Six former University of Saskatchewan students are trading in Huskies green for maple leaf red as they head to Sochi, Russia representing Canada at the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games.
One of those individuals is NHL referee Brad Meier (BSPE’91, BEd’92), who will be keeping his familiar black and white uniform.
Top-tier judges, officials and referees in their respective sports play an important role in international competitions, especially in the intense spotlight of the Olympics.
Meier, who currently calls Calgary, Alta. home, is one of seven NHL referees named to the international crew of 28 officials for men’s hockey, which includes referees and linesmen.
Refereeing hockey since he was 12 years old, Meier made the switch from amateur to professional in 1999. Career highlights include officiating at two Memorial Cups, a World Junior Championship, multiple Stanley Cup playoffs and the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan.
UofS: Describe your first day on campus.
BM: I spent the better part of my childhood in Saskatoon, so I was familiar with campus. The more overwhelming part for me was the number of people my age all in the same place at the same time with the same pursuits, goals and desires.
UofS: What is your favourite or most memorable moment at the U of S?
BM: I really enjoyed the community in physical education. The college was smaller; we knew each other, and I really enjoyed the small town atmosphere in the college. I’m proud of my U of S degrees.
UofS: Did you have a favourite hangout as a student?
BM: Place Riel and the old pool hall seemed to take up a fair bit of my time. It was a good place for me and my buddies, who were all in different colleges, to connect and meet up for lunch or a ride home.
UofS: What was the best place to get food on campus?
BM: It was always good to have fries with your beer at Louis’. But I lived close enough to campus I went home most of the time.
UofS: Did you have a favourite place on campus to unwind?
BM: The Bowl when the weather was nice. It was good to get outside, see the different buildings and lounge, and waste a couple hours.
UofS: Do you have any pre-competition rituals or superstitions?
BM: Not really, it’s more about timing and preparation. I get to the rink about 90 minutes early to warm up, stretch out and talk with the other officials about any previous incidents between the teams.
UofS: What is your most memorable moment in sport?
BM: There are a few: my first NHL game, my first playoff game—those are certainly highlights because they are a measure of success. I got to work an all-star game; that was fun and it was great to have my family there. I got to go to Prague years ago for some games early in the season. Probably it’s the ability to see some places I otherwise wouldn’t have seen.
UofS: What are you most looking forward to in Sochi?
BM: The Olympic experience itself will be fantastic. I’m going in with an open mind. I don’t know what to expect about transportation, accommodation, the rinks, etc. It’s the experience of a lifetime. It will be fast paced with the best hockey players in the world. I have to be careful not to be lulled into being a fan.
UofS: Do you have any advice for U of S students today?
BM: Pursue what you want to pursue, and don’t let others tell you otherwise. My time at the U of S was part of the building blocks for me to become a referee in the National Hockey League. Enjoy the experience, and use it to your advantage in life.
UofS: Do you have any advice for aspiring young referees or officials?
BM: The difficult part is the first few years because of crazy hockey parents. So stick with it, and don’t give up. The experience is worth it; officiating at a higher level is worth it.
Read more about former U of S students heading to Sochi:
Lyndon Rush, BA’04, men’s bobsleigh
Ben Coakwell, men’s bobsleigh
Graeme Rinholm , BSc’10, men’s bobsleigh
Colette Bourgonje, BSPE’84, BEd’85, women’s para-nordic cross-country skiing
Kurt Oatway, BSc’10, men’s para-alpine skiing