Notes from the Ninja Crew (Becoming an NSO)

Have you ever wondered what it takes to run a Roller Derby game? Who are all those mysterious people running around the track while wearing black? Are they ninjas? What do they even do? 

Well, if you’ve just found this page, then you’re in luck. Non-skating Officials (NSO’s), or ninjas, as we like to call them, are a crucial part of any Roller Derby game. These silent (or if you’re the Jam-timer, noisy) men and women in black keep track of the scores, time the intervals between jams and periods (the two halves) during games, make sure skaters serve the correct amount of time in the penalty box for breaking the rules, and much, much more!

We asked some of our amazing Northside Ninja Crew to tell us about what it’s like to be an NSO.

Click on an NSO’s name to read their responses, or scroll down to read all.

Hurtymyoknee Granger

Luke Piewarmer
SuzEQ

Tigermoth
Brutal Brit
Skizzo Fran-Tik
Dr Thightanium

 



 

Hurtmyoknee Granger (#7) ‘Hurty’

What is your Derby name & number?
Hurtmyoknee Granger (but everyone calls me Hurty), No. 7.


How long have you been involved in roller derby?
2 ½ years.


Did you know much about derby before you started NSO-ing?
I’d seen just about every NSR game but didn’t know much about the sport, & had never even noticed the NSOs ‘til they were pointed out to me.


Which NSO positions have you performed?
All of them! Even Outside Whiteboard, which doesn’t exist anymore!


Do you have a favourite NSO position?
I like Wrangling, I enjoy being in the thick of things & chasing the refs, but I enjoy every role & I’m happy to get the chance to do them as much as possible.


Have you performed an NSO role in an official game?
Many times!


What is it like to be able to officiate at a game?
It’s a real honour to officiate a game for me. When NSR play, I want to give them my best, because I want them to have the best officiated game. But it’s stressful, because they’re my friends & I want to encourage them, but I need to keep my ‘serious NSO face’ on. When you get to NSO big tournament Grand Finals, you feel like the organisers are recognising the hard work you’ve put in & you’re with such amazing officials, it’s so much fun to be a part of that. 


Do you have any advice for potential NSOs?
Don’t be afraid to have a go & mess up. You keep learning through trying again. NSOs always have a crew to back them up, so if a little thing goes wrong, they’re there to support you (& odds on the skaters & crowd will never even notice).

 



 

Luke Piewarmer (#54)

What is your Derby name & number?
Luke Piewarmer, 54.



How long have you been involved in roller derby?
I’ve been skating since September 2013, but I’ve only really been NSO-ing outside of scrimmages for six months or so [since 2014]. 



Did you know much about derby before you started NSO-ing?
Not a lot – I was doing fresh meat and I’d seen a few Northside games, but I didn’t really understand what was going on, at all. But they gave me a stop watch and whistle and a crash course in jam-timing and later in other things and bit by bit, especially after I read the rule book a couple of times and went to the NSO training day, things started making more sense. 

Which NSO positions have you performed? Everything except for scoreboard.



Do you have a favourite NSO position?
I love the Penalty Box – either Timing or Penalty Box Manager, I like Score Tracking and I love Penalty Tracking.


Why do you enjoy that role?
Honestly, Penalty Box Manager is great because you’re in the thick of things – you might not be watching every second of the game, but at the same time, you’re paying attention and seeing how it all fits together. 


Have you performed an NSO role in an official game?
Yeah – I’ve done the Northside games and the Ballarat home games last year [2013], as well as a few others and the Bendigo Rebellion tournament [2014].



What is it like to be able to officiate at a game?
It’s – really great. You’re right there, in the middle of things and your job is to make sure that your role goes as well as possible. It can be pretty bloody terrifying, but if you know your job and the rules relating to that role, then you’re fine. 


Do you have any advice for potential NSOs?
Give it a shot. Try things out at scrimmage. It’s not just a time for the skaters to practice: it’s also where you learn your role and if you make a mistake, that’s okay – it’s only scrimmage. There are other NSOs there to support you and help if you need it. You get a better sense of what the skaters are doing and how the game works, and that’s a good thing to have.

 



 

SuzEQ

What is your Derby name & number?
SuzEQ.



How long have you been involved in roller derby?
Hmm …not long. Since about June 2014, I think.

Did you know much about derby before you started NSO-ing?
No. I saw my first three games ever at the May the Fourth [2014] Game day, and that was it: I had to be part of the derby world. I thought I wouldn’t be of any use [as a skater] with my existing metal ankle bits, though. Thanks to Lana Death Ray [A fellow Northsider] for bringing me along to those games and putting me in contact with Hurty [Hurtmyoknee Granger].

Which NSO positions have you performed?
Hmm…[Penalty] Box, [Penalty] Box Manager, Score Keeper, and Scoreboard Operator. I tried line-ups [Line-Up Tracker] once but had no clue what I was doing…



Did you find it easy or difficult to master those roles?
I do not believe I am master at them, yet. Hehe, but I feel competent enough that the paperwork doesn’t make me panic, and I can kinda teach n00bs what to do now too ☺.

Which NSO role do you enjoy most?
Scoreboard operator: I feel most comfortable behind the warming glow of the derby laptop.

Have you performed an NSO role in an official game?
My first ever big game NSO gig was at the Bendigo Rebellion Tournament in 2014. I spent time doing the Penalty Box and running the Scoreboard.

