november2009

BEHIND THE MASK NOVEMBER 2009

November 11, 2009

Toronto, ON


 

Issue 3
November 11, 2009
Softball Ontario has produced some of the most experienced, disciplinedand well-respected Umpires in the softball world.  Softball Ontario hasone of the best Umpires Programs in the country.  Our Umpires continue torepresent our program in a professional manner.  Below are articles thatrelate specifically to the Softball Ontairo Fast Pitch Umpires.  Enjoyreading!  Here is a quick index of articles to allow Fast Pitch Umpiresto quickly access the information they want.



Feature Articles
 
By: DougCundall, Officials Development Committee,
SoftballCanada
That is hardly an original insult for someone who has officiated Arnie_1_1.jpgfor 50 years and ArnieZiegler has umpired for 50 years.  Starting in 1960, he stepped out ontothe diamond in Barrie, Ontario and into the softball wars of the Barrie andDistrict Intermediate Fast Pitch League. Over the years, umpiring with BarrieMinor Baseball and the South Simcoe Baseball Association took up about 8 yearsand overlapped with his blooming Fast Pitch umpire career.  Arnie’sconcentration was mainly on Fast Pitch. When asked why he startedumpiring, his honest response was, “Because I wasn’t a very good player!”
 
For those readers who are familiar with the softball scene in Barrie thediamonds in Queen’s Park, Shear Park, Lampman Lane, Agriculture Park (the oldrace track), Rotary Park on 26/27 highways, Eastview and Georgian Diamonds allring familiar.  He even ventured onto the odd school diamond.  Itwas in this first 26 years of his umpiring career as a fast pitch umpire thatArnie discovered Slo-Pitch.  For the past 30 years, Arnie has mainlystuck to Slo-Pitch with the past 24 exclusively.  Outside of Barrie, thecommunities of Hillsdale, Bradford, Stroud, Orillia, Base Borden, Elmvale andOro all saw Arnie out on the ball field. As did the Sky Dome in the
24- hour SP tournament. The veteran umpire was well respected by theveteran players and coaches and quickly earned the respect of the newplayers.

During those many years as an umpire, Arnie found time to take on afew other duties in the ball world.  He coached women’s Slo-Pitch teamsin the Barrie Ladies League for several years.  What a treat those gameswere to officiate, with a veteran umpire standing in the 3rd base coach’s boxscrutinizing your every call.  But, being the gentleman that he is, hehad the ability to question with calm decorum and to suggest in such a waythat as the umpire you walked away knowing that you had just “blown a call”but still had your dignity intact.  Arnie also took on the position ofthird base coach for the first two seasons of the Barrie Bay Cats IntercountyBaseball team.

When questioned about his umpiring career, Arnie relates, as one ofthe humorous moments on the diamond, the night in a fast pitch game when hehad the dubious duty of throwing out the coach, and two players from the sameteam.  All were from the same family – namely father and two sons. Later that same night, the wife/mother phoned him at home and gave him averbal going over with language that “would have made a sailor blush”.

When asked about his most memorable moment on the diamond, Arnierelied quietly with, “the night that I got to umpire with my son for the firsttime”.

Somehow, Arnie also found the time to take on administrative dutiesin the local Barrie Slo-Pitch Umpires’ Association.  Over the years,Arnie stepped up and was an association Director, and President and PastPresident many times.
Frustration set in for Arnie on occasion as he progressed through hislong career but it was “always rewarding”.  Why did he do it? “Because I love the game!”  Has he retired?  No, not yet!  Askthat question next spring when carding times comes around and I bet that Arniewill be on the phone to me asking, “What if the runner …?”
 

 
1st_2nd___3rd_Bases_1.jpg
 
Softball Ontario would like to thank all those men and women in blue forhelping out at our Member Associations' Grand Championships and Eliminationsthis summer. It was a busy, action packed summer for our umpires!
 
Senior/Junior Women's Grand Championship Umpires:
Greg Pipher (Pickering), Daryl Way (Brampton), Bruce Ellis (Newmarket),Bob Moses (Kingston), Wendy Tedford (Warsaw), Ted Burchell (Newmarket), AlsieJack (Whitby), Doug Webster (Bowmanville), Norm Lyon (Oshawa), Kelly-JoMurphy(Kitchener), and Peter Klein (Thornhill).
 
