First time again

So Saturday started like any other day, except that this Saturday was

YRDG Nerds v Jocks

photo by Steve Beard

Yellow Rose Derby Girls first Friends and Family bout. I forgot the headache it is being in charge of making sure you have all the officials accounted for. Backup officials in case anyone can’t make it. Relaying info with bout production. Basically spending the morning texting, Facebook messaging, calling (on the phone–weird right?), emailing and relaying messages.

Whew I need a drink, all because I raised my hand volunteering myself to run for head ref for yellow rose derby girls. Don’t get it twisted, this isn’t a complaint. It’s just a reflection on how great it is to have made so many friends in a few years that strangers are willing to travel across town (in some cases stay longer while out-of-town) and work with others for free based on the word of a friend.

I am proud to be counted among the friends of the many NSOs I know, have worked with and am more than happy to work with again. Even if I’m only considered someone they tolerate more than someone else.

Not Another RC post

As some of you are aware, I don’t have any posts about RC 13. RollerCon 2013 as it were for the new to derby. Not because I had an überawesome time and was too busy to post a single blurb. I just didn’t go.  What happened that I missed a week’s worth of the second most awesome thing to happen in the world every year?

SRG-YRDG

(sorry RC playoffs and nationals err championship take the cake) Work. that’s what happened.
But like I mentioned this isn’t another RC post. This is about the debut bout of Yellow Rose Derby Girls, of Southwest Houston

and the wonderful hosts Spindeltop Rollergirls. Best of all I got to work again with Fairlane. He’s one of the  referees that I try to emulate.

Yellow Rose got to be the first team to play at Spindletop’s new venue, Beaumont Civic Center which I personally like better than Ford Arena for several reasons.  The biggest is that there is NOT a huge pillar in the center of the track blocking the view of fans and refs.  Something worth mentioning is that this was the fastest bout I have ever reffed. Only three official time outs, which were to correct a scoreboard malfunction. Not a single team timeout.  I think from first whistle to the time I was geared down post bout was and hour and forty minutes.

Although as a ref, what makes every bout a success is no injuries. Our primary role as a ref is to ensure the safety of the skaters and impartial enforcement of the rules.

 

I was glad to see my home team, Yellow Rose Derby Girls come together as a unit, find their groove and cohesiveness and almost triple their first half score. I was also quite happy to see the few old friends I still have left at Spindletop, too many new faces, but that’s happening in almost every league now. Plus I’ve been sort of out of the loop for about eight months.  it’s great to be able to feel right at home like I’d only been gone a week.

Crazy Weeks

Man
life has been rediculously crazy lately. Busy actually, crazy is just sort of the norm around here in what we like to do around the track. There’s been so much derby going on, rumors flying, accusations thrown, bouts, practices and thats all before I even log off of facebook and head to practice in my few hours of downtime a week.

A few weeks ago I was Head Ref for Twin CIty Knockers out in Schreveport Louisiana. I had fun and tried to keep the bout going as smoothly as I possibly could. No major injuries that I recall, and only the coaches kinda sorta yelling at me. I was also an Outside Pack Ref for Cen-La in Alexandria, crazy side street/feeders/frontage roads for those who don’t normally go to/through Alexandria.

Last week I was in Jacksonville Texas for East TX Bombers v Cen-La. Sadly The Doctah didn’t bring cookies, for some reason I believe this merits some sort of punishment. However, since a penalty can’t be called on a ref, I guess I gotta let him slide.

This past weekend, June 8th, I was supposed to ref down in McAllen, TX for the South Texas Rollersitas. However, I work a ridiculous amount of hours in a short period of time. From time to time I get called in on my days off. Normally this doesn’t bother me. If they wanna give away money at my job who am I to turn it down? Well that plus I’m still in my probationary period (90 days). Which leads me to RollerCon at the moment it looks like I may not make it this year. Not that many, if any, of you care. Butt I’m sure KiKi, Scarbie and Dancer might be a little disapointed in not getting to sit on my shoulder. That’s not a typo, I can fit a skater on each shoulder. Somewhere theres pics to prove it.