What is it like to be able to officiate at a game?
It was interesting to see a tournament as big as the Bendigo Rebellion run, and nerve-wracking because it seemed like the most official thing I’d officiated so far. It was pretty cool to meet so many other dedicated NSOs. Day 1 was pretty exhausting as I only had two breaks, and I don’t do mornings! (Grumble grumble….)

YOU LOVED MY SINGING THOUGH, RIGHT?


Your singing was a pretty awesome [terrible] alarm clock…

Do you have any advice for potential NSOs?
My advice: do it. Jump in! NSO-ing is the best way to learn how the game works. And you get to hang out with other awesome NSOs.
…And you get to play with stopwatches.

 



 

Tigermoth (#26)

What is your Derby name & number?
Tigermoth, 26. 


How long have you been involved in roller derby?
I started in 2014… May-ish?

Did you know much about derby before you started NSO-ing?
I knew nothing. I hadn’t even seen a game…other than on Whip-It…

Which NSO positions have you performed?
Jam Timer, Penalty Box Timer and Line-Up Tracking.



Did you find it easy or difficult to master those roles?
Jam timing was confusing at first, but I got used to it. On my first go Hurty & Co. kept yelling at me to call the start of the jams louder and louder – I couldn’t tell if they were kidding or not…so I think I ended up calling the jams at some ridiculous volume. I think it’s called the Royal Volume in the land of My Little Ponies.

Which NSO role do you enjoy most?
Jam Timing, but it’s really the only thing I’ve done much of, so it’s an unfair comparison ☺.

Have you performed an NSO role in an official game?
I was Jam-Timer at the Bendigo Rebellion in 2014.

What is it like to be able to officiate at a game?
It’s super cool! 10/10, would time jam again.

Do you have any advice for potential NSOs?
Don’t be afraid to join in and have a crack at officiating! Hurty & her ninja team have you covered! It really is quite an enjoyable way to get involved in games if you don’t necessarily want to compete. I also learned a lot more about roller derby (e.g. what happens to the time of a jammer sitting a penalty if the opposing jammer comes to join her in the Box, the number of whistles that signal lead jammer, etc.) than I would have if I had not had a go.

 



 

Brutal Brit (#82)

What is your Derby name & number?

Brutal Brit, 82.

How long have you been involved in roller derby?

Since May 2011, so 4 years.

Did you know much about derby before you started NSO-ing?

Yes, because I started as a player, became an NSO when injured/post-surgery.

Which NSO positions have you performed?

[Penalty] Wrangler, IWB [Inside White Board], Penalty Tracker, Line-Up Tracker, Score Keeper.

Do you have a favourite NSO position?
IWB and Line-Up Tracker.

Why do you enjoy that role?

IWB-because I like neat penmanship and Line-Up Tracker -I like the end result…which is the WFTDA stats sheet, the stats sheet is super amazing with the amount of info it an can give a team about that game.

Have you performed an NSO role in an official game?
I did Bendigo Rebellion in Oct 2014.

What is it like to be able to officiate at a game? 

Very exciting and busy: Time flew since I was so focused on my role within the NSO crew.

Do you have any advice for potential NSOs?
Try it! It’s a lot of fun and it is a good way to be a part of derby, and it a great way to participate if you are not interested in doing a full contact sport: I usually NSO when I am injured or out on surgery, or if I am not able to commit to the time requirements for a skater. If I could consistently do both, I would.

 



 

Skizzo Fran-Tik (#2)

What is your Derby name & number?
Skizzo Fran-Tik, 2.

How long have you been involved in roller derby?

3 years-ish.

Did you know much about derby before you started NSO-ing?
A little, I used to skate so at least I knew the rules beforehand.

Which NSO positions have you performed?

Many of them.

Do you have a favourite NSO position?

Score Keeping and Penalty Tracking .

Why do you enjoy that role?

I like to watch the jammers!

Have you performed an NSO role in an official game?

Yes.

What is it like to be able to officiate at a game?
It’s a great honour to help your league, and you get to watch most of the game too!

Do you have any advice for potential NSOs?

Get in there, try every position! Ask for help and even if you mess up, no one will get killed! We are all a bunch a nice persons (and some of the better ones will even bake at scrimmage!).


 



 

Dr. Thightanium (#71)

What is your Derby name & number? (if you have a number):

Dr Thightanium (or Dr T), 71.

How long have you been involved in roller derby?


Three and a half years, with two and a half years or so NSOing.

Did you know much about derby before you started NSO-ing?

Yes, I’d been to a lot of VRDL games and started skating (I wanted to referee), but switched to NSOing.



Which NSO positions have you performed?


All except Scoreboard Operator 


Do you have a favourite NSO position?


No


Have you performed an NSO role in an official game?


Quite a lot.

What is it like to be able to officiate at a game? 

Pretty cool. NSOs create the environment in which the skaters shine, and it is a real honour to do this as well as I possibly can, especially in those crazy important tournament and other Grand Finals, but even at scrimmage we can make such a difference to how everything runs. A great NSO crew has real flow. It’s like a great big dance.



Do you have any advice for potential NSOs?


Once you have a handle on what all the NSO positions do, watch a lot of real games, you’ll pick up a lot that way and see how it all fits together with gameplay, the skaters and refs. But the best thing you can do is get out there and do it. Each role is supported by other roles so even if it’s scary at first you have help on hand. If you’re not sure of something, just ask!