AS A premiership-winning player, Steve "Dodger" Rogers aspired to be an international umpire.
Being in the best shape of his life, Rogers is achieving his goal.
Ipswich's leading hockey umpire is preparing to officiate next week at the Junior World Cup men's qualifiers on the Gold Coast.
He's already umpired in 17 internationals at tournaments in Australia and overseas. That includes seven matches and the final between Korea and India at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament in Malaysia.
Rogers also umpired nine games over two weeks at the World League in Fiji in December.
However, the former Norths A-grade striker believes starting CrossFit training 18 months has given him a renewed purpose to pursue more international opportunities.
Training six days a week has improved his mental approach as much as his physical endurance.
"Because of my fitness, it's a lot easier than what it was two years ago,'' the Tivoli-based sportsman said.
Rogers has also lost 12kg since working out.
"We lift a lot of weights but also do a lot of running and a lot of body weight things,'' he said.
"When you get a call from World Hockey and they say 'you've got six weeks to be here and you've got to do this fitness test', it's easier to go 'yes, I don't need to start. I'm already doing it'.
"I got really good feedback from Fiji and they were impressed with my fitness and how I handled myself over there.''
Rogers concedes he used to be ultra competitive as a player, often challenging umpiring decisions.
However, the rising umpire believes he can switch his aggression off with a whistle in his hand.
"I play my game hard and when I umpire I try to umpire to a certain standard,'' he said.
"You have to look after the players.''
After sharing in five A-grade premierships with Norths, Rogers plans to focus on umpiring this season. But he's also accepted a new role coaching the Wests A-grade women's team being re-formed this year.
"It's something different,'' he said, having umpired hundreds of games in the Ipswich and Brisbane competitions.
After umpiring at his first Junior World Cup qualifiers from Wednesday to Sunday, Rogers is eyeing the Junior World Cup in December and next year's Commonwealth Games.
Turning 34 this year and in peak physical condition, he's also hoping to one day umpire at a World Cup and Olympics. Elite umpires can control games until they are 47.
Before focusing on hockey, the former Brassall State and Ipswich High school student was a state junior softball and baseball player.
The Ipswich City Council boilermaker said his employer had been supportive of his international umpiring pursuits.
He's fit for duty.
Regional achiever: Steve Rogers
Toughest part of umpiring: Being away from the family.
Most satisfying part: "It's just the enjoyment. I love going out there and umpiring at a good level and also helping young kids come through and giving them a bit of feedback.''
Umpiring highlight: Doing my first tournament outside of Australia (in Malaysia) and getting the final.
Favourite sportspeople: Former international hockey striker Nikki Hudson and Yankees baseballer Derek Jeter.
Qualities of a good umpire: To be approachable, be calm in game situations when players get frustrated.
Major umpiring influences: John Corney, Basil Coker, Gary Marsh.
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