Skating into the history books

PICTURE BUTTE – Ten female officials were a part of Hockey Alberta history in Picture Butte during the U13 Female A Provincials this past weekend.

For the first time in Provincial Championship history, the officiating crew at the tournament was made up of all female officials.

Among that group was 15 year-old Picture Butte resident Rayann Campmans, who, with just two years of officiating under her belt, was the youngest official on the crew.

“When I was growing up, there were no female officials to be seen (in Picture Butte), or even Lethbridge, so I feel honoured to be a part of it,” she said. “Female Hockey has started to become a big thing, and there’s a lot of changes happening, so I feel proud to be part of that change.”

Campmans added it was a welcome sight to have fans back in the stands in her hometown rink, and a relief to be back on the ice.

“I am very elated that hockey is back,” she said. “I played for the majority of my life, and I missed it so much. Now, I’m proud that I can be giving back in a way that keeps me skating and keeps me involved in the game.”

Ten-year officiating veteran Brooke Akune, who turned 21 the day before the tournament kicked off, is happy to see increased visibility for female officials, and was honoured to be a part of history.

“I’ve always reffed with boys,” she said. “This is kind of my first two years of reffing female hockey. I was born in a small town, and that’s where I started reffing – with a bunch of boys.”

Piper Ell, an 18-year old official with six years of experience, echoed Akune’s sentiment, and hopes to be a role model for younger females in the game.

“It means quite a bit,” she said. “I grew up in boys hockey, and I never had a female official in my town, so it was always really cool to see a female official. Now, I’m really happy to be able to be that female official for the young girls.”

Francis Rankin, the Officials Supervisor for the U13 Female A Provincials, and the Female Coordinator for the Southern Region Officials Committee, said all ten officials earned their spot in the tournament, and should be incredibly proud to be a part of history.

“It shows and showcases what these females have accomplished,” he said. “They’re not out there just because they happen to be female. “They’re out there because they’re the ones who are qualified to do this tournament. Hopefully, this continues and will encourage younger females to stick with the game.”