Taegen McCoy is 16 years old and a sophomore at Northern High School in Dillsburg, Pa. In many ways, she’s a typical high schooler. She enjoys playing the viola in the orchestra and competing on the women’s tennis team, and won the title of Farmer’s Fair Queen.
One year ago, she added another activity to her busy schedule: umpiring Little League games. Now in her second year of officiating at Dillsburg Little League, she sees umpiring as another way to expand her circle and broaden her life experiences.
“In life, not everything is going to go your way,” said Taegen. “You’re going to make mistakes, and you have to figure out how to correct those mistakes in the best way possible.”
The foundation of a successful umpire – dedication, focus, demeanor, unflappability – come over time and with experience. Any umpire, regardless of age, must be willing to accept criticism and appreciate the role of the umpire, but everyone starts somewhere.
Taegen’s mom, Christine McCoy, is responsible for her wide range of involvement. Mrs. McCoy says that her own mother got her and her brother involved in softball and baseball when they were younger. When it came time for Taegen and her brother, Tanner, to play sports, softball and baseball seemed like the right choice.
“I have always loved baseball,” said Mrs. McCoy. “It’s about meeting new people and building friendships, especially at that young age.”
When Tanner began playing Tee Ball almost 10 years ago, Mrs. McCoy became involved with the Dillsburg Little League Board of Directors, of which she is currently the Treasurer. Mrs. McCoy and her husband, Curtis, encourage their children to seek out difference experiences and be active.
“I want my children to go out and try new things,” said Mrs. McCoy. “If they like it, I want them to stick with it and I will always support them.”
Taegen played Little League Softball® when she was younger, but only discovered her love of baseball when Tanner began playing. After an illness, Tanner was left unable to play for a period, but his team’s commitment to him left a lasting impression on Taegen.
“Watching him go through that and seeing his teammates support him gave me a new respect for the sport,” said Taegen. “I was always around baseball, but that was when I realized that it was just one big family.”
Many of Taegen’s friends at school umpire as well, and she credits them for getting her to take her love of baseball to the next level. Her friends convinced her to try her hand at umpiring and pointed her in the direction of Bill Bruce, Umpire-in-Chief for Dillsburg Little League.
“Bill Bruce put me in contact with Bill Myers, who runs the umpire clinics,” said Taegen. “After that, I started doing tons of clinics.”
The feeling of being in control of the game when umpiring is something that Taegen loves, but she also recognizes that it is important to be fair and unbiased. Because of this, Taegen makes sure not to work any of her brother’s games.
Taegen says that Dillsburg Little League is like one big family, supporting her and surrounding her with positivity. Perhaps the biggest supporters are her fellow umpires, who treat her as “one of the guys.”
“The most meaningful part of my experience as an umpire has got to be the support of my fellow umpires,” said Taegen. “We’re like a big family and that means everything to me.”
Despite the support from the league, Taegen shared that people at school, as well as some coaches, parents, and even players, were a little skeptical.
“A lot of people said I couldn’t do it, and that made me want to do it even more,” said Taegen. “Not to prove them wrong, but to show them that I am capable of more than they think I am.”
Taegen does not let the critics get to her, but instead looks past them to focus on the game and the responsibilities she has while in the field. The most important life lesson that she has taken away from this volunteering opportunity is to stand up for yourself and do what makes you happy.
“It’s difficult to be a female in a male’s world,” said Taegen. “But I’m out here to show that I can do the job and that I’m in charge.”
When asked if she wished more girls would volunteer to umpire, Taegen replied, “I would like more girls to get involved in whatever activities they enjoy, even if those activities are typically male-dominated.” Taegen’s motto is that if you like to do something, then stand up and get involved.
Taegen plans to continue umpiring through high school, and mentioned that she would like to find a league to umpire in wherever she ends up attending college. She would also like to eventually become a member of the Dillsburg Little League Board, like her mom.
For now, Taegen is focused on umpiring for both the Dillsburg Little League Minor and Major divisions. In the fall, she hopes to gain more experience by training to umpire for the Little League Intermediate (50/70) Baseball Division.