May 22, 2024

Ultimate Umpire

Mark Ingrao ’81 is inducted into the ASA hall of fame.

Mark Ingrao started umpiring softball in 1979 as a way to make some much-needed cash while attending Mary Washington. A simple case of sibling rivalry would take him to the top of the field.

“Someone teased that I would never be as good as my brother,” said Ingrao, who was inducted into the Amateur Softball Association National Hall of Fame in October. “That lit a fire in me.”

Ingrao, who played and umpired for little league baseball before switching to softball, worked hard to perfect his craft – especially after he encouraged his brother to follow him into softball. He attended umpire clinics, read the rule book and even became a local association trainer for 18 years.

“God blessed me with having good judgment and officiating skills,” said Ingrao, who graduated from UMW in 1981 and currently serves on its Board of Visitors. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t anything I could monetize, but it certainly became a passion for me.”

Ingrao’s career in softball has covered the bases. He’s umpired two Central Atlantic Regional Slow Pitch Tournaments and, from 1985 to 2002, six national championships, including the first Men’s Master’s 35-Over, four Super Slow Pitch contests and the 2002 Slow Pitch Championship Series.

As a National Indicator Fraternity member, certified umpire by the International Softball Federation and elite slow-pitch umpire, he’s taken his game into extra innings, serving the Central Atlantic Region as metro Washington, D.C., deputy umpire-in-chief for 15 years and on the national umpire staff for seven.

It seems like he does it all – but according to Ingrao, that’s just who he is.

“I’m one of those people who likes to give back,” explained the Washington, D.C., native. “I did the same thing at Mary Washington.”

His first year at UMW, Ingrao ran for class president. He was involved in student government, worked for the assistant dean of student activities and housing, played rugby for more than two years and was on the honor council his senior year.

Today, Ingrao is the President and CEO of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce – or as he calls it, a ‘connector in chief.’ Having been in the position for seven years, Ingrao credits his experience in umpiring with his ability to navigate the challenges that come with his title.

“The skills you learn in officiating are ones you take with you in your career,” said Ingrao. “You have to be a people person, handle opposing views and overall just learn to manage the game.”