Sutcliffe Becomes 3rd Umpire Inducted into Row Ontario Hall of Fame
Announcement/ Nov 21

Sutcliffe Becomes 3rd Umpire Inducted into Row Ontario Hall of Fame

Long-time umpire Judy Sutcliffe was announced as the first member of Row Ontario’s 2022 Hall of Fame class on Monday as she was inducted into the Umpire’s category in the Row Ontario Hall of Fame.

Sutcliffe got her start in rowing as an athlete at Cambridge University in the late 1970s. After a year of rowing crew competing for her college, Trinity Hall at Cambridge University, she moved back to Canada. After a hiatus of three years, she joined the Argonaut Rowing Club which she represented at the first World Lightweight Rowing Championships in Montreal in 1984 competing in the lightweight women’s eight. After taking a break to solidify her career and start her family, in 1999 she became an RCA-licensed umpire. She’s since gone on to umpire at many regattas, both big and small, throughout Canada and has taken on a large leadership role in the umpiring community.

“This is an amazing honour, and I am truly thrilled to have been selected for the Row Ontario Hall of Fame,” said Sutcliffe. “I became an umpire because Joe Lyttle told me I had to, and I am so grateful that he did, because it has become a very important part of my life. The people whom I have met and come to appreciate from all walks of life, have been a highlight. Since becoming an umpire, I have been attracted to the opportunities to improve and standardize umpiring across Ontario and Canada, and hope that I have been able to contribute in a meaningful way. I’d also like to thank the Argonaut Rowing Club for nominating me for this incredible honour.”

As an Umpire for 23 years, Sutcliffe is a familiar face to many in Ontario and has helped the umpire program in Ontario, as well as Canada, reach a new level of professionalism. She was involved in developing the current five-tiered umpire education program in Canada as well as the implementation of mandatory evaluations and seminars, mandatory scripts for starters and the current online Assistant Umpire Course that is offered free to anyone. These changes have been a critical element in standardizing regattas across the country and creating a level playing field for all athletes competing at any provincially sanctioned regatta.

Sutcliffe became an umpire clinician in 2011 and became Chair of the Row Ontario Umpires Committee 2008, a position she held for 11 years until 2019. Her accomplishments as Chair included establishing a mentoring program for Assistant and Associate Umpires, which has led to an increase in the rate of successful licensing exams. She also started an umpire’s database to track regatta attendance and activity, constantly promoted umpire recruitment through enhanced communications, an umpire newsletter, and developed a process to apply to become a World Rowing Umpire and to apply for national juries. Her efforts in umpire recruitment have led to an increased pool of active umpires and a 65% increase in the number of women umpiring. Sutcliffe transitioned from Chair of Row Ontario Umpires Committee to Chair of the RCA Umpires Committee in 2018, a position she still holds today. She participated in reviews of RCA Rules of Racing in 2011, 2013, 2018 and 2022, and has always been willing to share her wealth of knowledge and mentor fellow umpires.

In addition to her umpiring-related roles, Sutcliffe has also volunteered in countless other roles and capacities in rowing. She joined the Argonaut Rowing Club’s Board of Directors as Secretary in 1983 and became the club’s first female Captain in 1987. She continues to serve on the club’s Board of Directors and is often the catalyst for recruiting people into leadership roles at the club. She has been the President of the Dominion Day Regatta Association since 2009 and leads the organization of the Dominion Day Regatta, and contributes to the organization of, and umpires at, the Martha Coffey Frostbite Sprints, and Hogtown Heats. She also served a long stint as Secretary on the Row Ontario Board of Directors from 2006-19.

Row Ontario will be announcing the inductions of the 2022 Hall of Fame class throughout the week as part of ‘Hall of Fame Week’. Stay tuned the rest of this week for more announcements on the 2022 induction class of the Row Ontario Hall of Fame.

Visit Row Ontario Hall of Fame for more information.