Congrats to 6 NW Umpires who received D2 Regional Nominations for 2011

Jeremy Barbe, Chad Eischens, Brandon Jackson, Reggie Jackson, Andre Lanoue and John Priester

See all Regional Nominations at the link below
CBUA 2011 Bulletin #11

This is a mass email to all CBUA Umpires.

In Bulletin #10 I initiated some thoughts on professionalism within collegiate/amateur umpiring by sharing a little on leadership, charisma and passion.  I indicated I'd follow up with some thoughts on commitment, character, communication, competence, and courage.

When thinking about commitment to umpiring . . .rules study, mechanics review, physical conditioning, preseason preparation, etc. immediately come to mind.  Additionally, committing to umpire at the college ranks encompasses many aspects of our individual lives . . . long travel, time away from family and job, not to mention the commitment necessary to consistently perform at a high level--to not only remain competent, but to refine our game and constantly improve.  While I fully acknowledge and try to reward those who are the most competent on the field and those who make a strong commitment to umpiring, I caution you to make sure your commitment is appropriately prioritized.  I've seen to many friends and colleagues lose jobs and, even worse, destroy their family life by not keeping officiating in proper perspective.  It is a tough balancing act that we all need to work on and think about every day.

I often lump aspects of character and courage together as they relate to officiating.  The only thing you really truly own is your character.  Your character is defined by what you think/say and how your act/behave when no one is looking.  Do you do the right thing even when there is no reward?  Or do take the easy way out "since nobody will really know anyway?"  A strong character is developed away from the athletic field, yet it is perhaps the trait that most defines or predicts how successful you'll be as an official. 

Courage seems to be the natural brother to strong character.  Courageous officials are willing to make the tough call even when it isn't the popular call.  Courageous umpires will impact umpiring off the field, as they are ones willing to challenge the veteran umpire or local assignor who is mistreating another umpire or bad mouthing one of our comrades when they're not present to defend themselves.  Courageous officials are not always the most popular, but they are usually the most respected.  Courageous officials don't get involved with petty jealousy and don't advance their careers at the expense of another umpire.  Courageous umpires have the ability to admit a mistake and acknowledge when they are wrong--they don't make excuses.  Be a courageous umpire.

The final "C" for today is communication--perhaps the single skill that separates the great umpires from the good umpires.  Communication skills make or break more umpires than ball/strike, safe/out, fair/foul, etc. combined.  If you don't have great communication skills and you want to survive and advance, then get to work immediately on all phases of your personal communication skills.  On the field--stay calm and keep your poise when challenged.  If/when a coach arrives for a visit (assuming his behavior is under control), allow him to have his full say one time--don't interrupt him, as that will only escalate the situation; when he is done, give a calm and thorough answer/explanation and then end the discussion.  Do not raise your voice or become animated.  Never do or say anything (profanity) that would be the same as something you would eject him for saying--if you swear at a coach, I can't protect you.  Never initiate contact or do anything that gives the perception that you are the aggressor.  I remind you that everything is on video somewhere and you simply will not win with me or allow me to protect you when the conference commissioner or AD calls, if the video shows you were the aggressor.

Your written communication skills must be equally refined.  When you do an ejection report, state the facts and be thorough.  Be careful in your ejection report not to use any words that could be interpreted as an action that may require a suspension on top of an ejection.  Don't say in an ejection report "the coach chested me," "he then got in my face and bumped me," "he was so close he spit on me."  You get the picture, I hope.  If your report includes some of these types of phrases, you should be sending a suspension report.  Understand the difference and don't exaggerate the facts in your written reports.

Final thoughts on communication . . . "shut up and listen first" and "silence cannot be misquoted." 

A few suggestions as you work through the season . . .

The timing rule is not optional and is not a guideline--it is a rule.  Use common sense when enforcing it, but do not ignore it.

MVC umpires--the conference is now allowing for a 27-man roster (the coaches exchange rosters before each series).

Speaking of rosters . . . more importantly, speaking of line up cards--keep them accurate and keep your subs noted (by name and number)--we had two ugly incidents just last weekend involving snafus with line up cards.

Be on time all the time . . . that means on time for a thorough pregame conference with your partner/crew.

Be a pitcher's umpire--call strikes, but do not go too wide off the outside corner--#1 complaint from coaches and #1 downgrade for umpires on their plate ratings. 

I'm currently working on assigning D-I conference tournaments.  I've completed the Horizon League and Big East so far.  The other D-I conferences have most of the slots assigned, but I still have a slot or two to fill in the MAC, MVC, Big Ten, CUSA and Big 12.  I will likely complete those assignments in the next two weeks.

Check the NCAA Central Hub Page regularly for rules updates, bulletins and videos.

Stay healthy and have fun.

Rich Fetchiet
CBUA Coordinator of Baseball Umpires

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