Queensland’s Dianne Cocker has two regrets about her umpiring career.
One is the fact she can’t continue doing a role that she loves. The other is that she didn’t start umpiring a lot earlier in her life.
Cocker has announced her retirement from umpiring after a stellar career both in Queensland and nationally.
She’s the most recent umpire from Queensland to be awarded the AA badge and, among her achievements has been umpiring in the former national league as well as being part of the ANZ Championship umpiring pool.
Cocker, a life member of Netball Queensland, admitted she took a long time to reach her decision to retire, but injuries in recent years were a contributing factor.
“It is hard deciding to stop something that you love and something that has been part of your life for a very long time,” Cocker said.
“But you know when it is time and I am hoping that my body thanks me for making this decision.”
Cocker began her umpiring career at Logan City Netball Association in Queensland and progressed through the umpiring pathway as a member of Queensland Catholic Netball Association, who she said were “incredibly supportive” of her development.
Along the way there have been numerous highlights, but receiving her All-Australian badge – and two subsequent endorsements – remains at the top of the list.
“I umpired a (national league) match in Melbourne,” Cocker said. “It was my first ever game at that level and it was televised.
“At the end of the game the testing panel awarded me my All Australian Badge and I think I could have floated home to Brisbane. I remember Maureen Boyle telling me it looked like I didn’t need a plane to get home – she was right as I was incredibly elated.
“I consider it an honor to have achieved at this level. My only regret is that I didn’t start my umpiring journey earlier. I was 41 when I achieved my All Australian.
“I have loved my umpiring journey. Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of twists and turns and there were certainly tears along the way.
“But as the saying goes `no one said it would be easy, they just said it was worth it’ and that it was.
“The other highlight has been the wonderful friendships that I have formed during my umpiring journey – players, coaches, parents, bench officials and my fellow umpires – something I will always treasure.”
Cocker won’t be lost to the sport – she still plans to be involved in mentoring Queensland’s umpires and has a simple piece of advice for any aspiring umpires.
“Enjoy your umpiring journey. Everyone’s journey is different, take responsibility and ownership for your own,” she said.
“Value the coaching and mentoring you receive along the way, own your goals and work hard towards achieving them. Take every opportunity you get and do the best you can. Give it your all.
“But above all, enjoy the game.”
Netball Australia’s General Manager Netball Workforce Lainie Houston said Cocker is a “true advocate” for the sport and umpiring.
“Di embodies the umpire trademark behaviors by always showing support and encouragement for fellow umpires; taking responsibility and ownership for her own performance; communicating openly and showing respect for the game at all levels of the sport,” Houston said.
“Di has always demonstrated exceptional commitment to her own performance as well as that of others.
“We congratulate Di on a wonderful umpiring career and look forward to working with her in the future as she continues to support umpires through the pathway.”