Chesterton Tribune



Michelle LaFreniere to umpire at Little League Softball World Series

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Michelle LaFreniere has had a love of ‘the game’ since childhood. She’s played softball, coached and umpired, and will now carry that love of the game to new heights when she umpires at the Little League Softball World Series this summer. Just 13 umpires are chosen from around the world.

Michelle played in Lynwood, Ill., starting at age 6 in 1977, through Lynwood Little League. To help make softball available, Michelle’s mom, Donna DeRosa, volunteered to be president of the softball league. In her teens Michelle played for a travel team, Lynwood Blazers, playing mainly northern Indiana teams. She has continued to play in an adult league, slow pitch with other women and co-ed teams.

She coached Little League softball teams for both her daughters, Sierra and Kari, sharing her love of the game. Sierra started at Lynwood Little League just like her mom, and Kari started T-ball, prior to the family moving to Jackson Twp. Both daughters have competed through Little League, travel play and at the high school level for Chesterton. Sierra continued on in competition at Purdue Northwest. Kari is currently on the CHS varsity team and has committed to play for Indiana Tech, Ft. Wayne.

Michelle began volunteering as an umpire at State Park Little League starting in 2008, and continues to volunteer with Little League.

In 2010 Michelle pursued qualification as an IHSAA umpire and began calling games all over northern Indiana, which she loves. She is a member of the Lake County Athletic Officials Association and is Softball program chairperson for that organization.

“I get a really positive response from players,” she said. “There are only a few woman umpires in the region. I like to show them they can do this too. It’s a huge confidence builder.” She has now officiated in IHSAA sectionals and regionals and next year will be eligible to officiate at semi-state.

She also volunteers at the Little League level training new umpires. Each year she coordinates umpires for the Little League Central Region Softball tournament, which feeds into the World Series.

And, even though she officiated in the Central Region tournament in 2013, which qualified her for the World Series, she says she “never imagined I’d get to do this.” The applicants come from all over the world. “The competition is pretty stiff. Only two are chosen in any particular region,” she said. Appointment as a member of the umpiring crew for a World Series is the highest honor that Little League can bestow on a volunteer umpire. Amazingly, another umpire chosen from the Central Region, Jeff Schoettle, of Lansing, IL, is a friend of Michelle’s from high school.

Michelle says her parents have always supported her pursuit of softball and umpiring, transporting her to games all through school and cheering her on. When her daughters began competing, Donna and Rick DeRosa shared in the transport and support of their granddaughters’ competitions, which later allowed Michelle to start her training to qualify as an umpire.

“My parents are there for me and for my kids, always,” Michelle said. “There is no way I could pursue this without their support.”

The Little League World Series will be held in Portland, Oregon, this year. Michelle, one of 13 umpires slated to officiate the event, will travel there by air, arriving early August 7, to get familiar with the fields, other officials, ground rules, television protocols, and prepare for the tournament start of August 9.

The last two days of games, August 15 and 16, will be televised on ESPN, with the semi-finals and finals.



Posted 5/5/2017




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