Ever wonder why someone would step up to one of the toughest jobs in our sport?
most often asked question I receive as a roller derby ref isn't related
to the current rule set, but is "why did you get involved with derby?"
I've had to answer it so many times, I thought I'd share with you as
Paul Harvey always said, "the rest of the story..."
In 2009, I was searching for something to engage my mind & body while recovering from a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
I studied yoga, tai chi and qi gong, but they weren't competitive
enough for my spirit, and my doctor forbid me from participating in anything
that would endanger my head by encountering other head injuries,
including a concussion. Cage fighting, boxing, rugby, lacrosse, football
and soccer were "out." But then a friend of mine, Elektra Q-Tion,
began rolling down her own track of becoming a roller derby skater and
she encouraged me to at least go "watch" it. I went to a lot of bouts
that summer and was captivated by the WFTDA sport. After attending 8 bouts for a couple of local leagues, I was hooked, I had to get involved.
I went to a "Round Up" event with a local league (NEO Roller Derby)
to learn a little more about how I could be part of a sport that was
active, challenging, and how I could be involved without being "hurt."
The competitiveness, physical aspects and mentally challenging aspects
of it appealed to me. Yeah, I signed the papers that night... I was
caught... I became a referee...
I needed to be
challenged mentally, so learning all of the rules of the sport did that.
Yeah, unlike most of the skaters, I've actually read them. Translating
what you read on paper as a minor or major and then having only a few
nanoseconds to process it as you are skating next to a pack, keeps the
On the physical side, you have to learn
(as a ref) how to keep up with the jammer or pack, observe penalties,
keep how how track of how many people on each team are in the box
because you sent them there, be prepared to be taken out by other refs
or out of bounds skaters, dodge the NSOs on the inside or even outside
of the track... Basically "how to do your job." All of that appealed to
me, so I signed.
And that is why I stay involved and
volunteer to do as many bouts as possible for as many leagues as
possible. Oh yeah, and attend practices. I get to keep physically active
by skating miles per week and I get to keep mentally challenged by
watching for penalties according to the rules. And best of all, I get to
meet people, be around people, and interact socially.