Beck O'Connell chats to former Corowa-Rutherglen netballer turned umpire Cassandra Hughes.
BO'C: You played over 200 games for Corowa and then made the switch to umpiring, what was your thoughts around the decision to make the change?
CH: I had actually been umpiring for quite a while just out of necessity. If you had a team playing then you had to provide an umpire. When I retired from Ovens and Murray, I guess it was just a way to still be involved. I didn't want to retire but my body made me, so umpiring was a way to keep fit and continue being involved.
BO'C: After umpiring for a number of years now, what are some of the changes you've seen in the game?
CH: There's been lots of changes, but one of the main ones is there not being a whistle after a ball is thrown in or after a goal.That's been a big thing as an umpire that took time to get my head around as it was just a force of habit. There's also certainly more contesting. I played as a defender and you weren't allowed to touch the goalies. It's a lot more physical and faster than it used to be.
BO'C: Do you think the players are finding the advantage rule challenging?
CH: Personally I think advantage is played when sometimes it should be pulled up, just because the contest is so physical and fast. Playing advantage is really dependent on the umpires knowledge. When you go for each level of badge you're taught to call advantage for more things. Unless you've got two umpires on the same page calling the same things, it's hard. I think it's a good thing because it keeps the game flowing. The top grades don't want to be stopping and starting. It's got its merits, it just has to be used properly.
ALSO IN SPORT:
BO'C: Having experienced umpiring in different leagues, what are some of the most memorable moments for you?
CH: Nothing jumps out at me as one moment in particular, but I do laugh at finals time when you have dads, boyfriends and brothers all turn up to watch their wives or sisters. It's usually the only game of netball they watch all year and they think they're at a footy game. You always get some interesting times and hear some interesting things from the crowd sometimes.Their perception and your perception is often very different. You need to have a thick skin and just keep going.
BO'C: Is there anyone who has inspired or influenced you with umpiring?
CH: Lee Shepard has been really influential. She's been like a mentor for me and has given me a lot of support over the years.
BO'C: You've got twin girls with one that umpires and one that plays. When they're both on court at the same time does it provide any interesting moments in your house?
CH: We've had some interesting discussions on the way back from netball when Sarah's pulled Olivia up for something. Sarah's umpiring a lot of A-grade games now out at Crows and I'm doing C-grade. It's good experience for her and giving her a good opportunity. Olivia doesn't really question me because I just say, "that's how it is, suck it up sunshine."
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