Sunday, September 11, 2011

Traveling to the Windy City, or how to read my notes

I made it over to Chicago to watch the Windy City All-Stars take on Kansas City Roller Warriors. Made it into town just fine, with minor traffic backups (the biggest hiccup was exiting at Downers Grove to go to a gaming store). I arrived a little early, and was forced to wait at guest services until a security guard asked me to go around the building and check in there.

Once inside I grabbed food and drink and headed over to my spot in the stands behind the jammer lines. If I go to bouts and just watch I much prefer spectating from the sidelines, but i need to be able to see numbers when I'm doing bout writeups.

That being said, WCR's second wind has some incredibly hard numbers to have to identify from the stands. The Red numbers on Blue jerseys were impossible to read, made more troublesome by the size and the placement. Their numbers couldn't have been more than 3 inches tall and high up between the shoulderblades.

It took some getting used to, as I slowly started to get into the pace of it. But if Second Wind threw in a new jammer (particularly after the half when the moved to the furthest bench) I was struggling to hear the announcers call the number.

Luckily the B-team bout gave me an opportunity to relearn my system of keeping detailed notes. Unlike most professional sports, statistics aren't always available immediately after the bout. Dedicated fans or journalists have to keep their own form of stats. About eight months have passed since I've even used the system and nearly a full year since I've effectively had to use my own notes for a writeup. I was rusty. But the Second Wind-Plan B game gave me an opportunity to slowly get back into the flow.

To give you an idea (And I may have to take a photo to give you a clearer picture): At the beginning of each jam, I record the jammers' numbers. If the jam whistle is some how delayed via a slow pack, for example, I'll try to write down the time into the jam that the jammers are released. During a particularly long delay, I have enough time to write a few quick notes about players jockeying for position.

Once the jammers are off, I immediately look for the jam ref in the lead. Upon his or her signal (and the subsequent jam ref's signal) I write a (L) or (1st) or (N). L is lead, N is not lead and 1st is first out of the pack but not lead. Above each note, I'll look up at the clock and see what time she successfully (or unsuccessfully) earned each status. It's not crucial, but it gives you a better understanding of defense or how quickly a jammer is making it through the pack. If a jammer is designated Not Lead because of penalty, I'll usually write a little initial above the note. For example: Black Jammmer made it through the pack first but is not lead at 1:45 into the jam because of a minor track cut, would look like this -
1:45 x
Her # (1st)

On each scoring pass I'll write down the number of points signaled by the jam referee. Particularly skilled referees will signal a minor penalty if a jammer finishes her scoring pass but does not earn a point for an illegal pass. If you are one of these refs, I love you. If you're not, I probably have yelled at you but I'm not sorry.

If the Lead Jammer successfully calls of the jam, I circle her last reported scoring pass, and look for the other jam ref to signal her skater's points. One of the great things about General WFTDA NSO setup, is that the score table is generally pretty close to where I set, so if there is a correction I can usually tell.

After a few jams, I look up at the clock to check the time left and the score, write those down and underline it so that I can go back through and quickly double check my math, a subject that isn't my strong suit.

If a jammer is sent to the box before she completes her next scoring pass, I'll mark this with an (IN) and a capital intial for her infraction and hopefully the time remaining in the jam. When she is released I'll mark it as (OUT) and if I can, I'll write down the time in the jam.

It's all pretty complicated, but if I have time I'll scribble some notes down below the jammer line, usually trying to get some form of pack description or recording a big hit.

During Regionals I slowly devised this style, and it worked for me particularly at Championships. I've showed a lot of people how much information I can record in a short amount of time, and usually I get looks of disbelief. :D