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January 3, 1997     Cape Gazette
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' CAPE GAZET00, Friday, January008 : J0000=ry 9,00997 -55 Honored ump Rehnstrom safe at+home in Delaware Milford man one of few selected for International Softball Federation By Rosanne Pack When a letter opens with "Con- gratulations," it'sa good guess that the recipient is going to like what follows. And, when Gus Rehnstrom received the letter from the American Softball Asso- ciation that signed on with that greeting; he knew it could only be news that would lift him into a+ lofty gathering occupied by just 163 other softball umpires in the United States. After 21 years of umpiring the game, he has been selected for in- clusion in the International Soft= ball Federation. This designation is only bestowed after softball umpires have worked their way up from local officiating to the re- gional level and then the national level. Along the way, the umpires arewatched and rated as they are considered for promotion to each level. Rehnstrom is now the only soft- ball umpire in Delaware to be in- eluded in the ISF. Along with the honor comes the opportunity to umpire games outside the United States and he may be called on to travel to such places as Germany, the Philippines, Great Britain and Japan to officiate at softball games. "It's just the biggest thrill!" Rehnstrom said. "Iwas beside myself when I got the notice. I have worked so long and hard, and to be rewarded in this manner is the realization of one of my life goals." Not only can Rehnstrom umpire for routine games and tourna- ments in oth- er countries, he is now eli- gible to um- pire in the Olympic Games. Other dreams have been realized, and he admits he is not REHNSTROM afraid to cast his sights on a trip to Australia for the next Olympics. "I thought that I might retire from actively umpiring if I made it to ISF; but with the chance at the Olympics, I will definitely keep working toward that," he said. Umpiring amateur softball is a professional venture and not a volunteer hobby for 52-year-old Rehnstrom. He makes a few thou- sand dollars a year working in many areas of the country. But, the money is not what drives him to strap on the chest pads and face mask. He absolutely loves the sport. But then, Rehnstrom is a fan of most sports and he has served as a coach for high school football and baseball. His famil- iarity in local sports circles recent- ly brought him to Cape Henlopen High School where he served as one of the volunteer score keepers for the Slam Dunk to the Beach basketball tournament. "Umpiring is a great thing to get into. I recommend it for young people," he said. "I find a lot of satisfaction in being an umpire. It's very competitive to be a good one. I loved playing ball, but to tell the truth, I like being an um- pire more." Rehnstrom said the association likes for young people to be out of high school before they start seri- ous training to umpire, but that is not a hard and fast requirement. He tells with pride of one young man who started while he was still in high school and who is now working his way through the ranks on his way to a career as a major league umpire. "Once you establish yourself as a qualified and disciplined um- pire, leagues and aioeiations treat you golden," he said.. "I've been all over the United States; I um- pire at national tournaments, I am asked to conduct seminars and clinics. And, now, Europe is open to me. "There is money to be made; but, if anyonewho is in it just for the money won't last very long." The chair of the history depart- ment at Milford High School, Rehnstrom is a natural teacher. He brings equal enthusiasm for the education process to the ball field and to the classroom. At Milford, he teaches American History in- eluding Advanced Placement American History; and next year, he will add Advanced Placement American and European History. In softball circles, he serves as president of the state high school federation for softball and base- ball and as assistant umpire-in- USCG Auxiliary holds Change of Watch The U.S. Coast Guard's Flotilla's 12-02 of Lewes and Flotilla 12-01 of Bethany Beach combined forces for the annual Christmas dinner and meeting held recently at Kings Creek Country Club, Rehoboth Beach. Forty.three members and guests attended, with special guests Division 12 Capt. Robert J. Perrone Sr. and his wife Joanne. Members from Flotilla 12- 09 were also in attendance. Among the newly elected officers for Flotilla 12-02 are Ruth Sokolowski, commander, and John Bernath, vice commander, while Flotilla 12-01's new officers are George Morabito, commander, and Walter Brown, vice commander. Above, (l-r) Morabito and Brown present Harold Hahn with an Auxiliary Leadership Course (AUXLEA) Certifi- cate during the evening's presentations. Another highlight of the evening was the honoring of Ken- neth Steinmann (left) for 25 years of service in the U.S. Coast Guard Anllary. He joined the auxiliary on Dee. 13, 1971 in Pennsylvania and served first in a Wilmington flotilla before joining Flotilla 12-02 when he moved to Lewes. Outgoing officers Ruth Jopling, commander, and Bernie Paradise, vice commander of Flotilla 12-02 were commended for the job + they did in 1996. Both Morabito and Brown are serving a second year of their term. chief for the Delaware. He is the state interpreter of rules and regu- lations for the Delaware See- ondary Schools Athletic Associa- tion. This month, he will take to the airwaves as he conducts a national umpire's clinic via teleconfer- effce. Broadcasting from Milford High School, he will teach and in- teract with other members of the ASA in an event that usually pulls everyone together in Kansas City. "Since we have the capabilities, it seemed to make more sense to conduct this as a teleeonference, rather than have me and everyone else travel," he said, "I do several clinics and umpire schools a year; and if I wanted to, I could umpire almost every night. But, it is hard when you have a family." And, the Ellendale resident does have a family. His wife Dawn is a teacher at Cape Henlopen High School, and Zachary, 14, and Katie, 11, attend Milford schools. The family is supportive and proud of Rehnstrom's accom- plishments, and all are hopeful of an Olympic experience. "I can barely let myself think about it," Dawn Rehnstrom said, "But, if he goes, we all go. And, even though he does have a lot of work to do, and there are many who will be eligible, I think, 'How could they not choose him?' He is so good!" Does it bother him that every- one hates the ump at some time? "Oh, it's a necessary evil; peo- ple don't like you," he said. "But overall, it is so rewarding. You haveto try to deal with everything professionally; you have to know techniques." Rehnstrom said that techniques such as where to be to cover ade- quately are taught as well as how to avoid confrontation. "You have to learn to walk away, you can't let things get to you," he said. "And, you have to constantly review and attend clin- ics and schools. If ball players and coaches know more than you do, you're in trouble. And, it takes a lot of athleticism to keep up with ball players. ''+ After playing ball for years him- self, and now umpiring for more than 20, Rehnstrom is satisfied that he has accomplished a lot in what is only his second job. If he had it to do over again, he thinks he might try to make it as a major league umpire. But, for now, he is basking in the pleasure of being Delaware's only International Softball Federation member, and one of only 163 nationwide, "There's no denying it, it's a re- al honor to be chosen," he said, "Then the Olympics could be the icing on the cake." Order a subscription, get a free hat! Send us your chek for a new, one-year subscription, and we'll send you one of our coveted hats. Current subscribers may purchase hats for $5. Available to general public for $10. ..................... "1 I Address I I I I 525 - Sussex County $30- Snowbird (in and out) I 540- Out of county $30- Student (9 months) I Make check payable to Cape Gazette, PO Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958 I L ............. " ......... J This offer not 1 with any other discounts or specials. New subscriptions only.