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Unread 02-10-2009, 06:52 PM   #1
CoachJM
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Thumbs up Bruce Doane Umpire Camp

I attended the Bruce Doane Umpire Camp held in Grand Rapids, MI from 2/6-2/8/2009. I'm glad I did.

Based on a rating scale from another website, this is how I rated my experience (5 is "best", 1 is "worst").

Instruction 5
Materials 4
Facilities 4
Individual Attention 5
Cost 5
Overall 5


Let me explain my ratings.

The instruction was outstanding. I received an e-mail listing the instructors and their bios the week before the clinic, and I was quite impressed. They ranged from currently active minor league umpires, to active NCAA D1 conference staff umpires, to some "elder statesmen" of umpiring who are very influential in International, NCAA, and NFHS umpiring. (See attachment for staff bios.)

These guys all knew their stuff, knew how to teach it, and seemed to enjoy doing it. Nice mix of personalities and styles. It seemed like the student/instructor ratio was about 4/1.

The clinic began at 5:00PM on Friday, and concluded at 12:30PM on Sunday. Friday evening was spent watching and discussing portions of the Evans Diamond Challenge and Balks videos. I had never seen the Diamond Challenge, but I own and have watched the Balks video many times. I found both sessions very worthwhile, as much for the discussion between sections as the videos themselves. There was a lot of interaction in the classroom sessions, and that brought a lot more "dimension" to the video content. Friday evening also included "orientation" and "administrative stuff". Friday evening adjourned about 8:45PM.

Saturday and Sunday rotated through a series of sessions in small groups. 2 cage, 2 classroom and two "field" sessions each day. You get video of all of your cage sessions, and review it with an instructor immediately following your session. I find the video immensely useful.

While waiting your "turn" in the cage and field sessions, instructors are covering additional material with those waiting their turn. Very little "wasted time" which was a big plus.

For the field sessions, they had college players simulating the plays rather than the camp students. I thought that made the drills better. Nice group of kids and, though I believe they were bored out of their freakin' skulls by noon on Saturday, they hung in there all the way through Sunday noon.

All in all, a lot of useful material across the full spectrum of umpire responsibilities, taught by very knowledgeable instructors who were fun to be around.

Top notch instruction.

In terms of "materials", the class was not big on handouts and that's why it's "only" a 4. I'm not that big on handouts either, so it was not that big a deal to me, but to some it is. I think it would be a good idea if they put the presentation materials on a website where the students could subsequently access them.

The thing I liked most about the materials was that they really did a good job of incorporating photos and video into the presentations in the classroom sessions. To me, when everyone has just seen the same thing, the following discussion is much more interesting and informative than when you only have a "description" of a play. And applying the rules to a situation you have just seen is much more useful than talking about the rules in an abstract way without the context of a play.

In terms of the facilities this "only" got a 4 as well. I thought the facilities were excellent, but I wouln't put them as high as some of those camps where there are 4 perfectly groomed diamonds for doing field work, and it's 70 degrees in February. Given that it was February in Michigan, the facilities were excellent. We used the fieldhouse and a couple of classrooms at Grand Rapids Community College. The fieldhouse was divided into four "cage stations" (each with its own DV camera) and a large "field station" large enough to accommodate a more or less to scale 90' infield. This area felt a little "cramped" at times.

They had a "negotiated rate" at a local hotel for students, at a reasonable price, and you could "double up" to save on the hotel. The hotel was clean and comfortable, and had a pretty darn good hotel bar for "after hours", for those so inclined.

In terms of "individual attention", I thought this camp excelled. Every instructor I talked to was more than willing to answer any question I had. The instructors were approachable, they never "big leagued" you, and they took the time to understand what you were asking and would discuss it as thoroughly as you wished.

I think there were about 60 students in attendance, and the age range was from somewhere around 16 to 71. I didn't meet everybody, but it seemed like the "average" student was "pretty experienced", and the majority of attendees were in the 30-50 age group. (That's just a vague approximation, not based on any actual facts.) The curriculum is geared toward FED baseball, but the instructors were perfectly happy to discuss OBR and NCAA differences as well.

From what I saw, and some conversations with fellow students, the instructors were equally helpful to the guy who is looking to "move up" from kiddie ball to HS underclass, and the guys with NCAA experience. The instruction is probably best suited to those who are "in-between" those two levels.

In terms of the cost, I gave it a 5 from a "personal" perspective. My association got a group together and we got a nice "quantity discount" off the camp tuition of $230. My association also has a "scholarship fund" for this kind of training and provided a stipend to those attending to help defray the cost. Regardless, I thought it was excellent value for the money.

These guys are definitely NOT "in it for the money" - they genuinely seem to enjoy umpiring and enjoy helping those who are interested in getting better do so.

Overall, I thought it was a great camp. I would strongly encourage anyone who is serious about becoming a better umpire to attend, if it's at all feasible for you. I'm very happy I invested my money, and, more importantly, my time, in attending this camp.

John Muller
Attached Files
File Type: txt Doane Camp Staff 2009.txt (19.2 KB, 41 views)
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Unread 02-11-2009, 02:14 PM   #2
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Default Re: Bruce Doane Umpire Camp

I attended this camp last year and I had the exact same experience. Finaces keep me from attending this year along with my basketball referee schedule.

Your review was pretty much verbatium of how I felt last year.
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Unread 01-06-2010, 06:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: Bruce Doane Umpire Camp

"A person is not old until regrets take the place of dreams." - John Barrymore

Very nice.
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Unread 01-06-2010, 07:22 PM   #4
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Default Re: Bruce Doane Umpire Camp

I have attended the camp past 2 years and plan on going again this year. Each year I have learned something else to make me a better umpire. Staff is great with personal attention.
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Unread 01-06-2010, 11:32 PM   #5
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Default Re: Bruce Doane Umpire Camp

CoachJm, what did you think of Perry Costello, and Mike Collins those 2 guys are freakin funny as hell... and very good umpires.

i was at a cowboy bar with Perry Costello and he was funny as hell...
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Unread 03-22-2010, 12:12 PM   #6
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Smile Re: Bruce Doane Umpire Camp

Hi to all,this is a difficult call without actually seeing the play. I would say that once the catcher bobbled the ball, he would not have thrown out the runner anyway. Did the catcher attempt to throw to second? If not I would have let it play stand. If so it probably would have been interference. Thanks
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Unread 12-21-2010, 08:22 AM   #7
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Default Re: Bruce Doane Umpire Camp

sounds good to me
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