Who We Are

The Baseball Canada Umpire Development Committee (BCUDC) was formed by resolution of the Baseball Canada Board of Directors. It's mandate is to develop and implement umpire-related programs, curriculum and materials for amateur baseball umpires in Canada. 

The BCUDC works collaboratively with the various Provincial Supervisors of Umpires in implementing umpire programs in each province.

The BCUDC is comprised of a Chairperson, and six Portfolio Leads, each with specific areas of responsibility .  The members work collabaratively within the Committee structure, and with the Provincial Supervisors of Umpires, to continuously support umpire development across Canada.


Objectives of the Committee

The objectives of the BCUDC are as follows:

  • To develop amateur umpires in Canada
  • To increase awareness of amateur umpiring in Canada
  • To design and implement an umpire-centered Long Term Officials Development model that incorporates entry level, active for life and elite umpire programs, pathways, umpire instructor programs, umpire evaluator programs and administration components
  • These objectives will be met adhering to the following guiding principles:
  • Commitment to excellence
  • Needs-based programming for umpires and relevant stakeholders
  • Flexibility
  • Commitment to collaboration
  • Continuous improvement


Members of the Committee

The BCUDP is comprised of a Chairperson, and 5 Portfolio leads, each with specific areas of responsibility.  Contact any member directly with questions or comments specific to their jurisdiction:

Jon Oko – Committee Chair  jon.oko@shaw.ca

The Chair coordinates the activities of the committee, keeping time lines and deliverables in a project schedule for each portfolio. Jon Oko has been an umpire for 20 years and has a Level 5A certification. Jon’s first Baseball Canada Championship was in 2002 and has worked a total of 12 nationals including 6 as a supervisor. Jon has also umpired 1 international championship working the U18 Championship in 2012 in Seoul, Korea. His professional experience includes the Canadian Baseball League, the Northern League and the Pacific Coast League. Jon is a Master Course Conductor having obtained that certification in 2007. He is a regular instructor at the Alberta Level 4/5 Superclinic and has taught at numerous Baseball Canada Caravans across the country. Jon has served as the Provincial Supervisor of Umpires in Alberta since 2004 and thus has also been a member of the Baseball Canada Umpire Committee during the same period. In recognition of his dedicated service Jon has earned the Murray Service Umpire of the Year Award from Baseball Alberta in 2002 and the Dick Willis Umpire of the Year Award from Baseball Canada in 2012. A Chartered Accountant, Jon and his significant other live in Edmonton, Alberta.

Benoit Mercier - High Performance Lead - benoit.mercier3@hotmail.ca

The High Performance Lead (HPL) develops and implements programs, policies and procedures to enhance umpiring at the national and international level in Canada (Level 4/5). The HPL approves assignments at the national level and recommends assignments for international baseball. The HPL is the primary point of contacts for issues and questions around Baseball Canada rules of play. The HPL also is responsible for managing the  umpire awards programs, and setting national umpire uniform standards.

Born and raised in Welland ON, Benoit (Ben) has been umpiring for over 50 years. A Level 5A umpire and a Master Course Conductor, Ben is still an active umpire and enjoys teaching the art of umpiring to all those who want to learn. Ben has umpired at all levels, including the North Atlantic League of independent professional baseball as well as the Canada Baseball League. He was also a substitute umpire in the NY-Penn League of MiLB. Currently, Ben umpires in the IBL (Intercounty Baseball League), one of the longest continuously run baseball league in the world boasting ex-MLB, MiLB and NCAA elite players. Ben’s first Baseball Canada national tournament was the 1994 Canada Cup in Waterloo Ontario. Since that time, Ben has participated in 18 national championships as an umpire or a supervisor. He has also worked a World Junior championship, two Olympic qualifying tournaments and a Women’s World Cup. In the early 2000s, Ben was a member of the Baseball Ontario Umpire’s Committee. Ben has been honoured by Baseball Ontario on two occasions. He is the recipient of the Dick Willis Senior umpire of the year award as well as the Don Gilbert level 4/5 umpire of the year award, and in 2023 he was the recipient of the Niagara Baseball Umpire’s Association Umpire of the year award. A retired teacher and school board association CEO, Ben spends his time on the baseball field as well as the golf course.

