Sunday marks the 110th Grey Cup and it will be the scene where Saskatoon local, Tim Kroeker, will serve as head referee for the first time in his sixth appearance in the championship game.
As Saskatchewan’s most veteran Canadian Football League official, the 110th Grey Cup will be hid 271st overall game. He will be joined by Prince Albert football official Troy Semenchuk, who will serve as umpire in his second Grey Cup. Semenchuk has been a CFL official for seven years, appearing in 117 games.
“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 through a lot of bumps in the road,” said Kroeker, who is an elementary school teacher at St. Nicholas in Saskatoon.
Kroeker began as a CFL official in 2006. Prior to officiating for the CFL, he had experience officiating games at grassroots level and was a part of the in-game action as a high school football player.
The path from high school football player to CFL referee was not necessarily an easy jump, but Kroeker made an impact during his time in the minor leagues. Word got around to George Black, a scout that was travelling across the country to seek out new CFL officials. Kroeker had no intention of seeking a career officiating in the CFL, but his abilities spoke too loud on his behalf.
Black watched Kroeker for a single game and his performance left an impression. The following spring Kroeker got the call, he had made the jump from grassroots level to the CFL overnight.
“I believe that sport really teaches people about life. If you can be a successful member of a team, you can be a successful member at work or in the classroom.”
As an individual involved with educating the upcoming generation, Kroeker can reminisce and appreciate the things he has learned over the years as he moves forward in the officiating world.
“I learn every game from other officials and pay attention to all the different things that can happen on the field. I have also learned to soak it in more and enjoy the moment,” he said.
Mixed into his timeline as a CFL official, Kroeker had a brief stint with the National Football League in 2019. He attended an orientation and three-day camp in New York, an officials clinic in Dallas, a three-day training camp in Arizona and concluded his NFL experience by spending a week in Cleveland for the pre-game between the Browns and Detroit Lions.
“I had a lot of great mentors when I began working in the Saskatoon Football Officials Association. [Being head referee in the Grey Cup] would not have happened without them.”
In 2013, Kroeker was a Sport. Its More Than A Game. ambassador and was featured in the 2015 officials campaign, which gave him the chance to share valuable insight regarding officiating.
“Officiating has taught me to be focused and to be able to deal with a lot of pressure. I believe that sport really teaches people about life. If you can be a successful member of a team, you can be a successful member at work or in the classroom.”
Also on the field, is veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ offensive lineman, Patrick Neufeld. The former University of Saskatchewan Huskie, originally from Regina, will make his his fourth straight Grey Cup appearance and has his eyes set on receiving his third ring in four years.