It’s good to be the ump (and to wield the power that comes with it) - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Tukee Talk

It’s good to be the ump (and to wield the power that comes with it)

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Jason P. Skoda is the sports writer at the Ahwatukee Foothills News. Contact him at (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com

Posted: Sunday, May 20, 2012 7:45 am | Updated: 4:12 pm, Thu Jun 21, 2012.

One of my college professors drilled into his creative writing class the responsibility that comes with the power behind the written word.

The person listed in the byline at the top of every newspaper or magazine article sets the tone of the article by the words they choose to describe every element of the story told.

With great power comes great responsibility. OK, so that was a bit dramatic and I stole it from a “Spider-Man” movie, but you get the point.

What I am getting at is I have wielded a lot of power over my career that spans nearly 20 years, but nothing like I left on Thursday.

I was humbled when Mountain Pointe athletic director Ian Moses asked me to be one of the umpires in the charity softball game for Maddie Decker and Francesca Olguin.

Who knows how many games I’ve covered over the years, but over that time I’ve maybe criticized an official, referee or ump a handful of times so I respect the responsibility that comes with it.

But I had no idea the POWER that comes with it, although I had no problem abusing it.

In the first inning, the Pride’s Scott Kingery ripped an extra-base hit, something he has done plenty of times over the last two years, but this game was all about the girls so I might have hinted to the infield to appeal second base.

It felt so good to call him out.

Never mind the fact that the senior shortstop is one of the most fundamentally sound players I’ve seen at the high school level and would never have been careless enough to miss a bag.

What can I say, it was for a good cause.

Moses, the plate umpire, did some of the same throughout giving the baseball team a little grief while allowing some leeway for girls.

The baseball team did its part as well, throwing only with their opposite hand one inning, laying out for balls even if they were hit directly at them, and just having fun with it.

It was a chance to see a different side of their personalities — junior Brantley Bell is one unique and funny individual — than I encounter normally.

It was a blast and the crowd did its part in bringing in close to $1,800 in donations while chipping in about $300 more in a 50/50 raffle and an Arizona Grand Golf Resort giveaway.

While I enjoyed calling a balk on Connor Conant to extend the inning for the Lady Pride in what turned out to be a six-run rally in their 12-9 seven-inning victory, the best part was seeing Decker playing first and taking some cuts along with Olguin playing third base.

It has been such a long, hard struggle as they battled their bouts of cancer. They were hesitant to get on the field after being away for what must seem like an eternity to them, but they clearly overcame any trepidation and did their best.

No surprise there.

In the little bit I have gotten to know these two young ladies, mostly through their own powerful word choice during our separate interviews, is that their positive attitude is one of the reasons they are doing well today.

And one of the things I have learned since sitting in that creative writing class long ago is that as powerful as the written word can be there is nothing as vital as positive thinking.

Olguin and Decker clearly are winners in that department.

A charity fund has been set up for the two athletes at Wells Fargo under the account name Decker and Olguin Charity Fund. Donations can also be mailed to Mountain Pointe High School, 4201 E. Knox Road, Phoenix, 85044.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JskodaAFN.

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