Mark Jones – Grassroots Lead  mark351407@gmail.com

The Grassroots Lead (GRL) develops and implements curriculum, programs, policies and procedures to enhance umpiring at the entry level and active for life level in Canada (Levels 1, 2 and 3).

Previously a member of the Instructor Development portfolio, Mark is pleased to assume the duties of the grassroots committee. Mark’s umpire career began in 1986, and has been in the Baseball Canada program for 25 years. Mark has umpired in 8 Baseball Canada Championships and supervised at 7 others. Mark completed the Baseball Canada Caravan in 2002, achieving his senior Course Conductor status and went on to achieve his Master Course Conductor status in 2014. Mark has been active in umpire administration in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador since 2001 and in 2009 assumed the Umpire Supervisor role in Newfoundland and Labrador. Mark also joined the Baseball Canada Umpire Committee that same year. Mark is also very active in the local umpire scene, actively umpiring games in several leagues and conducting clinics each year as well. Mark also wishes to acknowledge long time umpire leader Dave Buckingham as providing the leadership and mentorship that has supported him for so many years. 

Ron Shewchuk– Supervision & Evaluation Lead  ump28@mymts.net

The Supervision & Evaluation Lead (SEL) develops, implements, and manages competency-based evaluations matrices, assigns supervisors to Baseball Canada Championships,and develops and implements supervision training curriculum and programs.  This portfolio is also responsible for enforcing umpire discipline standards, creating and updating positioning manuals, and providing standardized content for national umpire clinics held in each province.

Ron Shewchuk began his umpiring career in 1980. He has officiated 15 national tournaments and supervised a further 11. Internationally, Ron has officiated at 9 events, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Ron was Manitoba's umpire supervisor from 1982 to 1985 and founded the Manitoba Referees Committee. He continues to serve on the committee to this day. He has been the lead instructor for 12 organized caravans in Western Canada. Previously, Ron served on Baseball Canada's High Performance Committee and is a former member of the International Selection Committee. In 2001, Ron received the Dick Willis Award as Canadian Umpire of the Year. The retired school principal resides in Minnedosa, Manitoba. He remains an active referee in the field.

Rhonda Pauls - Instructor Development and Mentorship Lead ladyblue.uic@gmail.com

The Instructor Development and Mentorship Lead (IDML) develops and implements programs, policies and procedures to enhance umpire instructing in Canada. The IDML is responsible for the Baseball Canada Caravan system and program and Master Learning Facilitator/Learning Facilitator training in Canada. The IDML shall be responsible to design and implement inclusive curriculum, programs, resources, and practices that promote and support growth, diversity, and equitable development opportunities for umpires. 

Rhonda was President of the British Columbia Baseball Officials Association for many years, and is currently the Executive Director of Baseball PEI.  In addition, Rhonda has twenty-five years of experience as a public sector elected official, multi-sport coach, with the perspective of a high-performance athlete and elite level official plus the highest commitment to the responsible management of youth programming. She has fifteen years of experience building capacity, guiding and directing professionals and volunteers in sport. 

Chris Wilhelm – Communciations Portfolio Lead cwilhelm64@outlook.com

The Communications Portfolio Lead (CL) is responsible for coordinating communications for the Baseball Canada Umpires’ Committee. The Committee is committed to enhancing its communication with umpires across Canada, and the Communications portfolio supports this for each of the other Portfolios through effective use of social media, the Baseball Canada website, and various other communication tools. This portfolio is also responsible for ongoing updates to the Umpire Committee Operations Manual.

Chris Wilhelm began umpiring in 1993. He has worked at 15 national championships, including 9 as an umpire and 6 as a supervisor. Chris also has umpired at 2 International events. Chris has been a member of the Baseball Ontario Umpire Committee since 2001, where his responsibilities include coordinating the Ontario Level 3 SuperClinic program. In 2006, Chris was the recipient of the Don Gilbert Level 4/5 Umpire of the Year award for his work and leadership provincially. A Master Course Conductor since 2005, Chris has instructed at 7 Baseball Canada Instructor Caravans across the country. Chris has recently retired from a 29 years career in education, and is now enjoying a rural lifestyle, living in a 170 year old farmhouse with his wife in Staffa, Ontario, and spending time with his two young grandsons.