Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hello, exhaustion. I almost forgot what you were like.

Just sitting down after a busy derby weekend. Made a six hour road trip to ref a doubleheader. Worked as an IPR during the first bout, and ran hot laps on the outside in the second. It wasn't an easy night in stripes...

If there's one thing I can impress upon other officials out there, it's that you NEED to work with other people. Go visit other area teams. Get their refs to come visit you. Talk. Email. Network! Don't allow yourself to develop those skills in a vacuum - it ends up hurting everyone involved. While you're at it, visit sites like Zebra Huddle. It's a great place to get opinions and clarifications. When I was injured and couldn't travel to ref in other towns, it was an invaluable resource to allow me to continue to develop. I'm a much better ref than I would have been without it, and I made some new friends there along the way as well.

Today we had a doubleheader hangover scrimmage with the other league in the town we visited. I jammer reffed both of them, and I felt strong. Well. I felt tired, but I felt sharp and on my game. I realized at the end of it that the "bad ones" make the "good ones" feel that much sweeter. I'm truly lucky to be surrounded with the people at my home league, officials and skaters alike.

Now I'm resting quietly while my pads spin in the washing machine. Two complete boutfits are next. I think I'll go to bed early tonight...

Monday, March 7, 2011

What was I so worried about?

So, as it turns out... As long as you know your rules, know how to skate and have a great ref crew backing you up, Jammer reffing - even for sanctioned and regulation bouts - isn't that scary after all.

The quiet time between jams...

It was a good derby weekend. I only got taken out once - but they tried at least three times. During one of the attempts, I almost took down everyone else on the inside with me.

My skating continues to improve, but my conditioning is still lacking. I was completely exhausted by the end of the second bout, and my quads are still kind of sore today. I need to drop a bunch of weight, work on cardio and get those skills up-to-par with the quickness.

The next day I participated in a quick photo shoot. I needed a new headshot for the new league's programs, and they throw in a few extra "studio" poses while they're at it. The mohawked helmet plays an important role in mine. I also got one with my new derby wife.

Oh, I didn't mention that, did I?

I asked the Head NSO of my new league, Ms. Silken Tofu if I could be her derby wife (thereby making her mine as well), and she accepted. For those readers who don't understand the concept, I'll make a separate post on the concept of derby wifedom later. For now, just know that she and I have each other's backs.

I actually have a weekend off coming up. Those are going to be rare for the next couple of months. I plan to enjoy it as fully as I can, but I'll probably go skating on Friday night anyway. I think it's a good idea to just skate for fun from time to time since it can seem like work when you only do it at practice or in bouts.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Nervous? But I don't get nervous any more...

I've reffed several sanctioned bouts. I've jammer reffed several, too. This coming weekend will be the first time the two of these are combined, however.

I'm a bundle of nerves, and I can't figure out why.

I'm completely confident in my knowledge and in my ability to do the job. I can't even tell you the last time I got butterflies thinking about upcoming bouts. Why am I freaking out?

I don't know what this has to do with "freaking out," but I found it while searching for a photo that might be appropriate for this post. I'm just going to leave it here anyway.

Ultimately, I know I do everything I can to be a good ref. I know that this weekend will be awesome, and that I'll be fine. I just wish I'd stop twitching every time I think about it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

On professionalism and fun, and why they are not mutually exclusive

Have you ever met or heard of Dayglo Divine? She reffed for several years, most recently with the Charm City Roller Girls. She taught me more than I think she realizes about how to be a good derby ref. Not just about rules, mind you. But more about how seriously to take the job and how to carry yourself while you're doing it. This is a picture of Dayglo:

Totally looks like someone who would teach me about being serious as a ref, right? Well, you're wrong. She was as pro as they come, and the derby world is a far less awesome place since she retired. As a tribute to the Dayglorious one, this is what I looked like at a Halloween bout this past year:

Now, it probably should have ended there. Dayglo, though, had other plans. She asked me to continue to dress up a bit - a passing of the torch, so to speak. A few weeks ago, I was the head ref for a crew in BHRG's B Cup Invitational. I looked like this:

Far less over-the-top, perhaps, but anyone who knows Dayglo got the connection all the same. I was complemented all day about my professionalism and my calm in the center of the storm. Qualities, for the record, that I strive for in every bout I officiate.

