HUDSON — Kelly Elliott Dine is used to dealing with international situations.

The Hudson resident will be in another such situation when she umpires the 2019 Little League World Series in August.

Kelly will be the only woman of 16 umpires from around the world chosen for the tournament from Aug. 15 to 25 in South Williamsport, Pa., which will be televised on ESPN.

The annual 10-day tournament features the winning teams from eight U.S. Regions and eight International Regions, competing to be crowned Little League World Series Champion Aug. 25.

Kelly and Jeff Dine have been married for 15 years and have raised Steven, 22, Alex, 20 and Aiden 14. They will cheer her on and offer their support as they have in the past when she has broken the barrier to be the first woman umpire.

Kelly also worked the first NCAA Division 1 baseball game in April and is believed to be the first female umpire to work an official NCAA D1 baseball game in the United States.

"The College Umpire Association has 2,000 umpires and I’m the only woman they have ever had," Kelly said. "I had to do a lot of work and camps. I wish we had a lot more ladies umpiring, and I think it will happen, but how do you get girls interested in officiating baseball?"

Kelly is the only woman in the U.S. to officiate NCAA baseball for the College Baseball Umpires Association and the first female to officiate in the Midwest Prospect League, a premier collegiate wood bat summer league. She is an umpire for the OHSAA and for summer tournament baseball.

"I’m really proud of her," Jeff said. "She’s blazed new trails and she’s the only one doing college right now."

Kelly has been a Little League volunteer umpire for 10 years. She is the first female umpire to work the world series tournament since 2013 and the sixth female to officiate the tournament in its 80-year history.

Her 10 years of volunteer work plus post-season work in districts, state and regional tournaments helped in her selection. Umpires are evaluated at the regional level and the top two or three are nominated. Thousands are on a waiting list for a single chance to umpire at the world series, she said.

"I earned my world series nomination in 2013 but there is a long waiting list," Kelly said. "I got my letter right after Christmas."

Little League doesn’t send rejection letters, but Kelly still didn’t believe she had been accepted.

She took the mail into the kitchen where her family was gathered and opened the letter.

"It’s called the golden ticket. I hollered and started crying," Kelly said. "It was pretty incredible. It’s a once in a lifetime experience."

Play ball!

Kelly will average umpiring two games per day during the world series, but assignments aren’t announced until the night before. Umpires are evaluated during the series and a crew is chosen for the final championship game on Aug. 25.

Kelly met the other umpires in May for orientation and to become familiar with the field where 44,000 fans were in attendance last year.

"It was breathtaking," Kelly said. "They’re televising every game. The thought is a little scary."

Kelly came from an athletic family but more importantly, there were no restrictions on what she wanted to do.

"In my household my dad didn’t bat an eye about me playing sports," Kelly said. "I didn’t hear anything about being a girl until high school."

Born in Pittsburgh, she grew up in Erie, Pa. and graduated from Fairview High School in suburban Erie. Kelly played soccer but her high school didn’t have a girl’s team so she and a friend tried out for the boy’s team and made it. Two days later, the school added a girl’s soccer team.

Besides umpiring, Kelly is a registered nurse and licensed biology teacher. She is the PLTW Biomedical Science instructor at North High School in Akron, where she has taught for four years.

She is an alumnus of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and the University of Akron. She also is a 2013 Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Kelly achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

Although Kelly is paid for umpiring high school and college games, her work for Little League is all volunteer, and she is the advisor for the volunteer service club at North High School.

"I want my students and kids to take away that volunteering is necessary to the human race," Kelly said. "You have to think of others and give of your talents. We’ll fail as a society if we become more self centered."

Kelly’s biomedical class is the most diversified class in the state with students from 20 nations and six native languages.

"It’s an awesome feeling," Kelly said. "The championship will be the same way with all these teams from all over the world."

Calling the game

The first step in her becoming an umpire came after coaching one of her son’s baseball games. Kelly was walking across Colony Park and saw that an umpire didn’t show up for a different game.

"I stepped in," Kelly said. "I went to an umpire and said I’d like to do this."

When her sons aged out of Little League, Kelly transitioned to umpiring, Jeff said. She understands the rules at all levels, as they are different for Little League, high school and college.

"She has a great personality working with the boys and the coaches," Jeff said. "She takes a very open approach to things. She explains things as needed before the start of the game and sets things in motion there. She expects the game to go smoothly. She generally allows a coach to have some level of interaction. If not appropriate, she takes care of that right way."

Her experience as a teacher translates to baseball and she educates players about the rules of the game.

"She works with them and gives them hints along the way if they need them," Jeff said. "It’s difficult if people stumble over the rules."

Sometimes others have an inappropriate attitude toward Kelly because she is a woman, Jeff said.

"I’m still disappointed when it occurs," he said. "She’s there to do a job and they should respect her."

Kelly said she isn’t treated differently from other umpires, but a few heads will turn and ask, "Is that a woman?" when she walks on the field.

Kelly has talked to other female umpires and they agree that they have more pressure to look better than others and get the calls right. Otherwise fans can criticize and say, "That’s why we don’t have women umpires."

"I feel like I need to be outstanding because I am a woman," Kelly said. "I think it will change when more women officiate."

Kelly enjoys having Jeff and her sons watch her umpiring, especially important games like her first Division 1 game at Kent State University.

"When she does something for the first time, we are there to support her," Jeff said.

They will be cheering her on for the Little League series and join her on Aug. 14 for the big parade. Aiden will have to return home to start school at Hudson High, but then they’ll return for the final games on the weekend of Aug. 24 and 25.

"She calls a fantastic game and keeps it moving," Jeff said. "She knows more about baseball than anyone."

During a Little League state championship game July 24 in Columbus, Kelly had to call on all her military and teaching experience when she ejected her first person from a game.

"You try so hard to keep people in the game," Kelly said. "My military background helps with understanding professionalism, how to look and how to act. My teaching definitely helps with working with high school kids and understanding it’s not personal even if they try to make it personal."

Kelly has seen umpires receiving blame and abuse more in recent years, though.

"We don’t berate officials," Kelly said. "My dad told me that, but there’s been a huge shift recently. People earn their rejections."

When her sons lost games, she reminded them that the umpire didn’t win or lose the game for them, as one play doesn’t dictate a seven-inning game. Now, all three sons have umpired and know what it’s like to be behind the plate.

"I hope the boys see their mom as a trailblazer, and I entered the arena and went for it no matter what others said," Kelly said. "I want to be an example to them. And I’m doing something I love."

Anyone interested in umpiring can take classes or go to clinics.

"One of my passions, as a teacher, is to move into the teaching aspect and have clinics," Kelly said.

She hopes to have a one-day free clinic open to everyone interested in becoming an umpire.