Stefanie Soukup - NCAA Women's Hockey Championship Referee!

Stefanie Soukup - NCAA Hockey Referee
Posted on 03/23/2023
Stefanie Soukup - NCAA Hockey Referee

ISD 917 is proud to share the story of Stefanie Soukup, our DCALS Physical Education teacher who is not only a great teacher working toward her administration license while parenting her baby boy, Zeke, but also serves as a role model for lifelong athletics.  After a lifetime of playing then officiating ice hockey, Stefanie received the honor of being chosen as  Referee for the NCAA Division III Women’s Ice Hockey  Championship!  

Stefanie first learned she was chosen as a referee for the Frozen Four five days before she was to fly across the country to Amherst, Massachusetts where the  games were to be held.  After officiating the semi-finals, she was chosen by a committee of NCAA hockey coaches and administrators to.  A native Minnesotan, Stefanie played hockey for Farmington High School before joining the University of Wisconsin - River Falls hockey team, where she “broke some records” and played in two national championships during her four-year career.  She cherished the opportunity to be on the ice with Minnesota’s Adolphus Gustavus Women’s Hockey Team as they won their first-ever national title in triple overtime.

Stefanie’s path to the championship was far from accidental.  From an early age, she set clear goals and plans to achieve them.  While in college, she chose to focus on officiating over coaching so she could have more autonomy and establish a healthy work-life balance.  She learned from mentors who connected her with experiences to support her in developing the knowledge, skills, and dispositions she would need as a hockey referee.  It turned out that many of those skills are also useful as an educator and educational leader!  Stefanie learned how to carefully observe as the game moved fast, handle high-stress situations, communicate effectively with multiple stakeholders, prioritize her time, and maintain the integrity of the game by ensuring everyone knows and follows the rules.  After completing a highly-sought-after spot in a week-long intense clinic to prepare ice hockey referees to officiate in the Olympics and other international competitions, Stefanie’s career as a referee really took off.  In addition to working as a teacher during the day, she was refereeing six days per week!  

The arrival of her son, Zeke, last spring changed her schedule a bit, but Stefanie is thankful for her husband, parents (including mom, Barb Schmitz, who is the ISD 917 Buyer), sister, and extended family for supporting her to maintain the healthy work-life balance she sought as a young hockey player.  Stefanie encourages young people to clarify and communicate their own goals, push the voices of the naysayers out of their heads, and keep moving forward.  Connect with people who understand and support your dreams, and you will find a way.

On the ice and at school, Stefanie models ISD 917 core values, and we are proud that she is a member of the ISD 917 community.  Way to go, Stefanie!