Preview: The Officials of Richmond WFTDA Division 1 Playoff

It’s your favorite otter named Y. I. Otter, here for another round of: OFFICIALS. F*%K YEAH!

This weekend’s WFTDA Division 1 Tournament action will be in Richmond, VA, where skaters be skatin’ and officials be officiatin’. Herding the Cats this weekend will be Umpire Strikes Back (MN) and Kill C. Grammar (OH).

Before we begin, I’d like to give 2 flippers up to the officials that helped with this round of interviews:
GalVaTron (OH)
null ptr ref (CANADIA!)
Danger Muffin (CA)
Tripp N Dale (NC)
Roo Lyn Forcer (MA)
Pitzy (MI)
Jason Singer (PA)
Cleveland (TN)
Em Power (MN)

(You will get an Otter HiPaw™ if you make those into a sentence using all of the letters and those letters alone).

With a total of 52 years officiating experience, and 53 combined D1 and D2 WFTDA Tournaments under their stripes or pink polo shirts, roller derby will again be showcasing its most talented refs and NSOs.

Let’s start with the important parts

We all know officials are calm, collected and cool in the tornado of amazing derby–and as the stakes get higher, so does the intensity. Tempers sometimes flare, coaches get that often uncontrollable condition known as: ‘I Must Run Into the Center Every Jam. EVERY. JAM’. Amidst all of this madness, officials do their very best to remain stoic and professional.

DO NOT LET THIS FOOL YOU, PEOPLE. Oh, they are calm and collected, and all of those essential things that they need to be. So thanks to these officials who take their jobs seriously, but not themselves, they were brave enough to answer my next question:

‘Tell the derby world one embarrassing thing that happened to you on the track* *NOT missed calls or “I forgot to call the jam” etc..embarrassing. Awesome Embarassing as in “ZOMG YOU GUYS, I SPLIT MY PANTS AND IT’S THE 3RD JAM AND I AM WEARING MY DORA THE EXPLORER UNDEROOS!”‘

These people did NOT disappoint. For brevity’s sake, I will sum them up by official:

GalVaTron, serving as a jam timer, once forgot to put her whistle in her mouth when the first whistle needs to be blown. Jam was started not by the familiar “TWEET” we are accustom to, but a large sputtering noise and spit flying everywhere. We’re guessing GalVaTron keeps the whistle in her mouth for the entire bout and possibly the entire tournament.

null ptr ref (insert usual blatant love for Canadians <>) has never really had an awesomely embarrassing thing happen to him on the track. Good news: He feels that this is an unfortunate thing. Bad news: We’re pretty sure you just cursed yourself there, null.

Tripp N Dale had an unfortunate skate-caught-in-leotard incident (not his leotard, a skater from WCR ) that caused him to fall during Nationals in 2009. No word on how the leotard fared in this incident.

Pitzy, gets some bonus points here. She ended up PHOTOBOMBING THE DNN FEED of the inside whiteboard during a bout last weekend in Ft Wayne. Proof of this can be found here, at 10:43 a.m. In addition, due to the “Pitzy: 0; Extension Cord: 1″ showdown, she was one ‘almost-faceplant’ away from being the first NSO to kill a netbook.

Jason Singer made the mistake of trying to showcase his jumping-over-skater skills (which I might add, if you have seen pictures, are impressive). Sadly, this time there was a communication error and the skater got up juuuust as Singer and his nonobits were in the crosshairs of aforementioned skater’s helmet. We’ll let gravity tell the rest of that story.

Roo Lyn Forcer (who tipped her hat at us calling them UnderRoos*) enjoys “almost ‘pantsing’” her fellow refs! She called it “taking a whip off of a fellow IPR to get ahead of him. We know better. We suspect her fellow refs all wear belts when she is around … even if there is no derby happening.
*If you don’t know what UndeRoos are, get off of our lawn.

Cleveland can’t think of anything on the track. Which now makes us wonder what embarrassing thing(s) have gone on OFF the track.

Em Power’s most embarrassing moment was showcasing her amazing skating skills in her very first bout as a skating official … by tripping over the rope lights during the officials’ intro. Don’t sweat it, Em. I mean, it was at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium. It’s not like 2000 people saw it.**
**2000 people saw it.

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Last time around, I asked the interviewees what advice they would give officials aspiring to become WFTDA tournament caliber officials. This time around, I wanted to know how this group applied what they learned to get them to where they will be starting this Friday night. The biggest contributing factors? Good mentors, people willing to share their knowledge, and more experienced refs who were patient with these officials in their early stages.

