The Plateau Effect

Recently I’ve had the same conversation with a few people. Refs who are around my skill-level and I get on with, complimenting each other on something good we did on track, replying with “Do you think? I feel like I’m not quite WITH IT you know?”

This is how it feels to me. When you’re learning to drive and you have to push THAT with your foot and look here, and touch this bit and turn that and OH MY GOD DON’T KILL ANYONE… it all seems overwhelming. There is so much happening that it drains you. It takes all your confidence and concentration to get you from work to home and then you’re happy you did it without crashing.

Then a year later you do the same trip without thinking about it, singing loudly to Gloria Estefan and mentally eating your tea. It’s only when you pull onto the drive that you think… shit… how did I get here?

Derby is like that. For everyone. But I think refs are the only ones that sit and think about it. We’re conscientious little creatures you know. 

You no longer have to stare without blinking to suss if someone is linking, you don’t have to Rolodex through verbal cues in your head and struggle to match the hand signal (Ok so I have technically replaced the word Major with a back-block hand signal twice (maybe more like ten times) since the rules change (and probably before that too)… but mainly I don’t have to worry about it). You just skate around, do the stuff, and then skate back to the changing room thinking WAIT – HOW DID I GET HERE AND DO I HAVE CLOTHES ON? (I can’t be the only person to worry about this).

This happened a lot at the Fantastic Eight tournament in France this weekend (not the clothes, I def had clothes on. But Johan did say once “Am I wearing all my kit please?” CUTE). I was OPRing with Harry, Johan and Saturday Bout Fever (alternating in), Peter ParkHer, Ed, Lady Jekyl and Der Kornich on the inside… it was a pretty brilliant crew. One in which I spent a lot of time nodding at calls and probably only made a handful of my own during each game. It felt secure, tight, a good fit – we complemented each other’s skating and officiating styles so well that it didn’t feel like I had to try too much. It felt effortless. And then Harry was always hungry when I was so that worked out really well. It was a lovely event to work – my first ever foreign tournament – but I’m not sure that content feeling is a good one to have?


Imma go France next week and then Belgium a few weeks after because I LIKE DOING TOURNAMENTS.
It’s out there and now I can never take it back.

Tournaments test me in a way that I like. I miss out on the competitive side of skating. I make up for that by pushing myself to be the best that I can in refereeing. But turning up, meeting six people and being expected to gel with them instantly for an hour, to then skate away and maybe see them again at a bout in the future… it leaves me dissatisfied.

Tournament refereeing makes you form a bond. (hilarious typo there of “bong”.)
You’re stuck with these six (sometimes more) people and you have to work through your differences because you’re with them for at least two days. It’s like all the derby drama of being in a league condensed. But with about 90% less bull shit.

You over-share because it’s not a real environment for making friends. You bond over daft stuff, you help eachother out, you invariably see eachother in states of undress. It’s a really compressed version of normal events, and that’s why you find so many diamonds.

I wont lie. I also love the tired-beyond-wanting-to-cry feeling that you get with it. The “Oh jesus, what is that smell?”. The “Is Shref on your crew? DO. NOT. FALL. ASLEEP”. I love it all. I love pushing myself. I get to train hard in the run up to it, preparing my body like I used to as a skater.


Ok. I’m in love with tournament refereeing.

But Jesus, have you seen how hot the crews are these days. Can you blame me?

Rent a crew

As part of our endeavours to raise enough to send me, Ratty and Metal Ed to Dallas, we have come up with this:

Do you have a ref crew that needs some support? Can’t make it along to ref clinics but would like to ask some questions to people who know a bit more? Are your zebras brand new and need a sit-down chat to discuss the basics? Or maybe your crew is at the level where they want to go for ref cert, we can give you guidance and an opportunity to sit the hella hard ref test.
Cover our petrol to get to you and make a donation to our fund… and we’ll come teach your refs what they need to know.

We can do a few hours or a full day, all classroom or all practical. Split the crew up and do advanced and basics… whatever you need, email me and we’ll get something sorted:

If you just want to make a donation to our fund, you can do that here:

Derby Does Dallas

Two years, two months and two weeks after I took part in my first ever roller derby bout as a referee, I will be part of the officials crew at the Women’s Roller Derby World Cup in Texas.

Words cannot do justice to the feels this is making me have. Two world cups in one year. I fear I may have peaked.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me. You know who you are and you know I love you.

To anyone who would like to help me get to Dallas, I’ll be doing a series of ridiculous fundraising events in the run up to it… donations would be most welcome and will be split between me, Metal Ed and Rollin Rat – my CCR ref buddies who got a place too: