Pam Spaulding of Jay has umpired high school and college field hockey games for 49 years. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

JAY — Pam Spaulding has umpired high school and college field hockey games for 49 years. Though she put her whistle and her penalty cards away in her field hockey bag for the season in early November, she plans to be back on the field next year.

The 70-year-old umpire has officiated at thousands of games and watched thousands of girls play. In the 1980s boys also played.

“I’m still having fun,” Spaulding said. “Some days are not as fun as others but at the end of the game, I walk off the field to the table and take my whistle off and take my three cards out of my pocket and put them in my hockey bag.”

She can leave the game behind, but a coach has so much to worry about, she said.

“I love being on the field,” Spaulding said. “We are there to control the game and to keep the kids safe. I love watching the girls mature. We’ve had some amazing field hockey players from this area.”

Spaulding played field hockey when she attended Dixfield Regional High School in Dixfield, where she was a member of the last class to graduate from there.


She has seen a lot of changes over the years, from the uniforms the girls and umpires wear to the toe of the field hockey stick becoming shorter and more curved.

The girls are more physically fit now, she said.

“The game has changed. It is so much faster because of the stick, fitness of the girls and most schools do a better job of taking care of the fields,” she said.

The rules for umpires change every year.

“You have got to keep up with it,” she said.

She takes a 100-question test annually to continue officiating.


Spaulding has watched generations of families play field hockey.

“I keep waiting for my third generation,” she said.

Spaulding officiated games when Telstar High School coach and Athletic Director Gail Wight played and games her daughters played in.

Spaulding keeps herself in good physical shape to keep up with the game.

“I used to walk a lot,” she said. “This year I did that a lot.”

She officiates field hockey games in the summer also.


She has also mentored other umpires, which others do as well.

“I have mentored dozens and dozens of people. When I came in I was the youngest one,” she said.

She also makes it a habit to sterilize her whistles, including a pink one for October in recognition of breast cancer awareness.

Her penalty cards have been put back in her hockey bag. Each one has a specific place in her attire when she is officiating. In the right, front pocket she puts her green card, which represents a two-minute penalty.  The yellow card goes in her back pocket. It signifies a 5- to 10-minute penalty, depending on the severity of the foul. The red card is put in her left pocket for players who’ve been removed from the game.

Spaulding still has a passion for officiating games and is looking forward to next year.

“God willing, I will be back there,” she said.”I know when I get done, I will be sad.”

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