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Carpentersville teacher/hockey ref emailing lessons from Russia

ErBlair health teacher Lakewood Middle School Carpentersville poses for phowith memenfrom her school Winter Olympics Sochi Russia. She was chosen

Erin Blair, a health teacher at Lakewood Middle School in Carpentersville, poses for a photo with a memento from her school at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. She was chosen as one of the referees for women's hockey. | Photo courtesy of School District 300

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Updated: March 20, 2014 6:16AM

CARPENTERSVILLE — Students at Lakewood School are getting quite the social studies lesson from health teacher Erin Blair.

As a referee at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Blair has been sharing her amazing journey with Lakewood students and staff through pictures, emails, and live Skyping sessions. To show her school spirit, Blair made a little school flag that she uses as a prop at various locales around Sochi.

Blair, 32, is one of only 15 women in the world picked to officiate women’s hockey at the Winter Olympics, which concludes Thursday with the women’s tournament finals. The Bloomingdale resident is one of three Americans on the crew and serves as one of six referees, with the other nine officials working as linesmen.

Beyond talking about her experiences in Russia, the kids learn through example about how hard work and pursuing a dream can lead to success.

Contacted in Sochi, Blair responded to 10 questions. Here is what she had to say:

1. How many hockey matches have you served as referee so far?

I have skated four games and been the standby for three games.

2. What was the best match you worked as a referee? Do you watch other hockey matches? If so, which ones?

All my assignments at the Olympics have been excellent! It’s a great honor to skate at this level. I did skate a Semifinal game on Monday evening between Canada and Switzerland. I have had access to all the hockey games here at the Olympics. It has been great to watch this level of hockey both men and women.

3. How is it decided which game you are assigned?

Game assignments are given out on a daily basis. They are based on performance and the teams that are playing the games. Officials cannot work games where their own country is playing. Game assignments are done by our supervisors and then approved by a committee of hockey directors.

4. Have you seen any other Olympic sports? If so, what?

I have seen all the sports in the coaster cluster. Figure skating, speed skating, curling and short track. I hope to make it up to the mountain cluster in the next couple days to see others things as well.

5. There obviously is a lot down town time. What do you do with your free time?

The other officials who are here are great people. I have spent a lot of time with them waling the Olympic Park and enjoying the experience.

6. What was the reaction there from the men’s hockey team’s win over Russia?

Obviously that game was huge. It was an outstanding hockey game, the kind that makes our sport so great! The reaction in the park has been OK. Nothing really noticeable from my end. Just a great hockey game.

7. Where are you staying? How are the accommodations?

All the officials for various sports are staying in the same hotel within the Olympic Park. It is a great hotel, brand new, just opened. My accommodations are outstanding, no issues for me!

8. You’ve been talking to your student. What are they mostly interested in you telling them?

I have been communicating with Lakewood in a variety of ways. I did have the opportunity to Skype with a few classrooms last week. It was so exciting for me to see them and tell them about my trip. They had some very good questions and some silly ones as well. They wanted to know about the food, and the weather and my games. I did receive a picture today from a classroom where they had made a sign that said, “We miss you Ms. Blair.” My heart melted! I do miss them so much and I am happy that I have been able to share this experience with all of them - teachers included.

9. You brought memento from Lakewood. How many different locations has it been photographed?

I have taken quite a few pictures with the Lakewood pennant. It started with my journey at O’Hare Airport. From the gate agents, to the TSA agents, to my seat on the plane. Once in Sochi, the pennant has seen the Stanley Cup, the Olympic Rings, some circus clowns, and even a McDonald’s employee. It is a great feeling to know that my students back at Lakewood are seeing the pictures on a daily basis. I just hope are enjoying the pictures as much as I am.

10. What is the one thing that surprised you the most about Sochi?

Honestly, the one thing that surprised me the most was the weather. It has been beautiful for the majority of my trip. There were even a few days of 65 and sunny! Doesn’t make it feel much like a Winter Olympics, but I’m loving it!

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