In order to promote the mission of providing an elite event as well as developing technical officials and umpires, Junior Premier Hockey (JPH) invited technical officials from Peru – Juancho Perez Leon, FIH Technical Official and Katherine Vargas, PAHF Technical Official – to join Junior Premier Outdoor League (JPOL) for a couple of weekends to share their knowledge and experience.
The following is Juancho’s story of their hockey experience in the USA…
After a wonderful experience at the Cal Cup Field Hockey Tournament in 2016, I received an email from Lurah Hess, JPH Technical Director, inviting Katherine and me to participate in the Junior Premier Outdoor League (JPOL) as Technical Officers (TO). Of course, as in any case where there is hockey involved, we accepted the invitation immediately. We emailed back and forth about possible dates and accommodations. By late November we had the travel dates set up and already were getting very excited with the idea of going to the northeastern USA for hockey and tourism.
We prepared for our trip by reviewing the tournament rules. JPOL has a lot of information on their website (www.juniorpremierhockey.com) so most of the preparation was spent reviewing the rules, and looking at the dates and venues. Kim Scott, JPH AltiusRT Director, as well as Nigel Traverso and Rachael Bloemker, JPH Directors got involved in the emails, and our hockey family continued to expand.
Finally, we arrived for our first weekend of JPOL. We met with Kim for dinner the night before to iron out the last details. Nigel would be our Tournament Director for Region 6 and he had already sent an email with the arrangements for the day. We were all set for the next morning at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey.
We arrived at the pitch and everything was set up. It was fun to see Ridge Bair, FIH Umpire a year after CalCup, as he was umpiring at Rowan. It is always great to meet with hockey friends again, and it can happen anywhere. At the first game, we were told that the local judges are provided by the teams playing each game and they take care of most of the job. We as TO’s just had to make sure that the rules off the pitch were followed (substitutions, communications in orderly manner and such). We saw some communication from the coaches towards the umpires, mostly asking about calls and always in a respectful manner. The teams’ staff understood what they could and could not do. We are all always on a learning curve. It was a wonderful day.
The second weekend started with the U14 region at the Maple Zone in Aston, Pennsylvania with younger players and younger umpires. We saw an incredible desire to play. It is a joy to be reminded of that desire to play. We live in a world where people compete and all we want to see at the end are results. However, it is refreshing to see that in the younger teams (players, coaches, parents), they all want everyone to have fun, and everybody pitches in. Parents who knew the judge duties helped the ones that didn’t, as everyone was there to help. As a TO not once did I have to tell any judge to do more things. They all had it together and working. A very fun day and it is always nice to see field hockey expanding among the younger kids.
The last day for us was in Region 7 at the DE Sports Complex in Frederica, Delaware. Once again, I met friends I hadn’t seen in almost two years. It was great to meet again with Steve Horgan, FIH Umpires Manager and Stephanie Judefind, FIH Umpire. This day there was a fierce competition between the teams. Most of the judges were new but they were all willing to help and support and quickly learned their jobs. At the end of the day everyone collaborated to make everything run smoothly.
After these two weekends at JPOL I ended up with a lot of lessons to bring back to Peru.
- There is a lot of background work done that most people don’t see – all for the purpose of simplifying the game for the teams.
- Running clocks work great on tight schedules, and teams respect that and don’t have unnecessary delays.
- Katherine told me, “I really like how when there is an injury on the pitch all the players take a knee and just wait it out, it shows great spirit of competition and fair play”.
- Making each team provide a judge, usually a parent, for their game is also something that relieves the organization of having to find more officials, and they are very proactive and helpful. They do most of the work, help each other with doubts and make everything run smoothly.
I had fun speaking with the coaches and team staff after the game. Several came over to apologize for yelling at me or the table. We laughed about it. I told them it is completely understandable that they need to blow off some steam, and, as long as it is not disrespectful, it always better to do it towards the technical table than towards the umpires.
We are all learning, always. By the end of the day we were all friends and hoping to meet again in future tournaments.
If you would like to learn more about technical officiating for Junior Premier Hockey, contact JPH Technical Director, Lurah Hess.