Kelowna hockey referee wants to see more women in the role

Step in the right direction

A Kelowna hockey referee who worked the first all-female-officiated game in Canadian Junior A history wants to see more women working in sport without the headlines.

Melissa Brunn has been officiating hockey for seven years, after growing up playing the sport from the time she was 10. She tells Castanet that while the game between the Langley Rivermen and the Surrey Eagles was a historic moment for her and her colleagues, she wants to continue to see strides being made in hockey.

“The goal we’re trying to come up with is that it shouldn't be a wow moment to see four female officials, it should be a moment where we see four more officials taking the ice, four more people that are qualified, and work hard to do their job,” said Bruun. “We just want to see it normalized across the board.”

While being placed in the spotlight, Brunn says there was no time to be nervous, but the four officials shared a cool moment together prior to the puck drop.

“People have been pointing out that we stopped in the tunnel before we went on the ice, and it was just kind of a last minute now-or-never type feeling. There wasn’t really any time to get nervous after that,” explains Brunn.

Brunn says in the moment of the game, there wasn’t a lot of time to process the historical aspect, but it was afterwards it all sank in.

“Well it was good to know we got the job done, but after the game we all realized history will be tagged to this game which is really awesome. Surrey's captains and assistant came by and gave us a little fist pound after the game to say good job, and we really appreciated that,” Brunn said with a smile.

According to Brunn, more and more women are being introduced into officiating roles than ever before.

“This year has actually been a breakout year in general for women. We have the four of us, then an additional official in the BCHL. We have a female official in the WHL, the OHL and 10 women that were hired to the AHL this year, and those sports were hard earned by those ladies,” described Brunn.

Brunn added the recent all-female officiated game as well as the female additions in other leagues is a huge step in the right direction, and she hopes it will encourage other females to follow their dreams.

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