But I digress, next weekend, June 15th I’m supposed to be in Cen-Tex announcing. I keep missing out on reffing opportunities out there, through circumstance.

I’m definitely going to have to modify my two a week posts to hopefully at least two a month.

Until next time, hug an official.

Humble Beginings

This is the story of how I became a Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Official. It might not matter to you, but you might find it a little entertaining. 

One night a few years ago I was asked to pick up a niece from a skate party at Airline Family Skate Center in north Houston. I mentally debated on going home and started to watch whatever was on my Netflix queue, pick up something at RedBox or go ahead and go early to the rink and skate around for a bit until the rink closed. Nostalgia got the better of me and off I went to try and skate once more after hmmpfteen years since the last time I laced up a pair of potato skins. 

Also though I was wobbly, I managed to push off and gain momentum and not hinder traffic too much out on the floor. After a few songs I got the confidence to try some crossovers instead of right leg pushoffs. And I almost completed the turn…. Almost. that is until I planted my rear right wheel of my right skate with the frontleft wheel of my left skate. Which, with my momentum caused my upper body to remain in motion while my feet remained in place. In half a second I realized that I was airborne and would not be able tuck and roll. All I could do was pull my arms into myself and land on my forearms. Luckily I didn’t break anything, no not even my ego… cuz some kids were like “WHOA!” can you fly again mister?!”

I loved the feeling of skating past slower people (than me at the time) it was almost as good as being back on a bike (motorcycle) . Ok not so much, but similar if you quint your eyes and don’t compare speed or sound. In any case I figured I’d give this skating thing a try for a few weekends. Turned out I still liked it, so for Christmas I gave myself a pair of Brass Knuckles 2.0, Proline plates and some wheels that are no longer on the market. I spent at least one night a week skating til I was out of breathe at Humble Family Skate.

While at work that the Hess building in Downtown Houston, installing electrical conduit, Copperhead comes by during break and asks if I wanna buy tickets to a roller derby game. Sure why not?! I think I had recently seen the movie Yes Man with Jim Carrey, this is the only explanation for my exuberance to just go out and try new and new to me things. I went to the game and that following Monday I made every excuse to work around Copperhead and talk about the game. Eventually it came up that I was skating again. We ended up making plans to go see a bout in Texas City to watch a banked track game at Southside’s House of Derby with some of our friends. On the way back it had come about that Houston Roller Derby might need some refs. “Really? what do I need to do?” well get better on skates and learn to skate backwards for one, as well as learn the rules to the game. However it turned out that there was some miscommunication, and at the time their practice was too far away. I find this funny now, because I officiate and announce within a 200 mile radius of Houston.

But I gave up on the idea of reffing for Houston Roller Derby, after all they’re a big name and ranked league, like consistently top ten in their division. So I just kept skating. One afternoon, I found a friend from middle school on Facebook. After about an hour of catching up, I got invited to Champion’s Rollerworld, on a Thursday night? that’s a “school night” and I wanna be rested so i can go skate at Humble after i get home from work on Friday. But i went a head and said yes. When I got there I saw a bunch of girls in derby gear skating around and bumping into each other. There was one skater that i was certain I recognized from somewhere. I’ve always been outgoing just not agreeable. So while this skater was showing one of the girls how to turn around and skate backwards. I went up to her and asked her if she could show me how to do the same thing. “sure, just open and close the book” something that to this day I cannot do, I turn around another way that doesn’t require me lifting more than two wheels at a time. After that exchange I ask her if she has anything to do with HRD becuase she looks so familiar. Turns out that I was talking to Private been Jammin. So I ask her if  this is a new league or a new HRD team. “Oh no no no no, this is a new league” She points out the league president and has me follow her up to the prez. So I asked why a new league? turns out HRD is reaaaaaaaalllly popular. So much so that their boot camps fill up quick, and there really isn’t an outlet for new skaters to start of and learn.

