Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Championships Crew Head Ref, Day 1

As you may, or may not, know, I was one of the three Crew Head Referees for the WFTDA Championships in Chicago this year. It was an honor, and I was completely pleased with the way my crew performed. I wanted to run through the three days, and talk about things we did and discussions we had, because I think they all fed into our performance. This is not an instruction manual. This is not what we did right that other crews did/do wrong, I wasn't on those crews and I don't know what they did. This is what worked for us, this one weekend, and which may work for others, over a weekend, a season, or a career.

Before the Tournament
In the weeks leading up to the Tournament, I made a point of calling all the referees on my crew. The aim was to go over some position specific items, talking about the crew and assignments, and feeling out any questions or concerns they might have for me. I felt like this would give us a chance to start thinking about us as a crew and how we were working together before we ever got to Chicago. It also helped me to zone in to Head Referee mode, handling the different moving parts early.

The night before the tournament we had a crew dinner at a nearby bar. The idea was last minute talk. I wanted to remind people to stay focused, to maintain their hydration and rest before bouts throughout the tournament, not just the days leading up to the tournament, Communication was also a big issue. We also discussed our goals as a crew. They were dual, and would either end up at odds, or synergistic. One was for the tournament to have the best refereeing possible, especially in the Championship bout. The other was for us to be assigned to the Championship bout.

Day One - Friday
Minnesota v Charm City
We'd discussed some the night before, but were sure to discuss before this bout, while watching earlier bouts, what we might expect out of this bout; physical play and lots of Pack dynamics were to be the order of the day. Even with the traditional sitting together for earlier bouts of the day, it was still a tough bout for our crew, and I felt like we were still finding our rhythm. I'm not going to claim that I felt like we totally did find our rhythm in this one bout, but we came pretty damn close. What's most significant about this bout for our crew was that, instead of getting down about any mistakes, we used them as a stepping off point. We took the notes we got at the half and fixed those things, allowing us to look forward to our next bout with much more minute problems to fix. For myself, the biggest thing I needed to address was 'reffing the refs'. I'm sure we've all probably felt like we've been in a situation as a Head Referee where you need to supervise the calls all the other referees are making, double checking your Jammer Referee's score, etc. But we also have a job to do, for me that was Front Pack, and I needed not only to focus on that more, but also to recognize that the referees on this crew didn't need refereeing.

Getting back to that idea though, of fixing problems and moving on to the next set, that ability, to fix a problem and move on to another problem without then slipping on the first issue, these were what I felt our crew's true strengths were. In addition, the ability to talk and assess each other honestly and critically without it being disregarded (which is something I feel generally happens too often in Derby) because "[we] know what [we're] doing", and to not just listen to the Head Referee (and here I'm talking about Dr. Vroom), but to really hear what she had to say and take it and internalize it to improve.

We all walked out of our first bout both feeling good over-all, but also with a list of things we'd need to improve on. Not that we had a lot of time to improve.

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