NSO 101


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!

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Diary of a Cadet

My posts so far have been about the skating and Derby aspects of being a Dame. But I also spend several hours a week, every week, in my role as a Director of Birmingham Blitz Dames, particularly on the finance side. Other Directors focus on other areas, but each of us are busy in the background on a daily basis.

You may think authorising invoices, making sure the in-goings and out-goings balance is not actually Roller Derby, but of course it is important for every league out there. The Dames are ten years old later this year, and since I’m a new Director there is already expansive protocol and systems in place that have evolved and then formalised over the last decade. I give serious thanks to those that did my role before me, and plan to automate and streamline it even more going forward.

So why am I including this in a post about being a Cadet? primarily because my diary is always horrible in June (Year End & Exhibitions in the day job) and so I will only get to minimal practise sessions this month. So I’m pretty much sulking about by lack of time on track. That doesn’t mean I’m AWOL – I’m still working in the background on a variety of issues, as is every other Director and Committee Heads (and their committee members).

But whilst balancing a spreadsheet is all for the greater good, I’ve missed skating the last two weeks and I know I have another week before I can make it back to regular sessions. Each week away from the track is another week I don’t achieve my laps or learn how to dig in better within a wall. Each week away from my team mates means I miss cheering for them when they do something awesome (Go Lil’ Savage!). Each week is another week where I see amazing posts on Facebook about learning how to backwards apex jump (Woo Hoo ‘Ellrasier!) – and I’m not there to cheer / learn / fall / try again, due to Real Life getting in the way of my Derby Life.

But at least you all know the bank statement balances.



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Under the Helmet – Shauna The Dead

Shauna the Dead 302Under the Helmet offers a glimpse of our Blitz Dames’ lives when they are not on track.  This month, Shauna The Dead shows us how she manages her career as a pharmacy technician with motherhood and Roller Derby; Shauna currently skates for both the Bomb Squad AND the ATeam, competing most recently in SKOD: A Skate Odyssey.

“I’ve been a pharmacy technician for 15 years now, stumbling on the profession in a newspaper whilst trying to find a job after the arrival of my first child.  I trained for two years at City Hospital and after qualifying secured a job which I stayed in until the start of this year.  I then moved and I am now the dispensary manager at The Alexandra Hospital.  This brings with it a whole new set of challenges.  New people to meet, new systems to learn, new protocols and actually managing a department; budgets, sickness, annual leave and it general problems (Missing drugs, wholesalers forgetting items, grumpy patients to name but a few).  All this in a NHS that’s struggling can be very frustrating and demoralising, but you have to remember the patient.  You have to put a smile on your face, treat them with empathy, compassion. They’re having a worse day than you! You learn a lot working in The NHS about life. You put things into perspective, you realShaunaise life is too short, unfair, sad.  You appreciate what you have more.

“Roller derby saved me from going nuts when I felt I could do nothing. It takes my mind completely when I’m playing. I am unable to think of anything else. It gives you a rest from the day to day things that run through your head. The people involved in our league and roller derby in general have time for you, time to listen, laugh, hug you if you’re having a bad day or even buy you a beer! The support is phenomenal.

“My family is also amazing, they support me, cheer me on and put up with me out at training three times a week. I wouldn’t be able to play without their support!”

Posted in Meet the Dames

Rookie Ramblings- Adulting sucks

Adulting sucks.

Currently between my injury and my postgraduate degree my time on skates has been very limited. Skating will always be there, however passing this degree is a one time only thing.

It’s been a big decision to take a small step back but I know that the team support me and my career and ultimately want to succeed.

I have tried to test the water about announcing whilst I’ve been off skates; thought to myself “I can ramble with the best of them and occasionally I’m funny. I could maybe do this announcing thing.” So my name is in the pipeline and I’m hopefully gonna get to have a go with something small and league based first before I try announcing London vs. Gotham 😉

Another reason adulting sucks

We’re getting evicted in the next 2 months and currently there may be a possibility that we’dbe moving to far for me to stay with BBD 🙁 now this is horrendous. Ultimately it’d be my decision; we have skaters from Warwick and Coventry who skate with us and commute so I’d have to decide whether I could do it. And that’s a massive dark cloud decision looming on the horizon.

The thing with anything to do with Derby is that it has to be right for you.

The level of commitment and sessions you go to has to be right for you.

The place you train

The people you train with

The choices you make around injuries.

No one can tell you these things. We’re all adults and we can all make those decisions for ourselves; those decisions just aren’t always easy.

Injury update- done 3 or 4 sessions with a new private physio that works occupational health referred me to. He has a mega-tens machine and he pushes on my collarbone a lot. It seems to be helping, might avoid the dreaded knife yet.

Bones out.

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Diary of an Adolescent Zebra – Final Post!

My relationship with this blog has been short and sweet. I’ve recently been offered a job all the way on the other side of the country, so in a couple of months my time with the Dames will be up – and yes, that was the biggest dilemma in my decision to take the job, but career first and all that.

So this month’s topic for me is going to be community. I’m not scared of moving leagues, because roller derby is like instant custard. Or something. You just add water (or milk??) and it’s made. With roller derby, you just turn up and you have instant friends. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere, I swear.

The officials community, in particular, is super to have. You quickly start to accumulate friends from all across the UK because crews are made up of officials from lots of different places. Being an official is like being in a huge roller derby league that spans the country. On a number of occasions I have turned up to ref events and not met any of the other refs before, but we all just slot in and do our thing. Everyone is supportive. Everyone is happy to have you. Everyone will answer your questions or join a debate with you.

Why is the ref community how it is? I suppose it’s because we’re a rare breed. A league might have 60 skaters and 5 refs, or 20 skaters and 1 ref. We often have questions arise from scenarios that only other refs will know the answer to. The rules of roller derby are COMPLEX, you guys. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been reffing, new things will still come up on a regular basis that will challenge you. And as a community, we work to figure it out. On a darker note, we may have received abuse from a skater or had a tough game and need a shoulder to cry on or just need someone to act as a sounding board. The ref community is there. If you made a bad call, other refs will help you learn from it and move on. We’ve got each others backs. We’re in this together.

So even though the league in the town where I’m moving to doesn’t have any refs yet, I’m not scared. The whole community is still there for me. They’ll still help me learn and they’ll still be my support. That’s pretty cool.

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