Dominique Socks Ya wanted a place where any skater could come out and play, after proper training of course. HRD isn’t setup to take in girls who “never skated in my life” or “haven’t skated since I was 10”. The boot camps are geared towards showing skaters, who can skate, how to safely stop and fall in derby. Northside Fury wanted a spot where anyone can come out and start from the ground up. Or in many cases from the wall towards the track. They were fortunate enough to have Private Been Jammin, Chainsaw Chic and TeeTotalher (formerly known as Queen Obscene) to help with training from endurance to basic derby skills and skate maintenance. Side note eight skaters who started out with Northside Fury are now on HRD home teams

I on the other hand wasn’t so lucky. You see there wasn’t a ref training program, just learn the rules watch some bouts and guess what? We’re going to Corpus Christi to ref a mashup. Wait! Whut? How did I get roped into this? Well Krez Sez is a bit of an overachiever. But this was my foundation in willing to travel for derby as well as being comfortable in stripes, pink or black. See Krez has over twenty years of a background in officiating various sports. So he’s a natural at this. Personally I love having to keep on my toes mentally and physically. 

To ref, at least for me, I have to be able to gauge impact between two opposing skaters, in addition to a group of skaters who may or may not meet the definition of a pack as well as the skater who may or may not be within the engagement zone of a pack as well as the jammers who are trying to zip their way through the EZ into the pack and back out, while skating and trying to compile all I see in front of me and peripherally (now not as much with the stricter pack rules) against 50 pages of rules. Which includes non skating penalties such as not having a mouthguard fully seated or being stopped on the track and to what purpose. Within fractions of a second while listening for verbal cues from other officials and ignoring the cat calls and boos from the fans. And only getting to rest between jams or when a team calls a timeout… I often wish both teams would use all of their time outs evenly spaced throughout the bout. 

Alas, I keep officiating and occasionally announce, because of the great community that is derby. Occupation, race, or creed doesn’t matter. All that matters in derby is derby. 

But I wish it were Sunday

So Sunday night I announced for Rocket City Rollergirls who played at home in Deer Park against the  South Texas Rolleristas. RCRGNow they had ten on their roster. Two couldn’t make it and one had a flat on the way so they had to bring another skater in, who made it late.  So by the end of the night they were playing with eight skaters. This is more of a disclaimer. It was great to see some friends that I generally have to settle conversing with on facebook if that. (I’m rarely on there except to pimp this blog out). I got to work with my friend Sunnie with a chance of pain and I gotta tip my hat to Rolleristas for bucking the trend and using real last names.

Now as usual I get to the venue early and chit chat with the refs. Though this time it was more of listening in on the previous nights antics. I was excited to see Fairlane and Frogher (Spindletop referees) though sad to see that they weren’t reffing, just fans for the night. There were fewer fans than I had expected, but derby has those lulls of high/low fan attendance. But among the fans were other derby peeps as well. Rocket City has several well seasoned players with banked track experience. Also some of their noobz are getting well trained and holding their own.

Sunnie I think has got her groove in announcing, seeing and calling plays as they happen and dropping little anecdotes as well as explaining some game mechanics. It’s also great to have someone to co-announce with and bounce off each other in getting the color commentary going.

STRSTR really busted their butts earning every single point the got on the board. Most skaters playing back to back to back to back to back to backs. With only one or two jams to rest, I’m sure they were grateful for every official time out. Knowing Krez Sez, I wouldn’t put it past him to have extended an official time out by a second or ten. He is very fair and as any good ref should, looks out for the safety of the skaters FIRST and then ensures the proper enforcement of the rules.