Midget Girl's Grand Championship Umpires:
Dave Mills (Acton), Noreen Atkinson (Georgetown), Felix McCarthy(Mississauga), Jordan Hearn (Hagersville), Paul Tanti (Innisfil), MauriceCarde (Stratford), Carson White (Frankford), Kevin Beirnes (Guelph), JoshHamilton (Rockwood), Mike Nalysnyk (Guelph), Rick Gazzola (Elora), Carl Herder(Fergus), Andrew Fleck (Kingston), Matt Allen (Waterloo), Terry Burr(Puslinch), and Paul Mastalerz (Georgetown).
 
Senior Men's Grand Elimination Umpires:
Paul Baier (Stratford), Terry Burr (Puslinch), Chris Lamer (Belleville),Jay Hart (Dunnville), Norm Lyon (Oshawa), Steve Kuhl (Kitchener), StevePengelly (Newmarket), Mal Swift (Whitby), Trevor Topping (Kitchener), and BradWhalen (Kitchener).
 
Junior Men's Elimination Umpires:
Gary Chenier (London), Glen Whitwell (Ancaster), Dave Norris (Westmeath),Steve Kuhl (Kitchener), Adam Hook (Barrie), Dave Mills (Acton), Garry Kipfer(Angus), Doug Cundall (Barrie), Jim Heckman (Mitchell), John Snook (Norwich),Terry Burr (Puslinch), Maurice Carde (Stratford), Larry Sloat (Ingersoll),Mitch Zuk (Erin), and Michael Eschli (Innisfil).
 
Midget Boy's Elimination Umpires:
Peter Kluszczynski (Barrie), Carson White (Frankford), Tim Whitelaw(Kitchener), Paul Verheye (Kitchener), Andrew Clark (Kitchener), KevinBeirnes (Guelph), Darrell Ford (Hickson), Trevor Topping (Kitchener), MurrayArris (Kitchener), Kelly Jo Murphy (Kitchener), Josh Hamilton (Rockwood), BradWhalen (Kitchener), Mike Brito (Waterloo), Jeff Whitelaw (Kitchener), DonKlose (Ayr), Steve Kuhl (Kitchener), Maurice Carde (Stratford), and BarryParrott (Kitchener).

By: Noreen Atkinson, SoftballCanada Level 5
With the advance of technology, education and training, our sportcontinues to develop better players, equipment, training Noreen_Atkinson_and_Peter_K_1.jpgstrategies, coachingtechniques and officiating skills.  Softball Ontario Umpires must keep upwith the improvements and advances in our sport.  We can no longer sitback on our past accomplishments and feel entitled to being selected tospecific tournaments, games or events without being diligent, self reflectiveand open to change. 

What can you do to “get with thetimes”?  Everyone these days seem to lack time; you are not alone. Work issues, family duties and many other daily life requirements will alltake time away from the sport we love.  Balance, focus, and goals willhelp you to find the space and time needed to hone your umpiring skills. Usesmall steps with tangible goals to move towards your personal goals as anofficial.

To advance as an official, we can teach you techniques,mechanics, rules and some game management skills but the successful officialis dedicated to improvement and uses self evaluation to make change. There is not a game that I can remember officiating, watching, evaluating orplaying where I have not had a conversation with myself about positioning,concentration, anticipation or basic game management skill.  We are justlike players.  Use those instincts to “keep on top of your game”. 

Umpiring will become more intense as the quality of coaching,player development and technology continues to improve; it is our commitmentto moving along with those advances that will make our jobs easier and moreenjoyable.  The expectation level of players and coaches has tripled inthe last few years.  They all know what a good official looks like,sounds like, where they should be positioned and how they should react to mostgame situations. 

