SNSWUA - 16 April 2012
NSW umpire Leanne Gearside doesn’t normally say a lot, but you could sense the pride in her voice when she spoke about her recent trip to Nelson for the New Zealand Open Women’s Club Championship as part of the Trans-Tasman Umpire Exchange Program.
As one of 11 umpires appointed to the tournament, Gearside was in good company, swapping stories and sharing thoughts on everything umpiring.
“It was a great experience meeting other umpires that I haven’t umpired with before. What we do here in Australia in relation to angles, rotations and rules are very similar to how they do things in New Zealand,” Gearside said.
“Aside from the umpires, I also got to meet some of their best coaches, including their national coach. I enjoyed the opportunity to talk to them about different roles, working together and different training methods.”
So when did Gearside start preparing for her trip across the Tasman?
“Preparing for this didn’t start the night before. You have to make sure that you’re physically fit to be able to do it and mentally you have to make sure that you’re brushing up on the rules, rotations and techniques,” she explained.
“There are a few little differences between the two countries as well, for example the intentional walk. In essence the rule is the same, it’s just how they portray it out on the diamond. We point to first base and award first base after we call a dead ball whereas they hold up four fingers to show four balls. “
The opportunity to learn and network on and off the diamond wasn’t the only highlight for Gearside, who in her first international appointment was given the honour of umpiring the plate in one of the semi-finals and first base in the Grand Final.
“The standard was on par with our Australian Championships. It was great – a fantastic experience. I highly recommend it to others and would do it again if given the opportunity,” Gearside said.
“I appreciate the opportunity I’ve been given by Softball Australia. This is just the start for me and I hope that I’ll be given the chance to go further.”
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