The Plappert trio of Diane, Elly and Hannah has made umpiring a family affair, an opportunity to bond, spend quality time together and make some extra cash. The trio worked their first field hockey tournament together in Orlando, Florida over the summer and is already looking forward to the next time they take the pitch together with a whistle in hand.
Diane, mother of Elly and Hannah, coached field hockey at the youth level and commenced her umpiring career in 2004 after her daughters began playing the sport year round. Elly started reffing girls lacrosse and found it was a nice way to make some extra cash while doing something she enjoyed. She joined her mother and sister, Hannah, on the field hockey pitch in the summer of 2012.
“My mom, sister and I are all very close. We do a lot together and this is just one more thing that brings us closer together,” said Elly.
“I love working with my girls, it’s terrific and has been a great experience for all of us. They are quick to tell me when I make a mistake. But, they are also quick to ask me a question -- especially when it comes to managing the coaches and/or parental behavior on the sidelines. We do a good job of balancing "ref talk" with “girl talk,” says Diane.
Diane loves the physical and mental challenges of umpiring and says she has met wonderful people throughout her umpiring career that share the same desire as she does to grow and develop as an umpire. So when Diane’s daughters became old enough and needed a part-time job, she absolutely encouraged umpiring.
“I absolutely encouraged my daughters to start umpiring. Players make great umpires. They get right into the flow of the game and see the foul and the consequence and they know whether or not they need to blow their whistle to facilitate fair play. My girls needed to work and they started out by ref-ing girls' lacrosse. The money is good and there are many spring and summer tournaments throughout the Mid-Atlantic area. When USA Field Hockey encouraged players and young umpires attend the Disney Junior Field Hockey Showcase to learn and develop, we jumped at the opportunity.”
For Elly, the extra cash is nice but umpiring is a way for her to stay involved in the game even after her playing career is over.
“It's nice to be able to continue to be involved in the game,” said Elly. “I hope that umpiring can keep me active and involved with field hockey after I am no longer a player. I can't imagine my life without practices and games and it is reassuring that I can continue to umpire and stay connected to the game while my life leads me in a more career oriented direction.”
So, what’s it like having your family as colleagues on the field and at tournaments?
“It’s a lot of fun,” says Elly. “Personally I think my mom is a great umpire. She makes her calls with confidence and is serious when she needs to be, but is always looking to make the game a fun experience for everyone involved. My sister is a very confident and professional umpire. I think we all work well together because we are open with each other. My mom is always looking for feedback on her game and we are all very receptive to any pointers that the others can give and we give them willingly.”
The Plappert’s are hoping to be back in action on the field together soon.
“We hope to continue working tournaments together,” said Diane. “We love the travel and the opportunity to share new experiences. We hope to get to Festival in November, although both girls play for their colleges and it makes for a very busy fall. There are many opportunities for indoor hockey in December and January when the girls will be home for semester break, so we plan on working the Indoor Qualifiers. We will definitely come back to Disney in the summer!”
USA Field Hockey is actively seeking new umpires. If you are interested, visit usafieldhockey.com for more information on getting involved or contact USA Field Hockey’s Umpiring Director Steve Horgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.