I am writing this letter to give everyone an update on the current umpire situation in our league and also some background on how we got to where we are. Let me start by saying that Jeffco Girls Softball is very unhappy about the umpire situation and we are working tirelessly with our partner, USA Softball of Colorado to get this fixed. I understand how frustrating it has been for many of you and I do apologize. We are working every day to tune schedules, make sure all the games are assigned an umpire, to follow up on no shows and work on recruiting more umpires to the pool.
This problem is not isolated to Jeffco Girls Softball, a shortage of officials is a state wide and even national problem that is affecting almost all sports at every level. We are losing officials faster than we are adding them. I am sure many of you have seen different articles about the problems youth sports is having with officials. Much of it comes down to the actions of some fans and coaches and many new officials quit after one year, some not even finishing the year. I also believe that people actually have less free time with the constant demands of work and fast pace lifestyle we all lead now.
At the end of last season we were notified by our Umpire Assignor that they would no longer be doing the Jeffco League games. This assignor has been doing our games for almost 20 years. The main reason was they felt that the level of sportsmanship has diminished over the last few years, there was increase in bad fan behavior which included some rare cases of threatening situations. In some ways I agree with them, I have seen an increase in events that need my attention. I have personally been at games in which law enforcement had to be called to calm things down. I will say there is way more good than bad, but unfortunately, like with anything else, the bad has a greater effect than the good.
So this year we had to look elsewhere for umpires and we decided on USA Softball to help us with our assigning of umpires. It has been a rocky start to say the least. The pool of umpires that were available to do games during the week was smaller than we had hoped for. While recruiting efforts did add some, it was a small addition. We are getting some more back now that high school baseball is over. We have less games that are uncovered and most days now we have full coverage. We are making some changes with TB and CP to get those games covered by some college softball players home for the summer to free up some umpires to do older games. We are going to one man crews and are making sure we do not over schedule any days with many of our games that need to be rescheduled.
I want everyone to know that I have not taken this lightly, nor has USA Softball or anyone on the Board. We are working on solutions and I hope as you are receiving this note many of you are seeing more consistent umpires at your games. I also want to thank you for your patience and I am especially thankful to the parents who have stepped in to officiate the games when no umpires were present. I understand that it has not been ideal at all, that everyone expects and deserves a better experience. I am confident that we will once again provide a great experience for you and your daughters in the weeks to come.
I also hope that as we move forward we will all do our best to make each game a safe and welcoming environment for the players, spectators and officials. Let’s all work hard to make our games the games that umpires want to work because they are played in a fun safe environment.
South Jeffco Sports Association (SJSA) provides youth softball for female athletes living in the Chatfield, Columbine, and Dakota Ridge High School areas. SJSA is a part of the Girls Softball League of Jefferson County (GSLJC). League games are played against other areas including Alameda, Arvada, Bear Creek, Golden, Lakewood, West Jefferson and Wheat Ridge. Presently South Jeffco is fielding approximately 22 teams and over 250 girls are in the program.
We offer recreational T-ball and Coach Pitch leagues between the ages of 6 and 8 years old. The recreational option continues for ages 9 to 18. Leagues are formed for 9 yrs, 10 yrs, 11 yrs, 12 yrs, 13 yrs, 14-15 yrs, and 16 yrs and up; with teams playing at different division levels. The divisions are evaluated each year to balance the level of play across the division. The recreational leagues only play on week nights, with the exception of one (optional) league tournament played on the last weekend of the season.
The Colorado Diamonds offer a competitive option that fields teams playing in each age group (10U, 12U, 16U, 18U). Tryouts for these teams happens in late July and early August and teams are established based on these rosters. More information can be found on the CO Diamonds menu item above.