This past Saturday, I joined my fellow LOCO folk and headed to New Hamburg to see London's Violet Femmes go up against Durham Region Roller Derby's Atom Smashers. It was great to see my brother Matt, our Head NSO-in-training in action: he's shaping up to be a great resource for the LOCO family. My partner Antonio also jam-timed, looking strangely official in his tie (for comparison, I was wearing a Tool sweatshirt). The arena was bracingly cold, but spirits were high.
To get used to calls and practice recognizing signals, I had my first taste of penalty-wrangling, running after the pack and relaying penalty calls to the two penalty-trackers (Matt and a new volunteer, Adrian). I felt a bit overwhelmed at first - everyone's-yelling-what-number-was-that-who-am-I et cetera. Soon, I adjusted and actually really enjoyed running in circles, writing things down like "W-360-L" and yelling at the wrong tracker even after multiple corrections. It was interesting how I had to consciously choose to watch the refs, rather than the pack (which is pretty attention-grabbing). It was a bit like trying to unfocus your eyes while girls in hot pants dive for your ankles.
I learned a few things yesterday. One is that four-digit numbers are a pain in the ass and they should be made illegal. With refs and NSOs barking and new penalties coming up fast, there isn't time to say "7635". There just isn't and the added numbers up the chance of a mistake being made. On the flipside, officials also need to be more specific: if a skater's number is 7/8, the officials should establish that this number is properly pronounced as "seven eight", not "seventy eight". Everyone involved in the bout should contribute to its smooth execution, even as early as choosing the number you'll wear.
Most importantly, the skaters seemed to be having a good time and I saw some joking at the jam line, which warms the cockles of my derby heart. Atom Smashers took it home with a score of 223-132, with the Femmes trying to close the gap in the second half.
Afterward, it was time to locate and demolish food, which was done most thoroughly.Then I woke up and it was Monday - surely the sign of a bout well-done.
In other news, two of our skaters made me a ref dress and it it is the best. I will study harder in hopes of earning the right to wear it.
Coming up in future posts: how awesome junior roller derby is and developing a sense of community in your league.