Buckley NCO steps up to the plate

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --  Staff Sgt. Larry Bouchard, Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency Detachment 45 Satellite Operations non-commissioned officer-in-charge, poses for a photo at the base softball field May 9. Sergeant Bouchard began umpiring games at the suggestion of a co-worker who also loved the game and hasn't stopped since. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kathrine McDowell)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Staff Sgt. Larry Bouchard, Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency Detachment 45 Satellite Operations non-commissioned officer-in-charge, poses for a photo at the base softball field May 9. Sergeant Bouchard began umpiring games at the suggestion of a co-worker who also loved the game and hasn't stopped since. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kathrine McDowell)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --  Staff Sgt. Larry Bouchard, Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency Detachment 45 Satellite Operations non-commissioned officer-in-charge, demonstrates how to signal a strike May 9. "A friend of mine was an umpire and knew I liked baseball," says Bouchard. "I tried it out and liked it so much that I continued with it." (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kathrine McDowell)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Staff Sgt. Larry Bouchard, Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency Detachment 45 Satellite Operations non-commissioned officer-in-charge, demonstrates how to signal a strike May 9. "A friend of mine was an umpire and knew I liked baseball," says Bouchard. "I tried it out and liked it so much that I continued with it." (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kathrine McDowell)

DENVER, Colo. -- Staff Sgt. Larry Bouchard, Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency Detachment 45 Satellite Operations non-commissioned officer-in-charge, runs to the infield during a local high school varsity baseball game May 1. Sergeant Bouchard began umpiring games at the suggestion of a co-worker who also loved the sport and hasn't stopped since. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kathrine McDowell)

DENVER, Colo. -- Staff Sgt. Larry Bouchard, Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency Detachment 45 Satellite Operations non-commissioned officer-in-charge, runs to the infield during a local high school varsity baseball game May 1. Sergeant Bouchard began umpiring games at the suggestion of a co-worker who also loved the sport and hasn't stopped since. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kathrine McDowell)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- A noncommissioned officer from one of Team Buckley's tenant units spends his off-duty time as an umpire for local youth baseball games.

"I joined the Air Force right after high school and haven't played in an official league since," said Staff Sgt. Larry Bouchard, Air Force Technical Applications Center Detachment 45 NCO in charge, though he added he plays for base softball and baseball teams whenever he gets a chance. "Some people go home to play with their kids; I don't have kids, so this is what I do after work."

Between his paid umpire time and volunteering at clinics to teach new young umpires, weekends and afternoons are pretty busy for Sergeant Bouchard.

"I've been involved in everything from teams of eight-year-olds to Division I college games, though I primarily do high school varsity games," Sergeant Bouchard said. As a certified high school umpire through the National Federation of State High School Associations, he is also authorized to officiate at other levels as needed. The survival skills, he said, are the same.

"You need to be able to exist on an island by yourself," Sergeant Bouchard said. "There are actually three teams on the field - the visiting team, the home team, and the umpire team. No one is here to see the umpire team, so if you screw up, you'll hear chirping about it from both sides."

One skill Sergeant Bouchard brought with him as an NCO was a sense of confidence.

"When you get into the higher echelons of umpiring, we all have a Type A personality," he said. "Having a military background helps with that; without it, umpires may get steamrolled by coaches. I can say, 'Here's the rules, I know the rules, this is how it's going to go,' " Sergeant Bouchard added.

Also, like many NCOs, Sergeant Bouchard spends much of his time looking to train the next generation.

"I'm always trying to find the next umpire," he said. "You get kids who love the game but, for whatever reason, can't pursue it after high school. I get to give people another avenue to love America's Favorite Past-time."

Senior Airman Stephen Musal contributed to this story.