Nicole, you have been appointed as Warrnambool and District Football Umpires Association director of umpiring. How have things been going into the lead up to this season?
We were going very well until we were advised by the AFL last Friday to cease group training because of the coronavirus.
Everyone is worried about the virus, so the decision was made that there will be no more group training until everything is sorted out.
We are encouraging the umpires to keep up their own individual fitness levels.
I've been enjoying the role. We've had good numbers at training and the vibe around the umpires association is very good.
How many umpires would the association have for the 2020 season?
We have between 90 to a 100 umpires registered that field, goal and boundary umpires.
Part of my job is that I'm the coach of the field umpires and there's 25 of them.
We've got Nathan Hoy in charge of the boundary umpires and David Dunn oversees the goal umpires.
We're really lucky the association has a respected group of senior goal, boundary and field umpires who are there to help the younger junior umpires come through the ranks.
The association is always looking for new umpires, I encourage anyone who is interested in finding out about the umpires association to give us a call.
We're a tight knit group of people who love our jobs.
My son Campbell umpired in the junior ranks last year and makes his senior umpiring debut as a boundary umpire this year.
He's loving the umpiring because it gives him a chance to save some money.
Nicole when did the umpires start training for the 2020 season?
They started training two nights a week from January 22. I got the job in mid-February. The group have been working very hard since January.
Mondays has been centred around various aspects of umpiring including skills and whistle blowing, while on Wednesdays it's been related to running.
Gavin Sell is the track coach and he's made sure the umpires have a lot of miles in their legs. Gavin has sent out an email to the umpires on how to maintain their fitness while we're caught up in the virus.
We've lost Lachlan Rooke and Mick Atkinson from our umpiring ranks this season. Lachlan has decided to have a year off while Mick has retired.
How many leagues does the Warrnambool and District Football Umpires Association supply each week?
There's the Hampden League seniors and under 18s plus the Warrnambool and district seniors, under 17s and under 15s.
What we've had to do is one senior game of the Warrnambool and District normally does not have an umpire. That's up to the leagues discretion as to what game that is, that's why we're on the look out for more umpires. We would love to fill that gap and have more umpires at games.
When did you move to Warrnambool?
It would be four years ago. I played netball out at Dennington for three years.
I played B grade and was lucky enough to play in a premiership in 2016. Dennington won the A Grade, a Reserves and B Grade premierships in that season.
I found the netball to be a very good competition. The ladies really enjoy playing and there were no easy games.
Nicole, you mentioned that you studied to be a nurse. Are you still involved in the medical field?
Yes. I work with South West Healthcare and I deal with aged people.
I previously worked in the emergency department of the hospital, and that's why I couldn't be involved with umpiring because I was working various weekends shifts.
I now work very closely with Lyndoch, Mercy, Opal Gillin Park, Opal Warrnambool and aged care facilities in Cobden, Mortlake and Terang.
I love my job, but it does get very hectic. There's a lot of diversity in the job and I have to say the best thing about my job is helping people who are in need.
How did your involvement begin in umpiring?
It started through my dad Shane.
When I began umpiring, there were not many females involved in the sport. But over the years the numbers have changed and it's great to see so many females being involved as either goal, boundary or as field umpires.
I grew up umpiring in the Gippsland region and also spent 10 years with the Latrobe Valley Umpires Association that's where I won the golden whistle award. My dad encouraged me to put in for the job. He's my sounding board on many things including umpiring. He's umpired and coached umpires.
He was the umpires coach in Albury - O & M league and O & K. One of the key areas that we'll be trying to focus on is umpires development this season.
Other things we are trying to ensure is that umpires have fun and we want to have a friendly environment.
It's all about involving everyone and that way we can be more professional.
The local football leagues around here are very professional and the umpires have to be the same.
Nicole, have you played many other sports?
When I was growing up badminton was my major sport. I used to play on Friday nights.
It's a good sport, it's a shame it doesn't have the numbers it should have.
But I suppose there are so many other sports and other things which people do with their spare time now.
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