No roller derby game can ever start without our skating and non-skating officials! Non-skating officials or NSOs are in charge of keeping track of the score, timing penalties, writing down line-ups and penalties as well as operating the game clock. There are plenty of different duties, some more challenging than others! Skating officials or referees use move around on skates and wear similar protective gear as skaters except for the mouthguard. The referees are there to ensure safety, communicate all points made by the teams to the scorekeepers and make sure that the rules of the game are followed. Skaters who commit penalties are sent to the penalty box to serve their time.
The officiating community is famous for its good vibes. New faces are always warmly welcomed! Being an NSO or referee suits anyone interested in roller derby. As a referee you must learn the rulebook thoroughly, but you will keep building up your skills and knowledge one step at a time. Simply reading the rules will not make anyone a good referee; instead, you need plenty of practice – trial and error – to develop your skills. As an experienced NSO or referee it’s possible to apply to tournaments and officiate games anywhere in the world. It’s currently not commonplace in roller derby to pay the officials, but travel reimbursements are often available and the organizing league will most likely provide food and coffee to all officials.
Interested in joining us as an official? Awesome! You can start your NSO career anytime. We coach new NSOs in our intraleague scrimmages that we play usually every Monday on our regular practice shift. Inexperienced NSOs are also welcome at interleague scrimmages because you learn these things by doing! If you want to become a referee, you should take our beginners’ course since referees need good skating skills. Even though skaters may never intentionally block a referee and a referee will of course not intentionally block skaters, it is useful for a referee to learn how to take contact safely. This is because sometimes in game situations skaters may accidentally hit referees. During and after the beginners’ course you will also learn more about the rules of roller derby and you can start practicing refereeing in our scrimmages. Welcome to the community!
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