Last month, we got some excellent news: one of our long-time referees and excellent ARRG-er all round, Cherry Fury, was awarded her Level 2 WFTDA refereee certification!
As we were so excited to have a WFTDA certified ref in our ranks, we decided to ask Cherry a couple questions about her experiences, her reffing life to date and any of the tips she’s picked up along the way!
When did you join ARRG?
I was at the first meeting in Bannermans, April 2008. I’m the one in the photos with the dodgy pony tail and red scarf, standing next to the pool table. I was completely unaware of the significance and impact that meeting would have on my life.
How did you decide to become a ref?
I like to think officiating found me, but in truth I don’t remember exactly. I knew I wanted to be involved with ARRG, and the wider roller derby world. Officiating appealed more to my neurotic and obsessive tendencies. It also allows me to travel more often than a career in competitive skating would allow, because I’m not limited to one team.
Having said that, I’ll always remember my first public bout as a skating official, thanks to Lincolnshire Bombers. It was the longest bout in history and I had a hard time! Working with Birchingbomb, angri-la, Slice Andice and Fox Sake inspired me to persevere with the challenge. To quote a lovely LRG announcer, I guess I had to “man up, grow a moustache and get on with it”! Thanks Hyps.
What sort of work did it take to become WFTDA certified as a referee?
It takes a lot of work, effort and commitment to earn the WFTDA ref cert. There are no shortcuts for anyone, no matter where in the world they are. Opportunities to crew WFTDA regulation or sanctioned bouts in Europe are becoming more frequent, but officials in the US still have to travel across their state, or even the country, to gain the required evaluations.
It’s true you must collect evaluations, which is a tough and integral part of the process, and skating skills and rules tests are critical, but it’s not as simple as officiating a number of bouts and passing some tests. You get what you put in. Consistency was my priority when working on my application. It took me around 14 months from deciding to work towards it until receiving my certification. Of course I had to travel to crew applicable evaluated bouts, but I also had to behave like the WFTDA official I wanted to be at every single moment.
You have a level of control over the outcome of the rules and skating tests – they’re hard, but they’re pass or fail. There’s nothing to say a submitted evaluation is a positive one. So you have to treat every bout, every crew meeting and every second you are involved with a bout as if you are being evaluated. It all counts, and is all considered.
We hear you also regularly ref men’s derby – what are the differences
between reffing the two genders?
It’s the same game, same track, same rules for male, female, and co-ed bouts (sometimes extending to boutfit styles!). Every bout I work is a challenge. To me there is no difference. When I stand at the track I don’t see men or women, I see colours and numbers. Everyone has a place in roller derby, and we are lucky to have such diversity in our sport.
What are your derby plans for the future?
Officiating makes me happy, and I’d like to keep doing what makes me happy; working with new leagues, debating the finer points of rules with my peers, and supporting the development of European officiating. I’d like to work towards a culture where completing post-bout evaluations for officials is second nature. I’d like to widen the support offered to all leagues, to increase the understanding that officiating is vital to the sport’s development. I’d like to maybe go further, and ask developing leagues to include recognition of this in their policies, particularly as it applies to team captaincy, referees and NSOs.
Working towards my WFTDA level 3 and maintaining my MRDA official’s patch is a priority. The year between applications is an excellent opportunity to improve my existing skills and learn new ones. Working with other officials and experiencing new challenges is my way of doing this – feedback is like catnip to me.
And of course, travel. I’m very lucky I get to travel, so I’ll be looking forward to Spring Roll, Euro Crash, a weekend with Helsinki Roller derby, trips to Berlin and London. I hope to make the crew for the MRDA champs and the Berlin Tournament in December. I’m very excited about the Men’s European Roller Derby championships in July!
What is your favourite rule?
I have two favourite rules: 2.2.2 and 22.214.171.124. They demonstrate that when officiating we must keep play safe, fair and never impact or impede the game. We do a great job when no-one notices us doing it.
What’s the best thing about being a ref?
Being part of a great crew. Officials are a unique community, and it’s a great experience learning and working with others. We support each other, whether it’s trying to skate better, learning the latest rule updates, or just keeping each other smiling though tough times.
Have you got any top tips for any new refs out there?
Be the official you want to be – at all times. Be consistent. Be open to feedback. There is no perfect bout. Every bout is a learning experience – take the lessons to the next bout one. Keep smiling and let the game come to you.
What is your best ref experience to date?
I’ve been so lucky to be involved in many great events with awesome people. At the Roller Derby World Cup I got to work with some amazing officials. I learned a hell of a lot and it really helped me improve. Last year’s MRDA championships was another benchmark – the level of skating and officiating changed my approach and helped me step up a level.
Thanks to Cherry Fury for all her reffereeing and for answering our questions!