By Bruce Bell, The County Weekly News/The Intelligencer
They pulled the wool over the umpire’s eyes and got away with it.
For the second time in six months, a young Prince Edward County fastball umpire has been honoured for his outstanding work on the diamond and he didn’t see it coming.
Nate Lasher, 16, was named Fast Pitch Rookie Umpire of the Year by Softball Ontario at a Burlington banquet on the weekend. In August he was named the Zone 9 Junior Umpire of the Year.
Lasher, thought he was in Burlington simply to attend a one-day umpiring symposium and got caught completely off guard was he was named the recipient following dinner.
“Oh, I didn’t see it coming at all and they caught me completely by surprise,” he said during his Thursday lunch break at Quinte Christian High School. “It certainly feels good when people notice your work and I’m very honoured, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it.”
Zone 9 deputy umpire-in chief Gord Nicholls said Lasher appears poised to climb the umpiring ladder with lightning speed.
“He is really young to have his Level 2 (certification), it’s almost unheard of at his age and I have no doubt he’ll be doing his Level 3 as soon as he turns 18,” Nicholls said. “I’m not at all surprised he was named Rookie of the Year – Softball Ontario considers you a rookie for two years – because he has progressed so much in such a short time.”
Last summer Lasher worked a couple of provincial tournaments – Under 14 for both boys and girls – but Nicholls said perhaps his finest work came at the U-12 Eastern Canadian championships in Cobourg.
“He did a very good job at the Cobourg event and I think Nate’s biggest asset is that he is able to meld into a crew with older and more experienced umpires and use the advise they give him,” he said. “His understanding of the rule book is absolutely phenomenal for someone his age and I don’t think there’s any doubt he’ll be doing national events in the very near future.”
Lasher said he understanding the rule book only simplifies life between the base paths, especially for a young umpire.
“Coaches are just about always older than me and if they want something explained and I’m able to do it in a clear and understandable manner, then I think it gives them confidence that I know what I’m doing out there,” he said. “You don’t want to look at a coach who wants something explained and just say, ‘I don’t know,’ – it probably won’t turn out so well.”
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