Nonprofit to return to Alaska, offering umpire training to veterans and families

The three-day certification course will take place Aug. 1-3
The three-day certification course will take place Aug. 1-3
Published: Jul. 5, 2023 at 4:24 PM AKDT
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CHUGIAK, Alaska (KTUU) - The Colorado-based nonprofit organization Protect the Game is returning to the state to once again offer baseball and softball umpire training to local veterans and their family members. The organization’s founder and president Patty Harsch said last year’s event in Chugiak garnered the highest turnout rate the nonprofit had experienced at that time.

While Harsch has since gone on to host even larger training events, she’s decided to bring the event back to Chugiak to train more local veterans to become youth sports officials in early August.

“The experience from our side was overwhelming in regards to the number of folks that were actually interested,” Harsch said. “It was a good experience and one that we’d love to repeat here in the next month.”

This year’s training will be held during the Great Alaska Showcase at the Loretta French Sports Complex from Aug. 1-3. The showcase is a college recruiting camp for fastpitch softball players put on by Triple Crown Sports, the umbrella company that Protect the Game operates under.

The program trains, certifies, and equips participants who successfully complete the three-day course with gently used officiating gear — at no cost. The certification gives veterans the opportunity to work as little or as much as they want during sports seasons, and the nonprofit connects those individuals with industry assignors in their area that hire them for youth games.

The free program not only certifies veterans in sports officiating, but it also addresses a shortage being experienced in the industry largely due to unruly parents and fans.

Harsch has since expanded the program to include active-duty military members also interested in becoming certified officials.

“We’ve noticed that that’s something that we were leaving out,” Harsch said. “Turns out that there are folks that do have time to still give on the backend of their full-time job and that they’ve got the training and the certification and have gone on to have impacted their communities officiating fastpitch or baseball.”

Registration for Protect the Game is open on the organization’s website. Harsch said there is no limit on how many people can sign up.