The ramblings of a two-time-THR

Things I have learnt from two stints as a THR (Read: I don’t know much, but I know some things and I’m willing to share them, so shhhhh).

No matter how much you prep you will have forgotten something.
But don’t fret about it. If no one else knew it was meant to happen, they haven’t missed out. If it’s not important, live without. If you can fix it, fix it. If you can’t, don’t. It’s just a game after all.

You need: A hall, teams, officials and medics. If you forgot to invite an audience, bring the merch, sort a photographer, or get that wrestling tape to go over the track tape with… it’s not the end of the world. Make sure you have a mate there that doesn’t mind asking reception to print things for you, and has a car for that last minute trip to the shop to buy bottles of water and you’re laughing.

But of course, the more prep you can do the better. And if you share this prep with your crews, that’s more eyes on the info and more opportunity for people to flag things you may have missed. Plus sharing info early with your officials stops them stressing… which means your job is easier during the event.

Captains meetings and officials meetings are pretty similar.
There are things you need to remember to tell both:

  • Thankyou: That you’re happy to have them there, who you are, what you like as a THR and how you want things to go.
  • Timings: Of everything. Meetings, start whistle, end whistle. Half times and warm ups. When can people leave and when do you want them there.
  • Space: What is theirs, is it quiet, is there food, where is the water, where is kit safe and can they leave it overnight.
  • Seedings: Who is higher, who is lower. Are you having the higher pick which bench they get? Will the lower seed decide whether to swap at half time? Are you giving the higher seed the choice of warm up slot?
  • Procedural things: Which ruleset are you playing to? Are they full length games? If not, what are the changes? Where is the point of no return, and how far across that can you be? Can you straddle the penalty box? How will warm ups work? Where will captains meetings happen? What do they need to bring? What colours are they wearing? Will there be evals? Have they done evals before – because you may want to offer to go through these with them, your officials will thank you for it. How are you dealing with foul outs/expulsions/suspensions/injuries? When can they test the floor? Where will you share rankings, positions and timings for the next day? Can the Penalty Box Manager issue penalties?
  • Human stuff: Is anyone hard of hearing, visually impaired or colour blind? Any other ailments you need to know about? Has everyone completed a waiver? Where are the bathrooms, showers, lockers and nearest shop. If you can get a nice food van at the venue for the entire event, you’ll have made a large group of people love you.
  • Remind everyone not to turn up pissed. You wouldn’t think you have to say it. But you do. Also some people take drugs, a good catch-all is to say “anyone under the influence” of whatever substance they choose to imbibe.

Being a co-anything doesn’t mean you will do half of the work.
Before agreeing to co-THR, really think about how you work compared to the other person. If you’re both heavily into admin and hate talking to humans, you probably are not an ideal pairing.

You need to balance out being able to stand up and talk to a group of people, engaging them in your plans and answering their questions confidently; and being able to work out stats and handle masses of paperwork. You may have these qualities yourself, but you need to make sure that as a partnership you can at least support each other if you can’t easily divvy up the jobs.

Set some ground rules before you dive into this. You may end up doing all of the work while the other person gets to take half the credit. This is fine if you’re ok with it, less so if you’re not. If this happens, take solace in the fact that everyone around you will know you did the work. People can spot an imposter a mile off.

If you’re taking this role to help gain experience, be prepared to do whatever your more experienced co-THR asks you to do. Suck it up and give it a bash. Otherwise you will never learn if you can do all these jobs on your own.

Where possible, learn to do all the jobs on your own. It puts you in a better position.

Set a good example.
You’re the face of the event for a lot of people. Make that face an enthusiastic and positive one. Don’t be half-arsed. Don’t THR tired. Don’t THR hungover. Turn up on time, be prepared, be polite and check in on people. Even if you don’t really know them, or you’re not super keen on them.

Speak to the teams and ask for feedback. Make sure people know you want this event to be the success you told them it would be at that first meeting.

Keep making things better where you can. If you say you will do something, do it. If you’re not going to do something, don’t say you will. Feel free to chuck in the ol’ “I’ve listened to what you’ve said and i’ll take that on board, thank you” when you want to tell someone they’re asking for bizarre things and you have no intention of taking it any further.

