Preview: The Officials of WFTDA Championships


Well, here it is, folks: the fifth and final Officials Preview for the 2013 WFTDA tournament cycle. We’ll be going a bit more in-depth this time around, giving you more insight on the officials who have been chosen to keep things on the up and up for the best of the best.

As always, I couldn’t do this without the officials who were kind enough (read: were badgered into submission) to participate. The highest of HiPaws to the following folks:

Jonathan Lee (CA)
Deadeye (OH)
Jon (PA)
Matthew Mansch (NY)
Nora Leif (IL)
Jason Singer (PA)*
The Shoveler (IL)
Null Ptr Ref (CANADIA!)
Elke Hollic (IL)
Dolemout (WA)

Wrangling the Dazzle (for those of you who don’t know, that is the technical name for a herd of zebras) and Team Chalkward (I totally stole that, but whoever came up with it..I tip my cap to you) this year at Champs will be Judge Knot and Kill C. Grammar respectively.

With a total of approx 80 years of roller derby officiating and a whopping 110 WFTDA D1/D2 tournaments under their belts (or whatever is keeping their pants/shorts up), the best-of-the-best will be officiated by some of the best-of-the-best.

Being chosen to officiate a roller derby tournament is an honor. Every official who has chosen to participate in this year’s WFTDA playoffs proved that the years of work they put in–physically, mentally, and emotionally–were amply rewarded. But to be chosen to officiate Championships is an honor reserved for a small fraction of the population. These folks were chosen not only by their peers, but by the members of the WFTDA, including the women who will be participating. I asked the participants what their first thought was when they found out they were chosen and there were a myriad of answers.

Many of the officials listed excitement as their initial reaction. (Deadeye refused to give me her entire response, but fruit punch and marshmallows were included).

Null’s (awesome and very Canadian reaction) was “I need to practice more. More. MOOOAAAAR!”


The Shoveler’s response was very different then most, but one we feel is important to share. “I don’t remember specifically. Being selected to officiate the WFTDA Championship or a Playoff is an honor. Whenever that happens, my only concern is performing the role I am placed in at a level the teams participating deserve.

“To be honest though, I feel the same way about every game, regardless of if it is a tournament, a sanctioned game, or a regulation game between C teams from unranked teams. The players put a lot of work into preparing physically for a game and for holding a game. They deserve to have the best officiating possible at all times and I attempt to do my best to make that happen. There might be times when skaters feel “Well, this is only a(n) >, so the officials probably don’t really care”. Not if you have the Shoveler as an official.

Elke (in true Elke fashion) wrote, “Yay!! I hope I have enough cat shirts.” We hope so too, Elke, because the writer of this article has a special interest in cat shirts. Nora Leif is excited not only to be a part of this, but BECAUSE SPRECHER ROOT BEER (If you are in Milwaukee and DON’T have Sprecher Root beer, all of Wisconsin will be disappointed).

Another unusual take on this was from Jon (the writer of this article is doing her very best NOT to call him Catsi). “I have worked every Champs/Nationals that WFTDA has organized (I did not work Dust Devil 2006, the de facto championship organized by Tucson). Every year I suspect that my streak will end, and the first thing I think when I am notified that I have been selected is ‘not yet’.” Cats..erm, JON, is an official who realizes that being selected to officiate Champs isn’t a given. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been officiating. You still have to prove your merit to earn a spot.

Singer said something funny about tight-rolling his pants and dancing around the room, but upon further investigation, parts of this didn’t actually happen (which is sad, because all of the other horrific trends from the 80’s have returned … WHY NOT JUST THROW TIGHT-ROLLING YOUR PANTS INTO THE FASHION MIX.

The most poignant answer to our question came from Matthew Mantsch. He simply thought “Home”.

Next up: “OFFICIALS ARE PEOPLE!” (part 1)

We asked these officials “What is an odd/weird, gross/unusual/funny habit you have”? They did NOT disappoint.

Deadeye: “I occasionally break out into song in public places to serenade (read: embarrass and influence) people.”

Null: “I can’t really think of anything relevant or interesting. I could mention that I always travel to tournaments with a carry-on-sized backpack, and nothing else. Some people find it weird that I manage to fit everything in there. It might not be too unusual though, I don’t know.”

Dolemout: “I pop my toe knuckles. A lot. A genuinely disturbing amount”.

Jason Singer: “I smell my wrist guards. At some point during a derby day, I find myself singing ‘Time’ by Culture Club.”

Jonathan Lee: “I like to do handstands before a game. I also like to do burpees on skates.”

The Shoveler: “Hmmm … there is something I noticed I do over the last year and I don’t know if it is a new thing or something I have always done and just noticed. I rub my right thumb and index finger together a bit before most jams begin. It is kind of a nervous tic, I suppose, and I have no idea when it started or why I do it.”

