Field Hockey Canada > Canadian umpire Tyler Klenk quickly making his mark

Canadian umpire Tyler Klenk quickly making his mark

PHOTO: Tyler Klenk (left) made his international umpiring debut at the 2016 Junior Pan American Games in Toronto (By Yan Huckendubler/PAHF)

March 28, 2017 | Shaheed Devji |

Less than a year after officiating his first international event, Canadian Tyler Klenk is in Trinidad and Tobago umpiring a marquee event: the 2017 Men’s World League Round 2.

It’s a competition that has significant implications for the nations involved, and for Klenk on his budding career as an umpire as well.

The 24 year-old native of Regina, Saskatchewan made his international debut at the 2016 Men’s Junior Pan American Championships in Toronto, Ontario last summer. And just as quickly as he entered the international scenes, he was on the senior level months later in Canada’s pre-Olympic series with the United States in Vancouver.

And now, World League 2.

The ascent is par for the course for Klenk, who only decided to seriously pursue umpiring as a young adult a couple of years ago, when he stepped away from his playing career and a stint with the Canadian Junior National Team.

“I decided in 2014 that I was really going to start focusing on umpiring,” he says. “I felt that I kind of reached the peak of my playing days and I felt that there was a lot more opportunity to do bigger and better things umpiring.”

Umpiring has been a part of his life since he was living in his home province, where he began officiating high school games and then as a part of the Provincial Team’s volunteer requirements.

When he moved to British Columbia for school (Klenk is finishing his degree in Recreation and Health Education at the University of Victoria), despite his relatively young age, he was a seasoned official.

And that’s when things started to take off.

“It was all kind of a whirlwind,” he says. “I started to get some better appointments locally, and National Championships, doing a few gold medal games at the U16 and U18 Championships, and CIS Championships.”

The quick rise resulted in Klenk landing an appointment at last year’s Pan-Ams, where he put in a good showing and likely opened some eyes.

“I feel I had a really solid tournament and got some good games: a semi-final and a bronze match,” he explains. “Which I thought was really fantastic for me, to get some high-level competition at my first international event. So it all came kind of quick.”

He credits his recent success in part to not being far removed from his playing days, and a sport that is rapidly changing.

“There have been a lot of pretty drastic rule changes in the last 5-10 years,” he says. “Being able to understand those changes, and how they affect the game, and understanding how players are now adapting to these rule changes has allowed me to succeed.”

He also credits having good mentors and encouragement when he was considering giving up playing to focus solely on umpiring. Chris Wilson was one of his advocates and encouraged Klenk to make a run at it when he could have still been playing league games domestically.

But Klenk chose the whistle, and has not looked back since.

“I think a lot of times people look at officiating as something you do when you give up playing,” Klenk explain. “But I was fortunate enough to start umpiring high level games young enough that I kind of got idea that there is a lot of room to grow and a big ladder to climb if you’re willing to commit to it.”

And now he is a few steps up that ladder, and is looking ahead to what he hopes to be a long and fruitful career in field hockey, as an official, following in the footsteps of Field Hockey Canada Hall-of-Fame Inductees and fellow umpire Sumesh Putra, the first Canadians to umpire at the Olympics and World Cup, Ken O’Connor and Marg Lanning, and countless others.

In fact, the list of Canadians who have had long and successful careers in officiating at the highest level is plenty, and also includes Alan Waterman, Sumesh Putra, John Hrytsak and Chris Wilson on the men’s side alone.

For Klenk, it is too soon to be included in that company. But it is never too soon to hope.

“I didn’t really envision it as a young guy growing up, but now that I’m where I’m at, I think that it can only go up from here. So hopefully World League 2 is just the beginning of some big tournaments to come.”