August WARDian of the Month: Mr Zed

Mr Zed profileZed is hilariously witty. As well as devoting his precious time to attending countless training sessions, scrimmages and games as a referee, he also brings a whole lot of laughter and enjoyment to the whole league. It’s not hard to see the great amount of love and commitment that Zed has for this sport and I think he is such a valuable member of this league! Your WARDian this month is Mr Zed.

How did you get into Roller Derby?

I got into derby through Xan, who was skating with the Dundee Destroyers (Scotland) and she and her team-mates seemed to be having so much fun that I wanted to join and help out where I can. The enjoyment that group got from training sessions lured me that this was something to be part of. So I became the Trackmeister and started NSOing. When we got back to Perth, I thought I’d try to learn how to skate. I didn’t have any plans on being a ref but just wanted to see whether skating was possible because Xan always enjoyed it. But I was fortunate to be encouraged, trained, and mentored by such a great bunch of officials, that it quickly became something to aspire to. Initially it was Ezy, Handles, Templar and Yoshi who each taught me different things about skating, the game, officiating and derby life. As my skating improved, I was more able to learn from others. In addition to WARDs ref crew, other officials have also been great encouragement and help. In particular, The General and Connie from PRD have always been great examples and my improvements and aims have learnt much from them.

What do you get out of Roller Derby?

Laughs, friends, teamwork, fitness, skating skills, learning how to use Facebook, wearing silly clothes (see ‘laughs’). I love the combination of creativity, theatre and sport. A couple of examples, from many, show the joy of derby. In 2010, the Destroyers were hosting their first public bout against their derby besties (Aberdeen’s Granite City Rollers). It had to be publicised and Xan and I spent a hilarious day with other Destroyers designing and photographing things for the bout flyer. There were all sorts of in-jokes and stupidity and only when the final flyer was printed did any of us realise that the words ‘roller derby’ didn’t actually feature anywhere, leaving the public uncertain as to what was actually being staged! Even more than the bouts, though, I get far more enjoyment from the training. It’s the chance to be part of a gang again, isn’t it? Silly names, in-jokes, and the times and mates which, at that moment, are the only thing in the whole world. Derby is a great escape and re-charge from the rest of life, work, worry and being a ‘grown up’.

What has been the highlight of your skating career so far?

For me the highlight is just a whole lot of small interactions and memories, some of which I’m not even involved in but just see at training or games. For example, it’s the jokes and banter that two opposing jammers have with each other as they speed past you on their way to chase down the pack. Or it’s the teasing of various WARDians about my wardrobe: “You look all serious up top and all party down below”, “You have more outfits than most of the women here”, “How are the padded shorts, Mr Zed?” (after a particularly spectacular early fall…in which the padded shorts were no benefit, FYI Steely!). Or it’s the skaters’ jokes and dances between themselves on the jam line. Or it’s the care and protection given so I don’t get hit while I’m desperately taping track lines during warm-ups. These are what I enjoy and
remember most, and what are the highlights and attraction to derby.

In terms of officiating, the highlight has definitely been the arrival and activity of Vector at WARD. His knowledge of the rules and dedication to teaching and training has been a massive boost to the reffing abilities within WARD and also the WA roller derby community more broadly. There is a team-work and dynamic among derby officials. Occasionally, in some games, you feel a real synergy of working as a single ‘referee brain’. For example when two refs call the same penalty in unison, or another signals initiator went out so it shouldn’t be a cut, or the Jam Timer sidles up and warns about the wrong skaters on track, or the Wrangler has written the penalty seemingly before you’ve even finished saying it. As WARD increases its officials and our abilities, I look forward to more moments like this in the future.

Most embarrassing moment?

Not being able to remember people’s names as quickly as I should.

In terms of skating and reffing, there are so many mistakes, blunders and errors I’ve made but they’re not really a source of embarrassment. More often than not, they provide more humour or improvement than embarrassment.
I guess this may be the opportunity to put my side of the story of…The Trackgate Affair: When a Zebra went to the Other Side (if for no reason other than we’ve got some great photos taken by Peter Granheim capturing the whole ridiculous moment). I was following Karmen Adiarya, who was lead jammer, and I was pointing like a dutiful ref and relaying her scores to the NSOs. Then I tripped over my own skates and fell…sliding into the middle of the track…in front of the leader jammer. I recall springing to my feet in record time, doing a Wile-E-Coyote and pedalling on the spot, and promptly falling down again. Then I thought I should crawl off the track. All of the time this was going on, Karmen was signalling for the jam to be called off. Unfortunately there’s only one person who should whistle the jam off from the lead jammer’s signal: their jammer ref. But I was otherwise occupied. Happily, when I was apologising to Karmen later, she said it was one of the funnier moments she’s had in derby.
Zed obstacle course 1 Zed obstacle course 2

Have you got any training tips?

Fall over. I should clarify this is a training tip – I actually try to avoid falling over in games (despite evidence to the contrary!). Practice falling until you’re completely comfortable with it and can do it safely. Once you’ve nailed those two, falling over is a really valuable tool to use in learning and improving most other skating skills. Think of most derby moves: crossovers, backward skating, transitions, C-turns, jumps, hockey-stops, etc. You can probably do these to varying degrees of success. But how far can you push them: can you jump further, can you C-turn sharper, can you transition from forward to backward on a curve at speed, when you are on a new floor – how fast can you take the curve without slipping? Maybe better skaters are able to find their limits without falling over. But I like to know what that limit is (and try to keep pushing some of those limits). And there’s where falling over helps.

What are your derby aspirations?

Continue to improve my refereeing. Reffing in different positions and with different people helps identify parts of my own game which need to be worked on. Longer-term, it will be great when we have many more experienced referees and NSOs to help whenever the skaters want it. I’d like more people to do officiating with WARD because it’s something they want to do and not just something because they don’t have enough X chromosomes or can’t otherwise be on the other side of the trackline for whatever reason. I aspire to WARD having heaps of officials and I can roam the wide Serengheti. Translated to derby that means being an OPR on home games, wearing the mane, skating around the outside, and telling occasional people off for pulling my tail (I’m looking at you, Dirge!).

Who would you nominate as the next WARDian of the Month?

The WARD Management Committees. I’m eternally thankful for to those girls and guys who do so much volunteer stuff behind the scenes to keep WARD running. For many of us, derby is just about training and games and skating. But this mob and their nights, weekends, forms, papers, e-mails, meetings and everything else they do is just phenomenal. But I suspect that that nomination is not playing by the rules, and you’re wanting to know about actual members of WARD? Well I’d nominate an oldie and a newie. Karmen Adairya and Che Nailed ‘er.
“Think of derby, think of fun, think of Karmen Adairya”. If there isn’t a catchy jingle with that, then there should be. It’s amazing how many people you speak to, and their first memories and motivations of derby goodness is Karmen. It’s a delight to see her skate (although it’s a bit frightening how quickly she get through a pack, and the jammer ref has to skate really fast to keep up and, look out, he seems to have tripped over and, hallo, he’s on the track). But what I enjoy more is the laughter and ‘tude to all around – teammates, opposition, officials, crowd – we all get splashed by the Adairya goodness.
Nails – I don’t know so well but there’s a streak of fun, warmth and craziness!

B&W photo credit: Istar Photographics; Profile photo credit: Winning Sports Photography; Other images: Peter Granheim.

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