Meet the NSOs

Non-Skating Officials (NSOs) — you see them at every bout wearing lovely pink shirts. Because of the pink color, they are affectionately called “flamingos” and without them, there would be no bout. The host team has to provide NSOs to run the scoreboard, keep score, time penalties, track penalties, time the jams, and so much more. Gem City is lucky to have co-head NSOs who take the idea of providing the team with TRAINED NSOs very seriously. Most weeks, they hold an hour-long training session so that each NSO knows how to do her (or his) job. The NSOs have to behave professionally and impartially, so you will never see them cheering one team over the other, and they work hard during the bouts — no time to chat and grab a snack. Like skaters and refs, NSOs are allowed to choose their own derby name. Gem City is also very very fortunate to have a few people who are dedicated NSOs. They don’t skate or ref, they NSO. They are a part of the team and they train. You will often see skaters who aren’t yet rostered working as NSOs, but here are profiles of our own dedicated NSOs that we have.


Gem City Rollergirls - 2016 League Photos - | | Photographer: Scott St. Martin © Nebuleux LTD. |

Name: Scotchy Scotch Scott

Favorite NSO Position: I love working in the penalty box. It’s a fun challenge to push myself to time penalties with precision, and penalty-heavy games can be a lot of fun as I work to stay on top of many things happening in the box at once.

How I got into derby: A friend started reffing, and invited a group of us out to the team’s home opener, where he’d be reffing his first game. A couple friends instantly decided they had to try this derby thing, and started at open recruitment immediately. I went to the second game of the season, too, then one of those skaters told me they were looking for volunteers to help with the third game. I came by practice, learned to scorekeep, and have been hooked on NSOing for three years, now. Since then, I’ve learned all the positions, earned certification as an NSO through WFTDA, and have become active on the derby tournament circuit when I’m not helping the league train and manage NSOs for our own home games.

Why I derby: I’ve met all kinds of great people officiating for derby. Skaters, NSOs, referees; the derby community is diverse and engaging. In high school, I built sets and worked backstage for our theater program, and NSOing hits a lot of the same notes for me: I get to support friends and their passions, doing something fun and worthwhile, all from the (metaphorical) shadows where I’m not the center of attention. And the afterparties are a lot of fun. Also, the dirty secret is that the spotlight catwalk is the best seat in the house and you learn the plays inside and out as well as the actors; the same goes for most of the NSO positions.

Favorite pizza order: “Some meat, no mushrooms”

Life outside of derby: I do contract work in Information Technology to make a living, and I like to play board games for fun when I’m not doing derby.

Name: Weiss Azz WeissAzz_2015

This is my fourth season as an NSO for Gem City. I got into Derby after my twin became a ref. I knew nothing about derby when I started but got into it really quickly. My favorite positions as an NSO is Penalty Tracking and Wrangler. I like being on the inside and seeing the games up close.

Favorite Band: Aerosmith

Favorite Sports Team: Cincinnati Reds

Life outside of derby: I work at a promotional products company as an Account Administrator. I have two daughters and two dogs, Lacey and Spike.


Gem City Rollergirls - 2016 League Photos - | | Photographer: Scott St. Martin © Nebuleux LTD. |

Name: Princess Troublegum

Favorite NSO Positions: Penalty Timing and Line-up Tracking. Both positions keep me on my toes for the whole game. The box can get busy and managing the times for several skaters can be hectic and exciting. Keeping an eye on who is on the track for line-up tracking purposes is also a job that requires attention. Both positions make me feel very involved in the movement of the game.

Why I derby: I’ve always been a comfort zone person. I’ve been ambitious in my own specific ways, but derby for me was WILDLY outside of my comfortable little box. I had never played a sport. I discovered I had horrible exercise-induced asthma. I was more or less terrified of everything. And you know what? It didn’t matter one bit. I showed up, I tried, and I was welcomed. I met a large group of incredibly loving people who wanted me to succeed– and I wanted them to succeed. The people I met have become my friends, my team, my family. They have encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone, and they have helped me learn so many things about life, derby, and myself. When something good happens, I have a whole team to celebrate with. When something bad happens, I have a whole team to surround and support me. Derby is amazing– whether you are skating or not.

