Surviving a Tournament

Surviving a roller derby tournament can be easy, but most times it is way more overwhelming than you’d expect.

I have worked a number of tournaments in my 2+ years of NSOing.  I have done brief 2 day tournaments at home, and I have traveled and worked 3 day tournaments.

And trust me, I am getting smarter about what I bring, how I dress, what I eat/drink, and how I spend my time.

I have changed what type of socks I bring, choosing to go for more breath-ability, and moisture-whisking, rather than supportive sport socks or cute pairs.

For Division 2 Playoffs in Kalamazoo, I wore fishnets and a skirt for the first two days, albeit cute. It just wasn’t comfortable to wear for 12 plus hours a day. By Sunday I was in my black shorts. Not to mention, fishnets are a pain to deal with when you are nervous and hydrating. Yes, I peed a lot that first day.

There’s another thing. Bring your water bottle. You don’t realize just how much you will need to stay hydrated. Your voice needs it, your body needs it. Do yourself a favor and drink plenty of water. Even in the week leading up to the tournament.  An addition to my bag this weekend are a few coconut waters.

Granola bars have also been added this week. Yes, there are usually snacks in the Officials Room, but you can’t always rely on there being enough for everyone. And if you are working multiple bouts in a row, you never know when you’ll get a chance to eat. You may need to have one in your bag and ready to go. And eat good food if you can. It will be hard. But the last thing you need while you’re officiating is tummy trouble. You need energy rich foods.

Sleep. Never underestimate how much sleep you will need/get. The first night you get there, you’re excited, you’re seeing friends you haven’t seen in a while, there could be meetings. Oh and add to that, if you are anything like me, that first night in a hotel room you can’t sleep in an unknown place. And most tournaments have pretty early call times. Don’t be out too late.

And don’t be afraid to nap, find a quite spot, pull a hat over your face, and get the rest you need. Yes, it’s derby, it’s exciting, but your rest is important.

Check out the local scenes, bars, restaurants. Eat the local fare. Be tourists. Buy all the merchandise. Support the sponsors and the local host team.

And my last bit of advice, take a moment to sit back and remember why you’re here in the first place. You are good at what you do. People know this. Derby is great. This is why you do this.

Did I mention evals? Bring lots of paper copies. I was recently shared a bit of wisdom from one of my favorite official friends, Kill C. Grammar:

“…If you want evals from the teams, bring paper copies for that. One for each team, per game. Please keep a couple of things in mind, however. If your position isn’t something a skater or coach can clearly see and likely won’t know what you’re doing, do you want an eval from them? … Will Toaster City want to eval you six times for the same position in a weekend? I’m not saying don’t do it. The shotgun method can be effective sometimes. Maybe you go five games with them not noticing you, then that sixth game you Outside Whiteboard so hard that you save the game and change derby forever. You’d wish they had an eval for you for that bout.”


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