Cameron Tapp named Official of the Month
By Jaymie White
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
PORT AUX BASQUES — He may have only been an official for three years, but Cameron Tapp has been making such solid strides that both Joe Lane and Hockey NL have taken notice. After being nominated by Joe Lane, Hockey NL chose Tapp as their official for the month of January, something Lane said was well-deserved.
“This year Cameron is stepping up and wearing the referee bands and taking on a bigger role by doing that, and I thought he is improving that and working really hard to improve his game, so that’s why I nominated him,” said Lane. “I feel like he is moving along at a good pace."
Becoming an official was something that felt very natural for Tapp, who has been on the ice since a young age.
“When I was four years old I started as a player and just loved it ever since,” said Tapp. “When I was in Grade 8, I did the (hockey) official course that Joe Lane puts on and I just loved it and kept doing both hockey and officiating."
That training has allowed Tapp to see both perspectives.
“I heard many people doing it before say that it just makes them a better player, knowing all the rules, and that it’s fun to do. Now I spend more time at the rink and I love it in there. Anything to do with hockey I like.”
Even with a hockey background, officiating has been challenging at times.
“I was always a bit nervous doing it, but the people that we had in Port aux Basques were great. They helped me a lot. They taught me some things and, on the ice if they saw me doing something wrong, they would wait and tell me, which was really great,” said Tapp. “This is my third year doing it now, and it’s definitely gotten easier. It’s a whole other side of hockey. When I first started I found I was watching the play too much instead of trying to make the calls and that, but after a while you definitely get used to it.”
Being a new official, and coming through the COVID-19 pandemic, meant that there were a couple of small changes, which offered a bit of a learning curve as well.
“Some of the rules changed when we came back after COVID. For example, when there would be a penalty instead of putting the player in the penalty box, there would be a penalty shot, a couple of little things like that, but there wasn’t too big of a change.”
Tapp said that for him, the hardest part of officiating is always trying to make the right call.
“Every official, they can make mistakes and miss something, but trying to make the right call and trying not to miss anything with such a fast game, it’s hard not to miss anything,” said Tapp. “Once you start officiating, I think everybody has a different outlook on officials. When you actually start reffing and that, you realize just how hard it is out there.”
Despite the challenges, there are positives that keep hockey officiating exciting for Tapp.
“Working as a team with the other referees is fun, and even in a game that is a really close game, it’s nerve-wracking to do, but it’s fun. The adrenaline and the intensity of the game is fun.”
When Tapp received notification that he was named Official of the Month for January, he admits that he was in shock.
“I was with some of my buddies and I got an email, looked at it, and they said I got it. I was really excited and I saw all the nice comments Joe (Lane) made and I messaged him too about it,” said Tapp. “Joe wrote up a thing about me, and it took a little bit to sink in, but I couldn’t get over it. I made sure to thank everyone who has helped me around here because, without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
Tapp’s family were just as thrilled to hear the news.
“They are pretty excited. My dad couldn’t wait to share it and they were all really happy for me.”
Joe Lane was also delighted to see Tapp get recognized. He thinks Tapp has a bright future ahead as a hockey official.
“I was quite pleased. These young officials, what they’ve got to go through on the ice sometimes, for them to be in the program and work along to move up in the program, I hope it’s a great boost for him and hopefully he’ll move forward with it and take on more assignments when he moves up within his levels,” said Lane. “Cameron is at the age now where, if he keeps improving, Hockey NL has a program of excellence called OPOE – Officials Program of Excellence – and if he keeps progressing as he is going, he could probably be nominated to attend one of those, and that’s a high performance camp where these officials get to officiate with higher-level officials and move along at a faster pace. Cameron is a strong, strong skater, and that’s a really good skill set to have when you’re officiating. When you’ve got that behind you, being a strong skater, it’s just a matter of studying the rules and doing the games to learn more to improve.”
Tapp plans to continue officiating for many years to come.
“I am going to do it as long as I can. I want to keep getting better and going to higher levels with officiating. That would be ideal.”
For those interested in becoming involved with hockey officiating, Tapp offers a few words of advice.
“Don’t be too nervous. You’re not going to see everything. It will definitely make you a better player, a better coach, knowing the rules, knowing the game more. You’ll have a lot of fun and get more involved with hockey. It’s great.”
Jaymie White, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wreckhouse Weekly News