Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I was on Twitter this morning and came across a Tweet from someone I know there, and they were very excited about a Derby Road trip, across the state. WOOT, says I, have a blast!

They responded: " Oh, I'm just an NSO"

Which brought me up sharply.


(For the NDR's, ie Non-Derby readers, NSO stands for Non Skating Official. They do a variety of jobs during a Bout, including Penalty tracking, Inside/Outside White Board,, Scorkeeper, Lineup tracker, Penalty Box Timing, Jam timer and a few more I am sure I am forgetting)

Let's take a moment to look at what a Bout might look like without NSO's:

Ref: 27! CUT! (Waves Blocker off to box)
Blocker to Other Blocker in box: How long have you been here?
Other Blocker: Dunno. Long enough. I 'm out of here.


Ref: 32! Ejected! Too many penalties!
Skater: No way!
Ref: Hey, every time I see you, your ass is in the box.
Skater: So? Who's counting?

Or this:

Team A: What's the score? 
Team B: 170 to 5, we are winning.
Team A: No, you're not. We got 200 points on that last jam when you were all meant to be in the box.

And without the Jam Timers, a Bout would be one long game of LA Freeway. Think about it. 

(NDR's: LA Freeway is a scrimmage endurance drill where there are no jam times, one long jam, with skaters rotating in as others fall over dead and crawl off the track)

See what I mean? You can't have a Bout without NSO's. There is no JUST an NSO. 

NSO does not stand for "Loser who can't skate"

NSO's are volunteers, or skaters who are not Bouting, either because of injury, or not their Team in the League playing or perhaps because they didn't make the roster. (more on that later)

Volunteers sign up to be NSO's as a way to be involved with Derby without skating. They go thru training, and give their time and energy to make the Bouts happen. This is a GREAT way to be involved with Derby. The League will LOVE you. I have seen NSO's who are 100% as dedicated to their team (and often any other team who needs them)  as any skater.

Skating isn't for everyone. To be honest: Yeah, it's hard. And can be brutal. (Let's be really honest: it is very brutal) You want to be a part of this, but know your mind, body and desires are not up for skating? This is for you.

I saw a Bout a couple weeks ago where the Head NSO caught an error, which changed the winner of the game. In the last jam. Fair's fair. These people matter.

Skaters who NSO do so for their League. Maybe they haven't passed minimum skills yet, maybe they are hurt, maybe they didn't quite make the roster. 

I've seen some very sad skaters, who want more than anything to Bout, but didn't make it. This time. This is another subject entirely, but hear me: If you want to Bout, you will. You put in the work, the time, the sweat, the pain, dedication and drive and you will be on that Bench next time.

You aren't Bouting this time? Suck it up. The Bout can't happen without NSO's, and NSO's are every bit as much a part of the Team as Skaters or Refs.

NSO is not a secondary position. I believe I made my point as to how a Bout would go without NSO's. I never, ever, want to hear the phrase "Just an NSO" ever again. 

Has NSO become a dirty word? As if NSO's weren't important, the ones who couldn't make it as a skater? Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead of NON skating official, how about "Bout Officials" (Which doesn't quite work as I am certain no one wants to be known as a "BO" but hey, I am open to suggestions here) Perhaps "NRO" Non Reffing Official.

Running a Derby League is a HUGE amount of work. And the people who are giving their time and energy to work as NSO's are working just as long and hard, as the Skaters. And have just as much impact on a Bout.

And are doing it for just exactly the same reason as the rest of us.

Because we fucking LOVE Derby.

Quiche MeDeadly
Bench Coach, Chippewa Valley Roller Girls.


At 09:09 Blogger spacedlaw said...

Say it isn't NSO.

At 09:10 Blogger Jess said...

You blogged! Hello, you! Wooo!

At 09:33 Blogger DataGoddess said...

Nathalie, all I can say is *GROAN*

Yay, blog post! And now I'm tempted once I get better settled in to check out the local league, since there's something I could actually do that doesn't involve skating (arthritis in my spine won't play well with skating!)

And hello, Q! Nice to see you!!

At 09:44 Blogger Cecily said...

My derby wife is our leagues head NSO, and as you say, we could not function without them!

