A family affair
Former Bobcats Courtney and Ryan Reed spend their summer months umpiring
Courtney and Ryan Reed grew up on the ballpark, so it only makes sense they get to work at one now.
Courtney, a sophomore at Emporia State University, and her brother Ryan, a freshman at Kansas City Kansas Community College, were both umpires this summer at the Field of Dreams complex. Courtney was a field umpire for 12 and under softball, while Ryan did coach pitch for 7- and 8-year-olds.
While the two don't ump together, Courtney said the ballpark atmosphere is natural for her family.
"Our family has kind of grown up at the ballfields, so it isn't that different for us," she said. "We work another job together, too, so the fact we're working together doesn't seem that strange to me."
Ryan and Courtney sometimes talk about situations they see during their games and see how the other would have handled it. Courtney said she would like to work with her brother to see first hand how he works.
"I would like to work with him just to see how he would work in different situations and I think we would work well together," she said.
Both talked about how they enjoyed watching the teams improve as the year went on.
"The first team I umped in rec ball I umped in my last game, and it was cool to see how much they improved during the season," Courtney said. "And when I see that I can see how much I improved since I was that age, too."
As her experience in umping has grown, the expectations of herself and of the coaches have grown a lot.
"At the beginning of the year, the coaches knew I was new, but towards the end of the year I had more experience, and they knew that," she said. "It was funny because a team would be up by a lot of runs and the coach would still be arguing with calls."
Ryan, who initially mowed grass at the Field of Dreams, started umping after the fields were short on umpires. After asking him if he had any experience, they had him umpire a game and he continued throughout the rest of the summer. He said umping for the younger kids is good because he sees them play for the enjoyment of the game.
"It's actually pretty fun to watch the younger kids play," he said. "It's easier to ump and it's good to watch because they're not as competitive and they're just out there to have fun."
Courtney, who is a pitcher at ESU, said sometimes sharing her experience in softball is tempting.
"Sometimes I'll see them doing something wrong and I want to tell them how to do it right, but obviously I can't do that," she said.
Courtney's future in softball was in doubt after she tore her ACL playing basketball during her senior year. Despite being forced to take the summer after graduation off, she has gotten back into the swing of things.
"I didn't get to play during the summer, which I always do, and that put me behind all those girls who did play," she said. "But coach was fair about it, and it didn't really affect my playing time when I could play during the fall. By the time the spring season came around, my knee was good and I could play again."
Courtney said the injury presented problems both mentally and physically, as she fought back to earn a spot in the pitching rotation for the fall season.
"At the beginning I had some problems with my speed and my athleticism, but by the time we got to the spring season, I was fine," she said. "Getting some more strength in my knee was my biggest problem."
While Courtney didn't pitch during conference games, deferring those to a senior and the freshman of the year in the MIAA, she got to appear in tournament games for the Hornets.
"I got my fair share as a freshman in the tournament games, but the senior left, so I'll get more playing time next year hopefully," she said.
Coming back from the injury took some time for Courtney, but she said she was looking forward to playing on a regular basis again and catching up with her teammates.
"It was more mental than anything,"she said. "And I'll get to play this summer on an under-18 team even though I'm 19 because of a rule change. It'll be nice to catch up with the other players."