So far I hope I’ve been keeping y’all entertained and or interested enough to keep coming back. If you have any suggestions comments complaints or post ideas leave a comment and I’ll get back to you promptly

First of the year

Battle_for_the_Beach_20120603_106

Stash & DJ TJ (Photo credit: Matthew Prejeant)

So this past Saturday was my first time this season reffing a bout with the new ruleset. I’ve announced a few games and watched a few under the new ruleset. But I finally found an opportunity to get in on skates.

The most interesting thing is that this weekend was pretty big for derby, a lot of people were in Dallas for Clover Cup AND several leagues had their season opener the same weekend. I had already committed to Acadiana and not to long after was asked to ref in a few other places. Not that I’m in high demand, more like a short supply.

I had a brain fantastic during the bout, like calling off the jam when my jammer was not lead. After telling her she can’t because she was out of bounds. I meant not lead, but another ref said “yes she can” and in that instant I forgot that she in fact was not lead jammer and called it off. Fortunately that was my only major snafu, but it wasn’t the only one of the bout. They happen, not too often but more than they should. Then again, as Short Fuse says “when they skate a perfect game we’ll call a perfect game”

Coach Friday for Acadiana, post bout told me that I was the most consistent with my calls. He didn’t agree with all of mine, but he likes that I’m consistent and suck “just as bad both ways” I think he meant for both teams but this was at the after party and I’m sure it made more sense in his head.

In any case I got to chat a bit with my favorite announcers in Louisiana. Catch up with some friends and have that overall feeling of community with all my derby sisters and brothers.

I wanna thank Wicked Weezy for the ride in from the airport. Finally have a face for the name. As well as giving me a renewed perspective on fruit roll ups. To Bulldog for flying me in, who knew a ref could be a pilot? Unfortunately now I’ll never want to fly commercial again.  Stash for the stogie and to all of Acadiana and Cajun RG for having me out for a night of derby.

Just a Color and a Number

I should’ve said I’d do one post a week instead of two a week. But here goes nothing.

Tall, short, fat, skinny, fast, slow, gay, straight, fresh meat or Suzy Hotrod on track during a bout you’re just a color and a number.

Believe me, I’m “not a beautiful or unique snowflake.” I’m just a guy who ref’s roller derby, on occasion wears a sexy pink shirt, and from time to time, Rock the Mic. Eenie Meanie sums it up fairly well, kill your heroes. You see, you can get better by trying to emulate someone who can DO something better than you. This does NOT mean that they ARE better than you. They’ve just practiced longer and with more effort and possibly some other variables.

Suzy Hotrod for instance, was just an occasional skater at birthday parties when she was 12. But it won’t stop me from enforcing a rule. Now she rarely draws a penalty. At RollerCon 12 however, a lot of people must have failed to mention to her that skating in the hallways can get your skater pass revoked (by the Riviera Hotel and Casino) and no one associated with RC could get that skater pass back. You can only wear skates on a track. I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that everyone who spoke with her, as far as checking in was just in awe of her, handed Suzy her registration stuff and skate sticker and sent her on her way.

Now on her way to her first class I saw her skating to the classroom area, in the hallway, in front of a few hundred people. That particular day I was not officiating but had volunteered to be a Dick (sah-cure-it-tee). I stopped Suzy, put my shoe on her toe guard and asked her to take a knee and take her skates off.  She calmly stated that she was just going to the classrooms to teach. I told her I understand, but I don’t want you to loose your skater pass. She had a sort of puzzled look so I explained the rule as given to refs in every morning officials meeting. she smiled politely thanks me took a knee and scooted towards the door. Ophelia Mellons

and another Dick’s manager started yelling “THAT JUST HAPPENED!”

“THAT

JUST

HAPPENED!”

some of the crowd pissed themselves, others shit a brick and the rest didn’t give a damn. The point of this is just that I don’t care who you are, my job as an official is to ensure the safety of the skaters and enforce the rules, both WFTDA and of the venue (if any) And yes I knew precisely who she was, I took a picture with her at Star of Texas Bowl the weekend before, in the above mentioned sexy NSO shirt.