You’re a buffer-zone for your CHRs, protect them from the madness of the event, the teams and the crowd. They’re a buffer-zone for the refs, so pass on feedback directly to them to give to their crews if they see fit. Allow people to do their job and they will. Don’t over-reach.

If you can, take a bit of time for yourself before and after the tournament.

Writing evals is important.
Ref cert will send a person a few bullet points taken from their evals. Really consider what you write on an eval as you don’t want to impact on someone’s progression because of a badly-phrased comment. Watch the officials; take notes of what game you’re writing about, what position they played, and how the rest of the crew worked at the same time. Take everything into consideration and be honest.

Food is more important than evals.
You may not want to let others down, you want to be able to write about their entire game on an eval. But if you haven’t stopped trouble-shooting and giving feedback/holding meetings for six hours, it’s likely that you won’t really remember this game later anyway. Go eat some food. Close your eyes in a quiet room for a few minutes and relax. Also drink a hell of a lot of water. It may make you need to pee, but that’s a good reminder to get up and go sit down in a quiet room for a minute. You need that reminder.

You will be expected to play mum to a lot of people that you didn’t give birth to.
THR is a bit like HR in that you do a lot of meetings, you need to make sure the medics are there, that the teams are wearing high contrast and that the officials are all on the same page and able to do their job.

But you also need to do weird things, like pick up any odd jobs that don’t happen. Stand in for people when they aren’t there and things need doing. Help women find baby-changing facilities. Speak to angry crowd members that have drunk too much. Go and get whistles and medication out of ref’s bags for them.

You’re the person that people come to when someone said something and they don’t know what to do with that information. Or they just feel a bit “meh”. Or they’re having a problem with their HR. You need to keep your ears and eyes open to spot potential issues and fix them. You also need to be emotionally aware of any issues between individuals… if you can spot that and separate people before they have chance to rub each other up the wrong way, you will save yourself a lot of time later in the event.

It’s also a good idea to find out when the venue closes… because you will be keeping an eye on your timings and if someone is injured you’ll need to sweet talk the venue into letting you overrun.

If all else fails, give people booze.
Free beers at the end of a hard event will really make people look back with rose-tinted glasses. Get everyone drunk and tell them how great they were.

Then go home, have a bath, and sleep for England. You deserve it.

4Nations. 2Days. 1Winner. (me)

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This weekend I Tournament Head Refereed 4Nations. I was considering just leaving this post as that one line. But I won’t.

What a fricking achievement. I got to do it with my buddy Becks Macfarlane too, which made it even more fun.

meandbecks_trophy

We ran a fluid ref crew, meaning we could tailor the skills of the crew to the teams that were playing.

We had people who trained me to referee on board and even had two Level 3 referees (well, three now but he was a Level 2 at the time!) in the mix. I had so much positive feedback on the crews it was amazing.

Someone *who shall remain nameless* said they always spot things referees miss, but had only spotted one thing so far. I managed to ref-face that idiot and walk away. Believe me when I say they aren’t the best at rules so I highly doubt they would know a good call if it came over, introduced itself and proceeded to date them for a month. Plus. DAT CREW THO. *swoon*

The event ran pretty smoothly. Hardly surprising given the amount of prep that went into it. I was part of the planning group and worked alongside Niks and representatives from England and Wales.

Me and Mat even went on radio to talk about it. And we weren’t even that shit!matandkareninthemorning

I took on the officials, the medals and trophy, the after party, housing the food (as I live close to the venue), and acted as moral compass when situations got tense. Me. Moral compass. Ha. I also helped word things. Because I’m dead gud at werdz.

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I wanted 4Nations to be brilliant. And it was. Here are the things I learnt:

  • I am good at meetings, planning, and troubleshooting
  • How to deal with situations where personal issues encroach on derby-life
  • How to tell people their private lives are now my issue, without kicking off about being dragged into their drama
  • Niks is a feeder
  • How to do expulsion paperwork and conduct meetings
  • How to do suspension paperwork and conduct meetings
  • I am good at giving feedback and constructive criticism (well, no one cried when I gave it, so that’s a bonus)
  • I am not as good at remembering to eat as I thought I was
  • Not skating at a tournament means you will get COLD

I’m really pleased with how it all went. I’m pleased that I had the chance to THR such high-level games and to THR such wonderfully talented referees. And I got to smush faces with this twerp all weekend: (Krystal Vice is such a babe).

afterparty_selfie

It was actually nowhere near as scary as I thought it was going to be.

