Chris Herr is back home after picking up an unexpected award at the BC Hockey’s annual general meeting and awards banquet in Penticton.
Herr, the Referee in Chief for Oceanside Minor Hockey, made the trip to the Okanagan June 25. Also making the trip was OMHA president Greg Sabo, and OMHA coach co-ordinator Mark Norris.
As the story goes, the three of them were at the back of the black tie banquet in dress shirts and shorts and watching the awards portion of the evening when Herr was honored by BC Hockey in the officiating category with the development award, for having the top program for training hockey officials/referees in the entire province of B.C. Keep in mind there are some 200 minor hockey associations in the province.
“It was a blast — I had no idea I was even up for an award so yeah darn near fell off my chair,” Herr, 42, chuckled when The News caught up with him, adding, “apparently the head referee of BC Hockey called my wife two weeks prior and told her about the award and had her send some pictures, and she kept it a secret all that time. I had no idea.”
There were around 500 people in attendance including Ida Chong, Minister of Sport, as well as former Canuck Dave Babych.
Herr is going into his fifth year as a zebra and just coming off his first year as Referee in Chief for OMHA.
Herr was awarded a small but heavy keepsake engraved granite trophy. He said he was told he had a few nominations but isn’t sure who was behind them.
“Oh yeah, for sure — my cheeks were sore for days from smiling,” he said when asked if hearing his name called felt good. “Like I’ve said a million times, I never ever do this job for the recognition or for the money, but it was definitely an honour to be recognized.
“For me it’s all about the kids,” he said, adding, “I enjoy watching them grow, watching them excel and get better at what they do — that’s what I take out of it.”
Herr oversaw 46 referees aged 12-60 last year “and I’m probably only gong to lose two of them which is great. The normal turnover for refs is around 25 per cent, and that speaks volumes about not only me, but the whole program.”
In preparation for the upcoming season, Herr said he’s promoted three referees to the newly-created position of Referee Supervisors.
“I’m going to take all the first and second year referees and divvy them up between them and they’ll be responsible for mentoring, shadowing, evaluating.”
As for the award, “BC Hockey recognized the effort and dedication that Mr. Herr has put into developing new officials within our association as well as the support he offers our more senior officials, by presenting him with the award,” stated OMHA tournament coorodinator Sue Street. “It is a very significant award in the hockey community.”