Volunteer Spotlight: Mike Yachimski - On Umpiring
Mike Yachimski first put his hand up to umpire at the 2019 Lake Invitational Grand Prix, held at the Indian Trail Club in New Jersey where he is a member. He thought it would be a one-time deal. Instead, he found a new calling. Marshall Chapin, then chair of the APTA Umpire Committee, noticed his dedication to the job and his organizational skills and immediately tapped him for higher-level work.
Yachimski said, “Umpiring is not work for me. I was lucky enough to marry well and my wife has a great career. About 11 years ago, I pulled the cord on my work and ‘retired.’ I am a stay-at-home dad with two teenage kids. They keep me busy, but I have time to volunteer. I am happy to help.”
It took Yachimski a little while to jump into paddle at one of the country’s largest platform tennis facilities. “I started playing about 10 years ago. I have been addicted ever since. I wish I could get better faster, but it is a slow journey to greatness,” he laughed.
Yachimski coached softball, baseball, and soccer when his kids were younger. Once their interests changed, he focused on platform tennis, as a captain and a small league coordinator. “When I first got up in the chair, I really loved it. Part of my responsibility now is recruiting and training umpires. I always mention that it’s the best seat in the house,” he smiled.
The umpire group is small but dedicated. Yachimski said, “I met Mark Bliss at the Lake Invitational, and he was a really good influence. He gave me some pointers before my first match and helped calm the nerves. I got invited to do the 2020 Nationals in Darien, which was amazing. After that, I captained the New Jersey region, including the 2021 Nationals, and handled some Connecticut tournaments.” These days, Yachimski can be found at many APTA Tour events, especially the Grand Prix tournaments. He is continually on the prowl for people interested in trying out the chair.
He explained a typical day in the umpire world. “Usually the first match is at 8:00 or 8:30 AM. I get there early to make sure everything is situated, the chairs are in place, we have enough scoresheets, and to set up an area for the umpires. I’ll help the tournament director with anything. It's a 12-hour day but I enjoy it. I love the tournament experience and hanging out with everybody. It’s just like going to a Patriots game but every once in a while I get to go climb a ladder and make some calls.”
Yachimski continued, “Umpiring is an inside-the-ropes experience at the tournaments. You meet the other APTA folks, the tournament directors. You get to have interactions with pros like Patty Hogan and Greg Morgan and the players. Meeting all these great like-minded people is awesome.”
He added, “Giving back to the APTA is important. What they do for us is great. Live Streaming is big in my book—I always have my computer open on the weekends they are streaming—and what they offer in terms of opportunities for schmucks like me to be able to play. It’s a good way to just say thanks. I haven’t met a jerk yet who plays paddle. It's a unique community.”
The APTA Is looking for more umpires. Contact us today at email@example.com to learn more.