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On Ice vs. On Your Resume

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People like to tell me sometimes that being an ice hockey official is not a job, it’s just a hobby. Well…

  • “hobby, noun: an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation” (dictionary.com)
  • “job, noun: a post of employment; full-time or part-time position” (dictionary.com)

Half the refs I meet while working hate getting out on the ice, which makes me wonder why they do it, but then again, half the people I meet complain about their day jobs too, so what’s the difference, really? Not many people I know become a referee because they think it’ll be a real party. The “it’s just a hobby” argument doesn’t stand strong.

The only people who can probably say that they work full time as a ref are the ones in the NHL, but regardless, it is a job. You have to show up on time, look like a professional, work with others, be certified for the position, and do your job well. (And trust me, you will know if you don’t do your job well. Everyone in the rink will let you know.)

You might not be able to hold this position as a full-time one, but you can keep doing it on the side of any other job, and you can even spin what you do on the ice into something you can put on your resume.

You may use the following examples from my own resume as you see fit:

On your resume: “On-ice responsibilities include:”

On the ice: “There is literally a list of 200 things I could write down that I need to do during a game but I’ll try to limit it to four relevant things.”

On your resume: “Managing all game time activities.”

On the ice: Even though being an ice hockey official does mean you are a manager, no one is going to think that means anything serious in the corporate world. So instead of writing down that what you do is watch 10 kids on the ice chase around a puck and try to hold themselves back from beating each other up, you say that you manage the on ice “activities.” Which could mean any of the following things:

  • Dropping the puck at face offs.
  • Calling penalties.
  • Calling offsides.
  • Calling goals.
  • Telling kids to keep their sticks down so you don’t have to call any high sticking penalties.
  • Yelling at kids to move the puck when it’s frozen on the boards as if they’re actually going to listen to you.
  • Avoiding being hit by people skating by who aren’t paying attention.
  • Thinking you’re such an agile acrobat when you jump out of the way of the puck as it comes towards you on the boards.
  • Drifting around by the blue line because everything is happening in one zone and you’re the far ref. Sucks for your partner.
  • Making sure little gatherings don’t turn into full on scrums.
  • So on and so forth.

On your resume: “Determining and keeping control of game situations.”

On the ice: Generally, games are pretty straightforward. Both teams try to create plays that lead to goals that lead to a win. Occasionally, emotions run high, and thus, “game situations” arise that you need to “keep control” of. Two kids will start yapping at each other in front of the net like they think they’re tough shit, and then they’re pushing each other and that’s your cue to get between them as fast as you can to avoid any further “situations” that can evolve. “Determining and keeping control of game situations” is the professional way of saying that you stop kids and occasionally grown adults from fighting each other.

On your resume: “Communicating quickly and efficiently with your partner, coaches, and players.”

On the ice: Once when I was on a job interview at a publishing company, they asked me what I thought was a skill that translated well from being an official to being in an office. Something that I think does actually work well in your favor is the ability to communicate efficiently with various sorts of people. With coaches and players yelling at you, you have to learn how to respond calmly and professionally. No matter how much you may want to, you cannot yell back, you cannot tell someone how stupid you think they are, you cannot curse them for being the little shits that they are on the ice. You must maintain a sense of professionalism, and that’s a skill that can be used at any job, because everywhere you go, you will meet a variety of people, and you will have to communicate with them in some way, shape, or form.

On your resume: “Thoroughly versed in all USA Hockey rules and procedures and proper application during games.”

On the ice: There is a rulebook packed full with about 600+ rules and situations, and you need to remember them at the drop of a hat. Or puck. This might not necessarily translate to real life, because no one is going to care that you can remember the different kinds of penalties you can get for slashing, but someone will care that you have a head for details and can remember a lot of things at once and apply them when needed.

Spin your words properly, and you have a neat little section to add to your resume.


Ice Hockey Official, USA Hockey 2011 – Present

On-ice responsibilities include:

  • Managing all game time activities
  • Determining and keeping control of game situations
  • Communicating quickly and efficiently with your partner, coaches, and players
  • Thoroughly versed in all USA Hockey rules and procedures and proper application during games
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