Ice Hockey UK’s Referee Section has welcomed three new members to their management team, supporting the development of on-ice officials heading into the 2018/19 season.
Colin Davidson has been appointed Level 1 Officiating Manager, Steven Wardell is the new National Club Tournament Manager and Tom Stephenson is the Level 1 Course Manager.
IHUK Referee Chief Joy Johnston said: “Nathan Ormond was our Level 1 Officiating Manager in our inaugural season as IHUK Referee Section and he did a fantastic job with the Level 1 officials, while also managing multiple projects to help the unified referee section get up and running.
“Nathan has stepped down from the management team due to work commitments, but he is returning to the ice and is looking forward to supporting officials as a mentor and performance coach.
“I want to thank Nathan for his hard work helping the section get off the ground, and we are pleased he is continuing to work with officials in a mentoring role.”
“Nathan’s previous role has been divided into three new, distinct roles and following a summer recruitment exercise the successful individuals have been appointed.
“We are delighted to welcome Colin, Steven and Tom into the management team,” Johnston added. “They bring with them a wealth of experience which will be of great benefit to the Referee Section management and to #TeamStripes in general.”
COLIN DAVIDSON – Level 1 Officiating Manager
Davidson has been a key official in the Scottish programme over the last few years and he has taken the decision that the time is right for him to now step off the ice and take on a role in driving the programme forward.
Taking the step to come off the ice is never easy and he will miss being on the ice, but he will be a great asset to the programme off it and will not only be a real support for the existing officials, but will make a lasting impact on a new generation of officials as they join the team.
The 2018/19 season will bring with it a huge recruitment drive for new officials, particularly in Scotland, and being based there will mean he is able to be hands-on with as many new officials as possible.
He is also the first Officiating Manager to be based in Scotland, which further helps to solidify a unified referee section with management coverage across the UK.
“I am excited to be part of the management team and help push the section forward, especially in Scotland as we have a distinct lack of new officials,” said Davidson. “Also I want to work with all existing Level 1 officials and help move them on to the next level in their officiating career.
“I hope want to continue the work started by Nathan, but also bring some new ideas and help grow our officials and retain them in the sport. I feel it is an exciting time to be part of #TeamStripes with a lot more structure and support and potential for officials than there has been previously.”
Deputy chief referee Michael Evans welcomed the appointment, saying: “Colin brings with him a great amount of experience from both his playing and officiating career. He is already very engaged with the management team and is being proactive in networking with venues to hold future Level 1 officiating courses.
“It was important for us to have someone with the drive and enthusiasm that Colin has for this role as this will be any new official’s first reporting manager. I’m confident he will make this a positive experience for all new officials while at the same time taking care of their future development.”
STEVEN WARDELL – National Club Tournament Manager
Wardell retired as an official last season and took on the challenge of being a performance coach for officials. He took to this role like a duck to water and has played a key role in providing coaching, feedback and support to officials last season.
As an active official, he officiated at numerous tournaments over the years and brings with him a real understanding of the challenges faced by officials and by clubs as they organise tournaments.
This experience, coupled with his enthusiasm to remain involved with helping to drive the programme forward, whilst off the ice, made him the perfect appointment for the National Club Tournament Manager role. He will play a critical part in balancing the needs of clubs as they organise tournaments, with what the referee section can provide.
“I am pleased to join the management team and pleased that I have the trust of my peers to help make our section a world class officiating programme,” he said.
“My ambition is for the development and growth of our officials. By placing them into a tournament scenario officials can be nurtured and coached by a lead referee or a performance coach during and after each game, when he or she then works another game there would be improvements.
“At present this may occur once or twice over several months during a season – by placing officials into tournaments they may be given the opportunity to officiate at a higher level than they currently work, they may also work with officials from other parts of the country and gain from their experiences. This will grow our officials and in turn our programme.”
Evans added: “We took Steven on board as a full-time Performance Coach last season and since then he has delivered on every level. He brings with him a wealth of experience from officiating at pretty much every level in the UK. This is in addition to officiating many tournaments over his 27-year refereeing career.
“His experience of these tournaments will be imperative to his new role within the Management Team.”
TOM STEPHENSON – Level 1 Course Manager
Stephenson is a Level 5 referee and was involved with the referee management team over the past year as an instructor for Level 1 courses. It was therefore a natural progression for him to take over the Level 1 Course Manager role and take on the responsibility for organising and leading on the level 1 course programme.
He attended the USA Hockey Referee Instructor Training programme in Colorado Springs in 2017 and will bring with him a fresh perspective and enthusiasm for the Level 1 course content, to ensure potential new officials are engaged right from their first experience with the referee section.
He will work closely with Davidson to make sure that once people go through the Level 1 courses, they are then welcomed into the referee section and supported to stay involved as an official.
By staying on the ice, he will also be able to make sure the content is relevant and up-to-date, at the same time as being able to relate to how officials feel in different situations. He is a great fit for the role and it will be exciting to see the Level 1 course programme he puts in place for the 2018/19 season, and beyond.
He said: “Bringing the next generation of officials into the sport is an ongoing challenge for us as a section, I am looking forward to tackling this challenge going forward. I want to continue the progress made over the last few seasons in making the referee section more professional.
“I was already helping to deliver the Level 1 courses as an instructor, this role seemed like a natural step to help give something back while also being able to stay on the ice.”
Evans added: “Tom has taken on an incredibly important role within the management team and in officiating development. Putting together course material, organising and leading the Level 1 programme is key to the future of officiating in the UK.
“Taking potential officials, giving them basic training and then onboarding them into the IHUK Referee Section is not an easy task, however we are more than confident that Tom will make an impact while drawing from his years of experience and USA Hockey Instructor Training.
“It’s fantastic to be in a position where we can welcome three new people to the management team that are positive and enthusiastic about their roles. The experience and skills that these people bring with them is invaluable to the IHUK officiating programme.”
(Image permission: Al Goold Photo)