When you do not perform, you will hearabout it.  Most ordinary people will accept a mistake, slight lapse inconcentration, or in plain umpire lingo…a booted call.  It is what you donext that matters…not your last call.  You have to ask yourself, was thatejection absolutely necessary?  Could I have handled this in anotherway?  What could I have done to prevent the issue?  Did I blow thecall because I was not concentrating, in the wrong position, anticipating anaverage play and this was no average play?  Ask yourself, challengeyourself, help yourself.

We have all heard stories about gamesituations and I am a big supporter of “spreading the news”.  Rarely doesthe conversation lead to anything but a conquest.  Sometimes, I actuallyhear officials reviewing the issue and asking for opinions or ideas. Those are the officials I have all the time in the world to help.  Anengaging conversation between officials that actually want to change theoutcome, not boast about how they triumphed.

Commit to using allyour resources to keep up with the times; education, training, self evaluationand reflection.  Touch “em” all!  You will then have a solid plan towork towards your personal umpiring goals.  

 
Don began his officiating career in the Oshawa area andunder the tutorship of some of the local experienced umpires, rapidlyprogressed up through the ranks.  He quickly gained the respect of themen’s teams as a no nonsense but honest and fair umpire.  His plate workreceived special notice and continued to be his strength all through hiscareer, receiving special notice as one of the best in Canada.

Don worked many provincial championships andCanadian Championships.  He was granted his Level V rating in 1989 at theSoftball Canada Senior Men’s Fast Pitch Championships.  He worked theSenior Men’s in 2003 as a working LV.
Internationally, Don worked the 1994 Women’s WorldChampionships in Newfoundland, which was an Olympic Qualifier, and at the 2002Women’s World Championships in Saskatoon.

Don was not content to just work games during hisumpire career.  He became very actively involved with the SoftballOntario Umpire Program at the same time and rose to the level of DeputyP.U.I.C. under then P.U.I.C. Bruce Bierman, who became one of Don’s closefriends and mentor.  While on the S.O. Umpire Committee, Don wasresponsible for both the Travel Fund and the provincial Clinics.  Both ofthose positions required a great deal of organizational skills and time. Don, being the logical and organized person that he is, was very successful atboth.  The umpire program thrived with Don in charge of those two vitalpositions.

Moving on to Softball Canada, Don became a member ofthe Softball Canada Officiating Development Committee.  The NationalUmpire in Chief at the time, Wayne Brown, recognized Don’s unique skill setand utilized his organizational skills to the betterment of the nationalprogram.  Don became the author of the present Umpire Case Book and whileit is constantly being updated, “Casey Bracey’s” signature style is still verymuch in evidence.

In Don’s tenure on the O.D.C. Don U.I.C.ed orD.U.I.C.ed many national fast pitch championships from Midget level to Sr.Men’s.  He also became a Master Instructor Evaluator for Softball Canada,meaning that he evaluated instructors and evaluators.  He truly was onehimself even before getting the official designation.

Not content to sit back and after he left theS.C. O.D.C., Don was asked and accepted the position of Chair for the verysuccessful 2003 Blue Convention held in Kitchener. 
Don’s electionto the Softball Canada Hall of Fame comes as no surprise to the umpires ofOntario and of Canada.  To borrow from another source, he knew when to“Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way”.
 
