Three of the youngest netball umpires in Barbados hail from the Springer Memorial Secondary School.
Over the weekend at Bagnall’s Point Gallery at Pelican Village, 13-year-old Leann Busby became the youngest graduate along with fellow schoolmates Tricia Phillips at age 16 and Shonte Seale, 17, all part of the six-week coaching course.
In an interview withBarbados TODAY Wednesday, the trio said they aspire to be like Marion Johnson-Hurley, Barbados’ lone international umpire.
It seems both Busby and Phillips are following proudly in the footsteps of their mothers Latricia and Julie who had also done the Barbados Association of Netball Umpires course in the past and ironically were also members of Pine Hill St Barnabas netball club.
Busby, whose mother is an intermediate umpire, said the course was something she always wanted to do and with the support of her mother she went right ahead.
“I just decided I want to do this and I began looking at my mum’s netball notes, practising the rules and learning everything possible that an umpire needs to know. I want to get to the international association of umpires like Marion Johnson-Hurley who is my inspiration and with hard work and dedication I know I can get there,” said Busby, who will be celebrating her 14th birthday this Sunday.
Busby explained she felt a little nervous on her first day of the course, not knowing what to expect but felt at ease afterwards. She added the examination was a little challenging but after reading over and putting herself in the situation she was able to answer correctly.
Looking ahead the third form student made it clear that her school work would be her primary objective at this stage of her life but would also ensure she found the time to play and umpire because of her love for the sport and club Pine Hill St Barnabas.
“Once I get my school work out of the way anything else can happen. So if I have homework and netball on the same day and I have a free period at school I would do my homework during that period, go home check it over so when it is time to head down to the Netball Stadium, I am there.
“Also I enjoy playing for Pine Hill St Barnabas for a very long time and I enjoy my coaches Julie Phillips, Margaret Cutting and Jacqueline Browne-McConney because when I go practice I feel at home because it is very welcoming. Honestly I do not think I will play for another team because of the warm reception I get from the club when I put on my uniform and playing with my teammates feels really nice,” said Busby who will be entering fourth form in September.
Tricia, whose mum is St Barnabas’ head coach, told Barbados TODAYnetball has always been a part of her life and this was just another step in her journey to become an international umpire.
“It is my sport so I just want to know everything about it so I can be versatile in the sport. This is an opportunity I will seek to capitalize on in terms of becoming an international umpire. But right now my main focus is getting a scholarship,” said Phillips, who also graduated from Springer Memorial this year.
The versatile St Barnabas player who pointed out she began playing netball from the time she could catch a ball at the tender age of five, took time to encourage anyone whether it be a player or otherwise to do the course.
“The course was really educational. They came in and broke down the rules, we watched different scenarios on television and then the tutors quizzed us on the infringement that happened. They also taught us how to score, so it was not just about umpiring but many different aspects of the game,” Phillips said.
Meanwhile, Seale, who was named most improved umpire, gave her take on the course saying it was a good experience but noted that where umpiring was concerned one could become down-spirited because of the criticism and scrutiny one came under from spectators, other officials and players.
“As a netballer knowing the rules was key for me and from an early age attending Springer Memorial and watching different umpires like Miss Phillips, Marion Johnson- Hurley, it looked like an interesting task and ever since then I just set out on being an umpire.
“The experience is tough, honestly speaking, and if you are not a strong, tough person you would drop out and give up on umpiring. The feedback from the stands would make you want to give up but I am a strong person so I will go all the way,” Seale said confidently.