Washington and KCKCC grad works NCAA tournament, holds umpire clinics
by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Tim Cordill is again on the elite list of umpires selected to work collegiate baseball at its highest level – the NCAA Division I regional tournament.
It is not, however, at the top of his bucket list. Getting young umpires to that level is goal No. 1.
A graduate of Washington High School and Kansas City Kansas Community College, Cordill and Jon Browar hold an umpires clinic for budding young umpires each fall to help fill a rapidly growing need for umpires.
The clinic held at KCKCC, the T-Bones Stadium and Johnson County 3&2, draws 50-60 participants from all over the country.
“Basically, we try to put 20 guys into umpiring at the college level each year,” Cordill said. “We feel we’re giving back. So many people worked and shared with me to make me successful, it’s our responsibility to help others as much as we can. I’ve been umpiring for more than 30 years and I talk to kids as young as 12 years of age about umpiring. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone; that’s for sure.”
Cordill actually started umpiring at age 12.
“My coach in Little League ran the umpires,” said Cordill, who will be umpiring in the four-team Oregon State NCAA regional in Corvallis starting Friday. “I’m excited and happy to go; that’s for sure.”
A year ago, he worked the Texas Tech regional in Lubbock. One of 16 regionals, the winners will advance to a super-regional to trim the field to eight teams for the NCAA World Series in Omaha.
A 1992 graduate of Washington High School, Cordill started his collegiate athletic career at Fort Scott Community College “until I found I was a better umpire than I was a football and baseball player.”
Transferring to KCKCC where he earned his AA degree, he spent one year as a student assistant to Blue Devil baseball coach Steve Burleson.
“It was a perfect fit; one of the best things I ever did because I got to understand things from both sides,” Cordill said. “In addition to understanding the game more, I got a deeper appreciation of it. Also, Coach Burleson and I both umpired in the men’s leagues and I learned from watching him.”
Cordill still maintains a close tie with the KCKCC baseball program. Head Blue Devil coach Matt Goldbeck is the godfather and his wife, Diana, is the godmother of the Cordill’s 9-year-old daughter, Harper.
Cordill went to umpire school in 1998 and worked two seasons in the minor leagues before a better offer came along.
“It was right before spring training in 2000,” he remembered. “I was scheduled to go to the Chicago Cubs minor league training camp and I got a chance to take a teaching job at Washington.” A graduate of Park University with a degree in teaching, Cordill taught at Washington for five years along with serving two years as baseball coach. “I still say teaching was the greatest job I ever had.”
Married and starting a family, he left teaching in 2005 to Coca-Cola for nearly eight years. He also worked five years as Kansas City sales manager for Schwans Consumer Brands and now is in his second year with a consulting firm.
While the new job took him away from his love of teaching, it opened the doors to a return to umpiring at the collegiate level.
“From February to June, I’m working college games about every weekend,” Cordill said. While it takes some time away from his wife, Robin, and family (three daughters in the Piper school system aged 14, 12 and 9, and a 4-year-old son), it beats umpiring professionally and being on the road six months of the year.
“You talk to players and they can’t tell you scores or remember games but they can tell you about the guys they played with and the relationships they were able to build and that’s what it’s all about,” Cordill said. “Sure, it supplements an income but I made some lifelong friends and mentors and been treated so well it’s so gratifying. Professionally you work with the same crew the entire season but in college you’re always working with different guys. You might work with 40-50 guys and the relationships you build, it’s just great.”