 
By: Stephanie Sutton, Program Coordinator and RMG Task ForceMember
Softball Ontario launched its RespectMy Game Program in May - an innovative program geared to create and buildmutual respect among all participants in the great game ofSoftball.   16758_313067290033_845720033_9535668_5997810_n_1_1_1.jpgSoftball Ontario’s Respect My Game Programwas funded by the Ministry of Health Promotion specifically Active 2010, whichassisted in the development and launching of the ground breaking “Respect MyGame” Program.
The Softball Community was encouragedto visit the Softball Ontario website to access the free resource materials todo their part in creating mutual respect amongst all the stakeholders in thegame of Softball.
The following free resources(downloadable from our web page) are part of the program:
  • The Respect My Game Card
    • To be distributed to variousstakeholders within your Association (i.e. League Executive, Members,Divisional Coordinators, Coaches, Players, Parents, etc.)
  • The Respect My Game Umpire Card
    • Each Umpire who registers withSoftball Ontario will receive a laminated copy of the Respect My Game UmpireCard which was designed to be included in the Umpire’s Place Conference priorto each game
  • Respect My Game Posters
    • Available with both Female andMale players.  Ideal to hang these posters in your League Clubhouse andat Tournaments to promote the Association’s participants in the Respect MyGame Program
  • Respect My Game Guide for Parentsand Guide for Coaches
    • Is a resource designed to helpparents or coaches identify whether their behaviour is abusive and help thembetter understand the (ten) 10 most misunderstood rules in the game.  Italso contains the Parents’ and Coaches’ Code of Conduct
  • Respect My Game Code of Conductfor Players of the Game
    • Use the Respect My GamePlayers' Code of Conduct to encourage respect amongst players as well astowards the people in leadership roles (Coaches, Umpires, League Executives,etc)
  • The Respect My Game Clinic Manual
    • To be used for in all ofSoftball Ontario training opportunities and provides strategies and givesexamples of how to build mutual respect between Umpires and Umpires, Umpiresand Coaches, Players and Umpires, Players and Coaches, Parents and Coaches
  • The Respect My Game Brochure
    • Promotional material thatprovides an overview of the Respect My Game Program
The "Respect My Game"Program will be included in all of Softball Ontario's training opportunitiesincluding the Umpires Program, the Coaches Program, the Scorekeeping Programand Certified Softball Administrator Program.  By incorporating the"Respect My Game" program into all the technical clinics it willmake it's way throughtout the softball community.  Please visit theSoftball Ontario website for the free Respect My Game downloads at www.softballontario.ca
RespecMyGame_1.jpg 
Fast Pitch By The Rules
Time to Reflect 2009
By Peter Kluszczynski, Softball Ontario Fast Pitch ProvincialUmpire-in-Chief
peterk020.jpg
Since my lastreport to you in March, the Fast Pitch Umpires Committee has been working hardon your behalf.  I would just like to bring you up to speed on what wehave been up to since then and the direction that the Softball Ontario FastPitch Umpires Program is heading.
The FPUC whoconsisted of Dave Mills, Les Pipher and John Snook, began the year withmeeting in January at the new Sport Alliance of Ontario building.  Thismeeting proved to be beneficial as there were policy changes and programupdates that were presented.  A copy of the meeting minutes weredistributed to the Fast Pitch Zone Umpires-in-Chief.  Since the Zoneteams are the front line ambassadors for the Softball Ontario Umpires Program,it is important that they are provided with the correct information about theprogram that they are assisting in administering.

In February, theSoftball Ontario Umpires Program hosted a combined FP and SP Respect My GameTraining Weekend in conjunction with the Softball Ontario Umpires AwardBanquet.  Softball Ontario Umpires attended workshops on the followingtopics:
• An overview of the Respect My Game program
• Active 2010 Respect My Game Survey Results
• IdentifyingAbuse
• Strategies for Umpires
• Promoting and TeachingCompliance
• Stakeholder’s Codes of Conduct

Special Guestduring this weekend included Ken Uyesugi, Chairman of Softball Ontario’sParticipation Program and Murray Harvey, Softball Canada Officials DevelopmentCommittee.

The Umpires Banquet included a presentation of thefollowing awards:
FP Zone Umpire-in-Chief of the Year- Angie Cerisano ofNorth Bay, ON
FP Jim Bradford Memorial Award- Noreen Atkinson ofGeorgetown, ON
Softball Canada Blue Convention Scholarship- Jason Hunt ofOttawa, ON
The UmpiresProgram organized a prize fundraiser draw that was able to generate$1000.00.  The revenue collected from this project was split between theUmpires Program (FP and SP) and was allocated to sending additional Umpires tothe Softball Canada Championships.  This weekend was an excellent weekendfor team building and educating our volunteers about all the aspects of theFast Pitch Umpires Program.

For a second year in a row, SoftballOntario Umpire registration numbers increased by 140 Umpires!  This is ahuge accomplishment!  Our overall number was 1624 Softball umpires. The last time Softball Ontario had numbers this close was in 2005 with1623.  Good show!

