“Reffing Hockey Changed My Life”

Bobby Esposito presents the ups and downs of being an ice hockey referee

Bobby Esposito, reffing a game of hockey. Picture by Emily Oshins

Written by Emily Oshins. September 2016.

I have learned enough life lessons through refereeing ice hockey that has led me to be the person I am today. I don’t let little things bother me because I am used to being called every name in the book. I am used to people screaming profanities at me. These people will say anything they can to get under my skin, especially when they don’t like a call I make. Ignoring these comments has really forced me to build a backbone for myself. One time I had to throw out two fans from the game because they were getting too rowdy. They did not like that I did this so they proceeded to try to come on the ice and said they wanted to fight me. The rink had to call the police and in between every period I had to have police escorts follow me around; even after the game was over while I walked to my car. I used to play hockey as a goalie throughout my childhood, high school and college. My mother would always come and watch me at every game I played. There was one time she came to watch me ref and the fans were not happy with me, screaming comments at me, and she didn’t like that so she doesn’t watch me anymore. I can’t even make it known to the hockey fans that a family member or my girlfriend is there watching me because the fans will attack them too. If I wasn’t an ice hockey referee, I wouldn’t be as mature and my communication skills would lack. I have matured so much because I have witnessed so much immaturity every time I referee a game of hockey. Dealing with psychotic coaches and dealing with psychotic players has taught me how not to behave and has also showed me how to handle these types of people. I’ve learned ways to communicate with people that are effective and ways that are not effective. Basically, I can handle any situation thrown at me on and off the ice.
Bobby Esposito reffing hockey. Picture by Emily Oshins
Referee, Bobby Esposito pointing to confirm goal. Picture by Emily Oshins