Fast forward a bit to last night. I show up at the ref meeting, having gotten information that this HR requests we stick tournament dress, but it's not required. Now, just in case, I carry my plain white helmet in my gear bag all the time, but of course I had ole Pinky with me as well. I asked him if he was okay with it, and he replied...

"Well, you can either look professional, or you can wear that." As he said it, he pointed at my helmet and smirked.

I swallowed my anger and got the backup helmet out. Like I said earlier, I reffed the SHIT out of that bout, and again got several compliments. Why am I so steamed?

Roller derby is (or should be) FUN first. Sure, the push to make it more "legit" has been underway for a while now. I can understand - and to a certain degree, appreciate - that. But, no matter what helmet or outfit I'm wearing, I ref bouts to the very best of my ability. Refuse to take me seriously at your own peril. In the end, if a head ref doesn't like the helmet, I'll leave it in the ref room. But, man, if you've ever worked with me - or anyone else who has, you know what you're getting when I show up. Let me do the job, and let me make a few people smile when they see me too.

The where/what now?

Well, hello there intrepid reader! It's been a long time since I even looked at this lonely little page. Since it appears Blogger is a bit more robust than Tumblr, expect more lengthy blog posts here, though I'll still use that other thing for random little blurbs and other stuff that I think are fun.

So, let's talk derby for a few. I'm still Brad Religion. I'm still a ref. However, I found myself a new derby home. I made the switch from Circle City to the Bleeding Heartland Roller Girls of Bloomington, IN a few weeks ago. The reasons are many and varied, and if you needed to know them, I probably already let you know. In any case, it's all water under the bridge, so to speak.

Last night I reffed my first official bout with BHRG in Louisville, KY. I've only OPR'd a handful of bouts, and it was never a position I felt completely comfortable filling. That is, until last night. For the first time it felt like I really "got it." My positioning was solid. My timing and instincts were on. The bout was intense and emotional, and it certainly felt like it was closer than the scoreboard showed at the end of the night. We, as the zebra crew, managed to hold it all together and fun ended up being had by all - except the one unruly fan who was screaming at the refs from right beside the turn 4 whiteboard and rattling a cowbell at us. Luckily, the HR had a brief conversation with the gentleman and he settled down.

In any case, BHRG has done a wonderful job of making me feel at home and re-igniting my love for roller derby. Watch this page for more regular updates and stories from the track.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Wishing I had more to offer this blog

As it turns out, my life is in utter chaos right now, and that has led to less skating (and thus, less posting) than I would have preferred. Fear not, intrepid reader. Things will work out one way or another soon enough, and I'll be back skating, reffing and posting on the regular.

My league and I have decided to host a derby ref clinic in the very near future. The pictures and stories from that event should leave me plenty to discuss on here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Well, last night marked my first practice since I injured myself back in May that I skated without any braces or supports on my left ankle. That was originally the plan anyway, but I figured I would give it a couple more weeks since I took my little derby vacation. As it turns out, I forgot the brace at home, and I wasn't about to miss practice for it, so off I went...

Anyway, it didn't bother me at all. In fact, I forgot about it altogether until someone pointed it out to me toward the end of the night. Aside from the scar, that was my last reminder of the injury and everything that went with it. Awesome.

Last night's practice was not easy. Skating-wise, it was no problem. I kept up with my jammers quite well, but I am eventually hoping to spend some time practicing my pack reffing. On the other hand, the core/off skates portion of the evening? That just about killed me. Lots of ab work and the like. That hurts a big guy like me. Remember that "get in better shape" goal? Yeah...