College, pro opportunities await officials

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Like many Mainers, Greg Dumais will be watching the upcoming Stanley Cup Finals pitting his Boston Bruins against the Vancouver Canucks with friends.

Unlike most Mainers, Dumais will have interesting first-hand stories to tell his friends about the two coaches, Boston’s Claude Julien and Vancouver’s Alain Vigneault.

“All of these guys coached in Lewiston against the Maineiacs,” Dumais said. “You see them going to the Stanley Cup and you think ‘Wow, that guy yelled at me.'”

Dumais, a former hockey and baseball star at Edward Little, can state proudly that he’s been yelled at by a who’s who list of hockey coaches as a former official in Hockey East, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the American Hockey League,

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Heart surgery forced Dumais out of active officiating two years ago, but he remains involved as an official assigner for high school and prep ice hockey in the state and officials’ liaison for the Maine Principals’ Association ice hockey committee. He also helps recruit and develop officials through USA Hockey and knows Maine can be a hotbed for young hockey officiating talent.

“There is a lot of opportunity to get promoted,” Dumais said. “In the state of Maine we have Hockey East, the AHL, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. So there are some great opportunities for the young and upcoming officials in New England. There’s a slew of hockey to be played and it all has to be officiated.”

 “We’ve had four or five guys in their early 20’s come into our organization the last two or three years and we’ve moved them right up through. And now we’ve got at least two or three of them that have moved out of the state and are working in professional hockey,” Dumais said.

Dumais started officiating youth hockey at age 13, but you don’t have to start that young to move up through the ranks. Doug Gilbert was coaching his son in youth football when he first got into football officiating.

Gilbert started out in Rumford Area Youth Football, then got his certification to start doing high school and middle school games in 1999. He remained an official even while coaching varsity football at Dirigo and worked his way up to referee for varsity games outside Dirigo’s conference.

After five years coaching the Cougars, winning a state title in 2009, Gilbert resigned in 2010 to focus more on officiating. He is president of an Augusta officials’ board that is the largest in the state, covering two dozen high schools, and is currently working on becoming a college official.

It is not uncommon for coaches such as Gilbert to go into officiating and ultimately decide to leave coaching altogether for it. It’s less of a time commitment, less stressful, and officials only get an earful from parents at the game, not after the game or practice.

“I don’t have to watch film. I can go and enjoy a football game,” Gilbert said. “I can come home and that’s it, I’m all done. Coaching is great, but it’s just the time. I figured I was putting at least 30 hours a week into it. Now, I may put in 30 hours a week reffing, but it doesn’t seem like it.”

Gilbert now has the time to pursue a goal he’s had for a while — becoming a college official. He regularly travels from his home in Dixfield to Massachusetts for clinics, interviews and tests with a Boston-area college football officials board. He hopes to become a board member by the end of the spring and start working college games next fall.

He insists he has no idea and doesn’t care what his pay will be for college games.

“I was asked once if I’d like to go to the MPA to negotiate the contract (for high school officials fees). I told them no. I thought we were making too much money as it is. I’d do it for nothing,” he said.

“I just love the game of football,” he added, “and there’s no better seat in the house than right there on the field with the kids.”

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