By DAVE PEDERSEN Crow River News Sports
Not only do youth fastpitch softball players need support and guidance to progress so do the umpires. This year there are new rules to protect umpires.
Umpire training has been a priority for the Rockford Area Athletic Association. In February the organization had Laurie Dineen and Tom Keller train Cadet umpires again. Dineen is a Minnesota State High School League umpire trainer and umpire for Division 3 college games. Keller is the USA Softball State Umpire in Chief.
"We are super excited about training and getting new umpires, especially youth and female umpires," said Michelle Byers, RAAA co-associate softball director along with Michael Feyen.
Cadet Umpire training is for individuals age 13 and older. Some 16 participants received introductory training designed to provide the basics and help the umpire feel comfortable behind the plate.
The Advanced Cadet session, the first-ever offered in Minnesota, was attended by 11 more experienced umpires who learned skills and techniques to take them to the next level of umpiring.
"Rockford is the example of what all communities should strive to achieve," notes Dineen. "They have embraced this cadet umpire program."
Visit RAAASports.com/umpiring for more information on becoming an umpire in Rockford.
In an effort to keep umpires in the game and encourage more new umpires to get in the game, the 2019 season will bring new rules for coach, player and fan behavior.
The current proposal makes the head coach responsible for the behavior of themselves, their assistant coaches, their players and their fans. Should an umpire feel that a player, coach or fan is being unruly or inappropriate towards the umpire, the fol-lowing protocol will be in place.
For the first instance the coach will be issued a warning. For the second instance the coach will be ejected from the game. If a third instance the offending team will forfeit the game.
This "zero tolerance" policy is intended to help umpires feel confident that they can call the game without worries that they will be subject to in-appropriate behavior.