I reffed my first roller derby bout on Saturday. I spent the morning pouring over the officials manual and rule book, nearly suffocating myself with nervous energy. What if I missed a call? What if I made a bad call? What if someone called me out for missing a call?!
Unfortunately, this nervous “what if” mindset turned out for the worse. In fear of making a bad call—or of having to chase a girl repeating the call—I made no calls. Well, there was a single call, but it was a technicality the player told us she was about to commit (derby strategy, I’ll explain it to y’all some other time).
After the bout ended, my fellow refs filled me with suggestions and tips. They helped me map out a plan for what to do at the next bout—including muttering minor calls to myself and chasing down whoever needs to be chased.
I wish I could say I walked away exhilarated and accomplished, but it just wasn’t the case. I love skating. I love being a part of derby. I think I can learn to love reffing. But the day didn’t end with joy. I was tired. My feet hurt. I was sad I didn’t have a better showing at my first bout. The closest to success I came was that no one hit me in the face (like what happened to one of the inside pack refs) and I didn’t run into any of the spectators (like one of the outside pack refs).
But I’ll be reffing again in November. It’s not a bout my league is playing in, so the pressure of people you know seeing you screw up is somewhat relieved, and I just might actually make a call.