NSO 101

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Hi everyone!

I’m Edgy, and I regularly officiate, off-skates, for my league the Birmingham Blitz Dames. If you’ve ever watched a game of roller derby you will have seen that in addition to the players on the track and the referees giving their points and calling their penalties, there are a bunch of us folks off-skates dotted around doing other important things.

The role of a Non-Skating Official (NSO) is varied, from ensuring skaters sit their penalties and that these penalties are properly recorded, to totalling points scored; and from making sure a record is kept of who is on track when, to signalling the start and end of each period, jam (unless called off by a jammer), time out and official review. Not to toot the NSO horn too loudly, but just like teams and refs, a game can not happen without them! Derby can happen but no one will write down your points or record that naughty clockwise block, so like…what’s the point right?!

As this is the first post about NSOing, I just wanted to introduce this aspect of derby as a whole before talking about specific roles in future posts. The roles are as follows in a full NSO roster:

  • Jam timer
  • Penalty tracker
  • Penalty Box Manager
  • Penalty wrangler
  • Penalty timer x2
  • Inside White Board
  • Line up tracker x2
  • Score keeper x2
  • Scoreboard operator

So at games, even though you have to be impartial and can not under any circumstances cheer on your home team, you are part of your own team – and most of the time there are treats (sweets, cakes, free water, sweat-free hugs)! Sometimes there is even actual swag – like the flamingo drink stirrer featured in the picture.

You will mainly find NSOs in grey or pink, the latter earning us the spirit animal of flamingo, although for specific tournaments there may be other colours like the yellow “watchmen” officials tshirt from the Blitz Dames epic co-ed tournament Marvel -vs- DC in February 2015.

Players will always thank you at the end of a game – there will be sweaty hugs then, and NSOs can gain certifications from the WFTDA through a lot of hard work, as recognition for their skills and confirmation that they are good enough to officiate high level games. So it’s all to play for folks!

Welcome to the home of the Birmingham Blitz Dames! We're an all-female, full-contact, flat track roller derby team based in Birmingham in the UK. We skate fast and we hit hard! Our league is skater run and owned - and we're proud to work and play as a team, and compete at the highest level. We take women from all backgrounds and train athletes. Whether you've played roller sports all your life or never tried on a pair of skates - if you'd like to join a great team and play a fast-paced, hard-hitting, athletic sport, come and join us! See you on the track!

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