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Training seminar for prospective umpires Sunday

Posted: February 19, 2015 4:25 p.m.
Updated: February 20, 2015 1:00 a.m.
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Sports lovers looking for a part-time endeavor which can net them a few dollars this spring and summer are invited to learn baseball and softball officiating at special training seminars coming up soon. Kershaw County Parks and Recreation Department Athletic Director Shane Duncan said the first opportunity -- a Dixie Youth Umpire Certification session -- is this Sunday. It will be in the Old Armory gymnasium on DeKalb Street from 2 to 6 p.m. The fee is $20 for the training and $5 for a uniform patch.

Duncan said the sessions are split between classroom work and making calls on a ball field.

“We’ve got our district umpiring chief coming into town to certify anybody who is interested. We did the same thing last year and we had about 20 to 25 who got certified,” Duncan said. “It was a good number to increase in our district for umpires. Our main objective is to get our umpires trained in this area, so they’re more professional, have a more professional look and can actually know what they are doing on the field. It just makes the quality of the game better.”

Duncan said umpires have to be certified every year. Another training session is scheduled for 9 a.m. March 7 at the armory for umpires for the Dixie Boys division. The cost will be $30 for the training and $5 for the patch. Duncan said all the training sessions teach several aspects of officiating.

“They learn the mechanics and interpretation of the rules, where you should be on the field in certain situations during a game. There’s particular positions you need to be in,” Duncan said. “For coach-pitch games for the little kids, 7 and 8 years old, we need one umpire for a game. But, anything above that, which would be 9 years old up to 14, we need at least two on the field. On any given day during spring baseball, we can have 15 to 20 fields going all at one time. So, it could be up to 30 or more umpires needed all at the same time.”

Duncan said certified umpires can take additional training on the internet at www.dixiesoftball.org to be certified to officiate softball games. He said uncertified officials can officiate games, but certified umpires get paid more and will be the first ones called for games. He said the money paid for the certifications will be earned back quickly.

“They’ll make it back in the first game. A coach-pitch game with a certification will get you $25. Anything 9 years old and up gets you at least $30,” Duncan said. “It’s not an easy certification, but once they get it, they’re good to go with us. They’ll have to get the uniform, because we want the gray pants and the blue shirt. We want to be looking professional. That’s just one more thing that increases the quality of the program.”

Duncan said officials also have to provide their own safety equipment, but the cost is recouped quickly when they start umpiring games. 

Duncan said opening day for the spring season is April 11, which is when players scrimmage and take team photos; actual competition starts the next week. He said his department is adding a “sportsmanship rule” this year he hopes will help control players’ and fans’ emotions.

“That’s one of the things we’ll talk about with the umpires, is that sportsmanship rule,” Duncan said. “They’re going to let the coaches know that if you can’t deal with your fans, they’re going to have to leave or the coach is going to have to leave. So, we’re putting more emphasis on sportsmanship and letting the coaches know that.”

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