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The Life & Times of Rory MacKillop Part 3: Leadership

09/27/2017, 5:00am PDT
By Kelvin Cech


I’ve talked with Rory MacKillop a lot over the years. I had a brief stint coaching him in bantam hockey when I first got to the club. I watched as he started swimming and lifeguarding regularly, and he spent some time with the North West Giants when I coached there as well. 

But the last couple years have been all about refereeing. 

Now, I reffed a hockey 2 game one time and it wad the worst hour of my life. I was managing the spring 3on3 league at the club and had to jump on for one game. One game!

Parents were all over me. 

For a hockey 2 3on3 game. 

In June.

That was three years ago and I haven’t reffed since.

This is the third and final post in a series profiling long-time club member and all ‘round good guy Rory MacKillop. Read part 1 here, part 2 here

Kelvin: twelve years old, that’s a lot of responsibility. Do kids that age feel the pressure of refereeing when they’re that young? 

Rory: It’s definitely nerve-wracking, especially going into your first game. I remember my first game and the goalie covered the puck and it took me about five seconds to realize the whistle wasn’t blowing and that I had to blow the whistle. Once that happened things started to get rolling, but you’re definitely nervous for the first bit. I had a mentor on the ice with me which is a huge help. For the first few games at the club there’s a mentor on, and it’s with the hockey 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s, so the stakes aren’t as high as they are in atom. It helps a lot to have someone to help coach you and guide you.  

Let’s talk about parents. Do parents get on you? They do, right, I know they do.  

Yeah they do. For the parents, it’s just realizing you’re not going to influence any of my decisions or any referee’s decision. It’s just like yelling at the coach if they’re not playing your kid. Yelling at us just has no effect. We’re trained to ignore it. I know it’s frustrating for a parent but getting all your emotions worked up isn’t going to accomplish anything. 

And let’s be honest Kelvin, it’s just a game. It’s not worth embarrassing yourself.  

You’re a wise man, Rory. What people forget is these young referees are contributing. You’re a young man who grew up at the winter club and now you’re giving back on your own time. I’ve texted you to come ref games last minute and you’re always there. That’s why I never let the kids I’m coaching talk to you or complain.  

Hockey Canada has a big problem with that. They lose thousands of officials every year. We need to keep these kids interested. A lot of kids have trouble coping with parents and coaches and the stress of controlling the game. Last year on Vancouver Island they did a full weekend where parents weren’t allowed in the rink. I think the parents got the message there and realized they need to cool down, these are our kids playing and it’s embarrassing to be yelling and giving it to a bunch of young referees and coaches.  

Well said. What’s on tap for you for the rest of summer? 

Come September I’m coaching the peewee A4 team at the winter club. I’m going to the Port Alberni West Coast Prep Camp… 

Where you get to hang out with Kelvin! 

Yeah I guess. So that will be good exposure to the junior A coordinators. Hopefully I put on a good show and impress them. And then I’m starting school at Capilano University in the fall. I also do a lot of goalie coaching at North Van and I’m on the ice on Saturdays with Sean Murray here at the North Shore Winter Club. 

Man. Pretty busy. 

Yeah and I’m playing senior men’s too.  

So the dream is alive! 

(Laughs) Yep! 

Rory, it’s awesome to catch up. I’ll see you at Prep Camp. 

Thanks Kelvin, seeya soon.  


Huge thanks and props to Rory for finding the time to answer my questions and deal with my silly jokes. 

If you remember one thing this winter, it’s that the referees are trying their best. 

So they don’t need your help.

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