M-I-Z, strike 1-2-3

University of Missouri students serve mid-Missouri as baseball umpires, applying what they learn at Mizzou on the diamond.

April 16, 2024
Contact: Brian Consiglio, 573-882-9144,
Photos courtesy of Cole Lemasters and Jarrett Long

In the midst of a nationwide umpire shortage, University of Missouri students are serving mid-Missouri high schools as certified baseball umpires, using the skills they have gained on campus to benefit the mid-Missouri community.

Hear from a couple Tigers about the leadership lessons they learned at Mizzou and how they’re applying them to baseball and beyond:

Cole Lemasters
Cole Lemasters

Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
Year in school: Junior
Major: Journalism – strategic communication

Cole Lemasters, a self-described baseball junkie, figured out a way to participate in the game even when he wasn’t playing. At 14, he became a Little League baseball umpire and quickly fell in love with the art of perfecting his craft.

Lemasters is now a junior at Mizzou and said one of the things he loves most about the sport is the hustle — and it doesn’t just come from the athletes. “As umpires, we have to hustle, too, to make sure we are in the best position to make the right calls,” he said. “In terms of hustling and putting yourself in the best position to be successful, those skills apply to baseball and life in general.”

To cover all of his bases — on and off the field — Lemasters brings a positive attitude and hustle. In addition to being a full-time student in one of the country’s most intensive journalism programs, he is also a play-by-play broadcaster for Mizzou’s student-run radio station, KCOU; a strategic communications intern for Mizzou Athletics; and a data analyst for Mizzou’s baseball team — all hands-on learning opportunities that help him as he pursues a certificate in sports statistics.

In addition to umpiring mid-Missouri high school baseball games, Lemasters is also a coach — an academic coach — at the MU Learning Center, where he helps Mizzou students develop good study habits, note-taking techniques and time management skills.

He has also realized the importance of time management while balancing schoolwork with his various extracurricular activities.

 “If you aren’t passionate about what you do, you might start putting 50% in here and 50% there, and the final product suffers as a result,” Lemasters said. “I make it a point to put in 100% — regardless of what I’m doing.”

His efforts are continuing to pay off, as Lemasters has been climbing the umpiring ranks as he gains experience and confidence.

As Lemasters’ confidence has grown, so too has his communication skills, thanks in part to his strategic communication classes at Mizzou.

“Being an effective communicator not only helps me in my role as a sports broadcaster for KCOU, but also as an umpire as well,” said Lemasters. “Being clear and concise when communicating a particular message is helpful in so many different aspects of life. I have always enjoyed being a part of the baseball community, so I look forward to continuing to help my community by umpiring going forward.”

Jarrett Long.
Jarrett Long

Hometown: Cole Camp, Missouri
Year in school: Senior
Major: Dual major in parks, recreation, sport and tourism (with an emphasis in sport management) and agribusiness management

Coming to Mizzou from Cole Camp, Missouri — a town of roughly 1,100 people —brought some culture shock to Jarrett Long, a multisport high school athlete whose high school graduating class was just 45 students.

“It hit me like a freight train at first, but coming to Mizzou has been the best decision I’ve ever made,” Long said. “I’ve gotten to meet so many different types of people here, experience so many new opportunities and develop my skills more than I ever imagined.”

Long’s baseball playing days were over, but inside the classroom at Mizzou, the baseball fan stayed connected to sports by taking classes in sports marketing, sports law, sports accounting and sports business. Outside the classroom, he joined the Alpha Gamma Sigma fraternity where he met some of his closest friends.

Long began umpiring as a sophomore, after he ran into his high school baseball coach and was encouraged to consider it as a way of meeting new people.

Through balancing his time with his studies at Mizzou and umpiring baseball games, Long has learned the skills of time management, organization and sharpening his judgment, whether he is making decisions on the diamond or just in his daily life. He also sees the game of baseball from a different perspective now that he is an umpire.

Now a senior, Long works 40 hours per week as an intern for the Missouri State High School Activities Association through his senior capstone project at Mizzou, doing everything from organizing the Missouri state high school wrestling tournament to administrative paperwork.

“For my special project with my internship, I am creating a network where umpires across the state of Missouri can get into contact with us at the Mid-Missouri Umpire Association so they can umpire more games, meet new people and develop their skills,” Long said. “I want to help others who want to be umpires avoid the roadblocks that I ran into when I was first starting out because I just did not know who to contact. Mizzou has helped me merge my passion for baseball and assist those wanting to serve the community like me.”

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