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2018 USA Softball Western Nationals - Awesome!
AUGUST 6, 2018 - It once again feels strange to have completed a long looked forward to goal for 2018. I am finally able to sit down, relax, and let out a long soothing sigh of relief of contentment. My assignment with USA Softball of Utah to work the 18U Gold Western Nationals is over. That doesn't mean much to non-umpires, but for me it was a big deal. I gave it my best and had an incredible experience.
The blog cover photo shows the crew that was assembled to work this event. Four of us are from Utah. The rest are from Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. This makes for a very diverse experience as you walk out onto the ball fields with partners that you have just barely met. These officials are "Top-Shelf" caliber and since we are all similarly trained we are able to have a pre-game meeting and then walk out onto the field with confidence of what our partners are going to be doing.
Receiving this assignment is like being a finalist for a beauty pageant. We arrive to umpire, but we are really under the microscope throughout. Our every move, call, and action is being watched, assessed, and given a rating. The umpiring is the easy part. The interactions and added stress of being observed is the hard part. They say, "Just go out there and do your game." This sounds easy, but the truth is that the final written evaluation of each umpire stays in their ongoing file and affects their USA Softball umpiring career from this point onward. The goal is to rise to the top without undermining those around you. The key is to try to raise each one of your partners while still reaching your own personal peak. The players that win the games receive a trophy and Olympic style medals, but the umpires receive a high written rating. Sadly, this written evaluation does not show up for about a month, which does provide a lingering added stress.
So how did I do? I shanked an obvious interference ruling, but overall I nailed it! There were little issues, but I will save them for future blog entries. Overall, I feel great about my performance. All of the hard work to improve my mechanics paid off. I was also relaxed throughout the event. I was able to soak it all up and enjoy each game and fellowshipping moment. I finally felt like I had arrived and reached the high goals that I have been setting for myself. I was my own worst critic, and my biggest fan. I look forward to future USA Softball National assignments in the years to come.
Make it a great day!
Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah