Non-Skating Officials in Roller Derby – It’s not just about the players!
So, we know the basics of roller derby; three blockers, one pivot, one jammer per team. Two teams to play the game!
It takes a lot more than that to run a scrim or game. You need seven on-skate officials or refs and even more Non-Skating Officials (NSOs).
What is a Non-Skating Official (NSO)?
Non-Skating Officials (NSOs), are essential for any scrim or game to be played.
There’s a wide range of jobs that NSOs do. For example, you have Jam Timers who have control of the game from a time perspective, they start and sometimes end a jam, determine timeouts, review timings, all whilst being in control of two stopwatches and a whistle.
Another important role is the scorekeeper and well, they keep track of the score, working with the Jam Ref and Scoreboard Operator. Other NSO roles are the Penalty Tracker, Line-Up Tracker, Penalty-Box Timer and the list goes on…
As with everything to do with Roller Derby, the rolls are voluntary. People giving up their spare time, purely for the love of the game.
Where it all began
I first started exploring NSO roles after 5 months with the Dollies. After a couple of games on track repair (another essential role – which isn’t classed as an NSO role) my first role was Scorekeeper. I found it pretty easy to pick up with the awesome support of my teammates and it’s a role I’d be happy to do again.
I then ventured onto Jam Timing with encouragement from the Dollies Head of Officials; Chads had faith in me, so I guessed I should give it a go!
My first scrim was with another team and Roz came along to help me. Learning all the whistles and juggling two stopwatches was tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature.
After a few scrims and practice runs, I travelled to Daventry to Jam Time my first Regulation game, Vendetta Vixon v Wolves. I was so nervous, but everyone was so nice and with a little help from the IFR and the other inside refs, I successfully Jam Timed my first game.
The importance of NSO’s
After adding all my NSO history on to my NSO ‘CV’ – an official document, I began to realise how important and official the roles are.
NSO’s along with SO’s, and the team, enable a game of roller derby to be played. Without one of these elements, a game simply wouldn’t go ahead.
Of course there will be roles that suit people more than others, I have roles I prefer not to do, and I have roles I haven’t even tried yet, but they will be a role to suit each person willing to give it ago.
For the dollies, when a skater reaches Babydoll level, they are required to become proficient in at least 3 NSO roles before they can progress to the next level. It’s encouraged and necessary as it allows a skater a better understanding of the games and the rules involved, and it has the added benefit of being good fun.
What NSO roles are there to choose from?
There are a few roles to chose from;
- JT – Jam timing – you will need a whistle, two stopwatches and a loud voice. You will call the start and end of each period, start and sometimes end the jams, call Timeouts and Reviews. You’d need to be confident in the types of whistles to blow and timings (all easy enough to learn) You will also need to work with the SBO if there are any time discrepancies with the scoreboard
- PT – Penalty tracking – you will need a clipboard and pen. You are in the middle of the track and note down all the penalties issued by the Refs
- ISWB – Inside White Board – you’ll work with the PT to and mark down all the penalties on the whiteboard
- PW – Penalty Wrangler – you will work with the PT and ISWB and listen out for the penalties that the PT could have missed, following but staying out of the way of the Ref’s
- PBT – Penalty Box Timer – you will assist the Penalty box manager in helping to time the blockers and pivots when they commit a penalty. You will need a stopwatch or two
- PBM – Penalty Box Manager – you will help the PBT and also time the Jammers when they enter the penalty box. You will also note all penalties down on the appropriate paperwork
- SK – Scorekeeper – you will use the relevant paperwork and need to pay attention to the Jam Refs who will relay the score over to you by way of hand signals. You will then need to relay the score over to the Scoreboard Operator
- SBO – Scoreboard Operator – You will work with the two SK’s and manage the Scoreboard. You will need to be familiar with the software used for this and able to work a laptop. You may also need to work with the JT to ensure the times on the scoreboard match those on the game stopwatch
- LT – Line-up Tracker – Working with another LT and using the appropriate paperwork, you will note all players taking park in each jam
If a game is sanctioned or regulated, all paperwork will be handed to the Head NSO at the end of the game as it will have to be verified and use for the game statistics.
There is always lots of opportunities to practice any of the roles during team scrims – it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake or need help. Everyone has to learn and there is always someone on hand to help. It is an enjoyable way of getting involved and being apart of the team without having to throw yourself around a track.
So whether a pen and clipboard is where your talents lie, or if a stopwatch and whistle is more your thing…. give it a go. The sense of achievement, teamwork and community is awesome!
Roller Derby Name: Birdie
Real Name: Ruth Jaye
Member of LDRR Space Cadets