To Skate or Not to Skate by Zebracakes

It all started two seasons ago when I attended my first bout (D3 vs SCRD) and I was immediately sold on this roller derby thing.  It was exciting, it was new, and it was full of colorful people.  I was drawn in and knew it was something I had to be part of.  I still remember the exhilaration and fear of going to my first informational meeting.  I wasn’t a friend, or even a friend of a friend.  I knew nobody in the derbyverse.  I was an outsider.  These were complete strangers to me and I knew this was a potentially life-altering decision:  to skate or not to skate.
What I found in derby was the most accepting group of people I’ve ever encountered in my life.  I am constantly reminded of how great the decision was to join a roller derby team and what a positive effect it has had on my life.  The past year and a half of my life has been full of change, some of it positive and some of it negative, but all of it has made me a better person as well as a better skater.
A year and a half ago I could barely stand on my skates without falling over (it’s true, ask anybody) and now I’m to the point where I’m working on improving my crab skating, something I never thought I’d be able to do.  I’ve come a long way in the relatively short time I’ve been skating, but there is so much more for me to learn.  Whether it’s at the local rink or at practice there is always something to work on or something new to try.  What’s funny is that it turned out learning to skate was the easy part.
In addition to learning how to skate I’ve also been responsible for reading (and re-reading), understanding, and enforcing the rules of roller derby.  That’s right, I’m a referee (insert boos and hisses here).  In derby, like in life, I am curious and want to understand, whether it’s strategies, rules, or skills.  I like to think that I’m a resource for the teams with which I’m affiliated, and I love it when I can help them out when they have questions.  I also enjoy going on the road and meeting different ref crews and working with new and seasoned refs.  It all makes me better.
The toughest, and I think most important, part of the reffing game for me is attitude.  It’s taken me a long time to get to the point where I actually feel confident while I project a confident exterior at the same time.  I’ve been screamed at by coaches and fans who either thought they saw something that didn’t happen, or flat-out didn’t know the complete rules of a situation.  I’ve also caught an earful for a call I should have made but didn’t.  No matter the cause, the reaction must be the same every time:  I have to maintain a professional and respectful attitude.  Anything else is unacceptable.  And in the passionate world of derby, it sometimes takes an effort to maintain that attitude.
My goals this year are to continue to hone my skills, both skating and reffing, and apply for WFTDA referee certification.  I will keep a positive attitude along the way and hopefully inspire others to do the same.
Looking back I’m still not entirely sure why I’m here, I just know that I need to be here.  I’m very proud to be part of such a great group of people and I’m excited to see where roller derby takes me next.  And all of it was made real because I decided to go to that informational meeting.  Best.  Decision.  Ever.

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