Five games in two days

This week has been bloody horrible. I wont lie. I have had to deal with some crap that wasn’t my fault but I was being blamed for, and it made me just want to hide under the duvet and drink wine until it all went away.

I hid a fair amount. I drank far too much wine. But I still had to go to work, do life things, and oh yeah… ref five games at the weekend. Ha. One of those things that seems like a good idea when you book it, then you find yourself the day before cursing your past-self for not being able to see into the future.

So, first up. Heartlands triple header. Thankfully in Wolverhampton so not far away. 09:00 start, roped in some old ref buddies as my Heartlands refs couldn’t all make it: Ed Estaire, Kicks, Logan, Robo, Anton, Lee, Dom, Magnus and Hannah L on paperwork duties.

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Ok ok, so yeah I might have set off in a stinking mood, feeling a bit sorry for myself. But I made a nice smoothie and put on some sing-a-long tunes in the car, and by the time I got there I felt almost normal. Few problems with the hall (it wasn’t set up to be sanctioned, booooo, the medics didnt show, double booooo, and then two of the teams failed to show for the captains meeting, mega boooo) but the crew were on top form, laughing, discussing rules, in the zone. The games flew by. Official reviews were a doddle (having a crew that switched on made them so bloody easy). Everyone was in high spirits, and we got the job done. For the first time ever I experienced a game with two double injuries in it. Haggard. I’m pretty sure everyone is ok now though. At half time I sat in the penalty box and checked my phone, had a lovely message from the boy asking if I wanted a duvet night on the sofa and he’d pick out a film for me and make some healthy food. Urgh. Gonna marry the fuck out of him.

So, feeling a bit happier I dragged the crew into the photobooth that Wolves set up and got them to dress up (Logan loved it) and have a group shot done. Also Anton drew a picture of me 🙂 THIS DAY MADE ME VERY HAPPY.

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Next up, a double header in Coventry. Once again, close to home. Duncan got the train to Brum and I was gonna meeting him and set off. But the Birmingham half marathon was on. And Duncan’s train was delayed. *Cue stress*. We arrived at the venue at 13:45. My captains meeting was meant to have taken place at 13:15. URGH. Duncan had kept in touch with the other refs while we were travelling, so we agreed he would take the ref meeting and I would do the captains. We ran in, dumped bags, did the meetings, got changed, dealt with the BLAH you have to as HR, had a wee and then started. Only 15mins late. MIC DROP.

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The first game was a cherry-popper style, slow, lots of touching with no impact, lots of people falling over when no one else was around, and lots of confused faces when they were given a false start warning. MEGA LOLZ. The NSO crew were so fresh no one could blow a rolling whistle and the “Failure to yield” penalty I gave was questioned because it wasn’t on the sheet of penalties.

Gave feedback and on to the second game. One injury, one bench manager that liked to talk to me between every jam and once again, a fresh NSO crew. Meant lots of communication between jams, lots of confused looks, lots of OTO’s. So glad to have the crew I did. Duncan and Dom made me smile far too much about the craziness happening on track and off.

Afterwards we went for a vegan burger (shut up) and then home, where the boy was ready with a glass of wine for me. I know, perfect right?

The end of the road

Our final trip to train a ref crew before Dallas. A sad moment. So to make it more interesting, me and Ed decided to stay over the night before in Bristol (Plymouth is VERY VERY FAR AWAY), have a few beers with the boy, and chill out. AND ED LET ME PUT ON ANY MUSIC I WANTED.

I brought all the best (offensive to Ed’s taste in music) CDs I could find: Katy Perry, Madonna, Le Tigre and all the mix CDs I made in the early 2000s. He shockingly didn’t mind any of it. Even my singing.

This time the trainees wanted to do the hellahard before their training (way to Go Hard there chaps!). So we proctored that, then separated out into our usual groups. Ed took the advanced, I took the newer ones. Talked about feelings and shit. Thrashed out some ideas to fix situations, worked on keeping REF FACE in action when your mates are there, and talked a little bit about goal-setting. The time flew by (we over ran in the first session by a fair amount).