You know what REALLY worried me the whole weekend? Not that my leggings would tear. Not that I would get something wrong. But that the after party games I planned wouldn’t be a success.

How trivial right?

But really… I was planning games on my own. With no input. And if people didn’t like them it would be SO obvious and horrible and I would have to leave immediately and change my name and never go back to roller derby again.

We agreed to hold the party at the pub we usually end up in – the Rose Villa Tavern. I booked the upstairs room and bought loads of flags and bunting to decorate the room.

afterparty_setup

I arranged to go there at 1pm on the Sunday and decorate it, so I turned up, just after 1pm with Sniper and Laura Haman, checked in with the staff and started setting up. Singing along to Sniper’s music, and Laura’s unwavering lack of fear when climbing on unsafe objects to stick up flags…  we had it looking mint in no time. We emptied out the huge bin bags full of balloons and smiled. Just as the bar manager walked in and announced they had messed up and they needed the room for a party before us. Damn.

He looked around the room at all the flags and offered to put them all up for us after that party finished. We laughed a lot. It was ridiculous. Then a young lass walked in, saying she booked the room for a surprise party for her mum. I ask if she would be up for a snazzy 4Nations theme at all? She looks around the room, eyes and mouth wide, puts her hands to her face and says “WE’RE IRISH!”

Cue me, Sniper and Laura laughing at the awkwardness and her running away crying.

We took photos and packed up, on the understanding that the venue would put it all back up for us later… HOWEVER… this never happened. I rang during the half time of the final (not stressed enough at this stage) and the manager says the Irish party are refusing to leave so he’s put up our decorations downstairs. Argh. Nightmare. Not what we wanted at all. He offers to take photos. He sends me them and actually…it doesn’t look that bad:

new_afterparty_layout

Good lad. I ask if he can sweeten the deal for me with a few free drinks? Yes. Yes he can. He hands us a “bottle of shots” as we arrive and says we can get it refilled later if we want. Sometimes the biggest stresses turn into huge positives.

shots

/\ “Bottle of shots” one was blue. “Bottle of shots” two was orange. I have no idea what either were.

 

So… back to those games. I now have a bunch of shots to give out to the winners, so it seems useful that all of my games are like Frat Party fodder:

  • Peg Face (stolen from Boots from CCR). In twos you have 15 seconds to attach as many pegs to your partners face as possible. One pegger, one peggie. (As Poupa Test screamed loudly and repeatedly THAT IS FACIAL HAIR AND NOT FACE. Iain is a total cheat at Peg Face.)iain_pegs
  • Marshmallow Mouth. In twos again. You have 30 seconds to push as many normal-sized (not the giant ones) into your partners mouth. One gives, one takes. Photo by Marj Orie.
    marshmallow
  • Sex Balloon. Yup, you’ve guessed it, twos again. You have to pop balloons in as many sexual positions as you can in 1 minute. You can switch up who gives and who receives. Extra points for flair.
  • Bum Money. Just one person needed for this. Put an empty pint glass about a metre away on the floor. (If you’re me, your mate will walk over and smash it instantly. If this happens, get a new pint glass and repeat). Have a bunch of 50ps at the ready. 1 minute on the clock. You need to put the 50p up your bum crack, waddle to the pint glass and try to drop it in. This is surprisingly hard. Also nearly every person playing this game asked if I wanted them to take their bottoms off… I did not.

I didn’t take a photo during Bum Money. Mainly because I was amazed at how bloody good Bomb Weasely was at it. So here is a photo of a peg I put in Rob BG’s bum crack instead:

rob_bum_peg

I also put together Dat Ass Tho. This made me laugh so many times. I asked all the team captains to send me a photo of their naked bums. They all agreed without hestiation. How is that a thing? I even had two girlfriends send me photos of their partners’ bums. So. Funny.

I asked my beautiful assistant (Mat) to put them into black and white and then print them out. We had five altogether: two Scottish, one French, one Welsh and one English. Only one person guessed all of these correctly, but I’m impressed to say the whole of the French team recognised their Captain’s butt instantly. Well done lads, and well done Spider for a smashing rear!

carrnage_bum

/\ Not Carnnage’s actual bum.

Now to recover and do it all again next week with BEARDi.