Hello again! Celtic Thunder here wrapping up the 2009 season for Men in Derby. Don’t worry, we have so much more to come.
The Long Island Roller Rebels season has officially come to a close, ending with a fantastic win at our final home bout against the Molly Rogers Roller Girls on Nov. 14th.
I want to take a minute and reflect at the past season. I’ve been in derby now for exactly one year, growing with many girls on and off the track and along with our wonderful NSO’s, Support Staff and of course our Referees.
It was at the last bout on Nov. 14th that I conceived the topic of today’s column: Referees. I unfortunately was on the sideline with an injury, along with Cyanide Kisses, Rev. Eve L. Taco and Captain Morgan, opposed to playing, but had this wonderful opportunity to observe and learn. Side note: Check out our injured players Facebook page—“The Cyanide Kisses/Eve L. Taco Broke Ass Roller Girl Foundation” (http://tinyurl.com/yffsbx6)
Though our girls played their hearts out as always, I did notice that our refs sure do take a lot of verbal abuse from both teams. This happens in every league definitely, but I am not sure anyone has ever stopped and really appreciated their ref team.
With that being said, I took a few minutes to interview Psycho Billy, Long Island Roller Rebels, longtime referee, whom has recently, along with our other refs, taken a mouthful of verbal diarrhea from girls in many leagues. What inspired you to become a referee and how long have you been involved?
I had some friends who were involved with the Rockabetty Bruisers (Pre-LIRR), They told me I should come by and try out for an announcer spot, but the first night I went, I met Thor and Goose. They were the Refs, I decided against announcing and went right to being a Ref...I like to skate!
As a referee, you pretty much hold the game in your hands as you are responsible for making calls that could either help or hurt each team. What exactly are you responsible for?
As a Ref I am not responsible for the outcome of the game, although skaters like to think so lol, I am mainly responsible for keeping the game safe, competitive and fun. I am also responsible for knowing the rules inside and out and knowing how to interpret them correctly on and off the track.
When on the track, both derby teams experience a lot of emotion, some positive, some negative. Refs tend to be victims of verbal abuse from these fierce ladies. How does that make you feel and how do you handle those types of situations?
It's really hard out there when you make an unpopular call. I've had skaters yell at me on the track many times, some had merit as I made a mistake and some were completely absurd. I think the trick is to always try to keep a level head and don't let them get you mad. Skaters piss and moan a lot (I should know I'm one of them lol), its part of the game, hell it's part of sports in general. I just don't let it get to me on the track.
At times, there might be some instances that you make a wrong call and realize it. What happens then?
Me make a wrong call? Never happens. lol! I'm actually really hard on myself when I know I screwed up, I feel like I let down my whole Ref crew and the skaters. The only things I can do are learn from my mistakes and try to improve so the next time I won't screw up as much.
What does it take to be a ref? What kind of traits, skills and characteristics does a ref need to have?
A Ref needs to have a tough skin, humble personality and a fierce passion for the game itself. You can't Ref a game you don't Love!Other than making calls and conducting your officiating duties at bouts, how else do you contribute to the league? To your fellow skaters too?
Off the track I am one of the Leagues WFTDA Ref representatives. I discuss rules with other national refs, vote on rules clarifications and Ref best practices. I also represent this league when I Ref for other leagues around the region and country. I am also on the committee for Referee education with the WFTDA.
It might be difficult for players in the heat of the moment to appreciate what you do. If you had the chance to tell them an important message, what would it be?
Don't forget to have fun and believe in yourself! Also please stop cutting the track! Oh and there is no friggin gnome on my jersey!!
What does it mean to you to be a ref?
Being a Roller Derby Ref for me is a real honor and a pleasure! Ever since my first bout, the people I have met and made friends with, the places I have been and the things I have done, there's really nothing like this sport in the world. If it wasn't for me being a Ref, I would not have met my wonderful wife Astra Zombie! I am truly lucky to be involved in this sport!
How have you learned and developed over the years as a ref? What do you owe that to?
Over the years my skating skills have grown by leaps and bounds! When I was a kid I was a horrible skater lol. I have worked very hard to become a proficient skater. I owe this to several things, first I have a real passion for skating. I always look forward to lacing up my skates and hitting the track, Second, skating with the greatest group of women in the WFTDA, the Roller Rebels, is something that makes really happy. Third, skating with the New York Shock Exchange, my brothers on Skates! Lastly, Watching and learning from Refs who are better skaters and better Refs drives me to work harder to be the very best I can be.
What has been your most memorable moment while being part of a roller derby league?
Meeting my future Wife! Meeting all the awesome people in Roller Derby, Reffing on Freemont Street in Vegas...oh Geez there are so many memorable moments. Every moment in Derby is a good moment to me. As they say "A bad day in derby is better than a good day at work!"
Astra Zombie and Psycho Billy at their first wedding celebration in Florida. The second ceremony took place last weekend in New Jersey. Congratulations to you both!!