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Two Blue: Husband and Wife Support Little League Softball as Volunteer Umpires, Regional and World Series Staffers

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Nov. 16, 2006) – Like many Little League volunteers, Steve and Joanne Allen of Seattle, Wash., first became immersed in Little League as parents supporting their children, but for the past 15 years its been umpiring Little League Softball games that has brought great joy and satisfaction to the couple’s lives.

The Allen’s home league is the North Kenmore Little League just northeast of Seattle in Washington District 8. As the parents of four Little League participants (Dana, 25, Daryl 23, Doug 21, and Dustin 13), Steve and Joanne have supported the local league in many capacities, including on the board of directors, but it is their willingness to serve as umpires at the league, district, state, regional and World Series levels that have kept them entrenched in the program.

“Joanne and I decided to become umpires because it was a way we could donate our effort to Little League, and yet still spend time together,” Steve said. “We’ve umpired Little League baseball games up through Junior Division. We started doing mostly softball games through Big League, because there simply weren’t enough volunteers for softball.”

“We got much more involved in Little League softball when our daughter switched from baseball to fast-pitch softball,” Joanne said. “The (softball) program seemed to get little attention. When we voiced our concerns, we were invited to help fix the problem and the rest is history.”

The Allens are umpire consultants for District 8, and on the operations committee for the Junior Softball World Series played annually at Kirkland, Wash., in neighboring District 9. Joanne umpired in the 2003 Junior Softball World Series, and last year both Joanne and Steve traveled to Kutno, Poland to work Little League Softball’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) regional tournament, featuring both major and junior teams.

While in Kutno, Joanne was selected by the umpire-in-chief, Kyle Weir, of Beaumont, Texas, to be behind the plate in the championship game, while Steve was at third base for the Junior Division final. The couple has already applied for the 2007 Kutno regional tournaments.

“In Europe especially, I think the local coaches and kids are very appreciative to have us out there, not only umpiring but mentoring them,” Steve said. “We help represent levels of the game they haven’t yet experienced.”

Those experiences became the start of an on-going five-year relationship with the Junior Softball World Series committee, serving in many capacities. One of the Allens’ duties during the past World Series was to be host for the Junior Championship team from Germany. In past years, Steve and Joanne have been hosts to teams from Russia, Holland and the Eastern U.S.

Recently, University of Washington softball coach Heather Tarr, a Little League graduate who won a Big League Softball World Series as a member of nearby Redmond (Wash.) South Little League, has been coordinating with District 8 leagues to broaden the experiences of softball players and coaches through clinics and seminars. Earlier this year Little League International collaborated with the University of Washington to hold a Little League Softball Day, inviting Little League softball players to a Huskies softball game and a meet-and-greet with the Husky players and coaching staff following the game.

With the Allen’s assistance, Coach Tarr also has been coordinating with the local leagues to broaden the experiences of Little League softball players and coaches through clinics and seminars. In fact, during the World Series, all 10 teams enjoyed a tour and mini-clinic of the Washington softball facilities.

Joanne has been a tireless advocate for softball on the local level, working with fellow Little League volunteer Mike Edwards to establish, operate and maintain Little League softball teams on the north end of District 8. Over the years, Steve, Joanne and Mike have coordinated countless umpire and softball coaching clinics.

“We are willing to work with anybody who is willing to put in the time,” Steve said. “Umpiring gives us the chance to be together, and we don’t see ourselves quitting as Little League volunteers anytime soon.”

In August, on the recommendation of Washington District 8 Administrator Gary Newsome, Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners recognized Joanne’s 15-year commitment to softball during a pre-game ceremony at Safeco Field.
Pictured here with the European version of Little League mascot “Dugout,” the Allens separately were members of the umpire crews at the 2006 Little League Softball Major Division and Junior Division regional tournaments in Kutno, Poland.
Steve and Joanne Allen are the parents of four Little League participants, and have served as Little League volunteers for 15 years. In recent years, the couple from Seattle, Wash., has been tireless supporters of the Little League Softball program. Both are involved with the Junior Softball World Series as members of the operations committee, and Joanne umpired in the 2003 World Series in Kirkland, Wash.