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Cambridge, ON – Danielle Williams is not solely an accomplished hockey official. She became an instructor in the league she joined at 18 to cut her teeth in stripes – the Greater Toronto Hockey League.

Click here to see Danielle’s 2024 Bursary Winner Video

“I am the first female official to be a linesperson for the OHL Cup, in 2019,” said Williams, at 29 the oldest recipient of a Dairy Farmers of Ontario Bursary, but so well deserved after accomplished pursuits in refereeing, mentoring new refs, along with a later-life academic awakening to give hope to the marginalized.

To apply for the 2024 Bursary click here

“I am now a linesperson in the OHA,” said Williams, of Brampton. “My husband is a referee as well. My life, it feels like, is the rink.

“I am at a hockey rink seven days a week and it has been like that since I can remember. It has just become my complete community.”

Williams went back to school as a mature student, charted an 84 per cent average, and acted on a sense of helping others by studying social work. That goal is clear.

“Help people coming out of correctional institutions. And help them move on to bigger and better things.”

The skills of being a sought-after ref apply even when the stripes come off.

“Needing to understand how to communicate properly in certain situations,” said Williams.

“My own emotional intelligence is a huge thing with it as well.”

School and hockey, then hockey, and after that a meal, hockey, maybe some laundry, some more hockey. Williams is compelled to stay on top of the calendar.

“Having to make your own schedule and follow it and not upset other people and ruin their schedule.

“There are a lot of other schedules in effect.”

Now she wants to have a hand filling out other schedules by teaching and mentoring new referees and ideally assisting former prisoners find new purpose. This sense of giving came after having received plenty.

“Everyone was there to give to me when I came through in hockey,” said Williams.  

“There were always tons of people there for me. What I want is to give that to the next kid so that they can do it – and it will just be everyone helping everyone.”

2024 Bursary Program – HOW TO APPLY

Candidates must complete the application form below and submit it to the OHA by 8 p.m. on May 6, 2024. Each application will be reviewed by a panel and only the successful recipients will be contacted by the OHA. We wish the best of luck to all applicants.

To apply for the 2024 Bursary click here

About the Ontario Hockey Association

The Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) was founded on November 27, 1890, and is the governing body for the majority of Junior and Senior hockey in the Province of Ontario.  The OHA is a Member Partner of the Ontario Hockey Federation which is one of thirteen Provincial and Regional Branches of Hockey Canada. 

It is comprised of three Junior hockey leagues and two Senior hockey leagues: Junior A – Ontario Junior Hockey LeagueJunior B – Greater Ontario Junior Hockey LeagueJunior C – Provincial Junior Hockey LeagueSenior  – Allan Cup Hockey (AAA) and Ontario Elite Hockey League (AA). For the 2023-24 season, these five leagues encompass 125 teams.

The objectives of the OHA are to foster and encourage the sport of amateur hockey, to conduct competition in the various categories established, to determine teams for entry into the inter-branch competitions that may be provided by Hockey Canada, and to provide for the affiliation of other hockey organizations.

The OHA provides administrative resources, coordinates programs, services and events for hockey participants and provides support to various Development Programs for coaches, officials, trainers and players, Safety and Risk Management Issues and offers resources for Harassment and Abuse education.


For more information or to set up an interview, please contact:

Chris McCleary

General Manager, Operations & Marketing                  

Ontario Hockey Association                            

[email protected]  

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