At USA Softball, we honor umpires for their years of service and expertise through a variety of Umpire Award programs. Whether through our Medals and Elite Umpire Programs, the National Indicator Fraternity, WBSC Certification or the ultimate honor with the National Softball Hall of Fame, no other organization has this various assortment of rewards programs for their umpires. For questions or additional information on USA Softball umpires and certifications, contact USA Softball Director of Umpires, Kevin Ryan.
National Indicator Fraternity
The Elite award program is the highest honor a USA Softball umpire can obtain other than selection to the National Softball Hall of Fame. The program was launched in 2003, with 153 umpires approved in February of that year. Members who are approved as “Elite” umpires can apply for their international certification (WBSC), and are the only umpires selected for the National Championship Series (SP) and the Armed Forces Slow Pitch Championships.
To become eligible for this program, an umpire must have been a USA Softball registered umpire for at least seven (7) years and a current member in good standing. The umpire must have participated in at least four (4) National Championships, and umpired in two (2) in the same category of play and from the championships listed below:
Men’s Major, Women’s Major, Girls 18-Under GOLD, Men’s A or Women’s A, Men’s Open and USA Softball JO Cup National Invitational Tournament (NIT). Effective 2016: the Men’s Open is a qualifying Championship provided the other championship is a Men’s Major, 18 Under GOLD or USA Softball JO Cup.
Men’s Super, Men’s AA, Men’s Major, Women’s Open, Men’s A, Men’s B, Men’s C, Coed Major. Effective 2019: Men’s 35-O is no longer a qualifying Championship.
Men’s 9 Man Major, Men’s A or Women’s 9-Player, or Men’s 10-Player.
How to Apply
The USA Softball “Elite” program application fee is $65.00 and is non-refundable. Three passport size photos should be attached to the application. Deadline each year is September 15. Applications will be reviewed at the November Council Meeting and applicants will be notified shortly thereafter.
The Medals award program honors local umpires who support the USA Softball program outside of regional or National Championship assignments, and can be relied upon for local assignments.
There are four levels for this program – the Blue level for those who have been registered for three (3) years, the Bronze level for those registered for five (5) years, the Silver level for those registered for seven (7) years and the Gold level for those registered for seven (7) years. Umpires can reach these levels quicker if they have umpired in National Championships, or attended National Umpire Schools.
How to Apply
The USA Softball “Medals” program application fee is $25.00 for each level. When submitting the application, local association Commissioners must approve, indicating the umpire is in good standing.
NATIONAL INDICATOR FRATERNITY
The National Indicator Fraternity award program has been available to USA Softball umpires since 1986. It was originally started as a program for those umpires who have been assigned and officiated in three National Championships, but did not qualify or gain approval for World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) certification. Today it is considered the highest level award program for USA Softball umpires, not including the National Softball Hall of Fame Umpire classification or WBSC certification.
To become eligible for this program, an umpire must have been a USA Softball registered umpire for at least seven (7) years, but does not have to be currently active. The umpire must have umpired or served as a National Championship Umpire-in-Chief (UIC) or Assistant UIC for three nationals, or can substitute attendance at a USA Softball Advanced Umpire School for one of the nationals.
How to Apply
The USA Softball “National Indicator Fraternity” application fee is $25.00. Approval by the local Commissioner and the Regional UIC is mandatory for acceptance.
Registered USA Softball umpires are among the few with the opportunity earn a WBSC Certification to be selected to umpire at a World Championship, Pan American Games or – the ultimate goal – the Olympic Games. The following provides information on obtaining certifications as a WBSC umpire.
To become eligible to apply for a WBSC certification, umpires must be registered with USA Softball and must be a member of the Elite Program. Once an umpire has gained Elite status, they can apply for a WBSC umpire certification seminar. Applications must be approved and signed by the umpire’s UIC, USA Softball and the WBSC. Once this is complete, the umpire is eligible to be invited to attend a certification seminar of their choice. Prior to attending, candidates must complete and achieve a 90% mark on a 100-question pre-qualification rules exam. This exam must be taken online at the WBSC umpire school (30% of total mark).
What to Expect
At the certification seminar, major rule and mechanic differences are reviewed during a two-day classroom and on field sessions. The umpire is evaluated in plate mechanic drills (10%) using either live pitching or a pitching machine in addition to case plays (5%) and mechanics plays (5%) that are offered for each candidate to describe rule interpretations. Candidates are evaluated in games with each candidate participating in four rotations – one game at each position (50%). Overall, the umpire must achieve a 90% or higher score to be certified.
Once certified, the umpire is eligible to be assigned to a WBSC World Championship. Each participating country can select from their eligible list of certified umpires, and the host country usually has 3-4 selections. Some countries participating in the championship may not have certified umpires, therefore if more umpires are needed, based on the number of teams participating, the WBSC can add as many at-large umpires as required.