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Women officials shine at AAHA Qualifiers

By Jack Williams, 03/08/24, 7:45PM EST


HACKENSACK, N.J. — Kajsa Jackson was just in elementary school when she first picked up a hockey stick, but growing up in Iowa, it wouldn’t be until she graduated high school that she had the opportunity to play with other women. Now a referee in the Atlantic Affiliate, she is using this International Women’s Day to reflect on just how much the landscape of girls hockey has shifted in the past few years.

“I think there were maybe two other girls in the league when I was playing in high school. I had no access to women’s hockey at all,” she recalled. “When I finally got to college, I got to play girls hockey. Then once I started reffing, I got to go to camps and got more exposure to girls hockey that way.”

After finishing up her career with the University of Wisconsin, Ms. Jackson began officiating to, in her words, remain connected to the game. She says wearing the stripes has afforded her the opportunity to continue her hockey career and experience higher levels of hockey than she ever did as a player.

It has also provided her an unrivaled perspective on how far girls hockey has come during her decades in the sport. “In the Midwest growing up, there was basically no girls hockey. Then there started to be some right around the time I left, and then moving out here, it’s just been growing and growing,” she said, “Even since I’ve moved out here, I know there have been more girls teams in the Midwest. It has been really cool to watch it explode, and to get to see so many girls joining both as players and as referees.”

Indeed, girls hockey is one of the fastest growing sports in the entire world, and Ms. Jackson sees that growth reflected in the sheer abundance of girls hockey players and referees compared to when she was first learning the game. “It is amazing that as my career as a referee has progressed, girls hockey has progressed too. There’s just more and more and more of it,” Ms. Jackson added. “It’s just really cool to see it grow and to be surrounded by more women that are officials and players.”