Another long one today, but it was fun and were seeing some improvement already. There is no rest for the weary as we have a full day of instruction tomorrow. In fact, we will not have a day off until next Sunday. So including check in and orientation day, we will go 11 days in a row. It will be the most grueling stretch of school. After that, we will go 6 days per week until conclusion. It’s a lot of work so far, but the instructors have been great. They have all been real positive in their advice and critiques. Not only that, but they are working hard just as we are. I swear to you, and this is no exaggeration, one of the instructors on our field hit fungoes for 4 straight hours! As a former coach, I can’t hit BP for more than half an hour! Anyway, it was pretty impressive. I think everyone is appreciating the positivity.
Today’s classroom session began with the test corrections from yesterdays test. I’m sure we will be doing that from here on out. One interesting thing they do is recognize the students with 100% scores. They will put up the names on the PowerPoint screen. I think there was 5 or 6 students names up there, and no, mine wasn’t one of them, but Bill’s was. It looks like it will spur some spirited competition to see who can get their names up there. Although Bill and I haven’t discussed it yet, but it think it is game on between us. I’m sure there will be some drinks involved in the bet payout, but we’ll see. Spirited competition seems to be a good message they are sending to us. But as stated before, everyday so far, they continue to emphasis the brotherhood and fraternity of umpiring.
We also continued to study the rulebook and work on understanding the 2 man system. I think we are settling on somewhat of a routine now. Our days will more than likely, weather permitting, will begin with a morning session consisting of test corrections, rule book study, 2 man mechanics study, and then a test. After lunch, we will hit the fields for basic 4 and go/stop/call it, and field drills until about 5:30 or 6:00pm. We will start to add in cage work, but I don’t know when that will begin. The days are long, but the energy is good.
One of the thing I worried about when thinking of this blog was whether I would have enough good stories to relate. So far that hasn’t happened, and in fact, each day provides me with more material than I had anticipated. So far I have at least two good stories to relate that I have to save for another post. Each day seems to bring me some really cool experiences and today was no different. We started the field portion today with our usual formations. All the students assemble on one field and we get a demonstration and explanation of that days drill. After that, we assemble into our formations for basic 4. As I explained in a previous post, the class is divided into 12 crews of 7-8 students. We assemble from the right field line in 6 rows of 2 crews each. Pretty much the standard for most umpire clinics. Today the lead instructor, after we lined up, told us to get together into our crews real quick and pick someone to be the point of contact person for your crew. As the 7 of us started to gather together, the other six youngsters immediately pointed at me and said I was the one. There was no debate and apparently I had no choice! All kidding aside, I was honored by their gesture and frankly surprised. I though one of them would want to do it and I was going to suggest someone, but I didn’t even get the chance. I told them that I had 2 teenage boys at home, so I think I could handle them. They are a good group of young men and although I’m not sure as my role as point of contact person, they all referred me as the crew chief. I thought that was nice. They have been really encouraging and supportive of me and I am humbled. We got back into formation, did our basic 4 and then headed to our fields for drills. They break the class up into odd and even numbered crews and are sent to one of two fields that we use for drills. That makes for about 40-45 students per field. It’s a good setup with enough people for plate and base umpires, fielder’s and runners. The drills run well and you get plenty of reps. Today we continued to work on drills with no runners on. One point of emphasis today that was new for me is the pause/read/react footwork from the A position. I was always taught to taking a cross over step with my left foot and then PRR. The new mechanic is opening the gate with your right foot and then PRR. Instead of starting with one foot over the line in fair territory, you begin with both feet in foul territory. I may not be explaining it well, but nonetheless, it is new and will take some getting used to. All in all, a good day and I’m pleased with my progress so far.