Author: Dor-Iain Grey
I was initially introduced to roller derby at Bath’s first home bout in September 2014, as a couple of friends were playing, and after experiencing the great atmosphere on the day I immediately fell in love with the sport. I enquired about how I could get involved with the league, and a couple of months later found myself in a school sports hall with clipboard in hand NSOing my first closed doors bout. Soon after I began attending BRDG’s weekly scrim nights, where I was thrilled to receive my own whistle, and both the players and referees were very supportive as I learned the rules and began honing my NSO skills.
The best way to improve as an NSO is to get stuck in and do it, so I threw myself into it and took any positions I could get. I officiated the next home bouts for Bath, as well as travelling with the team to NSO at their SW:UK and British Championship matches. I enjoyed getting involved in the organisational side of officiating too (I like spreadsheets), so when the time came I put myself forward and was elected Head Non-Skating Official for BRDG. In that role I now look after new NSOs joining the league and organise officials for our home games, but I’m also always happy to help other leagues with their bouts and offer them head official support on the day if needed.
If you have any interest in roller derby then NSOing is an excellent way to be part of it, as without officials the sport wouldn’t happen. There’s always a great sense of camaraderie as NSOs and referees work together to ensure bouts are safe and played within the rules, and there’s usually a plentiful supply of Haribo too. Officiating can be serious business at times, but there are chances to have fun with it too - I’ve NSOed a WWE themed tournament disguised as a wrestler and a Grease based bout dressed as Danny Zuko!
Getting involved with NSOing also opens up exciting opportunities, and has allowed me to travel up and down the country meeting lots of wonderful new people. This month I’m also flying out to Milan to officiate Italy’s first international roller derby tournament, as well as heading to Birmingham for the 4 Nations tournament featuring the national men’s teams of England, Wales, Scotland and France.
That’s what I’m doing during my NSOvember - why not speak to your local roller derby league and see how you too can help out as part of their officiating team?
Authors: Hell Cat, Geordie Racer & Lady Mactuff
Tunnel of Love (Photo Credit: Steg O Soar)
Bath Roller Derby Girls' annual Fresh Meat intake (usually running June through to October) sees us take raw recruits and teach them everything about roller derby from the ground up. Skating, safety, gameplay, attitude, rule book – it's an intensive course that takes plenty of guts, drive and dedication from our newbies, and this year's intake have risen to the challenge at every step of the way!
On 31st October, we were thrilled to throw them a Halloween graduation scrimmage (and subsequent pub crawl!) to celebrate all they've achieved and welcome them to the ranks of Bath Roller Derby Girls.
We asked a couple of freshies (now rookies!) to write a few words about their experience on the course, as it draws to an end and they start on their Minimum Skills, training with the league :)
– Hell Cat
Team Screaming Skulls (Photo Credit: Steg O Soar)
Centre: Grand Reffed Auto - BRDG's newest baby zebra! (Photo Credit: Steg O Soar)
It’s the first week of Scrim 101 and somehow I’ve ended up wearing the jammer panty. We get the five second count. Four blockers are lined up in front of me, ready to stop me passing them any way they can. To say I’m nervous is an understatement. Then the whistle blows.
If a lot of that sounds like a foreign language, don’t worry – fifteen weeks ago a lot of it was to me, too. In fact, fifteen weeks ago I had to ask one of our coaches how you stand up wearing skates.
It’s been a long three months since then. We’ve progressed from learning how to skate without holding onto the walls (OK, that was mostly me) to essential skills for skating safely to being taught how to play derby. We’ve taken a battering, both physically and mentally. We’ve swapped photos of bruises; shared our fears and frustrations.
But we’ve also shared our pride – in ourselves and one another – as we pulled off moves that were once seemingly impossible. We’ve danced the Cha Cha Slide in our skates and had 100-comment-long Facebook threads discussing puns (both good and very, very bad) for potential derby names. It’s been one of the most difficult, but also most rewarding and enjoyable, things I’ve ever done, but I don’t think I’d have got here without the support and laughter of the coaches and fellow ‘meaties’.
The whistle blows. The nerves suddenly give way to some mixture of excitement, adrenalin and sheer bloody-mindedness that gets me to the other side of the wall – and then I almost stop skating in disbelief: three months ago I was been dragged around this track by the (incredibly patient) coaches, and now I’m skating around it as lead jammer in a scrimming drill. There’s still a long way to go before we’ll be ready to skate out in our first ‘real’ matches as Bath Roller Derby Girls. But for now this is enough to make me feel like I could take on the world – or at least the opposition blockers, one more time.
– Lady Mactuff
Team Vampire Bats (Photo Credit: Steg O Soar)
It’s safe to say my love for Roller Derby has been a slow burner. Fresh from a move out to the South West from London, my heart belonged to Crossfit. Imagine how I felt when I got home from work one day to be told we were swapping lifting and a daily WOD (work out of the day) to skating… in Bath… every Sunday… for the next 15 weeks!
I don’t consider myself to be strong and I spend most my time evading rather than putting myself in the line of fire. After a particular session I cried in the car on the way home as every part of my body hurt and I was no longer finding it fun. I just wanted to skate around and feel like I was 10 again, I didn’t want to endure being hit and panicking every time another skater came towards me.
I think the turning point for me was going to watch a match. I realised that it wasn’t just our coaches that were kind, supportive and motivating – that’s the positive qualities the sport lends itself to – and that is something I want to be part of.
– Geordie Racer
Zombie cheerleaders Vs. undead coaches! (Photo Credit: Comic Slams)
All the historic goings on of Bath Roller Derby!