Not everyone can handle the pressure of making the split-second call, and then accept the heckling and sighs that follow. The umpires in Queen Anne Little League not only handle the pressure of the call, but they dedicate their time to the league as volunteers.
Most leagues rely on volunteer umpires, but QALL stands out for a few reasons-the training programs, ability to retain volunteers after their kids grow out of the league and overall sense of respect given from parents and coaches.
"I've stuck with it partly because we have a good program on Queen Anne hill and the coaches respect that," said Dan Trefethen, who has been a QALL volunteer umpire for 10 years. "In fact, we get people who come from other districts and are amazed how good the umpiring is and how well we're treated by the coaches and spectators. You don't necessarily see that in other districts."
After scorekeeping for his sons' games, Trefethen said he came to realize the importance of having quality umpires and soon began training. Though his kids are now in college, Trefethen continues to dedicate his time to the league and umpires at all levels of softball and baseball.
QALL currently has 20 volunteer umpires, who are coordinated by Scott Monrad. Monrad has been helping the league for the past 15 years as a volunteer umpire and organizer.
What separates the QALL, Monrad said, "is the support of the coaches and the fans. They're willing to let us do our jobs. We're probably right 95 percent of the time, and they don't get on our case for the 5 percent we're not right."
But beyond the environment, volunteering as an umpire comes down to a love of the game, the community and a desire to make the baseball experience for the kids as good as it can be.
"It's fantastic what they do," said Jeff Cropp, whose son Brian plays on the Juniors team. "They seem incredibly knowledgeable. It's very obvious they just love the sport."
As Queen Anne residents, volunteering as an ump is a way for Trefethen and fellow volunteer Brent Howard to enjoy their love of the game and give back to the community.
Howard began volunteering for the QALL last year when his daughter joined the league, but he has volunteered professionally for nearly 30 years.
"We put on more training than in any other league I'm aware of. The training, the dedication, the organization and the quality of kids too make it a lot of fun," Howard said. "All the guys who umpire take pride in it, too."
Apart from the atmosphere, Howard enjoys the chance to be involved in the community and he said he will likely stay on as a volunteer after his daughter ages out of the league.
Though QALL has a lot of pluses for these volunteer umpires, the heart of the reason for volunteering as an umpire is a love of the game and a passion for giving youth a chance to love the game, too.
"It's the best seat in the house. There's nothing like watching the action from right behind the batter and being in a position to make the call. It requires a lot of concentration and focus, but it's very rewarding," Trefethen said. "And you have given the children a great opportunity to experience real baseball the way it should be played."[[In-content Ad]]