Nora Leif: “I am made of odd habits. I do have a tendency to hum when I get nervous, though. I’m putting this here because there’s nowhere else to put it–no patches would be sad, but there is NOTHING worse than Air Supply.”

Elke Hollic: “I have lots of odd habits. I like to build pillow forts. I carry a million things in my backpack in case someone forgets something, like socks.”

Jon: “I collect animal skulls and such. I haven’t flown anywhere within the US/Canada/Mexico since 2009, but have driven cross-country (& Canada/Mexico) several times.”

Matthew Mansch: “I mouth along, not just with songs, but with some people as they’re talking to me.”


We asked “What is something or someone that inspired you or kept you going during a moment of self-doubt or frustration in your derby career? If it was a person (who you don’t have to name, by the way), what did they say/do?”

Deadeye: “I owe a lot to Nora Leif and Stabby McNeedles for helping me keep it together. Without them I would have been a horrible THNSO last year and I would have melted down about Certification ages ago.”

Null: “The knowledge that I can do better, that I can work harder, and get it right next time.”

Singer: “I had good support from senior referees from nearby leagues, who kept offering me support, whether in person or in emails.”

Jonathan Lee: “Working tournaments with amazing crews and being able to work with officials that I know from across the country (and the world) always re-energizes and re-inspires me.”

The Shoveler: “A moment of self doubt!?! I am constantly doubting my own abilities and performance. I question whether I am capable of performing any role at any time. To be perfectly blunt, I do the best I can and rarely feel like I could not do/be better. What keeps me going is the challenge of attempting to be perfect. At the moment I think I am perfect two things will have happened. 1. I won’t be frustrated. 2. I will be delusional.

Nora (the following is a quote from someone she respects): “You are really good at what you do and we would be hard pressed to do this without you. You give a unique and experienced aspect that is not replaceable and you have a lot to share.” Thanks, Brooklyn.

Elke: “A good friend (and fellow female ref) told me that I knew the rules, I knew how to call it, I just needed to let myself relax and do it.Don’t let the skaters or the coaches phase you, because you’ve got it.”

Jon: “My stories that are this ought not to be shared. Tripp N. Dale was there for most of them.”

Matt: “Any time I see an official improve something based on my feedback, it makes me want to keep on going.”

And now, without further ado, THE PART THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING!
When asked Which makes want you to punch someone more:
1. Starting a sentence with the words “YOU GUYS”
2. Starting a sentence with “OH HAI”
3. “They both want to make me punch someone”

10% said #1 is punch-worthy
30% said they were BOTH punch worthy
60% said “OH HAI”
This means that 100% of these people have wanted to punch Sir Osis at some point.

And FINALLY: We asked these officials if they HAD to choose one, which would it be?
1. Listening to nothing but Air Supply’s Greatest Hits on a continuous loop, 5 hours a day for 8 months in a row.
2. Officiating patches of any kind no longer existing.


70% of the respondents were agreed “Patches are great, but NOT worth this special circle of hell”
30% of these officials really, REALLY love patches. And Air Supply.

Aaaand..OTTER. OUT. (Ed: Until next year!)

Skating Officials

Tournament Head Referee: Richie Frangiosa

Eric RAWK Umpire Strikes Back Jason Singer
Jonathan Lee Code Adam null ptr ref
Matthew Mantsch Collin DeShotz Oedipus Ref
Michael Wehrman Corbin Russell The Pantichrist
Sugar Daddy Curtis E. Lay Phillip McCrevasse
Tripp N. Dale DJ Jazzy Reff Matt S. Faction
The Shoveler Wernher Von Bombed Loren Order
Patricide Statsi Machete Holiday

Non-Skating Officials

Tournament Head NSO: Kill C. Grammar

Pol E. Dangerous Phil In The Blank Dr. Frak-N-Stein
Amy Butler Intejill Reed d’Rulz
Sho’Nuff Samuel Bergus Tenacious D-Cup
Danger Muffin Ultraviolent Ray EmPower
Hi Refinition India Pale Al Izzy Pop
Ruth of All Evil Stabby McNeedles Turtle
90° Johnson Sod Off Deadeye Knight
Nine Inch Wheels Morgue N. Donor Thunder Rogue
Parking Lot Papa Razzo OrgAnnica
N. Vaidya Space Russell Crowbar Doc Skinner
Cleveland Silken Tofu Dolemout
Nora Leif Screama Donna Wishbone Breaker
Funnypack Molotov Rawktail K-Shock
Elke Holic Just Mo Full Nelson
Ian Fluenza GalVaTron Travis Sickle

* Incidentally, Singer had to bow out as a Jammer Referee for Champs, due to health issues (he’s given his okay to include this). If you are or have been a referee, you know this is the absolute worst thing to have to do. We give him props, and he will be missed–and please note, this statement is not just speculation, it has been supported by many within the officiating community.

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