Brian Wolfe, REC's Senior Public Relations Specialist, looked forward to watching his oldest son, Greg, play in a Spotsylvania Little League game 13 years ago. Unfortunately, there was no umpire to make the calls. Wolfe stepped up, and hasn’t looked back since.
“It’s a way to provide youth the opportunity to play baseball and softball,” Wolfe said. “There cannot be a game without umpires, so I turned it into my way of giving back to the community.” The greater Little League community has taken note.
This summer, Wolfe was selected – for the second time – to umpire in the Little League Softball World series. The event was held last month in Greenville, N.C. Along with other umpires, he was given this second opportunity not only because of his commitment and skills, but also because would-be first-time World Series umpires deferred until they could work at a Series without pandemic restrictions.
“We all stepped up to help make it happen in the COVID era we are currently in,” Wolfe said. “So we were a very experienced group. The volunteers (grounds crew, announcers, coaches, transportation staff, meals staff, concessions, hotel staff etc.) were all amazing. Overall it was simply an amazing experience, even considering the somewhat trying circumstances it was being held under.”
COVID-19 continued to impact the tournament, so umpires had to wear masks during the games and whenever they were around players. Wolfe sees parallels between REC’s culture and the one that runs through Little League.
“Commitment to community is what first comes to mind,” he said. “Little League is all about adults coming together (all volunteers) to provide children the opportunity of playing baseball or softball. Without that community effort, it wouldn’t be possible or affordable for many children to be able to play. So much like REC serves its member owners, Little League does the same for its community.”
Back in 2008, Wolfe never imagined the hundreds of hours he’d spend on ballfields in the years ahead; the countless trainings – in town and on the road; and the chance to twice serve as an umpire in a Little League Softball World Series.
As for Greg, Brian’s oldest son, he recently graduated from Radford University. And Brian? He’s holding onto his umpire uniforms. Games start up again this fall, and someone will need to make the calls.