Sports

Grinde is a model referee for Penticton hockey

Branton Grinde of Penticton is working his way up to becoming a top-flight referee. - Mark Brett/Western News
Branton Grinde of Penticton is working his way up to becoming a top-flight referee.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

Branton Grinde said it takes courage and just the right attitude to be a good hockey referee.

While people in stripes can’t be shy, he explained, they also can’t be cocky.

“I find that some referees, they are over confident and almost sound rude and abrupt,” said Grinde, 17.

He also highlighted communication skills as key when it’s necessary to talk to coaches, and noted team work with linesman is also vital.

Grinde is one of about 40 referees who worked last season for the Penticton Minor Hockey Association, which is recruiting new officials for the year ahead.

As officials like Grinde begin working high levels of hockey, the association has to find new zebras to replace him, referee-in-chief Larry Jeeves explained.

He’s particularly interested in signing up adults who may have stepped away from the game for a few years and would like to get back into it, while getting exercise and earning money.

The only prerequisite is skating ability, and training is provided.

Grinde, who’s going into his sixth season and was named 2012-13 referee of the year, is a product of the system, which includes mentors on and off the ice.

“They put a radio headset on you and they can talk to you from the stands. It’s pretty interesting,” he said.

“You are out there by yourself for the first time, but then you still have that mentor. It’s almost like he’s right behind you.”

Grinde played hockey for seven years, but quit after the 2011-12 season to focus on officiating.

He worked up to the major midget level last season, during which he skated 100-plus games and officiated at the midget AA championship in West Kelowna.

While he’d like to one day work in the NHL, his next step is junior hockey.

First, he must attend an above-minor camp this weekend in Vernon.

“If I do well there, I could be getting to junior B this year,” he said.

And if he does get to the junior B level, Grinde will also have to deal with louder fans and coaches.

“You just learn to block those things out. A lot of times you just don’t notice them,” he said.

“What you notice more is when coaches start yelling at you. You just try not to take anything personal.

“They are more just worried about the game than about you personally.”

Grinde said if there is anyone interested in becoming a referee, they should “definitely do it.”

“Even if you don’t like it, it’s worth just trying it for a year,” he said.

“I never knew I was going to like it. Next thing you know I’m doing it for six years now. I absolutely love it.”

Anyone interested in becoming a referee should contact referee in chief Larry Jeeves at 250-490-9213 or email him at larryjeeves@telus.net.

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