positioning, same rules, all apply.
THS: I think that's pretty unique. Thanks for your time Sean. I appreciate this conversation.
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