Schrader passionate about helping young officials stay involved in the game

DAILY HERALD FILE PHOTO Barry Schrader, right, presents Camryn Amundson of the Prince Albert Northern Bears with the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League’s most sportsmanlike players award in 2018. Schrader has served as the league’s Referee in Chief since 2013.

Long-time referee and umpire part of 2020 induction class

Barry Schrader’s officiating career came to an early halt in the 1970s as he dealt with the abuse that referees and umpires deal with on a regular basis.

When he returned as a hockey official in 1984, he made sure that the verbal abuse wouldn’t be an issue for those who wanted to be involved in that role in the future.

“When I started back in the day, you were kind of expected to take all of the guff,” Schrader said. “Nowadays the sportsmanship and mentorship are stressed a lot more in baseball and hockey and there’s more of an emphasis on the fans being respectful to the officials.

“With that said, you still see that abuse, even at the Western Hockey League level. There was an incident earlier this year where one of the kids was being talked at by a parent in the lobby at one of the rinks, and I told him that I would go ahead and talk to the parent.

“What I tell our younger officials is to stand up for yourself and to treat the disrespect with respect. They need you and you need them, and they know that I am going to back them up. They can phone me, e-mail me or text me anytime if they have a problem that they are dealing with.”

Schrader was saluted for his work earlier this year as he entered the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame in the meritorious service category.

“When (PASHOF president) Ellen Grewcock phoned me to say that I was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, I was shocked and stumbling for words,” Schrader said. “I was part of the Prince Albert Kings fastball team that got inducted in 2006, but this takes the cake.

“I was quite moved by it, especially when I found out that my family had put my name in as a nomination. It’s a cliché, but I don’t do what I do for the recognition. I do it for the kids and for the love that I have for the game.”

The 2020 class was to have been honoured in May, but the ceremony has been pushed back to next year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since he returned to officiating hockey, Schrader has worked approximately 3,500 games and has supervised around 4,000 more as of this past season.

“They were looking for officials around the time that my son (Bob) started playing minor hockey, so I got involved in it once again,” Schrader said. “It’s evolved into a big part of my life ever since.”

One of Schrader’s biggest influences in his officiating career has been James Mays, who currently serves as the technical director for Prince Albert Minor Hockey.

“We go golfing together every morning,” Schrader said. “He’s a great friend and a wonderful mentor.

“His background in the game is unbelievable, especially with being the referee in chief for Hockey Canada a few years ago. He has a walking knowledge of the game and everything he does is to help the kids and the leagues here locally.”

Schrader has served as the Referee in Chief for Prince Albert Minor Hockey from 1988-1995, 2000-2013 and from 2019 to present day.

In addition to his work locally and serving as the Referee in Chief for the Saskatchewan Female Under-18 Hockey League since 2013, he’s also worked as an official for Midget AAA (now known as Under-18) and Junior B leagues, in addition to Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League contests.

“I’m probably more involved now than when I started,” Schrader said.

“You really get to know what goes on throughout the hockey world as you gain contacts in the higher-up leagues, and with my job as a referee in chief, I’ve definitely become more known in the Prince Albert rinks.

“The sport has also evolved a lot as time has gone on, as you might have kept your whistle in your pocket a lot more back in the day. You don’t want to be the person that ends up deciding the game, but you have to enforce the rules.”

Schrader also serves as the female development coordinator for the Saskatchewan Hockey Association, which makes him responsible for the development and recruitment of female officials in the province.

“That job has been really rewarding, especially as our program is considered to be one of the best in Canada,” Schrader said. “The girls have the opportunity to develop as officials and they are getting recognized now by having the chance to referee at the Junior B and Junior A level.

“I look at someone like Cianna Lieffers (of Cudworth) who is on the bubble right now to be an official at the next Winter Olympics. To see all of the work she’s put in to go from being a young official to become one of the top refs in the world has been incredible.”

When asked what has been the most memorable moment of his officiating career, Schrader immediately brought up Game 7 of the 2019 WHL final between the Prince Albert Raiders and the Vancouver Giants at the Art Hauser Centre, where he served as the video goal judge.

“All I was hoping for was that I wasn’t the one who had to make a decision on a controversial goal,” Schrader said.

“To be the one who made the call and say ‘good call’ when (Dante) Hannoun scored with over 3,000 in the building cheering, that was definitely one of the highlights of my life.”

Schrader’s officiating duties aren’t just limited to hockey, however, as he works during the summer as an umpire for softball, baseball and slo-pitch games.

“I actually umpired as a kid and then Jim Flynn asked me if I wanted to get involved again a few years ago,” Schrader said. “My kids and my grandkids play the game, so it made a lot of sense to be an umpire for the leagues.

“I love the game and I enjoy what I’m able to do year-round. I’m so lucky to be where I am. I’m in my early 60’s now and I don’t see an end in sight.”