I am a baseball umpire. I enjoy telling people that and I’m proud of my development over the past four years.
Baseball is a sport that I’d say is “in my blood,” one I’m intimately familiar with—I played it, then served as a coach and later—ran a summer college league (one of the oldest in the country) for five years. I can say with authority that I know the game of baseball. I think that’s played a role in helping me advance as an umpire. This spring and summer, I’ve done 65 games and save for a couple of miserable games in the rain, enjoyed every experience of being on the field and calling games.
Several weeks ago, I learned from one of my umpiring partners that volleyball is growing rapidly in Maine and that there is a need for new officials. He had begun attending rules classes, and he encouraged me to check it out.
I asked Joe if he had played the game and his answer was, “no.” That piqued my interest because like him, I have never played volleyball, save for the backyard-variety version of the sport that many of us have dabbled in at a party or family gathering. I’ve also been interested in picking up a “second sport” to officiate. Perhaps volleyball could be added to my repertoire? A secondary question could be added; “Do I need to add yet another task to my already loaded list?”
This morning, I head over to Greely High School to attend my first “practical.” I’ll be one of a group of volleyball referees—several of us considered “newbies”—officiating a series of high school preseason matches. To say I’m “stressing out” would be an understatement. No amount of early morning cramming, or watching “Refereeing 101” videos at the USAVolleyball website can camouflage or take the place of actual being on the court and failing. That’s not a comforting thought less than three hours ahead of my first match.
I’ve been attending rules classes and have been reviewing the Volleyball Rules Book issued by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSHA), but I know I’m going to spend most of my first morning asking myself, “what just happened?” as that’s the stage where I’m at as a brand new official. Compared to umpiring, this is going to take some getting used to and I’m guessing, some patience as I progress and go through the natural learning curve that many new officials go through, especially when officiating a sport that isn’t second nature to them.
I’ll report back over the next six to eight weeks as I progress through my first season as a volleyball referee.