PICTURE BUTTE – Ten female umpires made Hockey Alberta history at Picture Butte during the Women’s A U13 Provincial Championships last weekend.
For the first time in the history of the provincial championship, the team of officials for the tournament was entirely composed of 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 team’s youngest official.
“When I was growing up, there were no formal women in sight (in Picture Butte), or even in Lethbridge, so I feel honored to be a part of that,” she said. “Women’s hockey has started to become a big thing, and there are a lot of changes happening, so I’m proud to be part of that change.”
Campmans said it was a welcome sight to have fans back in the stands at his local rink and a relief to be back on the ice.
“I’m very happy that hockey is back,” she said. “I’ve played most of my life and missed it so much. Now I’m proud to be able to give back in a way that allows me to skate and stay involved in the game.”
Ten-year refereeing veteran Brooke Akune, who turned 21 the day before the tournament kicked off, is happy to see increased visibility for female referees and was honored to be a part of history.
“I’ve always had trouble with boys,” she says. “It’s sort of my first two years playing women’s hockey. I was born in a small town, and that’s where I started playing with a band of boys.
Piper Ell, an 18-year-old official with six years’ experience, echoed Akune’s sentiment and hopes to be a role model for young women in the game.
“It means a lot,” she said. “I grew up in men’s hockey and 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 this female official for the young girls.
Francis Rankin, Officials Supervisor for the Women’s A U13 Provincial Championships and Women’s Coordinator of the Southern Region Officials Committee, said the ten officials have earned their place in the tournament and should be extremely proud to be part of history. .
“It shows and showcases what these women have achieved,” he said. “They’re not there just because they happen to be women. “They are there because they are the ones who are qualified to participate in this tournament. Hopefully this continues and encourages young women to stick with the game.”