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Posted on November 28, 2013 by Vauxhall Advance

Growing up, Gwen Young loved to play fastball, but when at 16 years old there was not a team for her to play on and she was too young to join the Ladies team, her father Herman suggested she try umpiring as an alternative.

“Dad was an umpire,  and he got me started,” said Young, who was inducted into Baseball Alberta’s Umpire Hall of Fame earlier this month.

As one of the few lady umpires in the province, Young said she did not get a lot of friction from other umpires, but rather, most were welcoming to her level of skill in calling plays on the diamond.

“I never had a lot of issues, except for one assignor who thought I was not good enough, but I was good enough that teams would ask for me. So the issue ended pretty quick,” she said.

As she progressed, she continued attending umpiring clinics held throughout Alberta until she reached Level 4 status.

“Now, at Level 3, there are only two or three clinics in the province and one Level 4 clinic that gets rotated between locations,” she said.

Young said one of the biggest aspects of umpiring that is taught is angle versus distance.

“That is probably the biggest thing. The angle needs to be 90 degrees, so you can see where the ball is coming from and sometimes the umpire is too close to the play to see  where the ball is coming from, the base runner, and the base. If you have a good angle, you can see a long distance,” said Young, adding that Baseball Alberta is tremendous in ensuring its umpires are ready for the diamond.

Young recalled being at a major Bantam Girls National tournament when a player attempted to field a ball, only to have it roll between her legs, causing an error that determined the outcome of the game.

“After the game, the girl sat on her bag and cried. Her coach went up to her and told her it was all good. They had won silver. That is why I love baseball. It is an intense game and anything can happen,” said Young.

“At another tournament, the AAA Nationals, I think, an interference call at first base was called. It was the right call by the umpire. The bases cleared. I had to maintain the dugout. The umpire can not be dealing with 50 people out there at a time.”

Even high-level umpires can make mistakes at times.

“You live the rules. The easiest way to remember a rule is to make a miscall.”

Young has spent a number of years umpiring games in Vauxhall and Foremost, besides at  high-level championship tournaments all across the country. She said it is because of support from her family that she has been able to pursue her umpiring career.

“Without the support of (husband) Glen’s parents and my parents, who helped with babysitting when I would get called to go to a game, I never would have been able to do this,” she said.

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