Voyer’s California Referee School gets results
With the abundance of youth hockey talent being cultivated out west – along with its ever-growing professional presence – the level of officiating needs to keep pace.
Nobody recognizes that fact better than Michel Voyer.
The director of officiating at El Segundo’s Toyota Sports Center, Voyer is also the founder and director of the highly regarded California Referee School, which serves to educate, train and evaluate officials of all levels with a concentrated purpose of growing and improving a capable and reputable stable of zebras on the West Coast.
Now in its 28th year of operation, the school is conducted annually during a weekend over the summer at Toyota Sports Center, and this year will run from Aug. 5-7.
“I want to see more officials and better officials working out here, and that’s been the purpose of the school since its inception,” said Voyer. “And it’s not exclusive; whether you’re a veteran or just getting started, we work hard to ensure we have something for everyone during all of our class and on-ice sessions.”
That includes learning the psychology of the game, how to communicate effectively with players and coaches and teamwork amongst the entire officiating crew. The school also puts an emphasis on analyzing games situations through video sessions.
In addition to on-ice instruction and seminars, scrimmage games are showcased during which officials are evaluated and recruited by supervisors from the American Hockey League (AHL), ECHL, NCAA and USA Hockey Junior Officiating Development Program, as well as the California and Southern California Amateur Hockey Associations.
“We teach them how to handle themselves, on and off the ice, and also want them to understand the importance of fitness and nutrition,” said Voyer. “All of it makes for becoming a better official.”
This year’s school will also include USA Hockey Level 3 and 4 certification seminars led by Pacific District referee-in-chief Steve Stevens and California referee-in-chief Dan Ellison.
Stevens, for one, is bullish on Voyer’s school and what it provides in terms of improving and raising the awareness of officiating at all levels.
“What’s amazing is how many of these young officials who’ve come through the school I meet down the road at high-level tournaments,” said Stevens. “I will say that, if someone’s serious about becoming an official or improving as one, it’s a great investment in their future.”
There’s no question the school gets results; its alumni include NHL officials Brandon Gawryletz, Mark Lemelin and Lyle Seitz.
Not to mention California-bred graduates Tanner Nua, Steve Walsh, J-M McNulty, Brent Tubbs, Brett Martin, James Parker, Greg McAlpine, Anthony Falette, Mike McBain, Alexander Ledovskiy and Andrew Norris – all of whom work in the AHL – and ECHL officials Neil Campbell and Andrew Wilk (Campbell also works in the AHL).
Nua, Tubbs, Walsh, Martin and Wilk will serve as instructors at this year’s school, along with NHL officials Mike Leggo, Shane Heyer and Jake Brenk and AHL official Steve Berry.
In addition to Stevens, NHL supervisors Rob Shick and Bob Hall, along with Jonathan Morrison (supervisor coordinator of transportation and logistics for USA Hockey’s Junior Officiating Development Program), Don Adam (director of officiating of the NCAA Division I National Collegiate Hockey Conference) and Kevin Muench (director of officiating of the Western Hockey League), will serve as supervisors.
Other representatives from the AHL and ECHL will also be in attendance, said Voyer.
“Obviously, we want to see the continued growth and development of officials out west, and I don’t think there’s any question Michel’s school has helped build – and continues to build – a strong base in that region,” said Mike Murray, the AHL’s executive vice president of hockey administration.
Scott Zelkin, the manager of USA Hockey’s Junior Officiating Development Program, agrees.
“A number of officials in our program who’ve attended Michel’s school are always well prepared and some of the best we have,” said Zelkin. “In my opinion, Michel and his staff run one of the best schools in the world.”
“It’s no secret the game has gotten bigger and better out here at all levels, and we, as officials, have a responsibility to do the same,” Voyer added. “Collectively, we need to be best we can be for the betterment of the sport and its future out west.”
For more information on the California Referee School and to register, visit CARefSchool.com.
– Brian McDonough
PICTURED: From left, Don Adam (NCHA director of officiating), Mike Leggo (NHL official), Michel Voyer (California Referee School founder/director), Rob Shick (NHL officiating supervisor) and Shane Heyer (NHL official)