Wednesday, November 9, 2011

WFTDA Championships: Wearing the white hats

Roller derby encourages players to exhibit their personal flare. Some refs even get in on the action.

As the sport grows, the Women's Flat Track Derby Association takes increasing care to present it's skating and non-skating officials in a professional manner.

Uniform guidelines give very definite standards of what a referee or NSO may wear during bout proceedings during the WFTDA Championship Tournament, Continental Divide and Conquer, hosted this year in Denver, Colorado.

You may see referees wear interesting helmets. (Great Scott's brain helmet comes to mind). But what might be a note of interest is the increasing number of referees opting for white helmets -- Machete Holiday, Umpire Strikes Back, and Colin DeShots are but a few.

The white helmets help referees stand out from the chaos that may appear on the track. In a sea of skaters, referees and non-skating officials taking center stage, it's easier to play "Spot the Official" when they're wearing white helmets.

Joshua Pfenning, aka Conan the Vegetarian, has been skating for numerous years. Conan, who referees with the Angel City Derby Girls and is an officiating instructor for the WFTDA, can typically be seen sporting the white helmet.

"I have been reffing for 6 years," Pfenning said. "I started HRing (HR: head ref) right out of the chute for a newly formed league and thought it made sense for the HR to wear a different colored helmet, so I bought white."

"Later somebody on my crew bought a bright blue helmet which sort of nullified the effect of me having a white one."

Most helmets come in black or white, with an increasing number of colored helmets entering the equipment list. Many refs still prefer the monochromatic options.

"Having the refs all wear the same helmet color creates a consistent look and adds professionalism in my opinion," he said. "I like the idea of all refs wearing a black helmet, with the HR wearing a white one."