SKOD

This weekend saw the Skate Odyssey 2014 taking place in Gent, Belgium. I applied, was accepted, and skated on a crew with Riff Reff, Watze, Cherry Fury, Rollin Rat, Dirty Harry, Hoarse Whistler and Crew Head Ref Shref. BOOM. How sexual is that crew right there?

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Drove over with Faze and Erin and played the truly inspired game of “Guess which penalties you don’t know” which has a theme song and everything. It’s the perfect way to make your friends hate you on a roadtrip.

I felt on the ball for most of the tournament, but there were moments when my idea of the OPR rotation was different to my fellow OPRs and we caught up to eachother… I just hate it when that happens.

This was my first tournament whilst trying to stick to a vegan diet. MIND BLOWN. Usually I would have protein snacks as well as veg and fruit, but without meat and dairy I’m struggling to balance the lower amount of calories with my active lifestyle. I’ve been compensating with bread and that’s making me have massive sugar crashes. So I got together the day before with Faze and made: Chia seed endurance crackers (boring on their own… might have been better with dip), crispy kale, salt and vinegar chickpeas (these stink your house out when you’re cooking them), pasta with a garlic, onion and tomato sauce with capers and olives (froze this so it travelled well and stayed cool in a cool box), and for the journey, a huge thing of middle eastern salad with a homemade dressing. Then we brought nuts, fruit, muesli and choc alpro milk. Crazy snacks. I bloody loved it. Then the venue sold vegan chilli. ERMAGERD. It was ace. 

I got chance to catch up with Shref, he tried to kill me in his car. And hung out with Nomi from MMR who was basically brought there against her will by M Dawg/Newton/Matthew and spent the weekend reading a book.

Reffed:

Rainy City Roller Girls Nidaros Roller Derby
Oslo Roller Derby Copenhagen Roller Derby
Nidaros Roller Derby London Rockin’ Rollers
Paris Rollergirls Kallio Rolling Rainbow
Kallio Rolling Rainbow Leeds Roller Dolls
Paris Rollergirls Nidaros Roller Derby

So… I got to give my favourite penalty of blocking a downed skater, found it weirdly liberating that the ref crew spoke to eachother and smiled during the games and got some compliments from folk when they were drunk as hell at the after party.

Oh and I had a mad dance-off with Twist. That man has the MOVES.

REF ALL THE TOURNAMENTS?

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.

Argh.

Ok. I’m in love with tournament refereeing.

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

Hassle in Newcastle

This weekend saw the long awaited trip up north for the B team tournament in Newcastle.

I am currently hating my skates so didn’t want to make the trip at all – but thanks to G and Sniper I had spare skates up there waiting to be tried on, like Cinderella.

Friday I took the day off work and Shref came into Birmingham around 07:30 (yes, really). We had breakfast, I finished packing… and said goodbye to Livingstone whose last day it was at work…. And we got in the car headed for Leeds and Fuck You Boris. Had food with him and caught up, which was just lovely, then carried on up to the Toon. Saw Sniper, Bryn, Miss Chief, Holli and stayed with Marie.

The bout schedule needed us there at 08:00. We didn’t have to do anything til 10:00. The first bout was MMR, with Terri benching. The bouts were all half hours. We did three of them and I wasn’t chosen for the final ref crew. I did FIPR for all three and got some nice feedback from Stiff and Sven.

Then I got hideously drunk, put lipstick on Dark Matter and hid from Bobby. I can’t really remember much else… Apart from the buffet. DAMN, that was a good spread.

Three bouts to the list. Beat my target. Now at 34 🙂

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Scrimmage-a-til

Well that was pretty epic.

Head reffed a mixed scrim in Oxford, with Ed, Robo Kop, Barry, Templeman, Jamerica and T-Hex.

Could it have gone better? Yeah. But on the whole it was pretty bloody awesome.

Plus my crew gave me this at the end <3 never been happier 🙂

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Ref road trip

This Saturday I hung out with Boxall then had a film night and noms with Kellie and Richard. It was nice. A full day of NO ROLLER DERBY.

It was balanced out by having an early start on Sunday (picked up by Metal Ed at 930) to drive to Travis T’s house and head off to Swindon with him and his missus.
Reffed two bouts there. Girls. One team wore light blue and pink which made me think about MMR a lot. Then dashed back to ref the Brummies practice. Boys. They were sweaty.

Got some feedback from Rocky who was HR for the Swindon stuff – he said I’m really coming along and that I need to work on OOP Blocking during no packs. I DIDN’T REALISE THIS WAS MY JOB. ha. Total fail. At least I know that now. Just in time for the Euros.

I have now reffed 15 bouts. Pretty cool.

F-you Boris

Friday night, prepped my kit, everything washed and laid out ready for the next morning.

My final day with the NRG, benching for the Belters, and then reffing the Tyne and Fear.

It’s a weird feeling. As with every bout since I’ve been with the league, I planned this bout and am the go-to person. Trying to keep a record in my head of all the jobs I’m asked about, and all the people I deal with so that I can pass the info on to the guys who will be taking over from me.

As usual, it’s organised to within an inch of its life, and the bout goes well.

1) Benching was horrendously stressful. I don’t think I’ll be doing that again soon.
2) Reffing was brilliant.

I was on team awesome for starters. Boris Snarloff as my head ref, Cherry and Stiff there. Polly, who has been learning the ropes alongside me at NRG was OPR too.

I took up rear OPR, first time in this position, and that’s my hat trick of outside pack reffing DONE.

Got through the first half without calling a single penalty. Every time I went to say something, Boris called it. This pretty much carried on for the full bout actually. Managed to get… like one? Yeah probably one call in there that no one else called.

Final minor that I’ll ever call goes to Sunday Sanchez from Lincolnshire Rolling Thunder, who earned himself a back block.

Lessons I learnt: 1) It is bad form to say “fuck you Boris” to the head ref, even when you really mean it. It’s probably even worse if his or her name is not Boris. 2) It’s really hard to not congratulate Lil Joker on a fab jam when he grins the whole time. 3) No matter how many times you tell Porky he’s not allowed to talk to you when you’re in stripes, he still will.

Fab time, couldn’t have had a better send off from reffing in the North East really. Lots of lovely feedback from Boris and Cherry, and invites to join them both in London and Leeds. Two thumbs up!

There’s a rabbit away here…

Second time reffing an open bout today. This time in Nottingham where the Tyne and Fear took on a mixed team of merby players.

Head reffed by Cherry Fury – the woman that led me, albeit indirectly, to taking up reffing. She trained me in Helsinki too. I had hoped I’d be considerably better by the time she saw me, but NEVERMIND.

OPR’d again, this time in the middle. We didn’t do the skate-and-wait (you skate a straight and a turn with the pack, then you backtrack to the start of the turn, and then you skate again when the pack catches you) this time we just SKATED FLAT OUT. Oh my life. It’s hard to keep up on the outside of the track.

Took me about 10-15 mins to really get into my stride, made some calls, got a couple of majors in there. Had a really good time. Felt a lot more comfortable in that position, but still need to practice what verbal cues go with what hand signal for a more obscure call… spent far too long trying to suss out what you’d do for “illegal re-entry” only for Cherry to point out she’d called “no pack” so it was fine. *the shame*

Sniper made me a banner, I loved reffing with Scrim Til Death, and of course, NRG’s Stiff. Ah, ref friends, and had pizza and weird conversations on the coach home.

Also – in other news – I’ll be moving to Birmingham soon for work for five months, hoping to ref with a lot of other teams during that time, but only on weekends – need to give this trial period my all work wise.

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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.