Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269
August 16, 2011
MSU Billings staffers have unique perspective on Little League World Series
Housing, SUB staffers put in extra time in the community as umpires
Jeff Rosenberry, left, and Evan Slagsvold work at MSU Billings full time, but also use their expertise and passion for sports as umpires during the Little League season. Below, Rosenberry talks with a 10-year-old player before a game earlier this summer.
MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — When the Big Sky Little League all-stars take the field in Thursday’s opening round of the Little League World Series, an entire community will be behind them. And some of those Billings residents have been behind them at different points all summer long — literally.
Two staff members at Montana State University Billings have a unique perspective on the game because of their work in the community as Little League umpires.
“It’s been interesting to watch the games, see those uniforms on TV and know it’s our kids now playing in the Little League World Series. And we had a hand in that right here in Billings,” said Jeff Rosenberry, assistant director of housing and student life at MSU Billings.
Rosenberry, who works with college students throughout the year in their leadership roles as resident assistants, has been an umpire for 11 years. He started right out of high school and received extensive training on San Bernardino, Calif. He has experience in Washington, Colorado and Montana.
This past spring and summer, he did between 40-50 Little League games, some of them with the Big Sky all-stars and coaches who are now dominating the attention of local baseball fans.
While Rosenberry can’t be at the game Thursday when the Billings crew takes on a team from Rapid City in the first round of the series in Williamsport, Pa., he will be taking part in the next best thing: He’ll be watching the game on the 35-foot screen in Petro Theatre on the university’s main campus.
MSU Billings is opening — for free — the 500-seat theater to parents, other Little Leaguers and the community who want to watch the game on a large screen. There will be popcorn and some Cracker Jacks for kids who want some. The game time is 1 p.m. Thursday, but seats will be available at about 12:30 p.m.
Evan Slagsvold, who works as operations manager in the Student Union Building, will be on hand when the game is begins, but shares Rosenberry’s interest in umpiring.
Slagsvold, a graduate of Billings Skyview and MSU Billings, did about 70 games this year as a Little League umpire. He and Rosenberry worked some games together.
“I enjoy being involved in sports and enjoy the challenge of being an official and umpire,” said he said
Slagsvold also referees football and basketball in the Billings area.
Both men said they enjoy working with youth not as authority figures, but as educators.
“I enjoy the younger age players the most,” Rosenberry said. “They’re still learning the game and we have a hand in their development as players and learning the rules. We are also teaching coaches how to coach.”
Working full-time at the university and using off-hours to umpire games under the glare of anxious parents and skeptical coaches may not seem like fun for many people, but Rosenberry said there are benefits.
“It helps me promote work/life balance when at the end of the day I can head the diamond to help kids,” he said. “The kids who are nine and ten years old really get a kick out of getting to the tournaments and seeing the umpires in full dress working the games.”