HUDSON, Ohio (AP) — The only woman among the 16 umpires for this month’s Little League World Series is hoping to be an example for her three sons by pursuing what she loves regardless of what others think.
Kelly Elliott Dine, of Hudson, Ohio, was chosen for the 10-day tournament in Pennsylvania after volunteering as a Little League umpire for a decade, the Kent-Ravenna Record-Courier reports.
The tournament has had five other female umpires in its 80-year history. The most recent was in 2013. With thousands of umpires on the waiting list for the event, Dine said that opening the letter saying she had been selected was an emotional experience.
“I hollered and started crying,” she said. “It was pretty incredible. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
She expects to umpire about two games per day during the tournament. Dine, a Pittsburgh native who grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania, went further east to South Williamsport in May for orientation with the umpires and to see where the games will be played in front of thousands of spectators.
“It was breathtaking,” Kelly said. “They’re televising every game. The thought is a little scary.”
She said she feels pressure to be outstanding as an umpire because she is a woman.
“I had to do a lot of work and camps,” she said. “I wish we had a lot more ladies umpiring, and I think it will happen, but how do you get girls interested in officiating baseball?”
Dine said she first stepped in to call a game when she was coaching one of her sons in Little League and an umpire failed to show up for a different game. Now the U.S. Navy veteran, nurse and biomedical sciences teacher also umpires high school and college baseball games.
“She has a great personality working with the boys and the coaches,” said her husband, Jeff. “She takes a very open approach to things.”
Dine said she wants to be an example for her sons, who all have worked as umpires themselves.
“I hope the boys see their mom as a trailblazer, and I entered the arena and went for it no matter what others said,” she said.