I had the opportunity to watch Justin Jonesy, international expeditionary and adventurer, speak about pushing boundaries at a recent work event. He illustrated how you don’t really know how far you can go until you actually go there

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go”

– Justin Jonesy.

Justin’s talk highlighted the necessity of planning in detail, with focus on how he planned for three and a half years prior for his two-month Kayak expedition from Australia to New Zealand. A challenge of this magnitude is filled with adversity, and one key message is that collaboration, rather than competition, is a primary driver to his success. There is a time and place for competition, but when you have all of these external forces working against you, it really becomes about the “team”.

I really felt moved by his message of surrounding yourself by people who bring you up and whom you also bring up.

“You may not be the change agent that changes the world, but maybe you can push that person who will become the person that does something revolutionary and changes the world”.

– Justin Jonesy.

In his presentation, Justin suggested several reframing techniques to get through tough situations. It is most important to focus on “what actually is working”, rather than to be consumed by what isn’t. Things aren’t always going to go as planned, so Jonesy says, “you can’t force a situation to work, you have to come down to the crux of it and work out what you need to do”

And so it is for an on-ice official. The reality for on-ice officials is an expectation of high performance under the stress of adversity. But more so, it is about continuous learning and growth, overcoming that adversity, exercising teamwork, pushing boundaries, managing fear, and dealing with success and failure.

Ringette Manitoba has made a commitment to the development of our On-ice officials and to support them through the challenges that they face on a regular basis. In partnership with Ringette Canada, six officials from Alberta and Manitoba were awarded the opportunity to participate in an Officiating Development Camp at the annual Voyageur Ringette Tournament. I was honoured to be among the three officials selected from Manitoba to participate.

Overall the experience was great – both challenging and rewarding. Tournament weekends, where I often referee 10 – 14 games over three days, are exhausting both physically and mentally – this was more so. In addition to our own tournament games, participants were expected to observe each other’s performance, starting at 9am Friday and running into the late hours of the evening for the three-day tournament. It was an excellent opportunity to sit with peers and Ringette Canada Officiating Chair, Pete Smit, who lead the camp.

Our games were scheduled so that each game we did we partnered with a referee with whom we’d never worked before. One critical aspect of officiating any game is how we develop teamwork with our partner. In regular games at home, many of us have developed our partnership through working together so often – however when we travel, or if we are selected for WCRCs or CRCs, we will likely be working with new partners. Having the opportunity now let’s us work on the skills we use to develop our teamwork and quickly calibrate how we will officiate a game together.

Working with new partners also gives you the opportunity to understand how refereeing can be different elsewhere which highlights both the things that we do well, and the things that we need to focus on. Our partners from Alberta were differentiated by really crisp signals and really good partner awareness – showing very good understanding of when they needed to cover for me. These are both attributes that I hope to adopt myself.

It was really valuable to have feedback after each of my games. It gave me an opportunity to learn from issues that I could ask questions about and also get insight into “habits” that I need to work on. I also like that we could discuss scenarios happening during a game and why or why not it should have been a call or what call it should be. I definitely did a lot of self-reflection over the weekend; we learned more about the “power presence” and how I can demonstrate this in a game scenario.

There were three off-ice sessions: Mental Skills Training: Distraction Planning and Psychological Recovery, Strength Training, and Tournament Nutrition. The courses were coordinated through Ringette Canada and Ringette Manitoba, but delivered by subject matter experts from Sport Manitoba.

The Mental Skills Training helped reaffirm why I am an official and how it aligns with my goals. The instructor asked us to write down what is important to us in life: Family, Health, Career, Balance, and Challenges. How does officiating influence these values?

We talked about reframing negative situations, aligning with the Jonsey presentation, and learned a meditative breathing exercise. Our facilitator also provided a written exercise that made us reflect and told us about post-game reflection in terms of development. After a game, we should write down:

1) What did I do well?
2) What would I like to improve and how do I do that? Are there technical adjustments I need to make?
3) What did I learn?
4) What did I most enjoy?

These exercises help process the game in a more effective way.

Another valuable resource to check out for mediation is selfcompassion.org, focusing on mindful awareness, self-kindness, and common humanity.

The Strength Training session taught me additional workout techniques, such as a “game” plank where you have a cone and ball on your back and have to move the ball from your back to the ground, using alternate arms and legs. We also used some machines and learned how to spin on the spin bikes.

Starting with an “ultimate” type warm-up game, we then did two sets of full body weights, cardio, and then core.

The Tournament nutrition session covered the understanding of our bodies needs based on activity levels, pre, during, and post-workout. We also discussed healthy food sources for carbohydrates, protein, and fat, the essentials of a healthy balanced meal. Another key learning was preventing glycogen depletion in the body, to prevent injury or burnout.

At the end of the weekend, we each had the opportunity to officiate in semi-final and final games, really reflecting and having the opportunity to practice skills that we each are working on. Most importantly, we come to each game with the intention to be better than our last.

Written by Jen Ewacha, Director of Publicity.