From staff reports
The chance to come to Lamade Stadium and improve their umpiring skills was too much for 25 people to pass up last week, as Little League International held its annual Umpiring School in South Williamsport.
Nine of those in attendance were from International regions, including Atcheli Richardson of Brisbane, Australia, the first umpire from Australia to attend the school. Also there were four umpires from Puerto Rico. They were Elbert Albarran, a 1996 Little League World Series umpire who formed an umpires' association back home and brought members Juan Galarza, Axel Quiles, and Carlos Aliers with him last week.
Atcheli Richardson, second from right, in a demonstration last week in the batting cages at Little League headquarters in South Williamsport.
Richardson, who works for a gardening supply company, is a 12-year umpiring veteran who's worked with Little League since the organization developed a presence in Australia five years ago. The game is trying to emerge there as cricket, soccer, and rugby are more popular.
"Umpiring is something most people can continually work at improving, whether it is in the area of technique, administration, or rules," said Richardson, who said he does a lot of observing and critiquing of Australian umpires. "It is something that is continually changing."
Albarran is a 25-year veteran and math teacher who said his association was formed to alleviate random ways umpires were assigned in Puerto Rico, such as having an untrained parent pulled from the stands before the game. He and the others hoped to share what they learned last week with others upon returning home.
"We hope that information will help our younger umpires improve at a faster rate than normal, and the information will also help our veteran members," said Galarza, a 12-year umpiring veteran from Villalba. "It can only help make our organization stronger, and maybe help attract others to become involved."
Mike Messick, a 30-year umpiring veteran and Little League's 2010 Volunteer of the Year, was the chief instructor and was assisted by six others. Daily on-field training sessions complemented classroom instruction.
Little League runs this weeklong session each spring and also conducts other weekend schools in the spring and fall.