Two weeks to go

It’s only two weeks til the World Cup and I’m starting to brick it.

I am not running at 100% at the moment.

I got ill on holiday and spent three days in bed with a fever. After that I had an illness hangover of feeling shaky and having what was basically a bad head cold. I had a solid week off any exercise and then tried to go back to the gym… Managed about two days and was wiped out by a water infection.

Cue me eating jam on toast none stop as the only food I can handle… I’ve put on weight and feel like even walking upstairs is a chore.

Training Baby has been harder work than normal – I’ve had to have my iPad with me all the time to check her rules questions because my brain is failing to give me the information.

So. Two weeks to go and my brain and fitness is failing me. NOT THRILLED.

Training Baby

At the moment I’m heading up the training of a new ref at the CCR. Blockerbye Baby is one of the skaters there who is taking some time out to try refereeing. I like her, she is a girl and that’s all I need to offer all my time to help someone progress.

She’s been training with me for a few weeks now, but last night’s session was so good I wanted to write about it here.
We usually train at the CCR Thursday sessions but Baby has been making use of the Crash Test Brummies Sundays to get extra practice in and do more of the shadowing work we’ve had her doing at CCR. I was going to Bristol after work so decided since it was on the way, I’d drop in for an hour and join her.

We worked on finding her voice – something I struggled with when I started. Yes, I’m aware I’m a gobby cow, but something about seeing a call and then having to vocalise it LOUDLY without seeming angry and in a certain order (colour, number, penalty, major) was really tough for me.

Firstly we skated round and warmed up by me giving a verbal cue and her doing the hand signal, then I skated OPR with her IPR and I gave hand signals from the other side of the skaters doing drills and she shouted the verbal cue back to me. Then during ten minutes of hell (the skaters do laps for one minute and then core strengthening exercises for one minute… Running for ten minutes total) we told the lads what we were doing and agreed that I would say a random skater and random penalty then Baby would skate to that person (obviously I picked the ones close by, they were SPRINTING past) and give the correct call including colour, number and the finger point at the end… If they heard the call they had to turn and nod at Baby but carry on with their drill.

I know it sounds daft to say it, but the fact they all joined in politely (bar them all jokingly telling me to “suck it” when I gave examples for Baby) made me fall in love with them a little bit. They were so encouraging. Just like you would expect your teammates to be. But that’s not always the case in my experience. Sometimes skaters forget refs are learning too… But tonight my love of derby was given a boost.

I was really proud of Baby too. She showed balls. And when Ratty joined in by echoing her calls from the outside if he heard them, he got them all. She’s really finding her voice and I’m excited for her future in stripes.

I’ve also made her add notes to my googledoc training plan saying if things worked or didn’t and what else she’s doing – including homework (I’m asking her to read sections of the rules one week at a time and then we’re discussing the rules during our warm ups the next week. It’s actually really useful). So hopefully we can make a proper ref training plan from it when Baby has moved on to being a bouting ref. It’s all pretty cool right now. I hope she sticks with it.

SWS means kiss

Yesterday me and Mat went to Wales for SWS training.

I’ve been speaking to Terence and their only ref, Becks Macfarlane, about helping them bring in more referees so it was nice to go along and see what their sessions are like. They are LONG.

Five hours of skatey fun time broken down into two hours of SWS then three hours of Team Wales v Everyone Else.

I offered to coach their newest ref recruit Helen Northmore, she is an injured skater so off bouting at the moment and taking the opportunity to try on some stripes. First thing she says “I read your blog” shiiiiiiiiit. Weird to hear people say that.

The lads did some drills which made it really easy to talk through initiator, action and impact. Talked about where potential penalties could be called and what I’d be looking for… and suddenly realised that I actually knew what I was talking about. It has only taken 18 months but it’s starting to all make sense. Then we scrimmed and the tiredness of yesterday hit me and I forgot verbal cues to the point where Chaz stopped bothering to point them out. Hilar.

On the whole SWS look a hell of a lot scarier than they are. They’re actually pretty nice to ref. They listen for starters. They also know they need to put in some work to get more refs and I love that about them.

Thing is, for all that I love them I can’t write about their practice without mentioning an incident that happened. I pointed out a skater I thought was reckless and a danger… who then went on to need a trip to A&E for a broken bone. I can’t say I was surprised. But I should have been more adamant that they didn’t skate.

I know all leagues have that person – that they love for trying really hard – but they passed the minimum skills by chance and their grasp of the rules is questionable… honestly, please, get them off skates and do it quick. They always end up hurting someone and it’s rarely themselves. Realising someone needs more support is a GOOD THING. Don’t be afraid to be the person to say someone isn’t ready. It doesn’t benefit them or your league to have them on the track when they are unsafe.

