Referees a rare commodity, especially female officials

CFB Esquimalt referees

PO1 Line Laurendeau (left) stands with fellow CFB Esquimalt Hockey Officials (left to right): CPO2 Yves Ouellet, PO2 Jarrett Taylor, and PO1 George Robinson. CFB Esquimalt is in need of new referees to officiate the numerous games on and off the base.

There are many things PO1 Line Laurendeau loves about hockey: the teamwork, the chill air of the arena, the flurry and clash of stick on stick. However, having played on CFB Esquimalt’s women’s hockey team for more than 15 years, the time came for PO1 Learendeau to think about her health. Three years ago she made the slide to referee.

“I was a goalie, so I knew that my style of play had a shelf life,” says the 40-year-old Sea Cadet Advisor. “I didn’t want an injury to threaten my career, but I wanted to give back to the program and the game.”

Becoming a certified official is quite simple; all that’s required are two four-hour classes. One class consists of a review of the game and rules, and the other sees the potential official on the ice, followed by an exam. Once certification is complete, the official is qualified to call hockey games for a number of organizations.

PO1 Laurendeau officiates the Intersectional Hockey League for various Canadian Forces games, and the Panorama, Saanich, and Victoria Minor Hockey Associations as well. Just this past year she officiated the Bantam AAA Nationals hosted at the Bear Mountain Arena.

“I was up against a lot of male officials a lot younger than me. It was a pretty good feeling to get that opportunity,” she says.

Another benefit of being a referee is the increased time on the ice.

“When I played hockey that was how I maintained my fitness, but I didn’t get to play all the time,” says PO1 Laurendeau. “Every game needs referees, so now I have a lot more opportunities to exercise.”

PO1 Laurendeau is one of only six active female officials in the CF. She says this isn’t because of any kind of stigma towards female referees. It’s simply that not many women know about the openings.

“Everyone wants to play the game, not many people want to referee,” says PO1 Laurendeau. “There are people in the program that are taking the time to make sure females are supported. The door is open.”

In the male dominated world of hockey officials, PO1 Laurendeau says that respect is something you have to earn.

“No one is going to hand you validation. You’re expected to work for it,” she says.

During the course of a game PO1 Laurendeau can be in situations where she has to break up fights between players much larger than herself.

“I may be smaller than them but do you think that’s going to stop me?”

This sense of a challenge has been one of the reasons PO1 Laurendeau has stuck with officiating.

“I love being told I can’t do something,” she says. “It gives me the opportunity to prove them wrong.”

For those interested in becoming an official, head to and find an officiating course near you.

-Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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