“What needs to happen is that a lot of people step forward into officiating - the first step being to attend the umpiring clinic April 2 and 3, 6 p.m. both nights, at the Montrose Hall,” writes Thompson.

See game in a new light, sign up for an umpire clinic

Opinion: Sports ‘n’ Things with Dave Thompson, Trail Times columnist

Happy Saint David’s Day. The Patron Saint of the Welsh was a big deal – he is the one, for instance, that trained St. Patrick, the one everybody will make such a fuss about in a couple of weeks, and dispatched him to save Ireland from snakes, and the Irish heathens.

Here’s hoping April 2 is a big, “stepping forward” day for minor league baseball in Trail.

What needs to happen is that a lot of people step forward into officiating – the first step being to attend the umpiring clinic April 2 and 3, 6 p.m. both nights, at the Montrose Hall.

My first time out, about 58 summers ago, I was coming from a background, honed in the intense baseball culture here, of not liking umpires at all. But, it was my big brother who had the need – an umpire for a game between two women’s fastball teams, one of which he coached, at Butler Park.

Back then, of course, there was high quality women’s, as well as men’s ball, in the neighbourhood, even though there was nothing like the support for young female players that male ones could access almost as soon as they entered primary school

Anyway, that one outing educated me to the simple fact that it is an absolute necessity of organized baseball that umpires who know what they are doing be in the mix. No way – no matter how good the intentions of those involved – to have a fair environment for a competitive game without decent umpiring.

So, I learned the ropes. Even though I still played as competitively as possible, whenever possible, for several decades, I officiated when I could make myself available.

It is rewarding if you work at it. Players, coaches and fans, whether they know it or not, have a better experience at the ball field if the umpires are competent. As you learn those ropes, you learn to evaluate your own performance and gain satisfaction from doing the job well. – from facilitating a good experience for those actually playing and coaching the games.

You see, umpires are necessary facilitators. They are not supposed to be part of the action, but rather allow those that are in that action the opportunity of fair competition.

“The best umpire is the one whose name nobody remembers,” is my favourite expression of the vocation. People do remember, though, and appreciate an official who shows up prepared to both ensure the game is played fairly and be, “the adult,” on the field.

The quote above indicates the calling. People are less likely to remember an official who does a good job, because that means the real actors, the players, are allowed to thrive or fail on their merits. No fuss, no muss, no notoriety (fame is not something an umpire aspires to) , no name, or even face, recognition.

What is needed around here, as a core group of quality officials ages out of the racket, is another group of people who understand the game as it is played, know the rules, and can adopt the team co-ordination umpiring crews need. All that is part of the various clinics, field trials and actual game experience.

At most levels there is some pay involved, and assistance obtaining the required equipment (I have a few pieces laying around that someone can have – they served me well). I hope you won’t do it just for the pay, but it can add up, especially for young people, if they learn the ropes and make themselves available.

Umpires, too, are a supportive club. Because few understand what it takes, those that do have a bond.

Lots of good reasons to get involved. Not least the fact that Trail has always been every bit as much a ball town as a hockey one, and supporting the continuance of that is a good thing.

Give the clinic a try. Nobody can force you to go on from it and umpire. Lots of people, though, (like my 18 year old self began to) find it rewarding, for everybody involved. Until my body began to fail me, 50 years later, I never regretted getting into the mix.

Believe it or not, lots of people have thanked me for being there, too.

• It was tight, but the Nitehawks continued a now six game winning streak in playoff game One Wednesday. Broke a two game losing streak against Grand Forks, too.

No word on Thursday’s score, but is seems almost assured there will be a game five back in the Hawks’ Nest on Monday.

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