Local umpire earns off-season honours; Anholt also wins coaching award
It's a good day for an umpire if no one notices them.
© submitted photo
Brent Chadwick, second from the right, recieved the Softball Canada Umpire of the Year earlier this year.
Which meant that an off-season full of recognition was something that Brent Chadwick took some time to get used to.
Chadwick, who was born in Moose Jaw and lives in Assiniboia, was named Softball Canada's National Umpire of the Year and was Saskatchewan Sport's 2013 Male Official of the Year.
"It's very unexpected. As an official you don't want accolades, you don't want to be the person who is noticed. You wonder if you're making a difference in the umpiring community and I guess my efforts have been recognized," said Chadwick. "I've been umpiring 20-odd years, but this has been quite the year."
In addition to honouring Chadwick as the top official in any sport, Sask Sport also honoured another fixture on the Moose Jaw diamonds, Roger Anholt.
Anholt won the Sask Sport Male Coach Dedication Award earlier this year. Anholt has been involved with various Baseball Sask teams for 19 years. He coached the provincial team at the Canada Summer Games last summer.
While Anholt could be named to the staff for the provincial team when Saskatchewan hosts the Baseball Canada Cup later this summer, he is also keeping busy helping coach the local Pee Wee AAA team as well.
Chadwick had been spending his summers wearing blue for more than 20 years. He got his start umpiring minor girls fastball."They needed someone to help out and I used to be a catcher with the Moose Jaw Canucks back in my playing days, so I thought 'how tough can that be?'" said Chadwick who said his career as an umpire took off from there.
"There was so much ball in Moose Jaw at that time. There was men's fastball down at Memorial Field. I was doing the old Saskatchewan Major Baseball League at the time. As you move up through the levels opportunity abounds. If you want to travel there's always that opportunity."
The SMBL became the Western Major Baseball League and when they kick off their season at the end of May that's where Chadwick will spend most of his time. He travels to Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Regina and sometimes farther to work games in the league. However, once August hits, that's when his softball season really kicks in.
"I supervise tournaments, Western Canadian championships and Canadian events," said Chadwick who supervised an under-21 men's international event in Saskatoon. "You're basically in charge of the tournament — if anything bad happens, you have to deal with it. You're also helping young umpires work their way up through the system. They have aspirations as well. Having been there – I've worked at world championships and Canadian championships — I can give them some advice on how they can improve and get to the same level that I'm at now."
As much time as he spend behind the plate, Chadwick also spend a lot of time behind the scenes. He has been on the Saskatchewan Umpire Development Committee for more than a decade and he is the deputy umpire in chief and in charge of their long term strategic plan for Softball Sask.
"I'm writing curriculum, certifying instructors and evaluators," said Chadwick who is the principal of Assiniboia Composite High School. "I'm teaching teachers. In my real life, I'm a principal, so that just kind of goes hand and hand with it."
While he says he does enjoy some of the administrative work that goes on at the higher levels, nothing can quite beat working a game.
"It's fun, but you still get that thrill from working behind home plate and getting into the big games," said Chadwick. "I still enjoy that part of it because deep down that's why I started — to be on the field."
For all of his experience behind the plate and supervising other umpires, Chadwick is still young by umpire standards. At a recent international event where he was the supervisor, the 45-year-old was the youngest umpire there.
"I'm still a young man compared to a lot of people I work with," said Chadwick. "I have no plans in the next few years to slow down."
He knows the window had closed for any aspirations of being a professional umpire, but he still has ambitions.
"If the Olympics ever picked up softball again, that would be the dream of a lifetime. In 2015, Saskatoon is holding the World Men's Softball championships and that would be the ultimate dream because that is supposedly the best ball in the world when it comes to softball."
"The days of thinking that I could work pro anymore, I'm too old for that, but at the amateur level I can still be competitive in terms of working the big games."
While all officials get their share of abuse, it's umpires who have to make the most calls over the course of a game. In Chadwick's experience, he feels that there's a special bond that unites umpires across language and culture barriers.
"It's an interesting life. I now have friends across Canada and after working a world championship last summer I now have friends around the world. That brotherhood, that friendship never goes away," said Chadwick. He roomed with a Czech umpire last summer and said that if he flew to the Czech Republic, his roommate would be there to pick him up at the airport and tour him around and show him the sights.
"That's the kind of friendship that you make."