The Winter Olympic Games aren’t just proving ground for the world’s best athletes—they’re the highest level of competition for the officials, too. In February 2018, Jessica Leclerc ’09 was one of only four American women (19 women total) to officiate the women’s ice hockey tournament during the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Maine native, former UC hockey captain, and graduate of UC’s Therapeutic Recreation program has been officiating since she was 12.
“I started with youth hockey and college hockey, then a few years ago I got licensed internationally as a linesman. From there I was chosen to officiate the women’s world championships in 2015, which put me in the running to officiate Olympic hockey,” says Leclerc, who learned she’d been selected by the International Ice Hockey Federation to officiate the Olympics just months before the games began. “For me, officiating is a way to be involved in the game and be competitive. My goal has always been to officiate the highest level of hockey I can.”
In Pyeongchang, Leclerc achieved her goal and then some: She officiated the historic game between the unified Korean team and Japan, and the bronze medal game between Finland and Olympics Athletes from Russia (OAR).
“The experience was simply amazing,” says Leclerc, who later watched from the stands as the U.S. women won gold (refs are not allowed to officiate their own countries’ games). “Watching the U.S. women win really put into perspective what the Olympics are all about: dedication, pride, and the thrill and excitement of sports.”
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