I DID IT!

I set myself a goal three months ago to ref a closed bout before the end of the year. I thought that was a pretty big goal.

This weekend though I reffed an open bout – and not just ANY open bout – it was the Hinnies v SSRG Crucibelles and the Tyne and Fear v The Inhuman League.

Double header. Home game. Plus Merby. Aye, bit of a crackers decision on my part for my first refferage.

My way of psyching myself up for things I’m nervous about is to talk about them lots. Tell everyone, and then you get used to people talking about it and it stops being a big deal. I posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram probably once every two seconds in the run up to it, JUST TO BE ON THE SAFE SIDE.

I’d be OPRing. I’d try to not fall over. I’d try to not skate into anyone. I’d try to not make bad calls. Three things I was concentrating on not happening… so of course they did.

I checked my outfit with Sven, I wanted to wear pink – naturally – and stayed up til 1am the night before re-reading the rules.

Got to the venue (Concordia, Cramlington) early. First time I’d been there. Walked in to find Sven looking like he might vomit because the room wasn’t big enough. Dealt with some liaison issues (changing rooms, seating, booze, tracks etc) and then was told I had 15mins to kit-up and do my warm ups.

Loved OPRing with Zeb-Rarr and Arctic Roll (and then the second bout with Raege), totally supportive ladies who high fived me after my first call IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE FIRST BOUT. Jees. Was starting to think I’d lost my voice – every call I went to make someone else did so I didn’t make a SINGLE CALL in the first half. Totally got into my stride for the second half and the merby though. Even called two majors (whoop).

Hated not being able to congratulate skaters when they did ace moves on the track, but found it really easy to not be biased… I didn’t have the time to be.

Saw lots of penalties that I didn’t call (knew this would happen. Saw them, thought “hey, was that a forearms/elbows/clockwise?” just in time for the pack to have reached the other side of the track and no one to have fluttered an eye lid about it). Next time though. Next time.

Massive thank you to Sven, head ref for the bout who kept me calm even when I freaked out. Stiff for talking me through everything til I felt confident. Harrison Floored for seeing my wild CUT TRACK hand signals and trusting me. And finally the rest of the zebra huddle for helping me pop my zebra cherry.

Oh and yeah. Fell over once. In front of the TnF bench *fail*. Got skated-in-to twice. Once by a girl, once by a boy. Didn’t hurt. And last worry of the bout – messed up a call well and truly. Destruction of Pack Major no less. AH WELL.  It’s done now.

Was bought drinks and given a balloon and a card to celebrate. Ha. Gotta love the wonderful world of roller derby.

Tootie Tinwhistle

Link

This weekend I travelled to Northampton to be taught by Tootie Tinwhistle at the Sk8 Heaven roller derby bootcamp. (thanks again to Gin & Sonic for giving me her ticket!)

Travelling on the Friday we went via Natalie Boxall’s, saw a swan in the road, and then on to the hotel to get a few hours’ sleep before waking up early to get to the venue for 8.30 to LAY THE TRACK. Yup. £100 ticket to lay a track first thing on a Saturday.

Met some refs from elsewhere in the UK, and took classes with Sarah from my league. Spoke about how much I’m CACKING being OPR on the 20th (this weekend… actually THIS WEEKEND). First thing on the second day we ran drills so that I could learn the positioning for OPR. I’ve said it before – but I’ll say it again. Refs are so bloody accommodating. Loved that they did that for me.

Did some pack definition classroom work, discussed etiquette and retaining TRUST. Realized that I’m going to struggle with that. I like to push boundaries. Sometimes people don’t like me. I’m not sure I can fit in with this ref code you know. I’m all up for not hugging your friends when you’re in your stripes – but once they’re off I’ll want to hug my team and say well done. It’s pretty depressing to think people would take that as me being untrustworthy. Refs are affilliated with leagues – they’re gonna have friends – it’s unreasonable to expect them to not talk to these people when they’re not reffing.

Finished the weekend off by reffing two hour long scrimmages which included Quadzilla and Ballistic Whistle on skates. They are SUPER FAST when you are jam reffing them. I defo didn’t call anywhere near the amount of penalties I should have, but I got some great feedback and heard a few tricks for learning the numbers of skaters… turns out it’s not just me that gets numbers jumbled up.

