When does a player feel embedded in his team? When does the hard work and practice come together? When is a coach confident enough to throw a young man into a key position role?
These questions are no different when it comes to defining when an umpire has taken the next step. Perceptions can be hard to change and unless you alter your approach results often stay the same.
Sam Hay umpired his 100th AFL game in the Easter Monday blockbuster Hawthorn v Geelong match. He has been on the AFL list since 2009 and moved to Melbourne to further his career in 2014. Was that the move that was markedly different that made his coaches sit up and take notice? “I think that I found myself in that game on Monday for many reasons,” explained Sam. “I have dropped a couple of kilos over the summer which has meant that I feel lighter and sharper. I think I am a little quicker off the mark and get into better position earlier. At the same time I have 100 games under my belt now so I am more confident and mentally prepared for whatever is thrown at me in a game now.”
Sam, is it then a combination of all of those things that make you now feel like a valued member of the umpiring team? “No doubt coming to Melbourne and being around the group and the coaches certainly gives you more confidence. You get that immediate feedback from your games and you do feel that things do just come together better.”
Sam has made lifestyle changes before. He gave away his busy accounting role and took up personal training. He now works from the Royal Melbourne Hospital fitness centre 3 or 4 days a week, working with mainly hospital staff helping them maintain their fitness. He can then concentrate on his football and umpiring with a great work life balance.
Whatever way you look at it Sam is making every effort to be a better umpire. He had his father and sister come over from Adelaide to sit in the crowd and celebrate his milestone because that’s what families do. Congratulations on your 100 games Sam.
Pictured: 100 gamer – Sam Hay