We put on our skates, created two crews, and tag-teamed in after every third jam. Got some really interesting questions thrown my way, and implemented REF FACE when a skater came to complain that the stationary refs in the ref lane were getting in the way of the skaters. Nope. Not today.

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So that’s it. I’m pleased to say I organised and attended each one of the training sessions that we did. I have met over 100 baby refs, took one under my wing, and have loved every second of it.

We have been to Wiltshire, Leicester, Cambridge, Nottingham and Wales and Plymouth.

Some of them had some nice things they wanted to share after the training:

(Nottingham session) Dellar: “I thoroughly enjoyed today. Going through the mentality and order of the scrim was useful, learned a few tips about kit checks I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. Overall it was a huge confidence boost, and they were lovely! It would be great to go out and shadow others and get more involved. The only thing is I wish we’d had more time!”

Jo: “Shadowing was definitely useful…seeing things or having them pointed out and seeing the correct hand signals etc. And discussing why it sometimes isn’t a penalty too…”

(Leicester session) Skew: “Sleaze and Ratty gave me renewed confidence in my refereeing, and let me know what I needed to personally work on to push myself further.”

(Plymouth session) Arty: “Thank you so much for yesterday’s boot camp – Your classroom session really helped to get me re-enthused about reffing and I’ve just got home from a subsequently great practice with the league.”

Thank you to all of you for wanting to learn, and for filling me with excitement at the future of officiating in roller derby. Big love to you all.

Flip reverse it

The long awaited Ref the Refs role reversal game took place this weekend. Months in the making, there were a few last minute worries about whether the raffle was sorted, who has the helmet covers, and would Duncan’s arm fall off again ? (SPOILER: It did).

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I was bench manager for Team 2.2.2 (neon) and our opposition were Team 1.3.2 (glitter). Our numbers were made up of 0s and 1s, and theirs were made up from Ws and 7s. It was vile to look at particularly since we wore lime green t shirts with neon pink lettering. The poor refs.

The team, led by Metal Ed (1000), included: Shref (0001), Petti (1011), Cain (1001), Swiss Roll (0110), Skew (0011), Dad (1111), Apa Chi (0101), Zed Z Sputnik (1101) and Mimey (001). Tinch (1+1+1) was LUM and I (0000) was bench. Yep. Haggard right?

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(This photo was taken when Team 1.3.2 reached 100 points and had to sing Kiss from a rose By Seal. We took that opportunity to get a selfie in front of them.)

So my bench managing style mainly involved making sure before the event that everyone knew where to be, and at what time, and that they were DEFO coming out dancing afterward. On the day I brought and applied facepaints, performed in AND WON a dance-off and then a game of paper/scissors/stone. I was also a mardy bitch to the HR. Just because it was JC and he has done it to me before. I’m pleased to say he was completely straight-faced and professional throughout.

There were a few rules brought in just for the game. They were submitted via twitter and then were picked by the audience on the day: 1) To get lead jammer you have to meet the criteria laid out by WFTDA PLUS you have to do jazz hands. 2) Every time stubble enters the track he will get an insubordination. 3) All Official Reviews will be decided via a dance off – performed by the bench managers.

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The game went surprisingly well, like, seriously. I expected them to be SO SLOW and be on their arses constantly. But Ed was stupidly nimble, Shref was like a man possessed – hitting like a sledgehammer and than giggling to himself afterward. And RATTY, he FLEW at one point. Granted it was a completely unnecessary apex jump (no one was near him) but it was still brilliant. I of course was completely ignored by the team who either didn’t understand what WALL UP or GET TO THE FRONT meant, or were just so caught up in the game to hear me. I still laughed the whole game.

CCR tweeted it, go read it, this is my favourite bit:
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Central City‏@The_CCR
Fun fact of the day 60% of the refs are wearing sleazes ref tops. Meaning she has dominion over half of the ref crew #thepower

Zebras CAN fly

This weekend saw me, Ratty, Ed and Faze do a roadtrip to Wales. Trav came in his own car and we met up with Skew and Anton when we got to where we we’re going.

