When Justin Hill starts his first semester at Hofstra University next Monday, he'll be trying out for club baseball. Andrew Teitelman, who started at Ithaca College this week, plans to do intramurals and club sports. Both students are entering a new life after childhoods tied closely in with the Bethwood Baseball League. And both will finance their educations partially with scholarships from the league.
Hill and Teitelman umpired their last games for league earlier this month, when the league hosted their 8-year friendship tournament at the Acorn Hill complex in Woodbridge. The tournament is the only one of its kind in the state.
It was a cap to a long baseball career in Bethwood. The two had both participated in the Bethwood League since they were five, with a wide range of activities -- from tee-ball to Rookies, Minors, Majors, Babe Ruth and finally as umpires.
"You learn a lot as an umpire," said Teitelman. "You learn to be assertive, to be vocal, and to be confident. You learn not to be afraid to make a call or react to a situation. Compared to being a player, it was more like being independent and learning how to be assertive on your own."
"It was kinda weird and kinda cool," Hill said about his time umpiring. He had strong mentors on the field. "When I was younger, I remember this one umpire I looked up to. [John Nuzzolo.] There were bad umpires, obviously, but this one always took charge of the game. And he was always so excited, and the games were always a lot closer."
In June, Bethwood Baseball League president Dwight Rowland presented $500 scholarships to Hill and Teitelman. It was a change for the league.
"We usually award one scholarship, but felt it was important to acknowledge the accomplishments of these students and their long term commitment to the league," Rowland said at the event.
"When I got it, I was ecstatic," said Hill.