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Young Zebras

By Jeremy Forest, 12/12/16, 7:30AM EST

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DYHA's Black & White Striped Youth Movement

If you’ve spent time at the Dover Arena recently you’ve probably noticed a lot of young faces out there on the ice sporting the black and white stripes.  At a time when the number of certified hockey officials is on the decline nationally, DYHA is experiencing a big time youth movement! 

During the 2016-17 season, no less than a dozen of our young Stars and Wild players will also take the ice to officiate games.  They include: Orlando Ricci, Molly Grace, Nathan Coffey, Ryan Cole, Jake McGuire, Hunter Camire, Ethan Crawford, Dominic Ciccotelli, Adam Enscoe, Austin Gilbert, Aidan MacRitchie and Bryce Gamache.

The process of becoming a certified USA Hockey official is not easy.  While balancing the demands of school work, and their playing hockey schedules, each of these young officials had to attend a day-long seminar that included both on-ice and off-ice instruction.  They also completed over almost 4 hours of online coursework and had to pass a certification test before receiving their official’s patch. 

Some of the officials-in-training also spent time extra time at the rink learning the finer points of officiating with the help of their DYHA coaches.  Arriving early for practice, or staying late, they spent numerous hours on and off the ice, working on proper positioning and white boarding game scenarios with coaches Dan Coffey, Jeff Cole and Richard Grace.  (DYHA would like to say a special ‘thank you’ to Dan, Jeff and Richard for volunteering their time!) 

Having so much already on their plates with schoolwork and their team obligations hasn’t prevented these ambitious student-athletes from also pursuing their official’s patch.  Orlando Ricci, a 12-year old member of the Dover Stars Pee Wee 1 team, summed up his motivation as “a love of skating, a love of the game of hockey and a great experience that not a lot of people get to do."

Molly Grace, a 11-year old 6th grader, who is also a member of the Stars Pee Wee 1 team, expressed an interest in becoming an official when she saw other young officials out on the ice.  She has since also been inspired to take up a coaching whistle and is currently helping coach players in the DYHA House League during their Friday night practices.

PJ Bandouveres, DYHA’s Referee in Chief responsible for scheduling officials for all DYHA home games, is all too familiar with the challenges created by the declining number of available officials.  He is especially appreciative of DYHA’s youth movement.  “Having such a large group of our young players make the decision to pursue their official’s certification is exciting to see.  We desperately need to reverse the decline in our officiating numbers that we are seeing across the country.  I’m happy that DYHA is helping to boost those numbers by encouraging young people to consider becoming officials and supporting them in their efforts.”

So, the next time you’re at the rink, keep an eyes out for our young zebras roaming the arena and congratulate them for all of their hard work!   Without them the games literally do not go on!

If you have a son or daughter interested in becoming a certified official, please contact PJ Bandouveres at refereechief@doverhockey.org for more information.