The trip took about two and a half hours. About an hour or so of that was spent with me having cold sweats in the back seat and saying to Faze IS THIS A GOOD IDEA?

She assured me it would be FINE (she didn’t know this) and that I wouldn’t DIE (also, where was the proof?).

All this stress-sweat, butterflies, vomit-fear and whimpering was because we were headed to the longest zipwire in Europe, to chuck ourselves down it.

It was to raise money for our trip to Dallas BUT WHAT IS THE POINT IF WE ALL DIE???

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So I might be slightly scared of heights. I was due to drive us but opted out for fear that I would crash the car en route. I stood there, suited up, shaking. The guys around me all giggling about how much fun it was going to be and how daft it was that I was worried. But something about being strapped on to a wire, face down, and then being released… even thinking about it now I want to vomit.

You do a test-run first on a shorter wire. That was the worst by far. Then we took a truck up to the top of the quarry where the cloud sat on top of the hill and you couldn’t make out where our car was because we were so far up.

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My mum, dad and sister came to watch me. I wanted a photo with them but genuinely was worried it would be the last photo I would have, so I opted out.

Me and Ed went first. Tied in, we looked to eachother, he said “Its gonna be alright Bab”. I declared my love for everyone. They said “safety off” and I stopped breathing. “3,2,1 go”.
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I hit 92mph on that fucking thing. I’m not even apologising for swearing. My mum heard me from the bottom. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I’m so glad it’s over.

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WE DIDN’T EVEN DIE.

As a last minute addition I was asked to join the Heartlands SE division and JR their double header in Hertfordshire. Ed drove. Top of the Pops 1998 CD in the car. YES.

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Ok so it’s no secret that I don’t like JR. I find the counting stressful, I hate all the little intricate rules on things, I hate that people get pissy with you for not seeing other stuff when you’re just focussing on your jammer. But most recently, I have hated that it HURTS MY ANKLE SO BLOODY MUCH. I’ve sussed out where the tendinitis comes from – it’s from the plough position that I put my right foot in so often. I push out on it on corners when I JR, I stomp it down when I want to stop quickly, and I use it to slow me down when I’m going too fast. I use it a lot. That does however mean that I get horrible pains up the outside of my leg and at my ankle and skating stops being fun. Suggestion from stubble: Bend your legs more. ACTUALLY working. Damn him for being so clever.

I JR’d with Danger. Ed was the HR and the rest of the crew swapped around during the two games.

Things that didn’t work so well: The hall was crazily orange so I had to squint at times to focus. Also at one point I skated out to go to the loo, didn’t realise there was a dip on the otherside of the door and went arse-over-tit. That knacked. 

Things that did go well: The reffing. Seriously. It was the first time that I really enjoyed being the JR. There were some odd things and some textbook things… and I called all of them. I got the nod from Ed a few times when it was a confusing ending and I held up the same amount of points he counted too, and he said at the end he was happy with how I reffed. It felt good actually. It was just what I needed to boost my confidence before the Euros. 

Sent a message to Cherry afterward as part of the mentoring she does, explaining how I finally enjoyed a double header as the JR. She replied about how it can be a really comfortable position to be in so she will keep pushing me. I laughed and said I was a way off being comfortable so not to worry… she replied: “You’ll be comfortable long before you know you are”.

Touché Fury. 

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to

So. It’s been birthday month. Which means I have been busy.

Here is a break down:

12th July: Gotham game in Leeds. Awesome. Drank too much. Met lady in the toilets of a pub who announced she was Ball’s mum. 

13th July: Trained the Nottingham Roller Girls’ ref crew. All pretty new so me Ed and Ratty took the group together. 

17th July: Hurt ankle. Soldiered on.

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20th July: Tournament in Wales. Cartoon Showdown. CHR’d along with Rightious Oxide. Duncan came with me and gave feedback. Went really well, met Laura Liston NEW FRIEND. Great time. 

21st July: Woke up to swollen ankle. Hideous.

26th July: Pulled out of reffing NWO v CTB and NSOd that and the girls’ game instead. Scorekeeper along with Karina Case. Math is not fun.

