"I've always tried to keep myself busy playing sports. Soccer primarily. From little league, as a teenager in Germany, a university team, to playing on the weekends, soccer has been the constant. I've played under a lot of coaches and have taken something from each one of them From drill sergeants to math teachers, they've all contributed something to my coaching "style". As the legs grow older and the gut grows bigger I've picked up some other less "intense" sports. I've been playing racquetball competitively for 10 years now, travelling to tournaments and coaching new players. I'll do a 5K race every now and then just to prove I can still do it without the help of an ambulance. And then there's derby.
I can't say I've been a hardcore skater for a long time as some other bloggers here. Sure I skated when I was a kid. Everyone did. I've done the skateboard thing (which lasted a whole 6 months). Hell I even bought a pair of knock off Roller Blades when they were popular in the mid nineties. But they were very uncomfortable so that didn't last long.
Fast forward to 2010. A friend and I were drinking beer one night and we started to talk about Roller Derby. We found out there was a league in nearby Harrisburg and we made plans to go. I started to watch some videos of their bouts on YouTube. Now, being as long in the tooth as I am, I had some preconceived notions about what Derby actually is. I remember watching it on TV and it was a no-holds-barred free for all of big haired ladies knocking the snot out of each other. What I found out was totally different. Where's the banked track? Rules? There are rules? What happened to all the big hits?
A short time later two co-workers found a Craig's List ad about starting a derby league in the area and asked if I could give them a ride to the rink. No problem. Maybe I'd get a few free beers out of the deal. Five people showed up to that first meeting, us three and a married couple. They asked if I wanted to be a ref. No problem I said. They asked if I could skate. Wait, what? Ref's have to skate?
That first practice I remember strapping on a pair of quads for the first time since 1986 at the Colorado Springs Skate City. Or was it 1990 at the Rollaway in Dallas? Anywho, it had been a VERY long time, but I didn't have as hard a time as I thought I would, and before I knew it I was falling, t-stopping, and baseball sliding with the best of them.
Over the past year and some odd months the league has grown to about 40 skaters. I've coached the fresh meat, stepped in and coached the "vet's" when the head coach needed me, and tried to cobble together a top notch ref crew. Recently I've decided to focus primarily on the ref aspect. Drilling, studying, studying, and drilling. I believe derby ref's should be the same as hockey ref's in that they should be the best skaters out there. One thing I've noticed since becoming head ref is there is a significant lack of ref specific drills online. I've used some from All Derby Drills, Zebra Huddle, and the Yahoo Group, but the bulk of them we've made up. I want to share these with other leagues and sprinkle some endurance drills in. Nothing worse than a ref sucking wind trying to keep up with the derbiers he's officiating."
Over the next few weeks Brawl-n-Order will be posting referee drills so invest in your referees and help them become great at their jobs so that you in turn can become great skaters!