In today’s world there is so much social media critique for what we do, officiating can present some challenges. It’s a part of the game we love to be part of, but there are times where we give a great deal of thought as to why we do what we do. Those who officiate have chosen to join a brotherhood of individual that must make real time decisions that at times effect the games we work as well as the people who participate in them.
Personally, I officiate three different sports and love the special circumstances that each sport brings to the table. Football is a game where you have to watch for very specific things and have time to process what happens. Basketball starts and stops in an instance with your whistle. Baseball is the only game I officiate that does not have a time limit. I love all three, and each brings a different set of opportunities for us as officials while working the games.
For many years I coached various sports, and when I moved to St. George a friend of mine got me involved in officiating football. At that time I was coaching baseball at a local high school and loved being around the players and the games. I began officiating football games in ‘98 with friends as my mentors and have been part of officiating ever since. In ‘02 I added basketball followed by baseball in ‘08 when I quit coaching.
Officiating has been a great experience for me and I have learned many life lessons along the way. I’ve learned that each and every person on the field has an agenda, each toward his or her own goal, winning. Additionally, in high school sports you get the opportunity to see the best and unfortunately at times the worst of those involved.
Officiating has taught me to control my emotions when others can not, to work to be part of the game and its flow. Working the games I’ve really enjoyed the people involved; the players, coaches and officials have also taught me to respect the effort and success.
There are even those times that failure can become our greatest teacher.
You begin to more fully enjoy seeing the progress of players throughout their career.
You quickly learn that the players are the real reason we are all at the game. Without the players there is no reason to take the field. No matter what skill level the players possess you respect them and the game they play. I truly love the kids and the effort they put forth. Wether it’s a 1A school with 250 kids or 5A with over 2000, the effort is the same even if the quality of play is not.
It is an honor to be an official and be part of this special brotherhood of those who are behind the whisle or stand behind the mask . It’s not always easy to be the one that made “that call” but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thank you for the intro Gene. We appreciate it. One question we have to ask: What is it that you enjoy most about Baseball?
To me baseball is the greatest game and my favorite to watch live. It’s a game that just develops on it’s own as a game of momentum and flow. You can have a team that dominates one night and the next it’s completely different. Different pitching, line ups, some kids have hot nights, others don’t, all that makes each game exciting. It’s really a fun game to be a part of, especially here in Region 9.
What is your role is when you call a game?
Every player, every coach, every participant has their own agenda. Players and coaches want to win and our role and agenda is to make sure the game is fair. We need to make sure that we put ourselves in a position to make the right call so that players don’t get injured and that the flow of the game is not interrupted. The best games you call are the ones where the players and spectators don’t even know you were there.
Baseball is a game of angles. You have to know where the ball is going when someone is getting thrown out at, let’s say, third base. You have to know the angles and how the glove will react to a player being tagged out. You can’t stand behind home plate and call an out at second, you need to know the angles.
Baseball officiating is much different from the other sports where you are up and down a court or field. How do you prepare for that game?
To me it is much more mental. You are definitely not moving around as much as you would in other sports. A home plate umpire has to look for specific things, movements and you have little time to process what has taken place at the time you make the call. You can always tell a good official from a bad one by how involved they are. You just have to know where you are supposed to be to make the call. It takes studying the game and again, knowing the angles.
How do you handle things after a missed call?
Well in baseball you don’t hear the fans as much as you would in basketball but even still, you do hear things some times. The best thing we can do as officials is know that if we are putting ourselves in position and paying attention we will catch most of the calls. We will miss some, we are people too. We just try not to let it bother us.
People often say, you are only as good as your last call. But you have to love the game and love being a part of it all. You take the good calls with the bad ones, and as long as you are learning from them and continue to get better, then it’s fun. That makes it all worth it. I will continue to do it until it stops being fun. The only problem I have is when players don’t repect the game. But when you have players who work hard, respect their coaches, other players, it really makes the game tht much more fun to officiate and be a part of. I have learned to enjoy it a lot more now than when I first started.
What do you think about the talent here in Region 9?
Region 9 is special. The coaches are great. I respect them for all they do to help these kids. We have some incredible ballplayers. A losing team here in the region can compete with the best of them in regions up north. Every team in the region is very strong. Will be interesting to see who wins it all this season. I love this game!
We are definitely looking forward to another exciting season of Region 9 Baseball. We are very fortunate to be around such talent. See you in the stands. • HSSI