Some highlights from the 2009 UmpireRegistration that I would like to share:
• In 2009 the number ofFast Pitch registered Umpires increased by 20 Umpires over that in 2008
• FP Zone 3 broke its own record of 13 Umpires for FP with an increaseof 29 Umpires
• The number of Umpires registering for both exams in2009 increased by 51 over 2008
• Registration started early thisyear, resulting in more registration in March while the month of Aprilremained the busiest month
• There were a total of 118 FP LocalUmpires in 2009

With the Respect My Game weekend completed inFebruary, we were off and running for the 2009 Umpire Clinic season. Here is the breakdown of participants and location of clinics for the variouslevels:

Junior Umpires/Intermediate Umpires: 670 Umpires; clinicswere held in the following softball communities:  Brampton, Stratford,Windsor, Paris, Orleans, Brantford, Osgoode, Stittsville, Scarborough, Durham,Sheffield, Fergus, Lyn, Chatham, Napanee, Unionville, Norwich, Coldwater,Waterloo, Stouffville, Cobourg

Level 1:  247 Umpires; clinicswere held throughout Ontario including:  Windsor, Petawawa, NorthBay, Waterdown, and Cobourg to name a few

Level 2 FP Only: 70 Umpires- FP Level 2 Umpire clinics were held in Paris, Dorchester,Bradford, Mississauga, Fergus, Oshawa and Ottawa

Level 3 FP Only: 8Umpires-St. Thomas

Level 4 FP Only:  8 Umpires- Toronto

Softball Canada Instructor/Evaluator: FP 5 Umpires-Toronto

I am pleased with the number of FP Umpires who are attending clinics andtrying to improve their game and become more knowledgeable in the game ofFP.  Also, I would like to say thank you to John Snook for hiscontributions to the Junior Umpire Program as the Program Coordinator.

The Fast Pitch Umpires Program serviced all of our Member AssociationTournaments (Provincial Women’s Softball Association, Ontario Amateur SoftballAssociation and Ontario Rural Softball Association).  There were 68Provincial Championships over the 2009 summer.  We used these tournamentsnot only to provide development opportunities to all registered and cardedumpires but also specifically to provide development for each of the SoftballOntario Umpires who were selected to participate at a CanadianChampionship.

In the next two years, our goal isto continue to develop a larger group of Member Association TournamentUmpires-in-Chief and Tournament Deputy Umpires-in-Chief in a leadership roleat many of the Member Association Tournaments.  While there were a fewchallenges with using less experienced personnel as our UICs, the successes atall the events has put a very positive outlook on our future.  In hissecond season as Tournament Service Coordinator, Dave Mills managed toadminister the FP Umpire Travel Fund in a very efficient manner that helped tomaintain a financially responsible budget. 

In November 2008,the FPUC and the FP ZUIC’s gathered in Toronto for the 2009 FP Umpire CanadianChampionship Selections Meeting and followed our selection process. Combined with SP we were able to send a total of 42 Umpires to theCanadian Championships to represent Softball Ontario.  I am very pleasedwith the Canadian Championships.  There were so many level increases fromthese Canadian Championships.  With seven (7) Canadians Championships inthe province, we were able to send our selections and alternates.
Inclosing, I would like to thank the FP Umpire Program and the FP umpirecommunity for their assistance this past season with ensuring that theSoftball Ontario Umpire Program was able to maintain its excellent reputationby stepping up as an Umpire Clinic Instructor, a Member AssociationUmpire-in-Chief and as a working umpire.  A special thank you to thestaff at Softball Ontario because without them our program would not be asuccess that it is.

The FPUC has accomplished so much in the pasttwo years.  With our new addition of Jim Herbert of St. Thomas, ONto the FPUC,   I am looking forward to begin my next two-yearterm.  I have updated my goals and have them in my sights.  Now wejust need to do them.
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Interesting Facts
Softball Ontarioincreased its umpire registration by 140 Umpires over that of2008!
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Feel free to contact SoftballOntario with any questions or comments you may have about upcomingopportunities. We would be happy to assist you! Email your questions to ssutton@softballontario.ca.

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