How I got into NSOing: I started as a skater for Gem City in 2013, but as Fresh Meat, I was expected to help out at the games as an NSO. NSOing really helped me learn a lot about how the game was played as I practiced my skating skills. I skated a season with Gem City, but I was sidelined with an injury. After recovery, I decided to focus my attentions to NSOing full-time.

Favorite Ice Cream: Raspberry Chocolate Chip

Favorite Cereal: Frosted Mini Wheats

Fitness Routine: Not skating after my injury left a big hole in my fitness life. I took up running as a way to fill that hole, and I have fallen in love. I am an active member of House Hufflepuff in the Hogwarts Running Club, and I love participating in local 5ks and various virtual races. I’m currently running my way through Middle Earth in a virtual race. It is a lot of fun to track miles and see the progress as I carry the virtual ring to Mordor. It also helps get me out the door when I don’t always feel like it.

Life Outside of Derby: My non-derby job is teaching writing and literature courses at Edison State Community College. I am the faculty advisor for the honor society, gaming club, and book club.

Name: Mauler E. Knocks Mauler_2015
This is my 4th season (!!) with Gem City. I came to some derby fundraiser at Orbit, met Karma and decided on the spot that I had to join derby. I went to work the next day and told Jackie (Cyan Eyed) that she had to join derby with me. We both joined as skaters. I had to special order my skates because coach didn’t have any in my size, so I skated in the “brownies” for almost a month. The first day that I wore my own skates, I broke my ankle halfway through practice. I had surgery and now have a metal plate in my leg. After almost 3 years, the doctors have determined that in addition to a shortened achilles tendon in that leg I also have scar tissue, bone spurring, and traumatic arthritis. I am having surgery on the ankle again this summer. I was not (and still am not) ready to give up on derby, so I became a permanent NSO. I have strapped on skates a few times since the break, but knowing that I can’t afford to miss work due to another long recovery is what pushed me to NSO. Since I don’t plan on quitting derby any time soon, I’m also looking into becoming certified.

I spent my first season timing and doing other volunteer positions, one full season penalty timing, and one full season box managing. This season (so far) I have expanded to penalty tracking and I enjoyed it, even though I was surprised at how much louder it is on the inside versus the outside. I do enjoy box managing, but still get a bit anxious when I see 2 jammers coming to the box at the same time.

In my daily life I’m bit of a hot mess–2 time college dropout; twice divorced; single parent of 2 boys a year apart in age; delivering pizzas 30 hours a week; randomly taking interpreting jobs when I can fit them into my schedule; therapy, doctor’s appointments, meetings, and all the other things that go along with having kids and injuries.

Outside of derby: I collect Stephen King books and hope to see him when he comes to Dayton in June. I love all things horror, The Walking Dead, etc. It’s now late enough in the year that I will force my kids to make their final decision on Halloween costumes so that I have time to hand sew them before October. I collect bumper stickers.

Favorite foodstuff: No olives is pretty much my only request. I don’t do much in the way of sweets (because both my parents developed adult onset diabetes) but I always get my margaritas with sugar on the rim, not salt. Tequila is my top choice for liquor, specifically Patron Silver.

Why I derby: Because you guys are some of the greatest people that I’ve ever met. I have pushed myself after seeing others in a similar situation (or worse) get through the same obstacles. I have watched both the adults and the juniors make incredible improvements, not only in their skills and mentality, but also extending it to their personal lives. Derby is a great equalizer, with people from all across the spectrum. Family isn’t just who is related to you by blood or marriage. Family is the people who love and support you, and that is what our league is.

NSO- LochJessMonsterName: LochJessMonster

Favorite NSO Positions: Penalty box timer! It’s the position I know best, and I love really getting to be right in the middle of the game. It can get a bit hectic, but there’s never a dull moment. I’m also getting more into scoreboard, which I just love knowing all of the game stats.

How I got into NSOing: I used to skate with GCRG in 2010, but fell and broke my arm in a few places. The hardware keeps me off of the track, but I decided I still needed to find a way to fit derby back in my life after I graduated from school.

