1. Get the mean plan. You can always skip a dinner or a breakfast and go out to a restaurant, and I certainly did, but especially the first few days you don’t want to have to figure out how to feed yourself on top on remembering everything else. Also, the food — the dinners especially — is pretty good.
2. You can never know too much about the rules. I spent a LOT of my time studying the rules before I attended, and I understood so much more about the lectures than I would have had I gone in cold.
3. You CAN know way too much about the mechanics. I was an umpire virgin when I attended, and had never umpired a game at all. I intentionally did not develop a strike call or a stance or anything of the sort before I came, and that was the right decision. If you don’t already know the Wendelstedt method, and you haven’t developed habits of your own through your umpiring experience, DON’T. Start fresh.
4. Think carefully about your rooming decision. Even if there had been another woman here to share a room with me, I wouldn’t have, because I need a certain amount of solitude in order to avoid killing other people. But one of the disadvantages is that I had to make an effort to get to know people and join in activities.(1) A roommate can be a real social boon. Also, that makes it cheaper.
5. Work out more than you think you should. Umpire school is a lot more physically involved than you think it will be. Get your strength up. Do agility drills. Just like for the zombie apocalypse, cardio, cardio, CARDIO. Don’t do so much that you are tired when you get here, but definitely do something.
6. If you have your own gear, bring it. I bought a mask and an indicator while I was there, for ease of use, but it would have been super to have my own plate gear as well, and would have saved time getting in and out of cages.
7. Buy stock in ibuprofen. I’m kidding, but make sure you have your preferred pain relief available. When even the 23-year-old college athletes are complaining about their aches and pains, you know you’ve had a rough day.
8. If you think you want to go, GO. I cannot repeat enough how much fun I had at umpire school. Yes, it was a LOT of work. Yes, it was challenging. Yes, I lost my voice and gained weight and came back from vacation more tired than when I left. And, yes, it was TOTALLY WORTH IT.
1. Slightly more of an effort because I’m a woman, of course, but even if I were a guy I’d have to put myself out there to get involved in things.