US Umpire Suzi Sutton was awarded the prestigious International Hockey Federation (FIH) Golden Whistle at the women's Hockey Junior World Cup 2016 in Santiago, Chile after officiating her 100th senior international hockey match earlier this year.
It was just six years ago when Suzi earned her badge as an FIH International Umpire. This follows a remarkable transformation from her youth when she openly admitted she wasn't the biggest fan of the sport.
In an interview a few seasons ago, Suzi said that her mother, a hockey coach in Pennsylvania, had to drag her to games and force her to watch. She said: "I used to hate it, [hockey] but then fell in love with it after I was forced to play one time!"
Such is Suzi’s commitment to the game now that she resigned a job at Fed Ex, as she says: “in order to pursue all opportunities associated with umpiring hockey internationally… and I am enjoying the ride.”
Among the major internationals that Suzi has umpired to date are the 2013 Pan-American Cup and the 2015 Pan-American Games, where she umpired the bronze medal match. Aside from the Hockey Junior World Cup, Suzi will also be officiating at the women's Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2017.
Suzi is the 41st women’s umpire to receive the FIH Golden Whistle and the third from USA, after Jun Kentwell and Amy Baxter. The FIH Golden Whistle was presented to Suzi after she umpired her first game – New Zealand v Belgium – at the Hockey Junior World Cup with colleague Liu Xiaoying of China.
Speaking about Suzi's achievements, Umpire manager at this event, New Zealand’s Sarah Garnett, said: “This is well deserved. Suzi is always a bright, bubbly helpful person and is a pleasure to have as part of the team. She leads by example and is a popular member of the FIH umpiring family.”
The FIH Golden Whistle is another example of the sport becoming more professional, a key component of the FIH's 10-year Hockey Revolution strategy. To read more about that, click here.
Listen to FIH's exclusive interview with Suzi live from the women's Hockey Junior World Cup 2016 in Santiago, Chile below: