Former Beeston member, Katie Howie (left) and French umpire, Karine Alves Pereira (right) in Valencia at the World League

Former Beeston member, Katie Howie, is currently in Valencia umpiring at the World League. We managed to catch up with Katie over in Valencia.
How did you advance from Beeston member to umpiring in Valencia?
KH – I left Beeston at 18 to study at Edinburgh University and of course after 9 years of playing hockey for the Bees I automatically went to join the University’s women’s hockey club. The club quickly realised I was a qualified umpire and at a level required to umpire in the woman’s national prem in Scotland. By the end of my second year, Scottish Hockey had heard about my umpiring through various sources including Ali Munro, another former Beeston member who was studying in Edinburgh, and in May I was offered the Scotland women vs Japan Olympic warm up match. I must have done well as I was quickly put on Scotland’s performance panel. Now here I am less then a year later as a National umpire in the World League.
How has the England Hockey young umpires programme helped you develop?
KH – I wouldn’t be here without it. I started umpiring at 14 thanks to the support from Beeston who then nominated me to the Midlands young umpire panel. Through them I received coaching and mentoring which really improved my performance as an umpire as well as my confidence. They also gave me valuable experiences such as umpiring at the national mini finals weekend and at U17s HiPac. You don’t realise how well these trips away prepare you for tournaments, until you’re actually there and experience a full senior international tournament.  It was also really important to find other young people passionate about umpiring as much as I was as when your young it can sometimes feel like playing is the only aspect of hockey to be excited about.
We noticed you are in Valencia as the Scottish umpire, is this part of Brexit?
KH – Haha, no but that has been an interesting source of conversation amongst the European umpires, and also how it might affect eurohockey in the future.
What are you umpiring aspirations and goals?
KH – I’m still relatively young compared to the other umpires here so I have plenty of time to reach my goals as currently I still prioritise playing over umpiring. Over the next few years though I hope to transition to umpiring weekly instead of playing, and also climbing up the ranks of Scottish hockey as I’m currently ranked 7th nationally.  Ultimately for me though, and any other umpire at this level, it has to be the Olympics. However maybe I’ll focus first on trying to reach the Commonwealth Games by 2026 before aiming for the Olympics, and we’ll see where I go from there.
What do you miss most from Beeston Hockey Club?
KH – It has to be the support. My current club is large like Beeston but we never get the same amount of support down for a match. There was nothing better then having a good crowd coming to support you in the junior cup matches, with the parents cheering you on. The family atmosphere and an always busy clubhouse with different players from all squads to meet and chat with, are something I really miss.
Are there any plans to return to Beeston in the future?
KH – I would love to come back to Beeston but I still have three years to go at university so it’ll be a long wait if I do. I always come home in the holidays though so you never know, if matches line up I’d be more then ready to put the black and yellow tracksuit back on to play or umpire. It’s still hanging in my wardrobe ready for when it’s next needed.
We wish Katie all the best in Valencia and we will be following her progress as an umpire, and who knows, maybe she’ll be on the plane to Tokyo in 2020.
If you are interested in a career in umpiring please contact John O’Brien who will be able to assist you.