Schooling plus considerable time spent traveling and on the ice equals a jam-packed schedule and many late nights for Chris van Deventer.
It’s all part of the process of moving up the ladder in hockey officiating for the 22-year-old while maintaining his studies.
Born in Nanaimo and living there again now, van Deventer spent 15 years in between living in Chemainus and graduated from Ladysmith Secondary School in 2013. He’s currently in the second year of studies in the Social Services program at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo.
But van Deventer’s main claim to fame right now is officiating and it’s been hectic, adding Western Hockey League duties in Victoria to his resume for the first time this season.
“Some weekends I have four games in a row or something,” he said. “It starts to consume your life a little bit.
“I try to make it to class Monday mornings, but you never know,” van Deventer quipped.
No one starts out officiating and, like everyone else, van Deventer was a hockey player first in the Cowichan Valley minor system at the age of seven. He played right through the minor hockey ranks and always enjoyed it enough to still go to drop-in whenever he can.
“I played rep when I was younger,” van Deventer indicated. “At the end, I was just playing Midget house hockey.
“I started concentrating more on reffing when I was 16,” he added.
Van Deventer had started officiating three years earlier, following in the skate blades of his brother Mike, who’s two years older.
“I kind of watched him do it,” said van Deventer. “I think once I turned 16-17, I wanted to get into doing Junior B. I saw my brother doing it.”
Mike eventually ended his officiating career with Junior B as his highest level while Chris has continued to progress.
“Once I got into Junior B, I saw how difficult it was going to be to move up to the BCHL and the Western League,” he explained.
Van Deventer began as a Junior B official at the age of 18.
“I started taking it more seriously,” he conceded. “You’re held very accountable, as opposed to minor hockey. I wouldn’t say there’s necessarily too many officials, but there are a lot of good officials so there’s competition.”
Van Deventer made his debut in the BCHL at age 20 and in the Western League this year. He’s currently refereeing games at the Junior B and BCHL levels and serving strictly as a WHL linesmen at Victoria Royals’ games so far.
“It’s kind of tough if you have a couple of games doing one thing and you go back to the other,” van Deventer explained of the referee and linesman switch. “I try to do both. You never know which one’s going to take you the farthest.
“I do see more of my potential as a linesman.”
The transition for players from one level to the next goes without saying, but it’s also experienced by officials.
“It was a lot faster, that’s for sure,” van Deventer recalled of his first BCHL game in Port Alberni.
His first WHL assignment in Victoria came Sept. 30.
“I’d heard it was tough to crack,” van Deventer pointed out.
He’s been getting two to three WHL games a month as time permits.
“It is a tough league to break into,” van Deventer indicated. “It’s a big difference in skill level. The speed of the game is really big. I’m still working at feeling comfortable at that level.”
He’s just started to travel off the Island for additional BCHL games one weekend a month and was in West Kelowna during mid-November.
“It’s always cool going to a different rink, getting a bit of a different environment,” van Deventer pointed out.
“You get tired of getting booed by the same fans,” he laughed.
For now, van Deventer wants to keep working hard and see where it takes him.
“It’s not that bad of a job, either,” he noted.
“If you can’t be one of the top players in the world, you’d might as well be on the ice with them.”