I had just arrived with umpire gear and apparel to set up a store at the school run by PBUC (Professional Baseball Umpires Corp), a subsidiary of Minor League Baseball.
Here are the answers:
"Will the store setup be all that TUS or I hoped it would be and can I get it setup before registration starts at noon?"
Yes, I made it!
And because of the store's location, I was afforded the opportunity to welcome students and get to know them a little as I escorted them down the hall to register.
Overall, the store, I felt, was a success. I made it clear to students that they were to look to us as an outfitter (e.g. for thhings forgotten or broken, for upgrades and for advice) and not just a place to sell them stuff.
We opened in the morning the first few days, but then settled into a routine where students could stop by during lunch and dinner.
|Students stop by the store on opening day|
"Justin Klemm, TUS Executive Director, told me that while I am here, I am considered part of their staff. Can I truly add something?"
I started to realize that my years of experience allowed me to serve as an instructor, of sorts, on proper fit, safety and professional look of students' umpire gear and clothing.
For instance, I enjoyed walking around the cages where students, waiting for their reps, would ask me questions about gear and discuss issues with theirs. I looked for sagging chest protectors and gaps and would help students make adjustments while sharing my knowledge.
|Students wore chest protectors on the outside making it easy to observe fit during cage work. Here, MLB Umpire Ted Barrett provides suggestions.|
"Will topics I'd like to share be covered already (e.g. The concept of umpires being the 'ambassadors of the game')? Does TUS really want me to share my perspective?"
Yes and Yes. Minor League Baseball President Pat O' Connor set the tone at opening ceremonies by discussing umpires as "defenders of the integrity of the game".
And TUS followed with historical perspectives of umpiring and Hall of Fame umpires through classroom video instruction.
I discussed my perspective of umpiring with a greater purpose - more than just making judgement calls, interpreting the rules and earning a paycheck - in my analogy in my opening talk about quarry workers and cathedral building.
|Safe call in unison - day 1|
"Will my attempts this week to soak up information and asking lots of questions then sharing my thoughts through this blog and the Good Calls Baseball blog be a little intrusive or annoying?"
The amount of knowledge I gained from just listening in class and observing on the field exceeded my expectations.
As is typical of me, it's my desire to use my reach as an equipment supplier to share my knowledge and experiences with readers and/or customers. Perhaps that makes people better umpires or to enjoy it more. The instructors of TUS and I share that same vision.
Several good posts came out of TUS for the new Good Calls Blog including a series of tips on safety and wellness from TUS medical coordinator, Mark Stubblefield.
|My view in the classroom|
"Can I provide the leadership back at headquarters while I'm here this week? Can I stay focused here and not be distracted by company and staff needs?"
January is one of my busiest months due to the lead-up to baseball season and the NCAA umpire clinics, but we made it work. It helps having a great, dedicated staff.
Is this post even worth writing? Will anyone even read it?
I think it was. And, yes, the post has been one of the two highest reads on this blog in the past 30 days.
The experience I had at The Umpire School was something very special. I miss it already and am ready for the second class in January 2013 to begin.
A sincere thank you to PBUC staff - those guys are outstanding and are providing strong leadership throughout the profession, to Minor League Baseball and to the Vero Beach Sports Village for their hospitality.
(left with Mark Stubblefield and Justin Klemm;
middle with student Cameron Young;
and right with instructors Jeff Gosney and Darren Spagnardi)
More photos | More about The Umpire School
Posted by Jim Kirk, CEO/President of Ump-Attire.com and avid fan of sports and sports officials everywhere.