I tweeted the other day that I’ve got a crazy weekend of roller derby ahead of me and Megan replied that she was looking forward to hearing it all about it. It was then that I realised that I hadn’t actually written a blog post about roller derby, this crazy, wonderful sport, which takes up so much of my free (and not so free) time and I had never written about it. Well . . . that had to change!
How do you describe roller derby? It is a full contact sport played by mainly females (but the boys are getting in on it too!) and it is played on quad skates. There are no balls, there are no goals, there is just a track and some fast and hard hitting skaters. The best way to explain the sport and the rules is to direct you to Rebellion Roller Derby (my team) website where they have some great tutorials. So this is what takes up my weekends and my evenings, this sport, which is so un-me, this sport which involves confident, athletic females, and I’m right in the middle of it, that seems weird to me. One huge difference though, I do not skate. I can skate (kind of), but I have a habit of breaking bones, mainly my back, when I get on skates. So a year ago after another fall I decided it was time to hang my skates up, but not my love and passion for this sport.
I am Head Non-Skating Official (NSO) for my team, which means that I’m usually the one running round with a clipboard, much more me. The NSOs are the ones that effectively run the game, they are the glue that hold the game together. They track the scores, record the penalties, make sure it is all safe and make sure it is possible to put the game on for the skaters. I organise a team of NSOs, I produce the statistics for the skaters so they can better their performance, I am there, in the background working away whilst they’re training and working on their skills. It can be time consuming, it can be stressful, it can cause a lot of conflict, it can be difficult, it can be lonely, but I love it and it is hugely rewarding. The hardest part for me; NSOs are completely impartial. On game day I can’t be cheering, I can’t be coaching, I can’t be letting the skaters know what’s going on, and somedays that is really difficult.
After a game whilst the skaters are cheering and hugging each other and getting their awards I’m in the center making sure all the paperwork is there and that I have everything I need to finish the game, because for me the game doesn’t finish on the final whistle. It finishes a fortnight later, when I have to have all the stats done, and that is what I love the most. Producing the stats and showing the skaters that although they may have not won their game they improved so much on the last game they played. Being able to show a new skater that she scored points on one of the most difficult skaters, that’s what I love.
To some being an NSO may be a boring job, but it’s an essential job, it’s an integral part of the game. Roller derby is a growing sport, it’s a DIY sport, it’s run by the skaters for the skaters. I may not be a skater but my role is just as important as a skater, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it!