Not So Official

On Saturday I was at Futsal stadium in Leeds (Cottingley actually) wearing grey.

Grey is worn by Non-Skating Officials (NSOs) as they are impartial. They form an important part of the crew that goes into putting on a game. They track penalties, keep score and perform time keeping. I’ve NSO’d a few times, always as a penalty box timer. I’d recommend this role to anyone who hasn’t NSO’d before, wants to help out, but perhaps feels a bit nervous about it. You’re basically timing two blockers and you have two other NSOs in the penalty box with you. If you’re not sure you can just ask.

Leeds Roller Dolls had organised two scrimmages back to back. The first was to orignally to be a womens advanced game, the second and intermediate mixed game. In the end, due to a lack of players they were both mixed games.

For the first game I was Penalty Box Manager. So, rather than timing a pair of blockers I was resposible for timing the jammers. This is slightly more complicated as the penalties are not always 30 seconds. There must be a jammer on track at all times, so sometimes the penalties are shorter. My Penalty Timers were Kelly and Larni, who used to play for the Banditas. It was good to have friends with me. We managed just fine and didn’t go too far wrong.

For the second game I’d been assigned Jam Timer! My responsibility was timing the periods, jams and intervals/team timeouts. The periods are easy, two of thirty minutes each, and jams/intervals are easy too as they rarely run to the full two minutes. (Three jams did so whilst I was timing.) The interesting bit is when timeouts are called. Team timeouts are 60 seconds, official timeouts as long as they need to be. The period clock stops for the duration of the timeout. Written down it sounds very straight forward, but the twiddly bits around duration of the interval when mixed in with timeouts requires some thought. It’s a job for two stopwatches and I got to use my whistle :-)

A big thank you to XCon-Vick for giving me the opportunity to learn new roles and Stat for reassuring me about my knowledge of the rules. A benefit gained from NSOing first hand is an improved understanding of “the twiddly bits”. I have already started making improvements to my Penalty Timer and Jam Timer apps as a result.

Four Day Weekend

Four Day Weekend
The bank holidays doubled the length of this weekend and I made good use of it.

I have set myself a goal. I want to return to playing roller derby and when I do so I want to ‘good‘ at it. ‘Good‘ isn’t a precise measure and isn’t benchmarked. There will always be players better than I am, and less experienced players who have yet to catch up to me. ‘Good‘ is my own perception of how I’m doing, whether or not I’m pushing myself and whether or not I’m improving.

Over the past four days I have skated every day. On Friday I skated quads in the park and found that by changing the lacing my feet feel more secure in my skates. I’m still far from comfortable on toe-stops but this has helped. Saturday I did my usual gym/swim combo in the morning and then hit the park in the afternoon. In-lines this time, chilling and messing around with cone slalom.

Sunday was Skateful Dead practice and it was brilliant. Some of us got there early and did off skate warm up. I lead this, re-using many of the activities that Chris at Motive8 has tortured me with at boot camp. Thanks Chris! During practice there were loads of good drills too. I managed two things that I was pleased with. As a jammer I snook through on the inside of the wall and I also managed to unbalance Buckingham Malice. I didn’t knock him down, not even close, but just to see him react to a hit was satisfying :-)

We also did an endurance section, speed laps for 60 seconds interspersed with various exercises (press-ups, plank, etc). Really hard work, but with much quiet cursing, achievable.

SkatersMonday was sunny and so I was back on skates in the park. I’ve skated in People’s Park for many years, most of that time alone. This time though Carly organised a bit of a picnic and there were loads of us, mainly Dead but a few from Leeds too. I was challenged to slalom the 50cm spaced cones and, amazingly, managed to do so without knocking any down. I skated in-lines again, taking some stick from the others who were all on quads. It was lovely to have company.

In amongst all the skating I managed to find time to go out with friends and drink beer/eat pizza, sit and eat with my kids, my dad (who was up from Nottingham) and my mum, sister and niece/nephew who are over from Berlin.

I leave you with links to two videos. The first is Demetrious George, an aggressive skater, jumping up to a 5’10” high edge. His flexibility and one-leg squats are a (distant) goal. The second is Naomi Grigg, a well know skater from London, showing how to do the Grapevine on in-line skates. The third pivot continues to elude me.

Derby Packed

Last weekend was one full of roller derby.

Skateful Scrim

Heave!Saturday saw The Skateful Dead host our second open co-ed scrimmage. The first was back in February and was well received; The second seemed just as popular. We had a good mix of players from various teams, a few who used to skate but no longer do and a few ex-fellow skaters :-)

Some of the players were big guys, Slam C Nesbitt and Jason Slaysthem for instance, and I would have been nervous stepping on track. The game was played in good spirit though, there were few penalties and thankfully no injuries.

I made it to the after party briefly and got to chat to Bruise Dog and Turbulinz who had travelled down from Glasgow! They had called in to scrim on the way down to Liverpool!


Sunday I made the, now familiar, journey over to Hull to photograph the lovely Hulls Angels. They were hosting two games:

B-HARD versus SOFT (Some Other Filthy Team)

DollyIf the team names were anything to go by then I felt that the first game would be good natured. B-HARD consisted of a few of the A team players and, I imagine, others who skate for HARD but had rarely/if ever bouted. It was the first time that I’d seen Ju on skates! SOFT was made up of a collection of other filthy skaters. I recognised a few and found out that three of them were from The Imposters! (They had played the Bandita’s the previous week.)

SOFT got off to a flying start and never looked back. The half time score was SOFT 147 to B-HARD 65. I didn’t note the final score; I think B-HARD just got into three figures but SOFT own by quite a margin.

HARD versus Haunted City

May TronHulls Angels Roller Dames are undefeated this season and so they obviously wanted a win.

From the get go they played incredibly well! Stunningly good jammers sliced through the pack, quickly taking lead in all but a few of the jams. Their blockers were horribly effective too. If the opposing jammer managed to stay on track for any length of time then they were bogged down by text book recycling! (Is there a roller derby text book?)

About half way in to the first period one of Haunted City skaters fell and didn’t get up. Not something that you ever get used to seeing. She just lay motionless on the track. The jam halted, everyone took a knee and the medics were called over. At first I thought she’d been knocked unconscious but she hadn’t. She was carefully tended to and once her skates were removed she was helped off track. A collective sign of relief was breathed and the game continued.

By half time the score stood at HARD 300 against Haunted City 9 – their unbeaten streak looked safe, but they didn’t ease off in the second half and pushed the score to 593 versus 38 by the final whistle.

Happy!Of note though was the spirit with which Haunted City continued to play. At no point did they seem down-heartened or stop trying. Ginge, their key jammer, was smiley all of the time – I’m sure she won many new fans today, myself included. Derby spirit at it’s best!

(Photo stats. I took 1,550 photos across the two games. Following review I once again find that this results in around one photo per minute. I posted 57 and 68 photos respectively.)

Hulls Angels next games are 31 May/1 June up in Scotland. I’m trying to figure out how I can get up there to capture those games.