2023 iwd jenn berezowski

Berezowski’s officiating dream comes true with newborn by her side

Three months after giving birth to her second daughter, Jenn Berezowski was back on the ice refereeing at the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship

Jonathan Yue
March 18, 2023

Jenn Berezowski always wanted the opportunity to officiate at a top-level IIHF tournament.

With 15 years of experience as an on-ice official, working in numerous leagues and tournaments around Canada, Berezowski finally got the chance when she was chosen as a referee for the 2023 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship in Sweden.

There was just one small dilemma. Berezowski had recently given birth to her second daughter, Hannah.

“When I got the phone call in October 2022 to do the U18 Women’s Worlds in January, I was about a month postpartum with my second daughter,” Berezowski recalls. “It was going to be tight with the timing, but I couldn’t say no.”

So, a month after Hannah was born, Berezowski resumed officiating games.

“I was back on the ice again and with my daughter attached to my hip,” she says.

When it came time to leave for Sweden, Berezowski, along with her mother and baby Hannah, made the trip from their home in Trenton, Ont., across the Atlantic. Meanwhile, her husband and their eldest daughter, three-year-old Scarlett, remained at home and watched as Berezowski refereed three games, including the gold medal game that saw Canada beat Sweden 10-0 to defend its world title.

Whether it was at home or on the road, Berezowski credits friends, family and colleagues for supporting her and Hannah.

“Everyone has taken turns coming to the arena with me so that I can be away from home and continue to ref but also have her with me there so I can feed her and keep her healthy,” Berezowski says. “My colleagues have been extremely supportive, no one has blinked an eye about me feeding my baby in between periods or having a babysitter hanging around. In doing that, they are helping normalize this path locally, nationally and internationally.”

Since the U18 worlds in Sweden, Berezowski has returned to officiating various leagues across Ontario with her daughter by her side. This week, she is part of the crew working the U SPORTS Women’s Hockey Championship in Montreal.

With the added logistics of travelling with her baby, on top of being a mother of two and a referee, Berezowski is also a chartered professional accountant. She admits that the spring season is one of her busiest times of the year, with provincial championships and playoffs happening at the same time as the Canadian tax season.

“It’s all about the support I receive from everyone, including my bosses who have been very generous with allowing me to have flexible hours,” Berezowski says. “During the spring, tax season and championships come to a peak, so it’s all about giving some and taking some and being one of the hardest workers out there.”

Normalizing newborns at the rink

Since donning the stripes when she was 16 years old, Berezowski says she has only once seen a mom with her newborn at the rink. However, she is optimistic that over time, it will be commonplace.

“We used to have to choose one of the two. I would’ve had to choose between continuing to do this or is it time to have a family,” Berezowski adds. “Now, people have opened their minds to the possibilities and you can do both. I’ve been lucky to be able to pursue everything.”

Berezowski is also in contact with the growing community of women officials. Whether it’s sharing experiences or bouncing thoughts and ideas off each other, the community continues to be very supportive. By sharing her story, Berezowski hopes to serve as a role model for other women, particularly new moms.

“I have a lot of colleagues that are young, and they haven’t started families yet, and through that online group, we’re transparent and showing that we’re in 2023, we can do this stuff if we want to, and I love that I can show that within my province and on the ice,” she says.

At the end of the day, Berezowski is encouraged by the support from the hockey community.

“It’s super rewarding to have a career, be an official on the ice and a mom, too,” she says. “Seeing people like Natalie Spooner and all she’s doing, we’re showing moms what is possible, and that we can do anything that we want to once we set our minds to it.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

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