CHICAGO (CBS) — Breaking the glass ceiling – on ice. Neither the NHL nor the American Hockey League has female officials; that has now changed for the AHL. They have hired 10 women this season.
CBS 2’s Jackie Kostek introduces us to the local referee and first responder making the calls.
“There is just something about a fresh sheet of ice and hearing the cut in the morning.”
As a kid growing up in Colorado, Sam Hiller found a way to spend as much time as she could on the ice. Both playing hockey and at just 12 years old, learning to officiate.
“I was planning on playing college hockey and then I went to a referee camp and that kind of changed everything.”
Hiller dropped playing to focus on officiating.
“I think I like the mental aspect of the game. I love the challenge, trying to make the calls right, being in the right position.”
Now with more than 15 years of experience, Hiller found herself in the right position to receive an offer she had dreamed of but never imagined she would actually get.
“I got this email from the AHL and they said, ‘we’d like you to come to our referee camp.” I was kind of double checking the email, ‘is this for me?’”
There was no mistake. In a first, the American Hockey League hired Hiller and nine other women to officiate this season.
“When I came out of the locker room for the first time to go out onto the ice, a number of players fist-bumped me and they’re like congratulations. They just treated me like a another person out there which is exactly what we want.”
While officiating in the NHL remains a dream, Hiller has one goal.
“I don’t want to be the best woman official. I want to be the best official.”