Take 5 with … Karen Meek, Officials Lead

In this new series, we’ll highlight different officials’ roles leading up to the 2024 CRC. Take 5 minutes to get to know our officials supervisors, on-ice officials, shot clock operators, and more. 

Our first installment features Karen Meek, a long-time ringette official named the new Officials Lead in November 2023. 


Karen Meek, who hails from Little Britain, ON (about an hour northeast of Toronto) was named the Officials Lead in late November of 2023. In this role, she works closely with the NOCP Education Lead, Paul Shipman, on Ringette Canada’s officiating development. Have you ever wondered how the names get chosen for events like the Canadian Ringette Championship, Canada Winter Games, National Team camps, and the National Ringette League? That would be Karen and her team! And it’s been a winding–and rewarding– road to this point in her officiating career. 


Where did your officiating journey begin?

“I’ve been involved with ringette for over 40 years. I started officiating when I was 12–we only had a small association, it’s no longer running, Mariposa Ringette, but it was a new association then. The first few years we just had parents reffing and whatnot, so [the association] was pretty quick to try and get some of us players involved and I enjoyed doing it. I did a lot of local, smaller tournaments, and then had some people that pushed me to get into the bigger tournaments. And the rest is history.”


You’re in a new role now, as the Officials Lead. What does that look like for you?

“I focus on the development of officials. I am recruiting and providing mentorship for officials and supervisors. I look after recruiting officials for CRCs, Canada Winter Games, NRL Hubs, high-performance camps, and La Reléve. In the summer, we’ll start recruiting the next generation of officials. I also work with Paul [Shipman, NOCP Education Lead] on the rulebooks, policies, and that kind of thing. And I’m still able to get on the ice as an official sometimes.” 


What was your most memorable experience?

“My first Canada Winter Games in 2007, we went to Whitehorse, [Yukon Territory]. They don’t have ringette, and the destination was fun. The facility was brand new, we could watch a ton of other events in our facility, I went with a great group of officials. I went in with no expectations, because you’re a rookie, and you’re just happy to get there. But then a friend of mine and I did a quarter-final, and we were pretty excited about that. And then the next day, we got assigned a semi-final. So we were excited again, and it was like okay, we’ve been here, we’ve done the semi-final, but then we got assigned the gold medal game the next day. I just remember thinking it was so amazing, what do I have to do to get back here in four years? Because I’ll do it.


And did you get to go back?

“Yes. I went to four Canada Winter Games. Each time is like, will I still be able to do this four years from now? Because they only come around that often. Am I going to be fit enough? Fast enough? The athletes don’t get any slower, they stay the same age while we get older! It requires a lot of strength, fitness, determination, and perseverance to push yourself to keep getting back there.”


What would you say is the most rewarding part of being an official?

“Moving up the ranks and achieving personal goals. Everybody has different goals, not everyone is focused on or has a need to get to Canada Games, to Worlds, that kind of thing. But being able to set your goals, and knowing you can achieve them if you put the effort in and earn it. Each year, I set new goals, ever since I stopped playing ringette to focus on reffing it. The first was to get to Canada Games in 2007, it was a wild dream, like, who goes to the Yukon for ringette? But I was able to make it happen.”


What advice do you have for officials who are just starting, and don’t know where they can go?

“Ask a lot of questions. Ask what you can do to get better, do you need to travel? Do you need to go see ringette in another province? Sit with higher-level officials and ask questions. Watch a game together, skate a game together. Watch the higher-level games, watch the people on the ice to see if there’s something in their game that you might be able to incorporate, see how they deal with difficult situations.”


What are you most looking forward to at the 2024 CRCs?

“As many times as I’ve been to CRCs, this is a different role for me. I’ve been skating CRCs since 1999. So to stand on the other side of the table, I’m really looking forward to seeing the growth and development of officials throughout the week. We have seven brand new officials skating their first CRC, and seven second-years. It will be challenging to make sure they get on the ice for the games they need, but also are supported by a partner that can help. Also, helping some achieve their goals, some are trying to progress to the next level, to be level 4A or 5.”


What’s something you wish more people knew about officiating?

“We’re human, we’re not perfect. It’s a learning process that takes time and development to acquire the skills. And also, we’re super competitive. People will see us at Provincials, or CRCs, and they’re like ‘Oh okay, you’re done for the day or the week now, did you have a great week?’ and maybe you did, but it’s still only Thursday and you’re really hoping to skate Friday or Saturday. No different than the teams, we’re also striving to be in that semi-final or final at the end of the week.”


Thank you for joining us in this first Take 5 installment! Check back next week to meet our next featured official. 


And of course, catch all the CRC #Dieppe2024 action in Dieppe, NB, April 7-13, 2024 live or on the Ringette Canada YouTube channel

Territory acknowledgement

While we are a proud Canadian organization, we acknowledge that our head office is located on traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg People, and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Ringette Canada extends our respect to all First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples for their valuable contributions to this land. We are committed to moving forward in the spirit of reconciliation and collaboration.

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