BECOMING A SOFTBALL UMPIRE IN ILLINOIS
The first step in becoming a softball umpire in Illinois is to register with the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). IHSA provides a rulebook and a casebook, which are valuable tools in learning about and applying softball rules.
Second, contact a local softball officials association, such as the Athletic Officials Association (AOA). Individual AOA softball members can provide new officials with lower level high school games, as well as spring, summer, and fall softball tournament games.
Third, attend the AOA softball clinics held each March. These clinics provide instruction in basic and advanced rule and situation knowledge. There is also a “hands-on” session with live pitching and base running.
AOA softball also assigns a mentor to each new official. Mentors can provide support and encouragement for new officials by watching games and giving feedback and constructive comments to help the new officials improve their umpiring skills.
New umpires are also encouraged to contact their local park districts to work “in-house” park district games. These games are usually at a much slower pace than high school and tournament games. Park districts will often pay more per game for “patched”, IHSA registered umpires than non-registered umpires.
Many officials start working varsity games after just a couple of seasons of lower level softball. Umpires are strongly encouraged to go for promotion with IHSA to become “certified” umpires. IHSA will use only certified umpires for state contests.
In summary, register with IHSA, join a local officials organization such as AOA softball, and be willing to work hard and know the rules!