April Featured Official: Zero

Photo credit: Steve Jurkovic Roller Derby Photography

Photo credit: Steve Jurkovic Roller Derby Photography

What is your derby name?



When did you start officiating derby?

April 2011 (back when their were minor penalties and two whistle starts)


What made you want to become an official?

I wanted to be involved in the unique and empowering sport that was roller derby. And at the time (in KY) the only way a male could be involved and skate was officiating.


What is your favorite position on/off the track? (What officiating job is your go-to?)

Admittedly, Jam Reffing is usually favorite cause I have to be on point both in positioning, speed, and points but I really enjoy all positions. OPR is great for speed and keeping up with the pack (gotta go fast!), and IPR is great for exercising your brain; defining the pack, etc. I just love being in a cohesive crew and we're all on point.


Before derby, when was the last time you had laced up skates? (Quad or otherwise)

Elementary school events is the last time I remember skating on quads or blades. I honestly have never or was any good at skating before derby, I even remember not liking skating as a kid cause I wasn't good at it but still having fun when I did. I wanted to do something more athletic and unique in college as well as find a social outlet/community and roller derby was perfect for that. I pushed myself to learn the skills to become a skating official in about 8 weeks. I remember hitting walls in that time but breaking it down into chunks; letting myself fall/fail forward until I nailed it. And I'm glad I did because roller derby is my life now, it's the best thing to have ever happened to me.


What do you do outside of derby to make derby better for yourself? What other hobbies do you have?

I go to or watch tournaments of high-level certified officials like Tootie, Major Wood, Professor Murder, Judge Knot, etc. I watch how they officiate, communicate to skaters, NSOs, and each other. I watch their hand signals, points, skating styles and try to take notes on how I can apply that to my officiating, be like the pros. I want to make my idols my colleagues and eventually, some of them are to this day. I feel really lucky and hope to continue improving my skills. My next step is to officiate a WFTDA playoff tournament some day.


What makes you come back to officiating derby? Off skates, another sport, mental game prep, etc

I like to apply the skills I learn from every game and from other officials to each game. I always pick up something new each game to remember for the next one and constantly trying to improve. I get in my zen with officiating and that zen has actually helped me as a player for men's derby as well. The rules are the rules and it's just fun to break things down in my mind with impact spectrum, passing of hips for points, pack definition, etc.

Do you have any advice for newbie officials?

Always try your best every game, practice, and scrimmage. Hold yourself to that WFTDA standard every time you officiate don't be afraid to admit if you don't know something or get a call wrong. Even the high-level officials are learning. It's a process, step by step. Get your skates nailed down, then your positioning, and over time the game will just become clearer and easier to break down. Then you can make those calls with confidence. All calls are reviewable, remember that, be 100%. It's a yes or a no, a maybe is a no-call. It's better to be 100% right on a few calls then 50% uncertain on a dozen more. Penalties are earned, they are not a punishment. Be a calm cool zebra both visually and verbally when you make a call. Lastly, don't be afraid to ask for help, advice, or questions about penalties, position, signals, etc, and be open to feedback, learn from it, apply it game after game. Nobody's perfect, I know I'm not. I'm still asking for clarifications to this day. What kind of official do you want to be? Find mentors who can help you become that official. And in the end, you got this; one jam at a time.

Posted on April 25, 2018 .