Roller Saturday Roc City kicked off it’s 2011 Season with a 3-way Round Robin Tournament, featuring the The RottenChesters and The 5-H8-5s, and our newest home team The Midtown Maulers. Derby
Despite the weather (a winter storm advisory from Sat – Sun), a broken ATM Machine @ the Dome, and an Archery event on the other side of the Dome that apparently somehow involved a live Deer… we had an outstanding crowd in attendance (I think I overheard speculations around 1600 people). Once again we had fans lined up outside the door in crappy weather, braving the slick roads and crazy drivers, to show some
The Round-Robin was held as 3 20-minute bouts, with a 15 min break between each. After the final bout, awards were given out and the typical program signing, picture taking, family introducing, track pulling and chair folding, etc took place. Admittedly, being exhausted from a way too early start and all; I actually retired to the back to eat food and sit on the floor to catch my breath for a bit instead of the usual helping with tear-down and such.
I had an interesting vantage point this time ‘round. Most of last season saw me either in the Penalty Box or Outside White Board (tho for one bout I did Line-Up Tracking). On Saturday I took a turn at Inside White Board. I worked with a Wrangler and Penalty Tracker, and between the three of us tried to keep up with the Penalties flying in from inside and outside the track. All in all, a painless experience… tho very frenetic at times.
From a Ref-In-Training standpoint… Holy crap. I find myself both excited and intimidated at the idea of being a Referee at a bout. Yes, I’ve attended quite a few bouts, and watched them, etc… but it’s only been in the last few weeks that I’ve had the opportunity to start watching bouts from the perspective of “I’ve gotta learn how to do this, I’ve gotta learn to see what they’re seeing and call what they’re calling and skate how they're skating.”
So far I’ve skated in 2 scrimmages… and while somewhat fast-paced and chaotic… scrimmages are nowhere near the chaos and mayhem of bout night.
- The noise level. You have the crowds screaming and cheering (and jeering). You have skaters yelling encouragement, coaching, warnings, guidance, etc. You have coaches yelling encouragement, coaching, warnings, good-natured (mostly) balking at the Officials, etc. You have Raucous music playing. You have the Announcers calling play by play and general stream of consciousness commentary. And you have all of this in a cavernous venue like the Dome (which is very live acoustically… I was playing around with vocal pops and chirps while helping set up the track earlier in the day).
- Visual stimuli. At scrimmages you have the teams, the handful of NSOs (we generally don’t staff the whole set required for a bout, just necessary bodies), the refs, the coaches, maybe a few non-skating team members who are there for coaching, support… handling League-related business, etc. Oh, and the 2 or 3 Horizon employees on staff. That’s generally it.
At a bout, you have the crowd, the merch area, the sponsor table(s), the vendors/concessionaires, the
EMTcrew, the production crew, the announcers, security, the Dome staff, cameras flashing, full staff of NSOs, scoreboard operator, etc. So many points of attraction within your field of vision (or just outside your periphery) that draw your eye, so many distractions that you have to train yourself to not look at… and yet you do have to keep one eye on them because of potential hazards or interference with game-play.
trains for speed. You get a taste of that speed during scrimmages… but there isn’t that same boost of adrenaline that’s driven by “Bout Day ZOMG” and the roar of the crowds and the teams getting pumped up. They’re driven into a near-frenzy, and suddenly the skaters are flying around the track at Mach-5 and it’s your job to keep up with them… racing around at Mach-5 then needing to stop and reverse on a dime and start it back up again as the ever changing and re-arranging pack wreaks havoc with time and space. Roc City
- Pressure. Oh yes, the pressure. Not so say that scrimmages don’t count, because they do… but really scrimmages are a comfort zone. Scrimmages are playing at Karaoke with friends in your living room after a few rounds of Margaritas and Mojitos… Bout day is you with just a microphone at the SuperBowl and the desperate wish to not fuck up the National Anthem (which, by the way, is why I haven’t volunteered to sing the National Anthem at a bout… because I think I would melt into a puddle of mortified goo if I messed up in front of that large a crowd!).
On Bout day, the teams are playing f’real… they’re out for blood and victory and it’s up to you to make fair and rational and justified calls; and the players are watching and the coaches are watching and the crowd is watching and just waiting for that excuse to pin you to the wall and fling arrows at you. No, of course it isn’t personal… and you shake it off and go and drink with the gang at the After Party and it’s all good… but until you get to that point… oh the pressure.
So as I’m working the Inside White Board and keeping an eye on the game… I’m watching the Referees; I’m attempting to stay within earshot when they take an Official Time Out to discuss something (when not scrambling to make sure what I have on the board matches what the Penalty Tracker has). I’m watching to see if I can catch what the Referees are seeing when they make their calls, how they handle conflicts and “questionable” calls.
And as I’m watching all of this, I find myself both excited and terrified. One day I’ll be donning the stripes and having to come to terms with all of the distractions and fears and insecurities… and I’ll have to blow that whistle and make that call that will piss someone off, get wheel-locked by another skater and end up flat on my back, maybe get a coach in my face during an Official Time Out.
Truth is, for as much as I’m terrified of it… I cannot wait, because I know I’ll love every minute of it. <3
[video courtesy of the most awesome Derby Mom]