Coaches Corner Photo: James McDaniel, http://facebook.com/JamesMcDanielPhotos

Published on December 30th, 2013 | by Y. I. Otter

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Photo: James McDaniel, http://facebook.com/JamesMcDanielPhotos

Open Letter to a Bench Coach from a Head Referee

Dear Bench Coach,

During a derby bout or scrimmage, we will probably communicate. A lot. We are both there to lead our teams and make sure things go smoothly. With that in mind, I’d like to share a few things that officials think about in regards to your job and how it affects ours.

We are here to help, not harm. The seven people with stripes and skates are doing their best to be quick, fair and consistent in ensuring the game is played safely per the ruleset that was created.  We are human, and, like you, we sometimes have a moment where we “blink” either physically or mentally. Even the best of refs do this. Not all admit to it, but I assure you they know they “blink.” (Except for That One Guy/Gal who is NEVER WRONG EVER, and no one really wants him/her on their crew anyway, so we try to make sure that doesn’t happen).

We don’t mind you coming into “Our House” (aka the center of the track), to mention something or ask a question, but doing it every. single. jam. takes us away from things we need to be attending to during the 30 seconds we have before the next jam. Sometimes we need to make sure our counterparts with pencils and stopwatches have everything they need to ensure your penalty board is correct, and that skater who is in queue to be sent to the box is noted, so we can get her off the track quickly. We need the same moment you do to clear our head and get ready to start again. Just like you, we don’t get to sit out any jams.

When we realize there has been a breakdown somewhere, we will try our best to correct it quickly, sometimes needing an Official Timeout.

We dislike OTOs as much as you do. Cross our whistles, we do. They slow down the pace of the game. They make skaters with legs ready to skate stand idle at the Jammer line. They make for a restless crowd who quickly lose interest. They are necessary sometimes, though. We want to make sure Our House is in order.

When you come to Our House and ask a question, please don’t walk through the door with a huge and very noticeable chip on your shoulder. We know you are upset/confused/downright pissed off, or you wouldn’t be there, but that helps no one. Believe it or not, any ref who respects the game and the work that they are being asked to do, isn’t brushing off things you mention in between jams. However, “We’re seeing a lot of missed low blocks, can you mention this to your crew?” is received much better then “WHY ISN’T ANYONE CALLING  ANY OF THE BAZILLION FUCKING LOW BLOCKS HAPPENING OUT THERE!!”  If your question  doesn’t have a quick answer, we will ask you if you want an official review. We are not trying to “make you use” this resource, but if isn’t urgent enough for you to use an official review, it’s not urgent enough for us to stop the game. (Did we mention we hate stopping the game as much as you do)?

When you take a Team Timeout and come to the center to dispute a call or points earned, (i.e. turning a TO into an OR without using an OR) we will ask if you’d like an official review. If not, your question will not be handled like an OR. The other team isn’t there to hear the conversation as they would in an OR. Our job isn’t to be jerks (most of us aren’t jerks…see “That One Guy/Gal portion”), but it is also to not create advantages.

During an official review, now THAT is good time to talk! Your words will help us, but know that what you say will be an asset to your case…or it won’t. The more concrete info you can give us, the better we can handle the situation. Do you have the jersey number of the blocker that cut your blocker or that your jammer passed but didn’t receive a point for? Do you know where on the track it happened? Do you know what the penalty was that you saw? When we go back to our crew, we want to be as clear and concise with them as we can, so we can discuss and make a decision. We teach our fellow officials to convey what they saw with brevity and the more “hard info” we have, the quicker we can make a decision and get back to the game.

“Our jammer passed white 717 over at turn two before she called the jam, and the Jammer Referee didn’t give her the point” = Ok. I will take that info to my crew and we will figure this out!

<<insert discussion that uses the given info and quickly finds out if there was a point that was missed>>

“THEIR BLOCKER HIT OUR BLOCKER IN THE FACE” = Erm..ok..let me see what happened.

<<insert A FIVE MINUTE OFFICIAL REVIEW to get to the bottom of this -or- an Official Review that results in a very quick “call stands” because the lack of concrete information means we can’t call what we didn’t see, and honestly, we’re not even sure what we were supposed to see that we didn’t >>

How your players treat us is a direct reflection of your leadership. If they see you speaking to and treating refs disrespectfully, why wouldn’t they follow suit? We know you have a job to do and that job involves your team winning, but in this Great Big Derbyverse, Respect begets Respect.

See you on the track*

*Hopefully not in our OPR lane, please. When you’re an OPR flying around to stay in position, and you’re doing a transition to get a better angle while maintaining speed, you’re not concentrating on dodging people. If we have to keep an eye out for you, it means we are not watching what we should be watching; This exciting derby thing happening out there!

Respectfully,
Your Head Referee for this bout/scrimmage

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Y. I. Otter started her roller derby career in late 2009, showing up to wrangle a bout and inadvertently wearing ALL of the colors that one of the teams was sporting. Her relationship with roller derby has been about the same since then. When she's not donning a whistle, skates, and a ref jersey for the Bay Area Derby Girls, writing about roller derby, or taking pictures of roller derby, she is can be found posting pictures of her cats on facebook, cornering unsuspecting victims and showing them the 821 pictures of her cats on her phone. Telling stories about her cats that approximately .003% of people find entertaining, inhaling ice cream sandwiches, swearing, telling inappropriate jokes, and being an all-around spaz. She hopes to publish a book some day. She also secretly hopes for the opportunity to punch a mime. *DISCLAIMER* As with all other sites, the opinions she posts on here are her own, unless directly specified. They do not reflect opinions of the Bay Area Derby Girls, WFTDA, or any other entity besides herself And sometimes her cats, when they are not busy being jerks.

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About the Author

Y. I. Otter started her roller derby career in late 2009, showing up to wrangle a bout and inadvertently wearing ALL of the colors that one of the teams was sporting. Her relationship with roller derby has been about the same since then. When she's not donning a whistle, skates, and a ref jersey for the Bay Area Derby Girls, writing about roller derby, or taking pictures of roller derby, she is can be found posting pictures of her cats on facebook, cornering unsuspecting victims and showing them the 821 pictures of her cats on her phone. Telling stories about her cats that approximately .003% of people find entertaining, inhaling ice cream sandwiches, swearing, telling inappropriate jokes, and being an all-around spaz. She hopes to publish a book some day. She also secretly hopes for the opportunity to punch a mime. *DISCLAIMER* As with all other sites, the opinions she posts on here are her own, unless directly specified. They do not reflect opinions of the Bay Area Derby Girls, WFTDA, or any other entity besides herself And sometimes her cats, when they are not busy being jerks.



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