Says Singer, “I had good mentors along the way. I owe it all to them. Also, listening to constructive criticism, and watching tons of footage of bouts that I reffed in.”

null adds, “Having the chance to work with more experienced officials is a big part of it, and that usually happens when traveling. I remember the first time I had the chance to ref with a substantially more experienced crew: it was September 2008 and the Montreal travel team was playing a Gotham home team in New York. I learned so many things that night and I then realized that I had to travel more! I have to thank Rawk, Hambone, and the rest of their crew for putting up with my inexperience that night, and giving me a bunch of tips.”

For Tripp, it was all about “Being surrounded by people who had faith in my abilities.”

Another pair of traits that helped these officials: Being open to learning and a dose of humility.

Em Power suggests listening, learning from your errors and not being too proud (or would that be arrogant?) to take feedback. Realize that others have great tips and tricks that you’ve never thought of.

What helped GalVaTron was knowing that EVERY bout was a chance for her to learn: “Being open to the experience and willing to learn from every experience, from the unsanctioned bouts in the middle of nowhere, to the big game playoff bouts.”

We’d say that the above thoughts only add to the fact that these officials have worked hard and deserve to be part of this tournament’s crew.

And now, Otter’s Questions that have absolutely NOTHING to do with officiating, but were fun to ask.

This week’s questions:

1. Owning a white long-haired cat who sheds a lot and doesn’t shoot lazors, when you only own black clothes and don’t have a closet.

2. Owning a short-haired cat who doesn’t shed a lot, shoots lasers, but thrice a year, decides to poop on your bed.

33.33% were ok owning a laser-less cat and looking like their aunt knit them a full cat-hair onesie.

66.66% would gladly trade 3 bed-poopings per year for short hair and lasers.

Danger Muffin doesn’t care about any of these categories; he would be happy with a cat that doesn’t make him wheeze and look like an embarrassed pufferfish.

Null: “I own a short-haired cat who doesn’t shed a lot, but is a jerk to strangers (ie. bites them) and gets mad at me if I pet him for more than 5 seconds. When I shoot lazors at him, the dog comes running and tries to eat the lazor dot, while the cat doesn’t care one bit. I like him anyways.”

Tripp: “I have 5 cats, all shed and barf up hairballs on my derby paperwork.”

Roo: “I picked other but it made select one–owning a hairless cat that shoots lasers to the “A Team” theme song, at my dog who likes to chase lasers.”

Pitzy: “I owned a short-haired cat that didn’t really shed a lot and I was pretty certain it defended itself against the dog with lazors, and yes, frequently pooped on my bed if I didn’t clean his litter box every effing time he used it. (and that’s when I bought one of those self cleaning boxes).”

Singer: “I liked your superhero questions better. How about Catwoman stealing a diamond, and Cyclops, in a total DC/Marvel crossover, shoots lasers in her direction, blinding her, forcing the diamond to be dropped, and her fleeing?”

Em Power: “This is too close to my life now. Just substitute ‘double-coated dog’ for cat.”

I think what we learned from this is:
1. Cats and dogs are gross but officials love them anyway;
2. Jason Singer can’t follow directions.

Until next time!

Otter….OUT.

Your Officials

Skating Officials

Tournament Head Referee: Umpire Strikes Back

Matthew Mantsch Sugar Daddy DJ Jazzy Ref
Corbin Russell The Pantichrist Tripp N Dale
Null Ptr Ref Michael Wehrman Jason Singer
Interrobang Yerdehd Refsputin Patricide
Miles Prower Justin Sanity Statsi
Dizzy Duzher Dell From Hell Devine Intervention
Short Fuse Just Mo Harm N. Killabrew
Roo Lyn Forcer Biggie Talls Oh Grr

Non-Skating Officials

Tournament Head NSO: Kill C Grammar

Intejill Dr. Frak-N-Stein Cleveland
Betty Bruises Morgue N. Donor OrgAnnica
Ian Fluenza Pitzy Funnypack
Ruth of All Evil Wizard of Laws Sparkling Whine
Danger Muffin 90° Johnson Coch Less Monster
Bettie Mercury Jeri Riggs Brawn Hilde
Funnypack Ruth of All Evil EmPower
Jeri Riggs Wishbone Breaker N8
Judge Whoppin’Her Turtle Will Ryder
India Pale Al GalVaTron Holly Wrath
Kilt Trip N. Vaidya Space (NVS) Hoodie
Wizard of Laws OrgAnnica Kirsten
Kirsten EmPower Court Marshall
Coch Less Monster India Pale Al Ultraviolent Ray
90° Johnson Ultraviolent Ray Ian Fluenza