Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's a Small World, After All

A busy past couple of months, for everyone in derby. Everyone's talking about it, I'll add my thoughts and experiences. But first, let's summarize those weeks.

Prelude: WFTDA Regionals starts on September 16th. I'm out of vacation and personal time at work, so I spend the first three weekends watching non-stop online before I finally get to ref at North Centrals in Indianapolis on October 7-9.

Then stuff goes crazy.
November 11-13: WFTDA Championships in Denver, CO.
November 18/19: Kitt Traxx Banked Track Tournament in Chicago, IL.
November 26/27: OCDG Ref Clinic in Edmonton, AL, CAN.
December 1-4: Blood and Thunder World Cup

That's an amazing month, probably the best I've ever had, in terms of experiences, in terms of being challenged, in terms of being inspired. What's more challenging, officiating the top flat-track players in the WFTDA as they vie for their most coveted title, or officiating a style of derby you've only seen live once before? What's more inspiring, seeing a huge number of new refs from new leagues coming together with absolute enthusiasm to learn and improve, or seeing people only a couple of years further on in that effort come together to help put on the most epic tournament the derby world has ever seen?

But most of all it was the people, the officials at each of these that made it so outstanding. The WFTDA system has been bringing officials together for a long time, and we're settling into a great groove. It was wonderful to start the month by working with such an amazing assemblage once again. But the banked track refs were remarkable to work with too. As supportive as any HRs I've ever had, willing to put faith in our abilities as flat track refs and our commitment to dedicate ourselves to reffing quality derby. I learned things that weekend which I'll take back, and I can barely remember the last time I was so nervous to ref a bout as those two that weekend. The Canadian referees were so ready to learn, so hungry for information, and that always makes teaching a joy. It reminded me of being where they were, of how exciting roller derby can be, how lucky we are to be a part of it. Which made me even more excited for the next weekend. Refs and NSOs were coming in from around the world for the B&T World Cup. Organization and communication wasn't maybe at the level we all expect, and there were logistical issues we'd never run into before. But everyone's commitment to making this a success (which goes not just for the officials, but also for ToRD, B&T and every team) was what made it the success it was.

And that's what I really take away from this. Commitment to officiating, commitment to improvement, commitment to the sport. More than anything this is how we've gotten here. It's how we can come together cross-discipline and work together in good faith and be rewarded with new friends and new experiences. It's how officials can come together from around the world and a mess of different systems and not have even one that needs coddling. We are the support system and we are the means to improvement for ourselves. Banked or flat, Germany or Australia or US or anywhere else, we are all the same in being roller derby officials. And that's pretty awesome.

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