Hervey Bay's first level four umpire is in the zone
SOFTBALL: Any day you don't get hit by a pitch is a good day for any umpire.
But a day when you become Hervey Bay's first level four-accredited umpire might be just that little bit more special.
Brendon Riddell is umpiring at the Pan Pacific Masters Games at the Gold Coast this week, his first tournament since he attained level four status at the Softball Queensland Open Men's Championships at Rockhampton.
He described that tournament as a similar feeling to winning a grand final.
"It's is pretty much like winning a grand final, except it lasted 18 months from when I decided to put my head down last April," Riddell said. "(The progression from level three to four) is all the work on your mechanics, fundamental rotations on the diamond, and feedback from the assessors at state championships.
"It's a lot of work."
Riddell first became involved in softball when he was 15, and has participated in diamond sports for 23 of the 33 years since in playing and officiating capacities.
A pitcher, Riddell played baseball and softball year-round until he blew out his shoulder during a grand final in 2000.
Riddell considered a return to playing softball last year but another blown shoulder put an end to that dream.
He completed his first three umpiring accreditation levels in Brisbane, but has worked to achieve his latest stage in the two years he has been with Hervey Bay Softball.
His newly attained accreditation status allows the opportunity to umpire at under-19 and below at a national level, but Riddell has already set his next targets.
"I'm setting my sights on 2020 when I want to achieve level five," Riddell said. "I have to get that level at a national championships. I have a mentor, and we've set goals: level four this year, level five in 2020, and the long-term goal is level six in 2024.
"It's a lot of preparation and a lot of work."
The 48-year-old is fully invested in umpiring.
He is not only moving up the ranks in terms of his accreditation, but he driving Hervey Bay Softball Association's umpiring program.
"One asset of this Hervey Bay competition is that it's the most I've enjoyed softball," Riddell said. "Everyone plays in good spirits and as a whole, I enjoyed the season.
"I'm starting to get to know the players and build a rapport which makes it even better."
He is also keen to grow the number of local umpires.
The Pan Pacific Masters finish on Saturday, November 10.
Go to herveybaysoftball. com for more information about the local teams.