27th July: BBQ at Zoes. IllBilly can balance anything on his face. Wheelbarrows included.

29th July: TURNED 30 BITCHES. Went to Go Ape.

2nd August: Ref clinic in Wales. Saw Becks. One of the best training sessions so far. Met some promising new zebras. IMG_3267.JPG

6th August: Physio says I can start back training at the weekend. Ankle has tendinitis. 

8th August: QOTSB tournament gets cancelled due to lack of ticket sales. Sad times after all the work we have already put in – but better to run it another time and actually get the audience.

10th August: Water zorbing with the CCR refs and then reffed the Brummies along with Andy, Faze and Baby. Bit of off skates reffing from IllBilly and Boots (ignore 8.1.1.1). Really good fun. Best session in a while.

And that’s it. Up to date. Not a bad birthday month really. Considering outside of derby I had two picnics, a karaoke party a tattoo and then several evenings of being spoilt rotten by my mates <3.

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Third bit of ref training, this time all three of us went along. Road trip to Cambridge, Ratty in the front so we could have a sing-a-long (Ed hated it).

Beautiful day for a drive, windows down, sunglasses on, then we got lost in the carpark and had to walk down steps that smelt so strongly of ammonia it nearly burnt my eyes.

The people who came along varied from one ref who had done WTFDA level games, to people who were brand new to the idea and just wanted to know a little more. I loved it. Talked about feelings and shit (TM Brie Larceny, off of Newcastle Roller Girls), had some really interesting questions, talked about impact and the penalty triangle, getting into reffing, support and why we wanna ref.

Ed and Ratty took the more seasoned refs, the LUM and bench folk and the skaters who were just wanting more of an understanding of what we do. 

Then we went to the fair in the break, came back, put on skates and did drills and then we all reffed the scrim.

It was strange because we had 15 refs so had two in each position and three in one – constantly rotating – which made for a VERY busy infield. I have never been knocked and jostled so much as a ref, it was BRILLIANT. We held a one-minute’s noise for Louisey Rider at the end of the day, whistles, cheers, skate-stamping and clapping for a solid minute. Felt really good to do it. RIP Louisey.

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Trip home was enhanced by seeing two chihuahuas, and having the fantastic fresh masterpiece by Jason Derulo belting out of the speaker whilst we sat in traffic with our windows down… wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, indeed.

Positioning, positioning, positioning

At last nights’ practice I spoke to Trav about getting some guidance on RIPR positioning and areas of focus. Literally said it just before a jam and he said “yeah sure”. That jam finished and he skated over and said “Right that was good, you told me the box was clear, but I’d start over here”. Within two minutes he already had feedback. Seriously I can never say it often enough but I really lucked out ending up at CCR.

Something I have always struggled with in the RIPR position is my actual positioning. Having to be behind a pack but say where the pack is and if there’s ten foot between the skaters trying to hold on to the opposing teams’ jammers and ALL THE THINGS that happen at the start is something I never really got. I always drift to the middle. I stand in the centre of the pack and end up having to look around a LOT. Feedback I’ve had has always been about that and how because of it I miss people OOP at the back.

I think because when I do that position (HRing smaller games) I don’t usually have a seasoned FIPR (no offence intended to anyone) I feel I can’t let the pack be looked after by them. Like that’s my BABY and what if they don’t catch it when I chuck it at them? But the advice from Duncan at the weekend about… just doing it… yeah it stuck with me.

So I gave it a try, with some guidance and constant feedback from Trav (I could go on and on but seriously <3) and I got there. By the end of the session I was seeing a lot more than usual, I wasn't stressed, I was maybe getting in stubble and Trav's way a bit as JRs but they moved me and everything was golden.

Trav suggested counting the skaters as they come on the track. Three blockers, one pivot, one jammer. All well and good. But when their all lined up already and you count two pivots… then the jam starts and Ed points out that those two pivots are on the same team… *face palm*.

Good though. Learnt a lot. Got a lot to think about ahead of the Welsh tournaments.