OTTAWA, ON – On Wednesday, September 27th at Lansdowne Park’s Horticulture Building, the Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame is inducting five new members to its local sports shrine – Carol Anne Chenard (soccer), Murray Costello (hockey), Tim Higgins (hockey), Earle Morris (curling) and Jill Perry (boxing). Each Tuesday and Thursday until the event, the Sport Hall will post an article on an aspect of the event. Today’s article is on 2023 Inductee, Carol Anne Chenard.
2023 SPORT HALL INDUCTEE – CAROL ANNE CHENARD:
While she was busy skating circles at blazing speed in arenas in Canada and around the world, Carol Anne Chenard never thought she’d become an international soccer referee, let alone one of the planet’s best.
Officiating was in her genes – her parents were international speed skating officials – but soccer was heavily in the background while she competed for the Canadian short-track team. Chenard earned six career medals on the World Cup circuit and once held the world record in the women’s 3,000-metre relay.
But what started out as refereeing “swarm soccer” — 7 vs. 7 children’s play — for part-time work as a teenager eventually launched Chenard towards calling the sport’s biggest games.
From Gloucester Soccer Association kids’ contests to local men’s matches, Chenard received positive feedback on her work. One team wrote to the provincial association about her potential, and higher-level assignments followed.
“People were telling me that I had some of the characteristics necessary to become a high-level referee,” recalls Chenard, who diligently completed the necessary courses and called enough matches to progress up the ranks, all while juggling her PhD studies in microbiology/immunology and a career at Health Canada.
“I benefited from so many people that took the time and used their experience to help me develop,” adds the McGill University grad. “It had a huge impact on my career.”
In 15+ years as a FIFA international referee, Chenard officiated two Olympic Games in 2012 and 2016 – where she called the final between Germany and Sweden in Rio de Janeiro.
Chenard also refereed the championship games of the 2010 and 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cups. She was on the field for the 2017 U-17 Men’s and 2018 U-20 Women’s World Cups as well, plus the 2011 and 2015 Women’s World Cups.
Getting to referee in front of her friends and family in Ottawa at the 2015 Women’s World Cup was “an amazing honour” and a special highlight in the 46-year-old’s career.
Chenard has also officiated numerous professional matches in the National Women’s Soccer League and the Canadian Premier League, and for a time, she was Major League Soccer’s lone female official. She’s served as both a trailblazer and mentor for many rising Canadian referees.
“They did notice I’m female when I’d walk out in the tunnel,” Chenard says of her early high-level men’s assignments. “Sometimes it took the guys aback when I’d walk out and I’m the one holding the ball and they realize, ‘Oh my goodness, she’s the one who’s going to referee.’
“But I honestly believe within the first five minutes of the game, they’d sort of forget I’m female and all they want is a referee that knows the laws, knows how to apply them and is there to step in when needed to protect their safety as well.
“And if you ever saw me referee, you know that they didn’t treat me any differently – I’d get yelled at just as much as everyone else.”
Staying calm, being neutral and learning to manage different personalities are important pillars for referees to be successful, notes Chenard, who’s retired from on-field refereeing but now works as a video match official.
A cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatments forced her to miss her 2019 Women’s World Cup assignment at the last moment, but she was healthy enough to work in the video booth and travel to Australia for the 2023 edition this past summer.
“I’ve had wonderful opportunities with soccer to travel all over the world. I’ve met great people. And it helped keep me fit,” reflects Chenard. “I joke that when I traveled with skating, it was always freezing cold. Now I’ve got to travel to many beautiful countries where it’s warm all the time.”
In the shadows of TD Place stadium where she called 2015 World Cup matches, Chenard will soon be welcomed into the Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame as a builder on Sept. 27 at the Horticulture Building.
“My life has always been busy with sports,” Chenard underlines. “It’s a real honour to have my career recognized in this way in the town where I’ve spent the majority of my life.”
SEPTEMBER 27 OTTAWA SPORT HALL OF FAME INDUCTION EVENING
Tickets for the Wednesday, September 27th Induction Ceremony are available for purchase now!
In the lead-up to the banquet, full-length features on each of the inductees will be posted on the Hall’s new website at OttawaSportHall.ca and shared through the Ottawa Sports Pages, the Hall’s new partner.
Chair, Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame
Director, Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame
About the Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame:
The Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization, which documents, curates and celebrates outstanding achievement in local sport heritage. The Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame is overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors which works in close partnership with the City of Ottawa to maintain and preserve Ottawa’s rich sporting legacies. Each year, the Hall of Fame Board receives nominations from the public, and selects new inductees to be represented in the Hall. The Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame is located at City Hall. It contains artifacts, photographs and memorabilia honouring our sporting heritage, as well as commemorative plaques honouring its more than 275 inductees.