Wim Kok named Speed Skating Canada's Official of the Year

Wim Kok's 30 years of officiating at the regional, national and international levels were recognized yesterday by Speed Skating Canada (SSC). Kok was named the winner of SSC's Rene Marleau Award for Official of the Year on Wednesday, August 5. 

"Looking at the list of the people who have won this award over the years, they have officiated World Cups, Olympics, and to be in the same ball park as them is quite humbling," Kok said. "I've worked with a lot of those officials over the years, and it's the result of years working together as a team and supporting each other. It's very gratifying."

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Kok began officiating locally with the Fort St. John Elks in 1990, after being introduced to the sport in 1984. Since then he's consistently and diligently officiated speed skating meets every year, starting first with regional and provincial meets before becoming a Level Three official, which allowed him to work at national events in Calgary and across Canada. 

In 2012, Kok was nominated by the International Skating Union in Switzerland to become a Level 4 official, letting him work international events. 

"That was a designation that came totally out of the blue. I hadn't expected it at all and I thought I was past the age limit of when you can officiate at that level, but based on my performance they saw fit to give me that designation," Kok said. 

Kok last officiated internationally at the World Cup #4 in Salt Lake City in 2018. He was the official for Canadian Olympic gold-medalist Ted-Jan Bloemen's world record-setting performance in the 10,000m. 

"That was fascinating. I got to sign off on the record, and to be asked to do that and go over all the documents was quite remarkable," Kok said. 

Kok's contributions to speed skating are felt heavily at the Elks, where he mentors and encourages others to take up officiating and be involved in the sport. 

"He has been a pillar of this speed skating community for darn near four decades," said Elks president Dan Bastiaansen. "His drive to bring people into the fold to take on officiating has done tremendous things for the health and longevity of the sport, and pushing people to do their utmost best is his passion."

Kok has enjoyed every minute of his role in speed skating. 

"I have received a lot of satisfaction, and the ability to mentor new people to take up the torch when I put it down is satisfying to me. I help run lots of clinics for new officials, higher level officials, and official development," said Kok. 

However, what keeps Kok as active in the sport as when he first joined is the people and the sense of teamwork. 

"There is a terrific group of people, tremendous teamwork, and lots of enthusiasm," Kok said. 

"The award, it was given to me, but a lot of people over the years have provided the support and mentorship needed to get here, and without that, something like this is not achievable."

Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at sports@ahnfsj.ca

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