Professional Umpire School or Resort for Umpires?
Take this virtual tour with me and find out for yourself just what The (New) Umpire School is at the Vero Beach Sports Village (VBSV).
Justin Klemm, executive director, invited me down to tour the facilities on October 15th in Vero Beach, Florida. We had just inked a deal that would make us Official Supplier so I obviously wanted to take a look around.
A very early 5:20 am flight from Louisville via Charlotte to Orlando and an hour and half plus drive later had me meeting Justin as I pulled in right at noon.
I would spend a little over 4 hours that day with Justin and PBUC staff on what was a beautiful, sunny day in the mid-80s - a welcome break from what had been a cold and rainy week back home.
So what is the Vero Beach Sports Village? I had never heard of it until this year, perhaps just as you hadn't. VBSV is the former spring training home of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers affectionately known as Dodgertown. Now sound familiar?
The Dodgers made their exodus in 2008 to Glendale, Arizona but left behind not only the facilities including Holman Stadium but also much of the character including lamp posts with tops shaped and stitched like baseballs and street names such as as Sandy Koufax Lane and Pee Wee Reese Boulevard.
Now operated by Minor League Baseball, the VBSV is first-class all the way. It exists mostly to provide unique facilities for college and high school baseball teams for their spring training.
The Chinese National Baseball Team, I just missed after they had their training there. Yes, I thought it was interesting, too, that the Chinese train in Florida.
The Umpire School
Of course, now not only for teams and players, VSBV is for umpires at all levels to train and stay via The Umpire School for 4-weeks out of the year, where members of the Professional Baseball Umpires Corp (PBUC) will host and make up lead staff.
Picture this. You are a student who will attend your first session January 8th - February 5th, 2012. You'll find what I did which is a training venue that is all-inclusive. There is no need to leave the 67-acre campus during your stay. To say "I was impressed" with the facilities would be an understatement.
In the morning, you'll be make a short walk out of your villa, one of the same ones that Dodger players stayed in, into the dining room that is in the main conference center where you'll meet Mary and the other ladies who shared they judge how they do by the weight you put on during your stay.
It is buffet-style, but you may want to take it easy.
You'll then walk down the hall to your morning instruction, back to lunch, possibly stopping by to say "hello" to me or another one of our staff at our on-site store, then onto the fields conveniently just out the back door.
How does all that sound so far?
There is also access to support needs such as laundry and wi-fi access plus recreational activities including a weight and exercise room to burn a few of those calories, a full-size pool, tennis and basketball courts and a stadium club lounge with full service bar and game room.
So all in all, you can train here to become a better umpire at your level or the next one, provided by those who recruit, evaluate and train minor league baseball umpires by day; you'll find lodging and camaraderie with other umpires who share your passion by night; and full entree breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout your stay.
So you tell me. Is The Umpire School a professional umpire school or a resort for umpires?
Find Out More
See more photos from my tour on our Facebook fan page (supplemented with a few supplied by VSBV) here and The Umpire School's official 4-minute video (below) for an even closer view.
The Umpire School - Therightcall.net
Vero Beach Sports Village - Vbsportsvillage.com