So, although it’s been a really busy year in derby alone, a few weeks ago I decided I want to try my hand in another new role in the league (am I crazy? probably). So I bought a new whistle (a pink Fox40 Classic, FYI) and started training as a ref. Our league is lucky enough to have a number of dedicated refs, and even luckier that they’ve agreed to train skaters interested in being part-time refs. Deciding to start training as a ref was a tough decision to make, but I’m glad I made the decision. I’m going to take this moment to thank our B team and officials for having the patience to deal with myself and fellow skater BA on a Thursday night session (I know you’re all reading this… right? No? Just Bangerz? Alright, thanks Bangerz!).
Reffing is like playing a completely different sport to roller derby. There’s brand new team dynamics to learn, different skating skills are emphasised and the type of focus required is completely different. It’s not more difficult than skating in scrimmage, but it sure as hell is not easier. It is however, completely different. It’s a team sport that where your team never loses! Although, it kind of feels like you’ve lost the jam when you’ve held up a certain number of points and someone else is like ‘really, that’s the number of points?’ or ‘No backblock? Really?’, etc, etc. Not that that would ever happen to me… *ahem*
Myself and fellow trainee ref BA have been focussing mostly on jam reffing at B team training sessions. We’ve also had rules discussions and gone over hand signals, verbal cues, etc. But anyway, this blog post isn’t about what our ref training covers, this is about my experience with it.
So far, the five things I’m struggling the most with (in my opinion, I’m sure Johan [our officials trainer] would say differently) would be:
- Blowing a full set of end of jam whistles. Dammit, it’s hard!
- Loudness. I’m really struggling to get pregnant with this air baby he keeps talking about and then using that to project. Can’t I just use a microphone?
- Looking at both upper body and lower body AT THE SAME TIME. Skaters should be smaller. A lot smaller.
- Remembering exactly who it is that the jammer has passed. I have been trying to focus really hard on who the jammer has passed, not just the fact that they’ve passed them. Ugh, it’s hard.
- Making the call. If in doubt, don’t make the call, is what I’ve been told. Sometimes I see something that I think is a penalty, but then I start doubting it (did she gain any relative position? Were her hips fully behind the other skater’s hips when she came back in bounds? Did that foot really go over that line?). I need to have more confidence in what I’m seeing. If I don’t make mistakes I don’t learn, right?
Actually, scrap that list, EVERYTHING IS DIFFICULT.
However, I’m trying to not be too hard on myself. Just because I can play roller derby doesn’t mean I’m going to be a half decent ref in 2 sessions (unfortunately). So in the positive/constructive sandwich here are 3 things I think I’m doing relatively ok at:
- My lead jammer hand signal is pretty ok. My arm is straight up bitches!
- Keeping level with my jammer (yay, previous skater skills that are actually relevent)
- When my jammer is not lead jammer, I’ve been doing a good job to remember not to tap my hips when the jam is called off. What? You didn’t know that the jam ref who has not awarded lead jammer doesn’t tap their hips when the jam is called? I totally knew that before starting to ref… *ahem*ok, maybe I didn’t know*ahem*
- I’ve remembered to slowly repeat the hand signal for my jammer’s penalty as I follow her to the penalty box)
I know these are small things, but sure, you’ve got to start somewhere, right?
*Goes to practice vocal drills*