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Last year, instead of calling balls and strikes, I was learning how to drive and shoot a tank. This year, as of a phone call tonight, I have been named the Umpire-in-Chief of our local summer softball organization. With this big honor comes big responsibilities, such as finding, training, assigning, and evaluating our crew. When I left, here is the state of our officials: No training. Two sets of shared equipment left in the concession stands overnight. A t-shirt with the league logo on the front and "UMPIRE" printed on the back, and a suggestion (that was rarely followed) of khaki shorts. Showing up 5 minutes prior to the first pitch. These kind of things. When I showed up in a pair of grey slacks and an umpire hat (I wore the league shirt with the chest protector under it to conform to the league "uniform"), the place thought they got me from the major leagues or something. And while I have had some training, called some Varsity games, and taken to doing my job correctly, I could still use a lot of suggestions prior to taking command of this ragtag group and getting them season ready. And in case you're wondering, Opening Day is May 7th. So, with just over 2 months to properly train umpires for the very first time, I'm asking for your help. I'm not looking to prepare these folks for this season's MLB World Series; I'm looking to get them through a rec league that covers 1st-12th grade. What are the main things you suggest to teach? In your opinion, what are things you cannot do without knowing before stepping on the ballfield? Do you teach any clinics, and what are some of the methods you use? I'm open to any and all suggestions, folks! Part two. Currently, these umpires are organized under the local league, with the UIC being a position on the board. This is beneficial in regards to funding, however, can be limiting to future growth. I have the option to organize these umpires as a separate entity (our area has no umpire association), and build them with their own association identity. This might lose initial funding but could open doors to different opportunities around the area. While this is something that can change after a year or two and isn't initially as important, I'm curious to your opinions on this as well.
Just passing it along... 31st Annual Sports Officiating Summit 2013 â€” Grand Rapids, MI July 28-30