…This weekend I enjoyed refereeing…
I know I bleat on about how great being in stripes is, but lately it hasn’t been. I took some time off after Dallas and spent it working on a ref training plan and refereeing other leagues. After that time off I came back to game-reffing, but not to practice reffing. I still didn’t feel it. I still needed JUST A LITTLE BIT MORE time off.
So I took another month. And another.
There were underlying issues with a couple of individuals, but really, I just needed a break. I realised that I hadn’t taken a proper break since moving to Birmingham over two years ago. And prior to that… well… I gave myself a month of adjustment when I moved from MMR to NRG. I spent that time chucking out pink and blue things and shopping online for gold and black leg warmers. What I’m saying is, I don’t give myself time off often.
That led to nearly four months of me not having regular training. I enjoyed travelling to other teams and training with them. Networking. Working on my training plan. Meeting fresh refs and finding that teaching them brought back some of my enthusiasm.
Last week I went back to training with the Central City Rollergirls. I’m still not 100% so I’m doing a phased return. It’s the first time I have been delicate with myself and rollerderby since THE TEETH incident. It feels good to think about my happiness.
So. Back at training (almost) and back to gameplay (fo’ sho’) I was off to Leeds this weekend for the Last Action Heroes Tournament. Another one of those co-ed pay-to-play DELIGHTS that I usually recoil at in horror. But Matthew Newton was THR… so applied to participate. Cue roadtrip with the boy and Ben.
Sniper and Gin were going to be there skating, and a heap of my ref buddies were going to be officiating. BS, Sven, Stiff, Disco Dave, ALUN BLOODY HUGHES and of course Newton. First up, I was given a new sleeveless hoodie from my buddies at NRG and TNF. God I love them. Now we all match.
I like working with Newton. We have a similar outlook. I like to message him when I’m feeling like rollerderby is becoming a chore. He usually makes me laugh and I get over it. This weekend, his THR mantra was to enjoy it, and have fun. So we did. Lots of it.
I have been raised in rollerderby to NOT HAVE FUN as a ref. Team No Fun. We don’t smile much, we keep a straight face. It’s taken me YEARS to perfect the “bored now” look which I pulled off so easily as a teenager.
In contrast to that I always tell my crews we’re here to have fun, so have it. I don’t think it’s fair to say refs aren’t allowed to have skater friends and congratulate them on awesome moves. Sure, it’s a fine line between being human and showing favouritism, but I’m not a robot. And GOD DAMN IT I LIKE TO SMILE. But then… I take my reffing seriously. I want to be seen as professional. It’s a difficult one. I haven’t found the balance there yet.
Photo by Barry Wimlett: https://www.facebook.com/barmyarmy?fref=ts
So all that said, turning up for a ten-hour-long day to ref some mixed teams in Leeds I was imagining the usual: Tired angry skaters. Hungry refs. Contact lenses drying out because Futsal halls are always covered in a layer of dust. I got all of that. But I also got a bunch of laughs.
From having someone say “WTF are they doing?” in my ear when weird plays happened on track, to being able to smile when a lead jammer winked at me and pointed back. The whole thing was made infinitely more enjoyable.
So much so that I had skaters telling me they were tired and bored part way through the day and I thought “Really??!”. That’s a nice feeling. It reminded me of Tattoo Freeze years ago, meeting Shref and Noise Tank for the first time and having ice creams in the sunshine. Back before I thought about ref cert and taking things seriously, and I was just wanting to ref for fun.
Five hours and twenty minutes of skating done in one day. Body feels good. Brain felt tired but it was from lack of food I think. Few tweaks to the training and with my newly returned love of the game, I should be ready to nail the Big O in a month.
*cough* they also had a guy there doing portraits and I managed to get the boy to stand still (albeit on skates) long enough to get a good photo of us *cough*