For most kids, school doesn’t start until Sept. 8, but Clayton Thielman will be back in class starting next week.
Thielman will be heading to Osoyoos for the five-day BC Hockey Summer Officiating School starting on Aug. 8.
“I am really looking forward to the experience and learning how to improve the way I impact the game as a ref,” says the 16-year-old Thielman.
The camp will be operated by experienced BC Hockey Officiating Program personnel as well as NHL and AHL experienced refs.
Thielman grew up playing hockey and has been part of minor hockey, suiting up for the North Okanagan Knights, since he was five.
Last year was his first year dawning the trademark stripes of referees.
He took to it like a fish to water.
“It all came to me pretty naturally, I think because I have been around the game for so many years and I know the game well, it was easy to pick up.”
Staying out of the way of the play and learning the positioning was the most difficult aspect to pick up in his first year as a ref, admits Thielman.
He says his passion for hockey was the driving force behind becoming an official.
“I want to be around hockey as much as possible, I love the sport, and it was also a way to make some money,” Thielman says with a smirk.
He credits the North Okanagan head ref, Mark McMahon, with helping him through his first year.
McMahon is also responsible for funding Thielman’s expenses to attend the reffing camp.
The camp will consist of on-ice and off-ice training throughout the five days, and be devoted entirely to Hockey Canada Officiating Program (HCOP) material.
The HCOP certification exam will be administered on the final day of camp to provide certification.
As a Level 1 official, Thielman has reffed all age groups up to the midget level, but could not ref rep games or the playoffs.
He is looking for that to change after the camp.
At the end of the camp Thielman expects he will be a Level 2 official.
At 16, Thielman is playing in the midget level for the North Okanagan Knights, usually as a centreman, and says reffing has helped him in his game as a player.
He says as a ref you quickly learn what an official goes through during the course of a game.
“I always respected the refs before, but now I know what their thought process could be, and you learn how to better deal with the refs.”
He also had to learn to balance both reffing and playing, often finishing a game or practice, then suiting up 10 minutes later to ref.
Thielman says he would ultimately like to pursue hockey as far as he can, but he admits that a career as an official would be a safe fallback if his hockey career doesn’t pan out.