Don’t let her pocket-sized physique and charming grin fool you. While she is, indeed, adorable, she isn’t one to be trifled with. Smart as a whip and deeply steeped in the knowledge of roller derby rules and regulations, she is Silken Tofu. With close to 60 bouts under her belt, she is one of the most talented non-skating officials (NSOs) in the sport today, with new leagues benefitting from her experience, expertise and training. She has served as the Bleeding Heartland Roller Girls’ Head NSO for the past two seasons.
Tofu explains her job as Head NSO, “My primary functions are to recruit NSOs, train them, wrangle them for bouts and scrimmages, be there during bouts to ensure everything runs smoothly, and compile paperwork.”
Tofu performs slightly different functions for a bout that is sanctioned by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) than she does for an un-sanctioned bout. “For sanctioned bouts,” she explains, “I have to track down both team captains and the Head Referee immediately following the bout to obtain their signatures on an official stats form. I have two weeks to compile all the statistics collected during the bout, ensure that they’re accurate (I frequently watch the bout video, sometimes repeatedly and in slow-motion) and submit them to WFTDA. If anything is inaccurate, or I don’t get them done in time, the bout could be thrown out and not count towards the leagues’ rankings. I also compile the statistics for un-sanctioned bouts, for the benefit of both teams’ skaters and coaches.”
Despite the enormous amount of energy she funnels into finding volunteers and dealing with stats and paperwork, Tofu finds that the most difficult aspect of being an NSO is “being Switzerland”! She recalls an especially rough run-in with this rule, “NSOs are officials, meaning we are impartial. I love BHRG, win or lose, but it can be hard to not cheer/groan during a bout! In May, I was NSOing the Spring Roll Tournament when BHRG made an amazing comeback in the prime-time game against Fort Wayne. At the end of the game, the score was very close and the crowd was going crazy. I stood with my eyes locked on the Head Referee, knowing that if I looked anywhere else, I would lose my cool and cheer. It’s never been so hard to be Switzerland! After I changed out of my NSO uniform and left the venue, I definitely squealed and jumped up and down like a little kid!”
Tofu will frequently stress the importance of gathering as many volunteers as possible to NSO. She says, “It’s possible to run a WFTDA-sanctioned game with only seven NSOs, keeping the bare minimum of statistics. But there’s so much more you can do with more people! More NSOs means each person is focusing on less, so mistakes are minimized. Also, more NSOs means we can delve deeper into the stats. For instance, we can tell a blocker what percentage of the game she played, how many times she was sent to the penalty box and how many times she knocked out the opposing team’s jammer or got faked out by the opposing jammer. “
If Tofu’s passion has sparked something in you and you’d be interested in becoming an NSO for BHRG, you need only to care about derby, to be willing to learn, and be willing to “be Switzerland”. No knowledge or prior experience required. Tofu is more than willing to train you! Why not become a part of the BHRG family and contact Silken Tofu today at [email protected]?