Thursday, March 19, 2009

Interview with Umpire Teacher Owner Bugsy Segal is an exciting and promising development in umpire training. To get a better look at the site and how it can fit into an umpire’s growth, I went straight to the source: owner Mike “Bugsy” Segal. Bugsy agreed to answer a few questions about his site:

MWU: Can you give us an overview of
Bugsy: In one sentence we are an online umpire school that provides basic and continuing education, youth through college. Umpire Teacher is also a great prep training for people who plan on attending Pro Umpire School.

MWU: Can you give some background information about yourself and your staff?
· Vic Voltaggio, retired Major League Umpire of 20 years who was on the plate for one of Nolan Ryan’s no-hitters and for Roger Clemen’s 1986 20 strikeout game and the World Series that had the Earthquake. Vic and I have known each other over 30 years.
· Me? I'm Mike "Bugsy" Segal. I have been umpiring for 33 years, about 3 years of Pro, 500 pro games including Minor league spring training and I worked AAA and Major League “B” Squad Spring training games.
· From 1990 through 1993 I owned the “Mike Segal Florida Umpire Camp” in Kissimmee, FL and Vic was with me every day of the camp and Chief Instructor too. I also had John McSherry-NL, Jim McKean (current MLB Supervisor), the gregarious Durwood Merrill, Larry Reveal (PBUC supervisor) and Bruce Ravan (NCAA SE supervisor at the time), Darren Goryl, and Bill Kinnamon. Bill owned one of the orginal Professional Umpire Schools.

The “Power Team”
Frank Laparik – our east coast connection and NCAA rep
· Jeremy Barbe – 5 years pro experience and Director of Minnesota Youth Athletic Services for Baseball Umpires
· Larry Gallagher –MSHSL Clinician and NCAA Umpire and our Amateur Rules Expert
· Dan Feigum & Chuck Triggs –both men assign youth ball and train youth umpires and have for many years.
· Allan Goldenberg- our Canadian connection-many years of H.S. & College ball
· Billy Peterson – Our Softball Expert. Softball training will be a separate entity within when it’s ready.

MWU: Why did you develop Umpire Teacher?
Bugsy: I’ve always felt that professional umpires know how to do it best. Now with the internet and high speed video we can get our message and lessons out to umpires that need it. However, there is a small twist involved. With amateur baseball you have a part of the game that is oh so different from the pro game, not mechanically but philosophically. So Vic and I have brought on some top amateur umpires as a consulting team, we call it our “Power Team”. These guys help us bridge the gap between the pro and amateur games.

MWU: What is your teaching philosophy?
Bugsy: You never stop learning, continuing education is the key. I learned more in the short time I was in pro ball especially AA than I ever did in umpire school. Umpire school gives you the base foundation and too many guys come from Pro school and come back to their home town and think that’s it, “I’ve got it whipped.” I call that “the umpire school rut.” It’s like taking a Driver’s Ed. Class and then you get on the real road and BOOM! you realize that there’s a lot more to it and its much more involved than you thought.

MWU: Is the internet an effective means to obtain umpire training?
Bugsy: What a way to go! And the response has been great! We have members from Germany, Italy, Australia and all over the USA. The website is open 24 hours a day, so umpires can train on their own time, at their own pace.

MWU: What kind of feedback can a student expect to receive?
Bugsy: Students get their questions answered by me, Vic, or one of the power team members. A question can be asked in one of two ways, either by posting to a forum so everyone else can read the question and answer, or by private email. Students (paid members AA Level and higher) might even get a video answers!

MWU: How important is this type of training to an umpire that is considering a move to college ball or a professional career?
Bugsy: Excellent for both. What we have and are adding applies to college ball. The mechanics are the same, but different in philosophy and some rules. I’m also developing a separate program for people who want to get ready for umpire school and a pro career.

MWU: Like an umpire school prep course?
Bugsy: Absolutely! By preparing for pro umpire school you have a better chance of graduating in the top 10% of your class when you go and landing a pro job. It is very competitive at umpire school and at the PBUC evaluation, so if you want to start a career as a professional umpire, you’ve got to train, train, train!

MWU: Do you offer group discounts to associations to supplement their training?
Bugsy: Absolutely, groups and associations can call or email me and we can supply video and support for group training. Our lessons are a great way to teach groups of new umpires or train veterans properly.

MWU: What is in store for the future of
BUGSY: The future’s so bright around here, we’re wearin’ shades! This site will be the ultimate site for umpire training, from A to Z. Our lessons include one, two, and three man umpire mechanics; rules via video illustrations; and handling situations via video demonstrations. We will soon have our first webinar (live interactive seminars on the internet) up and going, so now is a good time to join!

MWU: What about training for softball umpires?
Bugsy: Our focus has been baseball to start, but soon we’ll be adding a complete section for softball umpires too.

MWU: What more can you tell us about
Bugsy: Umpire Teacher is not competition for the 1-7 day camps or even the Pro Umpire Schools, its an opportunity for the serious umpire to keep learning and improving no matter what level or experience. Vic and I tell it like it is, the right way to umpire. There are a number of NCAA umpires and H.S. umpires who have never been formally trained and they just don’t get it! They say, “I’m working the best games already, so I must be doing things right!” These guys get their training from who knows where? If you want to learn the right way, learn from a professional. Umpire Teacher teaches the right way. Check us out!

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