Puget Sound celebrates 50 years of the Logger Club by sharing the amazing stories of former student-athletes who continue to excel long after graduation.
Erin Peterson mashed 23 home runs, drove in 183 runs, and batted .380 during her four years (1997-00) with the Puget Sound softball program. She was named a First-Team All-American in 1999. Following her undergraduate studies, Peterson remained with the Loggers as an assistant coach (2001-04) while she attended the School of Physical Therapy at Puget Sound.
Peterson, who also played basketball at Puget Sound, was inducted into the Puget Sound Hall of Fame in 2013. And still, her softball career continues to grow.
Peterson worked as an umpire during the 2017 NCAA D-I Softball World Series, a feat she was surprised to achieve so quickly. "I always wanted to work in a world series, I just didn't think it would happen in 2017," said Peterson.
Peterson's umpiring career began in 2008. Former Logger basketball teammate Julie Vanni suggested to Peterson that she participate in the local umpire training conducted by USA Softball. "It felt like home," said Peterson.
Peterson began her umpiring career by working games for U-12 and U-14 leagues. It took a few games to shake off her habits as a player. During Peterson's first game as an umpire, the catcher in front of her turned around to ask for a new ball. Peterson, a former catcher with the Loggers, instinctively turned around to ask for a new ball. The only thing behind her was a fence and a few parents.
Following her first year as an umpire, Peterson was umpiring high school games in 2009. Just one year after that, she worked her first collegiate game.
As fate would have it, that first collegiate game was at Puget Sound, as the Loggers hosted Willamette. Peterson was concerned about a conflict of interest, but umpires' assigner assured Peterson that "It will be a fun story, to start your collegiate umpiring career where you played as a student-athlete."
"It was a good test to figure out how to be impartial, how to be good mediator of the game," Peterson said of that contest between Puget Sound and Willamette.
Peterson's career hit a speed bump in 2011 – back surgery kept her away from softball fields. She returned to action in 2012, when she worked her first NCAA Division-I game at Seattle University.
Peterson went back and forth between D-I and D-II for the next few years. In 2015, she earned her World Baseball Softball Confederation international certificate.
Just a couple of short months after working the 2017 NCAA D-I World Series, Peterson is set to put that international certificate to use for the first time. She was selected to work the Japan Cup this August.
The mentality to umpiring, in many ways, is like being an athlete. "Once you get over walking into the stadium, seeing all the cameras, once the game starts – it's just another game.
"When we go on the field as an umpiring crew, we're a team. We have to learn to trust each other. You learn how to work with different personalities, but you're on this team together and it bonds you. It reminds me of being a Logger."
Peterson is also trusted to evaluate aspiring umpires all over the country. "We want to promote this profession," said Peterson. "We want to people to reach their highest level desired." She credits the Seattle Metro Softball Umpires Association for her ascension as an umpire.
"My goal is to continue to go back to the NCAA D-I World Series," said Peterson. "Internationally, my ultimate goal is to reach the Olympics – just like the athletes."
When she's not umpiring, Peterson works at the Valley Medical Center in Renton, Washington.