At your first few bouts you may not notice them, but a few events in you’re beginning to ask yourself what role the dudes in gray or pink play in all this? They are Non Skating Officials or NSO’s and without them the bout just wouldn’t happen. NSO roles cover penalties, scoring and timing – they’re literally watching every move you skate!
We cornered the NSO’s, old and new, to find out more about this often untapped element of the derbyverse.
Fayzer Blade (NRG head NSO), along with McG, you’re heading up proceedings for our first home bout. How are you finding things?
Fayzer Blade: I think that NRG have the best team of members who aren’t on the bout team YET. They are always willing to help out and do their bit. This makes being Head NSO much easier. I also have Nathan who has been a big help with organising whilst I have been sofa bound.
Thanks to them, and some volunteers from TIL, I have had a full team for a few weeks so the past few days have just been spent answering questions and making sure everyone is happy. No last minute panics…touch wood.
What advice would you give to those who are interested in NSO-ing?
SufferKate: Anyone who is a league member should try it; it’s an invaluable part of your training! It’s fun to be involved and it helps you learn the rules. Try to get involved before a bout. Talk to the league, ask questions, read articles online and watch all the scrims and bouts you can.
Hulk SmAsh: If you’re completely new to roller derby, contact your local league. Teams are always keen to have extra NSO’s; they will be likely to invite you to a session to go over the basics with you.
What are your top tips for effective NSO-ing?
Martina: Learn the rules! Resources like http://rollerderbytestomatic.com/ are really handy tools for helping you improve your knowledge base.
Fayzer Blade: Jump right in. Its better to learn and practice as much as you can at scrims where you can make mistakes; learn what scenarios might come up and how to handle them and ask questions. Don’t be scared to ask questions!
SufferKate: Make sure you know your role inside out; speak to other NSO’s, pay attention during the bout.
Nathan: Yes, there are a lot of things to take in. Yes, it can often appear quite daunting, especially when you try out a new role. But, you are never alone or left to struggle – there are other people in your position, some more experienced, some less, but they are there to talk to.
What is the best thing about being an NSO?
SufferKate: If you are willing to get involved in NSO-ing early on, it allows you to become part of the team; you get to experience elements of roller derby that you might not see if you just stick to the fresh meat sessions.
Hulk SmAsh: It’s great to feel like you can still be an asset to the team even if you don’t make it to advanced training right away.
Fayzer Blade: Sweaty cuddles…obviously! On a serious note; you learn the game and rules quicker so you can pass that all important rules test.
You get to know the team and they get to know you. NSO-ing is a great way for beginners to get involved and become part of the team.
Why did you get involved with Nottingham Roller Girls?
Fayzer Blade: My doctor said I needed to get some exercise and there was no way I was doing something as run of the mill as the gym.
I noticed my work mate Gem Aargh commenting on the NRG page on Facebook and I contacted them from there. I was instantly hooked. I now have an exercise bike to improve my derby!
Charly: It was partly due to a bet with a friend who thought I should be involved in an aggressive sport- it was this or MMA!
I’m seven weeks into the NRG beginner’s course and will be starting out on Saturday as ‘Rink Rat’, basically making sure that the track is up to standard during the bout.
SufferKate: I heard about roller derby and thought it sounded amazing so wanted to get involved, thought it might be good exercise that was also fun, and a chance to be part of a team/ meet new people.
Nathan, we’ve seen you behind the scoreboard at a few NRG events; what’s the most challenging thing about this role?
The most challenging thing about the role of scoreboard is keeping on top of everything that is happening ranging from updating the score, altering the time, updating lead jammer and not forgetting timeouts.
At first glance, it appears straight forward, and it’s not until you see the prompt sheet that you think ‘argh there are so many shortcuts, instructions and guidelines to follow’. Having said that, the first time I did it was for four bouts in a row, so I had the chance to get into it and get with the flow of things! It’s an enjoyable role but you do feel the pressure of being responsible for everything the teams and crowd see!
Lauren, most of NRG first noticed you when, as a complete freshie, you spent virtually the whole of the co-ed tournament on and around the track as nso. Was it a baptism of fire?
Lauren: I spent that day as a ‘Rink Rat’; it was a brilliant experience and a great way to learn the basics of bouting.
Since then I’ve also done inside whiteboard which meant that I had to get really up to speed with the hand signals that indicate penalties and this weekend I’ll be penalty timing.