Four at Sevens!
OWG skaters share their experiences of NSOing at the Roller Derby Sevens.
Derby Sevens was an idea from Xavier Bacon and Phoenix InFlames and hosted by Essex men's roller derby. The style being somewhat similar to Rugby sevens, aiming for faster gameplay. With a single 21 minute game, no bench staff, no official reviews, no team timeouts, 4 penalties to foul out and ONLY SEVEN SKATERS. SEVEN. Crikey.
When I got a cheeky FB message from Krys asking if I was free to NSO a new style of tournament, I was intrigued at the format, accepted immediately and set about hustling teamies to form TeamPigeon - the unofficial name for our OWG NSO crew (it's totes official, who am I kidding?!)
After a mega early start, a coffee stop (featuring my first ever palatable soy latte) and possibly some ridiculous driving by me (because OMG Google maps GET A GRIP), we rocked up in Southend slightly wired and ready to go.
Given our official tees and split into our two crews, we prepped for the start of the day. I was score keeping with one of the CCDD lovelies Nina's Flytrap, positioned either side of the scoreboard operator - the indomitable THNSO Krys who was utterly BRILL all day - so we had clear and awesome views of the games (and obviously of the jam refs!)I've done scorekeeping plenty of times before, but never at a tournament so was feeling the pressure surrounded by WFTDA and MRDA certified officials. My fears over my ineptitude and incompetence were soon overcome by the sheer loveliness of the other NSOs and the refs though. Running through hand signals with each ref I was working with made me feel like part of the team, also made me realise just HOW many ways you can make a three with your fingers!
I score tracked for 5 games in total, including the final. Unsure of the format and how intense it would be, each of those 21 minute games whizzed by in a blur of rainbow colours! A crouching photographer tripped my jam ref at one point, and ever professional, I watched Yvel, trip, whistle and signal lead jammer, seamlessly return to his feet whilst calling a cut track and send the naughty jammer to the box, all while keeping his eyes on the skater. If that isn't TOTES PROFESH, I do not know what is! The game pace was fast and furious from the very first whistle but the skaters seemed to be enjoying it from the smiles on the jam line.
The calibre of the skating was intense; teams were part of national squads, co-ed league mates and regularly bouting challenge teams. Some top talent in each of the squads and then great teamwork as the inevitable foul outs happened. The final came down to Team Crazy Legs vs Allied Irish Derby. So a challenge team united by chronic illness/mental health issues against part of the Ireland men's and women's national squads. No pressure then Jones, just a regular NSO job. Eeep...That last game was FAST, and busy. Each skater giving their all, the officials focused on their roles for one last time. Both teams fought hard for every point, with the final score standing at Crazy Legs 51 and Allied Irish 84. When the final whistle blew, the atmosphere was so relaxed, exhausted and happy, the teams piled on each other in celebration and the crowd rose from the stands. Awards were all handed out, including to us humble NSOs as thanks for helping out at the *hopefully* inaugural Sevens tournament. I can say hand on heart, that was some of the most fun derby I have seen in ages, staying impartial was hard in front of such talent but it was also the most fun I have had officiating, like EVER. So when's the next one?! *packs mechanical pencils*
There are precisely three things that will get me out of bed at 5am on a Saturday morning - going to the airport, earthquakes and roller derby. Bleary-eyed but excited, four of the OWG NSO extraordinaires, affectionately nicknamed Team Pigeon, began the long journey to the Essex Sevens Tournament. I had quite a daunting task ahead of me, as the job I had been given to do was a) completely new to me, b) overcomplicated with paperwork and c) somewhat tweaked from the regular rules. At such a high profile game, with such esteemed skaters and officials, it was safe to say I was bricking it.
Upon our arrival we were welcomed by the tournament Head NSO, Krys. You have to be equal parts stationary hoarder, matron and angel to fulfil this role, which she did with a smile on her face and not a drop of sweat. What really struck me was professionalism displayed by all of the officials as we took our positions - what's more, everyone seemed to know exactly what was going on (except me). None of that seemed to matter though, and as is a beautiful trait of the derby community, I was guided and shooed in the right direction by friendly faces throughout the day.
As Penalty Box timer, I was responsible for ensuring the skaters sat their allocated time-outs, and recorded their fouls. For those of you that haven't investigated Sevens, it is simplified thusly. It's exactly the same as a normal game, except it runs for only 21 minutes and you can foul out after only four penalties. For the officials, it means a blur of pressing stopwatch buttons with your chin, using your rubber a lot and trying to sound authoritative to the skaters you'd spent most of the day idolising (impartially of course). After two or three games, I had my head around what I was doing, and my voice didn't quiver so much saying RIP McMurphy's number. My baptism of fire was complete.
The day was a whirlwind of great sportsmanship, stunning skating and some top notch work from the people donned in grey and stripes. I couldn't be happier to call myself part of the crew on that prestigious game. Let's hope it catches on and next time bagsy doing Line-Up Tracking.