Last heavy post and then I gotta switch it up for a bit.
There’s an article circling in the officating community. Written by, I assume, a skater. The claim is made that reffing and being a skater go hand in hand and doing one makes you better at the other. I don’t disagree. Not completey. It’s true that all skaters should take a turn on the other side, if only to gain a respect for what’s happening at any given moment in those roles. It takes a different skating skill set too, which crosses over nicely to the track.
The idea, however, that one can do it all and master any of it? I disagree. It’s only the opinion of me. One person. But i stand behind it.
I’ve mentioned the choices I have made. There’s a reason for them. Here they are in no particular order. Why I didn’t do it all and why I think, that with the exception of an occasional scrimmage or practice, skaters and officials should train in the respective roles and not overlap.
I had the privilege of attending a Wftda officating clinic this year. It really drove home how important neutrality in the officating community is. In a sport that is so incestual; where skaters are sometimes refs, refs are sometimes former skaters, everyone works hard to build a strong league and better the sport, officials are closer to those they officiate than they might be tasked with in other sports. So the idea of neutrality is easily challenged if you haven’t clearly defined your role. How can I skate with my teammates jn one game then turn around and fairly judge them in another. In my case I would worry more about overpenalizing those I have skated with or coached because I am familiar with their style and strategy. It isn’t fair to them. And it isn’t fair to the team they play if that team has to question where I stand. So I gave up the team this year. No more coaching. No more skating. It’s the right thing to do. I went to a scrimmage this last weekend and sure enough, I didn’t even notice when my former teammates were on the track. Because I hadn’t played with them all month in preparation.
Call me crazy but I think balance is important. Going into this season i planned to skate on a home team, coach the travel team and ref. I was convinced I could do it all. I was dispelled of that notion rather quickly. It was a short road to burnout and I had to make some choices. Which also leads to one of the other things.
Respect for Coaching staff
I have a wonderful group of coaches around me. When I was skating, I was trained safely, pushed to my limits and always listened to. That didn’t change when I began reffing. I am very fortunate to have two WFTDA certified officials teaching me the ways of the zeeb. They’ve put in a lot of hard work, effort, done the learning and have good experiences to draw from. When I was flip flopping back and forth at any given practice, it was a waste of their time. I would be listening to them explain a scenario then I would need to jump in and explain a skill to a skater. It was frustrating and our HR called me out I it. Why should he waste his time if I wasn’t going to commit? The answer was clear: he shouldn’t. So I made another tally in the make up you’re mind sheet.
It’s confusing to teammates
Too easily when I was reffing at practice would skaters still turn to me and ask strategy or other questions. Questions I shouldn’t be answering as a ref. And when I would refuse to answer, I could see their faces fill with confusion. And when they’d ask how to skirt this rule or that rule? How inappropriate for me to use my role and knowledge to teach them those things? Very. I have seen teams where their coach officiates and then teaches them strategy based on things they’ve seen or learned about other leagues. It makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want to be that person. That comes back around to neutrality too.
Fences Are Uncomfortable Seats
This is just me, personally, but I like being the best at whatever I do. And I couldn’t do that while sitting with one foot on either side of the fence. I wasn’t committed to anything so I wasn’t improving either. Since making the commitment I can feel the difference. I can fully pay attention at practices to the advice of my HR. When i get to ref games I am not watching strategy and trying to file it away for later, I am simply doing what I am there to do: officiate.
So that’s it. I guess. I do agree wth the refs should skate and skaters should ref idea. To a degree. But the idea that you can be an impartial, dedicated member, of both groups is off to me. I think dabbling is one thing, but reaching for success as a skater and simultaneously attempting to officiate at certification levels if derby is a mistake. Maybe I am dead sexy, I mean, wrong. I wouldn’t mind hearing from those who think they’re doing both at successful levels and how they balance the neutrality and focus. For now, look for me in stripes. It’s where you’ll find me for a while (hopefully a very very long while).