SASKATOON — Classroom during the week, the gridiron on weekends. That’s what Saskatoon’s Tim Kroeker life entails.
In his sixth appearance at a Grey Cup championship in an official’s role, this was the first time Kroeker served as head referee.
Nov. 19th’s game marks the 272nd game Kroeker, an elementary school teacher at St. Nicholas in Saskatoon, has officiated in for the Canadian Football League.
A story on Sask. Sport quotes Kroeker saying, “It is a huge honour. I have done Grey Cups before in a different position. When I transitioned to referee, I had a big hill to climb and go over a lot of bumps in the road.”
Prior to becoming an official in the CFL, Kroeker was an official at the grassroots level, also part of the game as a high school football player. The Saskatoon man has also officiated in minor basketball on the weekends in high school.
While the CFL official, who calls Saskatoon home, said he wasn’t intending to seek a career officiating in Canada’s football league, scouts seeking new officials say his abilities spoke otherwise. This resulted in the leap to the CFL happen almost overnight.
Kroeker believes that sport teaches people about life skills and maintains that if you can be a successful team member that will translate into a successful person at work or in the classroom.
Lifelong learning, whether for his career as a teacher or his work as a CFL official is one key to Kroeker’s success story. While working in the classroom or on the field, learning to embrace the experience and enjoying the moment is also what makes the work he does enjoyable.
The humble Kroeker is quick to acknowledge his mentors along the way from working in the Saskatoon Football Officials Association for helping him reach this milestone of being appointed head referee for the 2023 Grey Cup.
Lessons learned on the field can also be translated to his career as a teacher noting that officiating has taught him to be focused and deal with pressure.
How does this CFL official balance two careers and home life?
"My wife is the hero in the officiating journey. Without her support this would have never happened. I always try to take the latest flight out and the earliest flight home,” says Kroeker.
St. Nicholas School staff and students were excited to learn of Kroeker’s head referee appointment letting him know their pride in this accomplishment. Students, both those who are football fans and those that aren’t, were especially excited to watch their teacher, Mr. Kroeker, on TV.
Numerous media outlets released stories on Kroeker once it was learned he was going to be head official at the Grey Cup in Hamilton and, while not seeking the limelight, the man in stripes became a Saskatoon and Saskatchewan celebrity when the news was released as well as up to and including the game itself.
How did all the media attention make him feel? Kroeker responds, “It is always an honour to be recognized for doing well. There are a lot of football fans in the province. My co-workers and students were very supportive.”
Upon returning home from the game, Kroeker was back in the classroom Nov. 21 and will now experience some downtime with only two jobs to focus on — teaching and his family.
What could he say to other aspiring football officials who may seek to serve in the CFL?
"Be a good teammate, study the rules, be a lifelong learner, and understand how the game works."