Ate more than my body weight in food, got a new pink helmet, drank far too many cocktails, and had a sambuca shisha. GOOD TIMES.

End of an era

Ever since getting into roller derby I’ve made sure I’ve been in some sort of position of power. I don’t know whether it’s because I am a control freak, or because people think I’ll be good and vote me in.

I started in MMR, as their Captain, until I moved to Newcastle, joined NRG, and was immediately voted in as the Vice Captain. There were a handful of months where I was title-less whilst on skates, but the less said about that the better.

So it’s with a heavy heart that I finally hang up the Vice title, and start my new life in derby, as A SKATER. (well, ref, bout liaison, announcer, bench manager, line up manager, coach, marketing person, etc etc… but you know what I mean, I can no longer wear that Heidi Seeker necklace saying “VICE” without it being an awkward comment on my social life).

It’s come out of the blue a little bit. I was content to be Vice until the year was through, playing with the refs, having a bash at everything until I found the perfect place to rest my sleaze-shaped-butt within the NRG. But then something happened.

I was questioned for something that I thought was positive. I was doing something to better my skills, and ultimately the league, but because I was seeing me as the new Ref Sleaze, and the league were still seeing me as teeth-in-tact-jammer-for-the-belters-vice-captain-of-their-league… there was some confusion as to what I was doing. It wasn’t a big thing, in fact it was just that I was trying to get in with other refs, learn some new tricks, make some new “ah, ref friends”, but it was construed as a negative.

NOW, I didn’t understand that at the time, and had to take a step back. I spoke to my Captain, and I thought about what the ideal outcome could be.

The only possible solution? Stop being the Vice.

It was no longer a viable option to lead a league from the side-lines, and it was no longer acceptable to expect the league to put up with that.

I resigned after talking to the BOD about how I want to finish off the work I started this year – it’s important to me to complete my responsibilities to the league – and hopefully i’ll be voted back on the BOD in the new year.

But until then, I’m going to chill out, stop worrying about being the skater I used to be, and become the skater I will be from now on. Wish me luck!

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When Gin-cidents work in your favour

One of the NRG’s skaters, Gin & Sonic, is known for perfoming “Gin-cidents”. It’s when something goes wrong as a direct result of her doing something. This is nearly always hilarious.

This time Gin bought tickets to a skate bootcamp she couldn’t attend, not hilarious, but it has worked in my favour because she’s swapped them for ref tickets so I can go and learn more reffing skills.

THANKS GIN. (How nice???)

It’s taking place next weekend, I’ll keep you posted on what I learn.

Three months in

Wow. It’s been three months since I joined Team Zebra.

So far I’ve learnt that there are a LOT more rules than I previously thought. That you blow four whistles three times in a set pattern to end a jam, and that Zebras are on the whole very accommodating.

I’m learning with Paul and Sarah, we’re at different levels but can still ask each-other questions which helps a lot. Paul has been doing the rear IPR position a lot lately and has got shit hot at it. I had a bash and can’t get my head round the pack distances at speed. I like being upfront in IPR, or going fast in the OPR position. No surprises there.

Training with MMR has proved invaluable for testing my ability to read and say numbers of people I don’t know… this is going to be the hardest part for me. I’ve got numerical dyslexia, so often get my numbers the wrong way round unless I’ve familiarised myself with them EXTENSIVELY. At an MMR practice I called player “23” player “12” because I make patterns with numbers and 3 follows 2… but my head just  took it a step further. GET IN, GOOD REF SKILLZ.

I know that skating with them has increased my confidence to make calls, and make them loudly, so I’m pleased I sucked it up and asked to ref with them. Gonna try to do this with as many other teams as possible now.

Oh, and my goal to ref a closed bout before the end of the year? Looks like it’s going to happen before the end of this month. Our lads team, the Tyne and Fear are taking on The Inhuman League in a double-header with The Whippin Hinnies taking on SSRG’s Crucibelles. We had to make it closed because it’s 18 days til the bout and we’ve still not secured a venue *stress*, so I’ve offered to OPR.

Sometimes it’s good to dive straight in. Right?