Today I was an NSO for the first time (it was also the first time I’d ever been to a bout and watched the team, and since it was a home game, who was I to pass up this awesome opportunity?)
I was a penalty box timer and the head NSO had gone through everything with me a few days before and given me some things to read through but I still only felt mildly prepared on the day. A penalty box timer times a penalty for one particular team, but not for the jammers, the penalty box manager times the jammers but I had to write down the number and team/position of that skater. A penalty is 30 seconds long and after 20 seconds they stand up and then wait until we tell them to leave. If a jam stops whilst they’re in the box, they serve the remaining time once the next jam has started (unless it’s half time in which case they do it after the break). They can’t talk to the team but their bench knows that they have a person in the box so they send in one less skater (or however many are in the box) for the next jam.
First I had to help set up the venue though, setting up tables/chairs/merchandise/signs which was about an hour before doors opened. My friend who got me into derby was setting up the track and what I didn’t know until near the end of the day was that they put rope underneath the tape so the skaters know when they go off track which I thought was neat. (There’s also more merch being sold there than I thought!)
The NSOs then had a meeting about who was doing what and to get the paperwork and go over any questions we had, we then had about half an hour to look at merch/get ourselves ready for the rookie game.
I’d been told beforehand about there being more penalties in a rookie game than a normal one but I still underestimated a little how many that actually was. There was one point where we must’ve had 5 out of 6 chairs full and at one point someone got sent around because we didn’t have enough chairs for her. Two skaters got 6 penalties and were classed as ‘hot’ (7 penalties counts as fouling out and they can no longer skate as part of the team). Some were also given a warning for crashing into the chairs (it happened twice and one time I very nearly got squished) but there’s usually a ref there who gives them the warning. One time the skater got an extra penalty (the time I nearly got squished) as she didn’t do it on purpose but it was kinda dangerous. It was a little confusing then as we had both jammers in the box and when this happens, they serve 10s each but since it was the end of a jam and the 2nd jammer had a 2nd penalty, the 1st jammer got to go on the whistle and then the 2nd jammer just had to serve her usual 30 seconds (took me a few minutes to get my head around that).
We swapped teams (there are two timers) at half time but we don’t always need to do that, next time I might not as it got a little confusing. I kept calling out the wrong colours but the skaters understood me although I felt bad for messing up
There was a break between the rookie game and the next one so everyone counted up penalties and made sure we had the same numbers before going off for a break.
The second game was a lot less hectic than the first one, I only had about a dozen (well, a baker’s dozen) penalties in the first half and they were less likely to crash into the chairs (not sure if it’s a control/toe stop thing or just because they’ve had more experience?) This meant I got to watch a bit more of the game though, and it was really cool to see the team in action (even if we lost 😦 but let’s not dwell on that). There was one jammer on the other team who was amazing, she was almost always the lead jammer and I don’t know how, but she always made it through the wall. Everyone else put it down to her being small (there’s a small skater in our team but she was even smaller) and could fit through the tiny gaps the wall had. Every time she was on, she’d zip past, score some points then call it off, sometimes before our jammer had a chance to get around to score points. There was one instance where there were 4 people in the penalty box but it wasn’t my team so I didn’t pay much attention to it (but the other timer and penalty box manager had a bit of a hassle with them).
Overall I think it was a really good day out (it was almost the whole day) and I learnt a lot about the rules/penalties/how a game is actually played. It was really cool to see the team in action too as it’s not quite the same when they’re scrimming in practice.
Hopefully we’ll have another home game soon and I can NSO again and learn even more 😀