I first remember Vance as a mechanic at NZPO/Telecom, but over the years it has been mostly through softball that our lives have been so intertwined. He wasn’t one of those people who played through the age groups and then went on to play senior softball before taking up umpiring. He was a parent who supported his kids – Shaun and Lana – by umpiring and coaching when they played T-ball and then softball, and he developed a passion for the sport.
His attitude was; “If I am going to do this, I am going to do it right”, and so he studied up the rule book and sat and passed his umpires theory. He got his NZ Umpires badge in the 1986/87 season and went on to become a grade 6 umpire (the highest grade a NZ umpire can aspire to other than a full international qualification).
As an umpire, he had a very good strike zone, great rule knowledge, and good judgment of out/safe calls. He could take a ribbing from players who felt hard done by on a call, but he also knew where to draw the line, and gained a lot of respect from the top NZ players for his control of major games in many National competitions.
In 1994 he went to Australia as a Trans Tasman exchange umpire and also umpired many top level NZ and international fixtures throughout the 90s. SNZ Chief Umpire, Wayne Saunders remembers Vance as a very competent umpire who worked well with players and coaches and was respected by his colleagues.
But it wasn’t just umpiring that he put his time and effort into. Vance was president of the SCSA and the South Canterbury Umpires for a while, and was also involved in a management role with the SC United men’s team that played in the Canterbury competition (which meant traveling from Timaru to Christchurch every weekend during the season).
Off the diamond he developed a real interest in computers. Mostly self taught (at first I remember him asking me a lot of questions about computers, but later the tables were turned and it was me the was asking him for advice), he set up the first Softball New Zealand and Canterbury Softball websites (and helped out with other softball websites as well). He has been the SNZ webmaster for many years and has contributed significantly to the development and maintenance of the SNZ umpires, scorers and coaches WebPages.
And then there was the “Meanie” – a 1600cc Kawasaki Meanstreak. Not his first motorbike, but man he was proud of it, and I have to say – it is still a great bike. Vance never missed an opportunity to point out the subtle superiorities over my humble 750cc Honda.
On a personal note, I want to say Vance was one of the best mates a guy could ever have.
You could be a stirrer when you wanted to mate, but damn – I am going to miss you.
Vance the Webmaster
Vance was the Softball NZ webmaster from 1999 up until 3 months ago when he resigned. Prior to his resignation Vance was the longest serving employee at Softball NZ. During that time I had a lot of involvement with Vance and we formed both a good working relationship and friendship. Vance was very easy to work with; nothing was ever a problem and was highly efficient.
Vance was largely self-taught a real credit given what he achieved in that time. He contributed significantly to the development and maintenance of both the Softball NZ and Softball NZ umpires websites.
Ironically it wasn’t until I was placing Vance’s obituary on the Softball New Zealand website that I felt his time had come to an end. A place where only weeks earlier he had placed Lesley Byrne's obituary, another great stalwart of our game.
Vance the Umpire
Vance umpired many National Tournaments qualifying in the 85/86 season and
gaining his badge in the 86/87 season.
Vance was a grade Level 6 umpire, a Trans Tasman exchange umpire in 1994 umpiring in the Winfield International Series 1992 and Winfield International Club Series 1994
Vance umpired for the South Canterbury Softball Association up until senior softball ceased in Timaru in 1997. He continued his umpiring by traveling to Christchurch on a weekly basis furthering his umpire career.
Vance will be remembered as a very competent umpire who worked well with players and coaches and respected by his colleagues.
As a player I remembered Vance to be an umpire who was firm but fair and in doing so demanded respect. He communicated with the players enjoying harmless banter to and fro
Vinnie, Mentor and friend
I also had involvement with Vance whilst I coached Shaun at Papanui Tigers.
Vance was great to have around; he had sound reasoning and a good man to bounce ideas off.
When it make to Shaun he listened and then supported him helping to develop his game, the ideal sideline parent!
I liked Vance, he was genuine; there was no ego, straight up and always good for a laugh.
It is obvious Vance had a huge passion for the game whether it was an umpire, web master, team manager and as a mentor for Shaun.
There is no doubt Vinnie will be a huge loss to the Softball world!