Name: Valerie Ahola
Hometown: Bloomington, MN
Q: What is your age?
A: I am 30 years old.
Q: Did you play competitive hockey? If yes, what was the highest level of hockey that you played?
A: I started playing hockey when I was 12 years old, and played high school varsity at Coon Rapids until my junior year.
Q: How many years have you been officiating?
A: I've been officiating for 16 years.
Q: What level(s) do you officiate most often?
A: Currently, I'm officiating a variety of girls U10A/B & U12A, SB, SA and PC. In the past I've officiated from U10B-U14A girls, and SB-B1Btm.
Q: Why did you become a referee?
A: My father, Mark Ahola, got me started when I was 16. It was a great way for us to bond and still is to this day. It was a great way for a high school student to play hockey and also bring in some extra money as I didn't have much free time for a part time job. Being an official is something that is a big part of me, and something I'm proud to be a part of. All thanks to my father.
Q: What is your favorite memory as a referee?
A: I have many favorite memories and very memorable moments. If I had to choose one, it would be about when the head coach of a team I would officiate often caught me by surprise as he was very critical. After one game, he came up to me and shook my hand and said it was the best game I've officiated he had seen. This was a coach who I had for multiple years. Coming from him it meant a lot, as we didn't always see eye to eye. It made me feel proud not only for myself, but for female referees. I had earned the respect of the coach and his players. Being a positive influence on the game is an awesome experience and hope to inspire some young girls in the process to pursue officiating as I did.
Q: What is one thing you would like to tell a youth hockey parent?
A: I would tell the parents that clean hockey is the best hockey. Help out the game and safety of all kids by explaining how dangerous penalties are. Help to prevent penalty calls. We are all here for the kids and to provide a positive experience for them.
Q: What is one thing you would like to tell a youth hockey coach?
A: I would tell coaches that it's just a game, and to lead by example. I'm on the side of the safety of the kids. Clean hockey is the best kind of hockey. Let's all work together and have a great game!