With the Opening Ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympics being less than two weeks away, everyone is getting excited to watch their fellow countrymen and women represent their country by going for the "Gold" in each of their respective sports. Michigan has a handful of athletes that will be taking part in the winter games this year and one, in particular, that won't be going for Olympic medals.

Melissa Szkola always dreamed as a child while lacing up her skates that one day she would get to the winter Olympics like her idol Michelle Kwan. However, those dreams changed and now she is headed to the winter games as a hockey referee. She began her figure skating career as far back as 19 months old and told WDIV Detroit that as part of a skating family growing up in Port Huron, MI that everyone was always on the ice.

After giving up the dream of figure skating she decided to take on ice hockey, playing for the club team at Oakland University and eventually a recreational league at Wayne State University which is where she met her future husband and hockey referee, Jim. This was the start of her transition into a hockey referee as she told Channel 4 that the early tutorials on the ice were rather challenging:

We were watching a Wings game, he had his yearly seminar and asked if I wanted to go. My first game was almost my last game. The guy I was with didn't make it easy. I felt I had no place out there.

After 10 years of going through the necessary developmental camps and training through working tournaments around the world, the suits of USA hockey kept a watchful eye while ranking officials. All potential Olympic officials took part in a selection camp back in August, and in November, she got the call that she had been chosen. She'll be one of four women and seven Americans to officiate this year. Congratulations Melissa!


 

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