The Olympic & Amateur Sports Hub
High School Gym Coach Erin Blair to Referee at Sochi
- Updated: December 15, 2013
Rest assured, the fifth- and sixth-graders at Lakewood School in Carpentersville, IL, will be closely following the women’s hockey tournament at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Instead of seeing health teacher Ms. Blair in the classroom, they’ll be spotting her on the big screen as one of six referees for the women’s Olympic hockey tournament.
Blair struggles to accept the fact that she is accomplishing her greatest dream.
“It’s kind of a feeling that I can’t believe it’s me,” she said.
Blair played hockey in her younger years for clubs and high school teams, which landed her a spot on the Rindlay University Division I women’s hockey team. Although Blair played hard in college and hoped one day to play for Team USA in the Olympics, her path took a different course.
“I’ve wanted to be involved in the Olympics since I started playing hockey when I was 10 years old,” Blair said. “I originally wanted to go as a player and that didn’t work out, so I kind of changed my path a little.”
Blair was a first time officiator in 1999 and found the position well suited for her.
“It was second nature for me to be in the rink,” Blair said. “They needed referees and I started doing it just for the fun of it.”
Blair tributes her quick success as a referee to the opportunity of getting in front of the right people at the right time. She felt this experience was similar to that of a hockey player as she relished any chance to showcase her skills.
Years passed and Blair gained more opportunities to officiate big games like the 18-and-under World Championships in Germany and the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships in Switzerland.
Officiating in Sochi will be her greatest accomplishment thus far, being one of fifteen total women on board, alongside three other Americans.
Blair’s experience and contacts will aid her at Sochi, as she understands the dynamics of working with other referees from across the world.
“I talk to officials from all over the world all the time because we’ve become friends and built that bond of being able to travel together and work together,” she said. “It’s very unique to get different backgrounds and cultures into your friendships.”
Beyond the souvenirs, stories, new friendships and professional experiences Blair returns from Sochi with, she hopes to be an inspiration to her students.
“I recently did a little presentation for the girls at the school on perseverance where I talked about never giving up and always believing in yourself,” Blair said. “For me, that’s the lesson they can get from this. They can see I’ve finally gotten to where I want to be and they can realize it took a lot of hard work.”