Kearney O’Keefe Makes History
1st Female Umpire In NL To Obtain Level V Umpire Designation
The Beginning (As A Player)
Kearney grew up playing Minor Softball with Shea Heights and Cabot Street and eventually in the Labatt Women’s League for 2-years before moving to North Carolina, USA. She continued to play ball south of the border and was on the Varsity Fastpitch Team in Grade 12 earning MVP Honours and an All-Conference Team Selection.
After graduating High School, Kearney was a walk on player for Louisburg College and in her Freshman year played in the NCAA World Series (7th Place Finish) and she received a Scholarship in her Sophomore Year. Scholarship offers came from Syracuse University and the University of Kentucky, but were turned down because neither University had a Nursing Program. She continued at Louisburg College and graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Nursing in 2000. She received a Scholarship to Radford University and started her Junior year there, but was unable to complete her Senior year due to medical reasons.
She graduated from Nursing School in 2005 and worked at WakeMed (Raleigh, North Carolina) until 2011. In early 2011, she moved back to Newfoundland Labrador and began working as a Registered Nurse at the Health Science Centre Emergency Department. It was that year that she started to volunteer on the Shea Heights Community Board and served as Secretary from 2011 to 2019. She returned to the Board in 2020 was elected as Vice-Chair. In addition, she became involved with Fastpitch after moving home, both as a player and coach. She attended the NCCP Coaching Course in the Fall of 2011 and in the Spring of 2012 attended her first Umpire Clinic.
The Beginning (As An Umpire)
And so, it is in 2012 that Kearney’s journey as an umpire started. After successfully completing the Umpire Course she started officiating games in the St. John’s Intermediate Men’s Fastpitch League in St. John’s, NL.
In 2014, Kearney earned her Softball Canada Level III Umpire Certification and was named Softball NL Umpire of the Year that season.
In 2015, Kearney moved into the role of Minor Director on the Softball NL Board and completed the scheduling of all of the Minor Provincial Tournaments and helped with recruiting umpires. In the Spring, she was assigned to start teaching the Level I Umpire Clinics. In addition, she attended her first Canadian Fastpitch Championship, the U16 Female in Calgary, AB.
In 2016, Kearney attended the Blue Convention in Vancouver, BC and participated in the Level IV Course and was successful in obtaining her Level IV Theory. She attended the U21 Women’s Fastpitch Championship in Summerside, PEI and her attempt for full Level IV was unsuccessful. Not deterred, she continued to put in the work and that Fall worked games in the Senior Men’s Canadian Fastpitch Championship in St. John’s and worked as an on-field official for Master Men’s Games and was asked to be an off-field official for Men’s Games – if an umpire couldn’t participate due to injury.
In 2017, Kearney attended the Canada Games working the Women’s tournament and was successful during that tournament at receiving her full Level IV Certification.
In 2018, Kearney travelled to Surrey, BC and worked the U19 Women’s Canadian Fastpitch Championship.
In 2019, Kearney attended her second Blue Convention held in Montreal, QC and participated in the Instructor/Evaluator Course and earned her I/E Level A Certification. Later that summer, she participated in the Women’s Canadian Fastpitch Championship held in St. John’s, NL and it was her first attempt to obtain her Level V, but was unsuccessful. Still undeterred, that Fall she focused on her Health and Fitness in order to be prepared to try for her Level V again in 2020.
Immersed in Umpires Program since 2013. She has served on the Metro Board Executive from 2014 to 2019. She is currently the Deputy Umpire-in-Chief for Female Officials and served as Scheduler, Treasurer, Secretary and Clinic Instructor for the NL Umpires Association in 2021. She also helped to form the new Umpire Development Committee. Her focus is on the Recruitment and Retention of Umpires. In addition, she is also a member of the Women in Blue Committee with Softball Canada and may be a Presenter at the Blue Convention.
In 2022, Kearney helped run Umpire Clinics in person and online. In June, she went to New Brunswick to Umpire in a Pre-Canada Games Tournament. In July, she went to Nova Scotia to Umpire in the Lloyd Poirier Tournament. In August, Kearney went to Saskatchewan to Umpire in the Women’s Canadian Championship and also was the UIC and working Umpire in the U15 Female Eastern Canadian Softball Championship in Portugal Cove-St. Philips, NL and worked 11 of the 19 Master Men’s Canadian Fastpitch Championship games held in St. John’s, NL.
It was Kearney’s performance at the 2022 Women’s Canadian Fastpitch Championship in Saskatoon, SK and the recommendation from the events Umpire-in-Chief and Deputy Umpire-in-Chiefs that the Softball Canada Board of Directors approved her Nomination for Level V Fastpitch Umpire Certification in the Softball Canada’s National Officials Certification Program.
Kearney O’Keefe is the 1st Female Umpire and 8th Umpire Overall in the Province to Obtain Level V Designation.
UMPIRES (SOFTBALL) WHO HAVE RECEIVED LEVEL V DESIGNATION
1986 – Dave Hollett
1988 – Bob Hickey
1995 – John Baldwin
1997 – Randy Souliers
1998 – Jerry Kirk
2005 – Keith Pender
2013 – John Sullivan
2022 – Kearney O’Keefe
Softball NL Would Like To Take This Opportunity To Congratulate Kearney O’Keefe On Obtaining Her Level V Designation And For Making History As The 1st Female Umpire In The Province To Obtain Level V Designation.