The upcoming FIH World League Round 2 hosted in West Vancouver, Canada will not only be backyard comfort for a promising Canadian squad but it will also be the first home competition for Lelia Sacre, one of Canada’s most aspiring international female umpires. Hockey has always been a part of the 28-year-old’s life as the genes were passed on from her father John, a three-time Pan American Gold medalist with Canada, and her mother Cindy, who played at San Diego State.
Sacre hails from Delta, British Columbia, less than one hour drive from Rutledge Field in West Vancouver, and she has played hockey since a young age. She competed for Canada’s junior national team at the 2005 Junior World Cup in Chile and went on to compete for the University of Maine where she was given the nod as a First Team All-Conference, First Team All-Region and Third Team All-American.
Despite her talents as a player, Sacre had a few injuries plague her chances from further pursuing high-level hockey and while her body denied her playing, her mind continued to challenge her. Sacre started umpiring in 2008 and realized her smarts as a player made a smooth transition to being a strong official.
“My dream was to represent Canada as a player,” said Sacre about turning her commitment to becoming an FIH official. “It was not until after my first international tour with the Canadian women’s junior team that I knew I wanted to represent Canada on a different platform, umpiring, at the highest level.”
Sacre’s first major senior tournament was the 2013 Pan American Cup in Mendoza, Argentina and travelled with the Canadian senior team to New Zealand in 2016 for their annual Hawkes Bay Invitational.
“Mendoza was an amazing experience because it made me realize just how passionate I was about umpiring,” said Sacre, who now resides in England and umpires under the National Program Umpiring Association.
“I am now living in London where I moved to begin my career as a teacher. I chose England because it also has one of the best leagues in the world. I have received tremendous support from all my colleagues through the NPUA.”
Sacre credits Canadian officials Alan Waterman, Madge Johnson, Keely Dunn and Wendy Stewart for seeing the “spark” in her and urging her to pursue umpiring further. Mentors Louise Knipe, Liz Pelling and Dawn Bonner in England have also been pivotal sources of encouragement and improvement.
Sacre now has the opportunity to showcase her hard work at home on April 1-9 at the seven-team FIH World League Round 2 and it’s not often that Canadians – players or umpires – get this opportunity.
“Words cannot fully begin to describe how excited I am for this tournament,” said Sacre about returning home. “To be able to umpire on this platform in front of my family and friends is something that will be truly special. It will be particularly special to know that my parents will be in the crowd watching as they have never been able to see me participate on the international stage in person before.”
Sacre explained her expectations for the World League Round 2 event are the same she has for any tournament: “perform well and allow for exciting and attracting hockey.”
Following the competition in West Vancouver, Sacre will prepare for the 2017 Pan American Cup hosted in August in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Sacre has proven that she is the up-and-coming women’s official from Canada and while pursuing her growth as an umpire wants to continue to inspire other young women to do the same.
“Do it because it brings you joy. The job as an umpire is full of ups and downs and is even lonely at times but umpiring has taken me around the world to meet new people and make new friends who support each other. Do I miss playing? Absolutely, but I would miss umpiring more and that lets me know I love what I do each time I step out onto the pitch.”
The FIH World League Round 2 event will be hosted at Rutledge Field in West Vancouver, Canada from April 1-9 and will feature India, Belarus, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay. For more information on the event click here.