I felt special this past week, 3 different leagues asked me to NSO, ref and announce all within 5 hours of each other. I have a first come first serve policy, provided the league has a NSO spot available for my friend Geri, the gypsy jew. I assure you, he’d get a kick out of the nickname and not take offense. All refs can benefit from working a bout as an NSO, and even though DJ TJ and Stash Merkin make announcing seem easy, having a Ref and NSO background make announcing only SLIGHTLY less daunting than it actually is.
In any case, Skruff was the first to ask me to NSO for him this weekend and I made plans to ride with Geri out to Youngsville. Now I always bring my skate gear with me, cuz ya never know when someone else might drop out or not show up to ref. And at the very least I can sneak in some pre bout skate time. Fortunately, for me, one of Skruff’s refs, dropped out earlier this week so he asked me to bring my gear.
Now once Geri and I made it to Top Shelf Sports, I was made aware of the fact that some Acadiana skaters were former Cen-La Derby Dames of Alexandria. Derby isn’t a professional sport YET, so this is quite common and not subject to trading or free agent rules. Skaters move or even work near a league and find it easier to goto practice from work.
As a rule of thumb when asked to ref I just presume that’ll be working on the outside, and wait to be told that I’m on the inside. Skruff and I had worked together last season as Jam refs in a game CenLa played in Lake Charles. So I was a bit surprised when I was told I was gonna be jam ref, because generally the jam ref is a rep of one league that are playing. Visiting team generally brings at least 2 of their own refs and one of them is their Jam ref as well. Though jam refs swap teams at the half to keep it fair so that no one can argue that a jam ref was being impartial. Anywho, the point is, jam ref is kind of a big deal. So being a visiting ref and given a seat of honor, so to speak means quite a bit to me.
Saturday nights bout was a very fun game to officiate. In hindsight, CDD seemed to be playing for the love and fun of the game, and ARG was playing to win. Not that CDD was playing to lose, just that their skaters seemed like they were having a good time on track, and ARG had a militaristic way of playing. Early on ARG established a strong lead, when I glanced at the scoreboard, I think ARG was up 24 to 3. However, Dirty Beets and another skater, jack rabbit slim I believe, managed to get lead jammer and pulled the TXRG strategy of one n done. Meaning, get lead jammer, get at least one point on the board and call it off before the other jammer can score. its slow moving, but the net gain is more important than scoring a 16 point jam if the other jammer scores 14. I think CDD managed to keep ARG scoreless for about 6 or 7 jams and probably caught up to ARG. But Coach Friday changed his strategy and had his jammers out front first and racking up points again.
My first penalty call for the night was blue 13 back block major. I remember it one because I think even the crowd on the other side of the track heard me make the call AND the fact that the skater gave me a sheepish grin, like ‘dang I was hoping you didn’t see that’. In the second half I was CenLa’s Jammer ref, and generally a jam ref makes one or two gaffs per bout. Usually it’s the first jam of the second half and you end up following or keeping your eye on the same jammer/team you had in the first half. Sven Deför kept saying aloud, the color of the team he’s NOW supposed to watch in the second half, though I kept saying ‘i am white teams jam ref, white team is my jammer, i am white teams jam ref’. Even repeating that to yourself for a few minutes before the whistle of the second half, jam refs are fallible and can follow the wrong jammer. I didn’t make that mistake in the first jam… I made it about 4 jams later, luckily I caught myself before the jammers made it out of the pack so I didn’t impact the game.
I must say that CenLas Jammers fought hard last night. Dirty Beets got lead jammer more often than not in the 2nd half, Slim I think was about 50/50 and poor Misfit, she’s tiny and fast, but the pack ended up trapping her quite often. Sadly as a jammer ref, you don’t get to see all the action, since you end up seeing the pack, three to ten seconds at a time. All in all I must say I had a great time refing last night in Youngsville with great refs, teams and NSOs. Did I mention the announcers?