At 09:46 Blogger FabulousLorraine said...

Data, you should. Leagues RUN on volunteers, they will LOVE you, promise.

Liking this blogging again. Think I will keep it up. MIssed you all.

At 09:48 Blogger Cecily said...

Yes, absolutely what Quiche said. Volunteers are revered and adored! I don't know about other leagues, but we run ours so if you do volunteer, it's only for half the bout, so you get to watch one half for free too!

At 10:16 Blogger vampi said...


i totally giggled at that spacedlaw :)

At 11:40 Blogger spacedlaw said...

We totally missed you to, dear.

At 11:41 Blogger spacedlaw said...

By which I meant too.

At 11:51 Blogger Jess said...


At 11:57 Blogger Jennie Brogan said...

I am lucky to have a very supportive league who appreciates the work I do as the Head NSO/Volunteer committee chair. However, when I first decided to do the NSO thing instead of skating, I may have responded "Just a NSO". This was before the WFTDA created the "new" NSO certification process and my increased confidence in my place in derby. Thanks to the warm fuzzies I get from my league and this NSO certification process, I have so much pride and more motivation to do the best I can in my NSO work. I hope that NSO who said, "Just a NSO" has more confidence in her involvement.

At 13:15 Blogger FabulousLorraine said...

Agreed, Jennie!

The NSO was actually a Dude, who is a high level Derby NSO and we've been emailing quite a bit, since I wrote this on Saturday. He told me later he was being flip when he said that , but LOVES the article and is sending it all over.

At 13:23 Blogger Marjorie said...

Yaaay! So happy to see you blogging again, Q.
And while I am not a Derby Girl, it sounds as though NSOs are a massively important resource :-) i hope this one relalises how important s/he is.

At 13:26 Blogger dd-b said...

How about RSOs -- "Relatively Stationary Officials" :-).

At 13:29 Blogger Cecily said...

The RSO thing made me snert. Glad I wasn't drinking anything.

At 16:00 Blogger Bitches Bruze said...

NSO's don't need adjectives like "non-skating". It should simply be officials and referees. Your post is awesome. We could not have a bout without you. I'd take a staff of Officials without Referees before the reciprocal.

At 17:21 Blogger Rain Monkey said...

Well I'm just an NSO, and everywhere I go, no one knows the part I'm playing.

Pay for all the gas, driving to the bouts. And on your couch I'm laying.

At 17:29 Blogger Rain Monkey said...

Well I'm just an NSO, and everywhere I go, no one knows the part I'm playing.

Pay for all the gas, driving to the bouts. And on your couch I'm laying.

At 18:25 Blogger Dragonsally said...

Yah a blog!

Heellllooooo Fiends.

Nathalie made me snort. Luckily I didn't have a mouthful of tea at the time.
All volunteers should be applauded, wherever they are and whatever they do.

At 20:43 Blogger FabulousLorraine said...

Really like that. Officials and Referees.

NSO's do not get enough attention, and they ARE as much a part of the game as skaters or refs.

At 07:14 Blogger Ellen Ritter said...

So awesome to hear this. I love being an NSO.

At 09:31 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second (third) that point about calling us simply Officials. Why must we be specified to be non-skating?

At 11:42 Blogger hope said...

W000000t! First Allie Brosh posts, now FabulousLorraine does!!!!

May didn't suck as bad as I thought it would.


At 12:10 Blogger Marjorie said...

May is definitely doing well, on the blog front!

At 23:48 Blogger ariandalen said...

Ms. Fabulous!
You wrote! ;)

Did I include enough exclamation points?

My youngest is in Jr Derby, which the Centex Rollergirls just started last month. We're having a heck of a time finding skates for her, locally, as she wears a women's 8. We can find lots of kid's skates, but not so much adult; at least, not quads.

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At 02:47 Anonymous Malice in Wonderland (Alise) said...

I just did a NSO course, and as I am Fresh Meat and not the best skater (I think I will pass level 1, but I am a way off from level 2), I feel it will be the best use of me while I am still learning. Plus it's so insightful to the rules and game play in general.

But this article has helped me convince some fellow skaters that maybe it's time to step up and be a NSO as well :)

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