Sports Hall of Fame Inductee
Category: Sports Hall of Fame
Sport: Softball Umpire
For sports participants to succeed at the highest level they must be able to compete under the watchful eye of the best umpires and officials. Shepparton produced an official who rose to the highest level in the sport of Softball.
Margo Koskelainen arrived in Shepparton as a senior softball player in 1968 and soon became involved in the sport in the local association. She was appointed the media officer for softball, wrote articles for the paper and appeared on Radio sports programs. It was clear that Margo was passionate about her chosen sport and worked hard to ensure that Softball received the promotion it deserved.
She also took on the role of Softball coach, mentoring the Shamrocks Juniors to several premierships and later took on the Rebels Club in the A Grade competition. She was then appointed as coach of the Shepparton open representative team which she coached to a state championship in 1984.
Margo became interested in umpiring the sport. She gained her B Grade level (level 2) in 1972, her Victorian State badge (level 4) in 1973 and her “All Australian” badge (level 6) in 1975.
This brought Margo into the National Championships, where she umpired for ten years. Then it was on to the International scene when she gained International accreditation in 1979.This gave her the opportunity to officiate in the South Pacific Mini World series.
Softball Australia was so impressed with Margo’s administrational skills that she was appointed as Deputy Umpire in chief for Australia and appointed the National Director of umpiring, a position which she held from 1985 until 2004. During that time Margo officiated at 31 Australian Women’s Championships along with hundreds of championships in Men’s and women’s senior and junior competitions. She became Tournament Chief Umpire and was an examiner for umpires at Australian Championships for 24 years.
Margo’s passion and dedication to umpiring soon came under notice at International level and she was elevated to several positions in World Softball including Deputy Chief Umpire for the World Championships, International Umpire Accreditor from 1992 until this day, International Softball Federation Oceania Region Chief Umpire from 1993 – 2007 and Chief Umpire at four Olympic qualifying tournaments.
Margo’s recognition at World level continued as she was a member of the selection panel which selected umpires for four Olympic Games in which softball appeared. When the Olympics came to Sydney Margo was selected as one of two chief Umpires and also held the position at the Beijing Games. She was appointed as Chief Umpire for the Junior Men’s World Championships, the first woman and the first person from outside North America to be accorded that honour. As the Oceania Region Chief Umpire Margo officiated at two South Pacific Games in 2005 and 2007.
The administration of Softball has always been a part of Margo’s life and it’s not surprising that she has represented Australia at the International Softball Federation Congress on nine occasions. She has presented three papers on Softball at International conferences. At a local and State level she has held roles as President, Secretary and State Councillor and spent twenty years on the Victoria’s Softball Board of Management.
Margo’s work for the sport she loves has been rewarded with Life Memberships of Shepparton Softball, Softball Australia and Victorian Softball. She has twice been named the “Softball Official of the year” by the Australian Sports Commission and received the Australian Sports Medal in 2000. She was inducted into the “Softball Australia Hall of Fame” and Internationally Margo became a member of the “International Softball Federation Hall of Fame”.
To top all that off, in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2000 Margo was awarded with the “Order of Australia” medal for service to Softball umpiring at State, National and International level.
Margo received wonderful support throughout her life from her late husband Karl and her daughters Erika and Trudi.
The name of Margo Koskelainen will long be treasured as Shepparton’s top sporting official who dedicated herself to assisting the sport and its players at all levels of the game.