Thursday, April 18, 2024

Williamsburg Teen Inspiring and Educating the Umpires of Tomorrow

Noah Katz getting ready to film umpiring content at Polar Park (Noah Katz)

WILLIAMSBURG — Noah Katz saw a problem and rose to the challenge. Showing up ready to compete at baseball games only to find the game canceled due to an umpire shortage left him constantly feeling defeated. It became his personal mission to make sure no kid ever felt the way he did.

The Umpire Channel launched a little over nine months ago as a passion project for Katz. Playing baseball until the age of 18, Katz wanted to find a way to stay connected to the game he loved well after his playing days were behind him.

“I played baseball all my life and as I played I saw huge problems with umpire shortages. My games and my friends’ games were being canceled because there weren’t enough umpires. I got to know the umpires in my league really well that when I turned 16, I started umpiring in the same little league that I played in. I found it to be such an amazing job, where I was surrounded by baseball and I was getting to give back to my community,” Katz said.

An umpire himself, Katz understands the demands of being involved in calling games. However, his main goal has always been to continue to give back to the baseball community in the best way he can.

“Baseball is a lot more than just a game to me. It’s a lot more than a game to a lot of people. It’s a game of life. The biggest thing that I enjoy is the community. Having the opportunity to build this new community with a slightly different aspect of the sport is something that I really enjoy,” Katz said.

The Umpire Channel aims to be a one-stop shop for anything and everything relating to umpiring. Katz’s website helps provide educational resources on how to become an umpire, how-to training videos for beginner umpires, tips and tricks, and information on umpire training classes.

“I think the biggest problem surrounding the shortage is that kids my age don’t realize that they can become umpires. It’s a great part-time job and I’m showing people that through the Umpire Channel. The channel is about inspiring people to become an umpire, but also giving people the resources and tools to learn how to become an umpire through instructional videos and the next steps for signing up to become an umpire,” Katz says.

His first umpiring video got over 300,000 views on TikTok.

Filming at Wendelstedt Umpire School (Noah Katz)

According to Katz, the current umpire shortage is extremely tough on youth who play sports. He hopes that The Umpire Channel helps inspire the next generation of umpires. He fondly recalls the first time he stepped behind the catcher and umpired his first game.

“I’ve always talked to the umpires at my games and I got to know them all really well. They were my friends and we had really great relationships. To work side by side with them as peers and be able to give back to my community, it really meant a lot to me,” Katz said.

Currently, The Umpire Channel has amassed over 35,000 followers on social media. Through his videos and educational resources offered, Katz is hopeful that the site can continue to grow and evolve with the game of baseball.

“The Umpire Channel has 35,000 followers and over 10 million views across all platforms. I’ve made content with umpires from little league to the MLB and Hall of Fame umpires. The feedback has been so positive and I receive hundreds of messages from people who have been inspired to become umpires from what I started,” Katz says.

He heavily encourages anyone interested in becoming an umpire to explore the options available to them.

“Don’t be intimated by stories of parents, just do it. Once you are out on the field, it’s such an incredible experience. It’s worthwhile, rewarding, and fun. Take the big step and get out on the field for the first time and you won’t look back,” Katz says.

To learn more about The Umpire Channel, visit theumpirechannel.com. 

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