I regret not being more forceful about stopping that skater participate in the scrim. The skill level and safety/rule knowledge wasn’t where it needed to be to play with the rest of the guys. I’ve learnt a harsh lesson and I’ll not let that slide again. I hope the skater makes a speedy recovery and gets back to training – but takes the time to do it safely.

Which brings me to this… they want more refs because they want to be safer, better and to progress. Anyone near to Wales who can spare some time to help them build up a ref crew please do. Message them on FB or their site: http://www.swsrollerderby.co.uk/
They have big plans. Be a part of them.

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Heartlands part one

Yesterday was my first Heartlands bout at Divisional Head Ref. I was HR for both bouts with Fu as FIPR, Stubble and Metal Ed as jammer refs and Templeman, Robo and Ed Estaire as OPRs – and T Hex as alt.

It was in Nottingham and was the first time I got to properly meet the Divisional Head NSO for the NE, Jen. Lovely lass. Gave me a running countdown to BEER TIME.

The bout actually ran pretty smoothly. I prepared my captains and ref meeting in advance – and apart from people turning up late and asking the most random questions (can you clarify how you will be calling Failure to Reform? And then later on in an OR Why did my jammer not get lead – when the other team’s jammer had it….) it went pretty well.

It was a double header and felt ridic long. There is so much to think about as HR and I found I was basically stressed for the full thing. I have done the position in scrims and once at a mixed scrim away from home well before i was prepared to, but this was my first go at it when I felt almost ready. Out of my comfort zone but not out of my depth.

Things I learnt: Some teams are super organised and will do anything to help make sure the event runs smoothly. Nottingham are one of those teams. Nathan (their HNSO) was a bloody dream.
Sometimes your mates will take the piss out of you when they know you’re stressed. This will seem funny to you later on.
There is never enough water for teams.
Sticking to the times on the info sheet is hard but people will love you for making it happen.
People ask HRs the most retarded questions. Sometimes keeping a straight face is the hardest part of being a ref.

Oh and coming home, fried and with a banging stress headache, to find your boyfriend has sneakily let himself in to your flat and made you tea and tidied up is the best feeling in the world. <3

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/ Look how pissed off I look in that picture!!

They weren’t kidding with the name

So just did the aptly nicknamed Hella Hard ref written test. You have to get 46 out of 50 to pass. I got 40.

It’s a fail but I’m not disheartened.

Cherry had said to aim for over 30. There are refs that I look up to who got the same as me or below on their first attempt. I’m taking all of this as a positive.

Went for commiseration cocktails with Ratty, Trav and Ed and booked in the re-test for a month and a day’s time.

The hard part is now going to be not second guessing myself in the resit. ARGH.

For people yet to do it: It is multiple choice. You can take in paper and pens. You can take in coins too (mark them up and pretend they are blockers etc to act out the scenarios). You can ask to see what questions you got wrong at the end.

My advice? Do all of the above. Read all the answers before picking one. You get an hour and a half. It is hard to concentrate for that amount of time. Practice by reading LONG WINDED, ODDLY WRITTEN AND DEATHLY BORING TEXT for an hour and a half in the run up to it. If you manage to condition your brain to withstand that you’ll ace the test.

CCR turns six

I think yesterday was the first time I’ve reffed an intra league bout. I’ve played in them before but haven’t reffed. I’m pretty sure.
It was CCR Queens of Steel v CCR Bad Apples.

All my favourite skaters were playing so I knew it would be fun to officiate. Ed put me down to jammer ref again – a position he’s trying to grow me in completely against my will. Pecked his head beforehand about NOTT points (I understand them and the points for blockers simply not being on the track, but have read a lot of questions on ref groups lately that made me wonder how people get it wrong… So had to ask him) oh and also about lap points. I messed up at the last bout by giving two lap points that he got me to change.
I awarded it because in the second before my jammer hit the first opposing team blocker in the pack I looked to the box and his jammer was standing. I thought she had to be on track to no longer be a lap point so I had time to pick up her point. Didn’t realise the moment she is released she stops being that point. How did I not realise that?!
Also I gave a lap point for the first lap of her back in the pack.
I guess that’s what happens when you’re not used to a position. I now know they’re on the same lap when she returns so won’t make that mistake again. This jammer reffing malarkey is HARD.

Anyway today went well. I didn’t have any calls questioned though Trav thinks I might have missed a cut (full on didn’t see one so couldn’t argue the case at all).

Oh yeah and CCR turned six today. Happy birthday ladies, I’m proud to be a part of you.