For the Skaters, By the Skaters… and a Ton of Volunteers

For the skaters. By the skaters.

We hear that all the time in relation to roller derby. The teams are owned and run by the players, but it takes so much more to put on a bout and learn from practices. It takes refs, non-skating officials, coaches,medics, and a host of other volunteers to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Refs: Poor zebras. They often end up being the people roller derby players love to hate. But without them, can you imagine how sloppily we would play? Elbows would fly all over the place, and no one would pay attention to track boundaries. Also, who would count how many points the jammer acquires?

Have you hugged your zebra today?

Refs make us better skaters. The next time you’re tempted to chew one out for what you perceive as a bad call, take a deep breath. Maybe you really did trip that other player. Maybe it just looked that way. But a ref has a split second to recognize and make a call. He or she is bound to miss something. If you feel like it really is a problem, take it up with your head ref.

Non-skating Officials: Penalty tracker, line up tracker: these are positions we just don’t think about until  bout day arrives, and suddenly, there are all these things that need doing. Derby goddess bless the people willing to volunteer. There’s a really good post about why they’re so important here.

Coaches: Do I really need to explain why they’re important? A good coach can come up with effective plays, see the things that need improving in players or as a team, and reel everyone back in when they start to lose focus during a bout.

Medics: When I skated with Panama City Roller Derby, we only had a medic when we had a bout.  The Savannah Derby Devils are lucky enough to have three medics who not only come to bouts but also practices. When you take a bad spill, it’s good to know if that pain you’re feeling is something serious or nothing to worry about.

All Other Volunteers: The greeters at the door on bout day, the people who work security, announcers: these people make the fans feel welcome, make the skaters feel secure, and let everyone know what the heck is going on with the game. I’ve played and attended bouts where the greeters seemed rushed (probably because they were also skating), there was little or no security, and the announcers had no clue what derby even was. Having good people in those positions pays off and makes the whole bout seem more professional.

So next time you see one of the many people who volunteer with your league, let them know you appreciate what they do. No one cheers for them on bout day, but you can let them know that you see all the hard work they put into making your team shine.

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