You see them, in their natural habitat, gazing over the head’s of many skaters, cool and composed. Adorned in black and white stripes, they are known to hang around the inner circle of roller derby tracks or anywhere there is a misdemeanor happening that they can call. They travel in herds, or ‘dazzles’ as they’re known, and they are not often seen without a whistle in their mouth or a bandana around their wrists. They’re collected, level-headed, an integral part of the game. Without them we’d have no game at all.
Zebras. Or referees, rather. And now we celebrate one of our own, RoB-BoT.
RoB-BoT came to us last year as a newly born foal, his itty bitty striped legs trembling in his skates and no knowledge of gameplay whatsoever. However, he soon adapted, grew more confident in himself and on his feet and decided to take the righteous path of ref-dom.
Now Rob has joined us as a referee at a few of MRD’s travel games and has asserted himself as a regular face at training sessions. Not only has he learnt the rules but he passed his first rules test with flying colours and was recently Head Ref at one of our home scrims. If you’re a regular player of roller derby you know that you win or lose games based on a team’s ability to NOT commit too many penalties, and it is through Rob’s fastidious learning of the rules that our team skaters are aware of how important it is to play cleanly and fairly.
All we can say is thank you RoB-BoT. For calling us on our no-nos and supporting the league as ardently as you do.
What is your derby name and number?
My Derby name is RoB-BoT. One evening after training i was placing my wife's skate gear in the car whilst the league chant was about to start, I was shouted over and started to run back to the group when my wife said “He runs like a Robot...” Shortly followed by one of the team saying 'RoB-BoT' and it stuck. My Number is 5114 or 5th Jan 2014 which is the day I married Nat-a-Splat. No excuse for forgetting my wedding anniversary.
I am a referee or ‘zebra foal’.
When did you join Mansfield Roller Derby?
I started skating with MRD in June 2014. Its Nat-a-Splat's fault. Nat started skating before me and needed a lift to every training session as Nat does not drive. I sat for weeks watching everyone having fun, Nat kept telling me to have a go, I really wanted to but did not want to as it was Nat's activity and did not feel as though I should....well I started skating and loved it, still do.
Who are your derby heroes?
My derby heroes are everyone who has been in a Dazzle (a group of Zebras i.e. group of refs). It takes a lot to play roller derby and it takes a lot to referee roller derby too, you have to be sure you're right because someone will know if you’re not, also some of the skaters I've seen and refereed for scare the skates off of me!
Did you play any sports before Roller Derby?
SBRD - Sport Before Roller Derby:
Flirting - I gave this sport up when i met Nat.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about getting involved in Roller Derby?
Advice - DO IT NOW. Roller Derby is fun, its a great atmosphere in the team and between leagues. Even if you can’t skate the league will teach you, if you can skate the league will teach you too.