Favorite Ice Cream: Chocolate chip cookie dough, duh.

Favorite Cereal: Cinnamon Life!

Fitness Routine: I don’t really have a routine, but I like to run and learn all types of dance. Currently doing belly dance and burlesque. I’m also just getting started into pole and aerial silks!

Life Outside of Derby: I work for 2NEWS which takes up most of my time! I also play trivia, dance, and go to as many concerts as I can. And, yes, I’ve probably seen the latest episode of that TV show.

A Short History of ECDX

A Short History of ECDX, by Beast Mode, #666

2016 marks the tenth anniversary of the East Coast Derby Extravaganza hosted by Philly Roller Derby.  This is the first year that Gem City will be participating in the Extravaganza (commonly shortened to ECDX).

This event is 3 full days of 3 active tracks – 2 of which are dedicated to full WFTDA-sanctioned bouts and the other set aside for Challenge Bouts. The Challenge Bouts are abbreviated bouts with no official reviews or time outs.  Skaters from all over the world gather for black/white scrimmages during the Challenge Bouts. All in all, over 50 bouts are jam-packed into one epic weekend. The event isn’t solely focused on bouting! Vendors will be selling wares and the organizers have tons of activities scheduled throughout all 3 days aiming to bring skaters of all walks of life and corners of the globe together. This year there is a Summer Camp Theme to all activities!

ECDX is officially a WFTDA Recognized Tournament, which basically means they have their act together.  WFTDA provides Recognized Tournaments with additional support, marketing material, and live-streaming.

Truly, this is an international affair.  Over 150 leagues have skaters, officials, NSOs, and rabid derby fans descending upon ECDX.  In fact this year, Gem City will be taking on a team coming all the way from New Zealand – the Pirate City Roller Girls! Hey – remember that blip about live-streaming? Check out the Facebook page for ECDX for more information and listen to your Gem City Purple Reign on Saturday, June 18th at 4:30 p.m.! To follow your Gems travels and adventures at ECDX and beyond, be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook where we will be posting photos, videos and updates using hashtag #ReignOn!

May Featured Skater: Vicious Valkyrie

Gem City Rollergirls - 2016 League Photos - | | Photographer: Scott St. Martin © Nebuleux LTD. |

What do you think of when you hear “Vicious Valkyrie”? Probably not a slender, speedy skater who has number 93 on her back, but that’s our Val. She was kind enough to answer some questions for us as our featured skater for May. 

What made you decide to try derby?

In Spring 2013 I went to my first roller derby bout and instantly fell in love. I spent the remainder of the 2013 season and all of the 2014 season traveling almost weekly to watch bouts all over Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. If I wasn’t at a bout any given weekend, chances are that I was live streaming a tournament or watching bout archives.

How long have you been skating?

At the first bout I went to, I talked to a skater and found out about an open skating/derby skills practice weekly in Cincinnati. I began attending in April 2013 and worked on improving my skating skills for about a year and a half (minus the time I spent off skates with a broken foot and 2 torn ligaments Summer/Fall 2013.) After being turned down twice by a league closer to where I live it came to the point when I realized I wanted to skate and began looking at other leagues. I decided to join Gem City in January 2015 and was instantly welcomed and it really felt like I was finally home. Within a month I had passed off on all of my skills and was rostered for my first bout; I haven’t looked back since.

Other than derby, have you participated in team or individual sports?

I played one season of soccer when I was in third grade and discovered that I am not great at sports with balls. I danced competitively as well, which, I believe, gives me an advantage in toe stop work.

What’s your fitness routine?Val1

Outside of practice I try to hit the gym for weight training 3 times a week. I also try to find moments throughout the day to stay active if I can’t make it to the gym. For example, doing squats in the morning while I’m waiting for my cats to eat their breakfast.  

Do you have a bout day routine or special meal?

I try to get as much sleep as I can the night before and get a good breakfast. I’ll do a breathing treatment a few hours before and get a chicken teriyaki sub from Penn Station.

Do you have “off” practices? If you do, how do you deal with it mentally?

Absolutely! I can’t always get myself in the right state of mind during an “off” practice, but I try to make sure that I don’t go to bed while I’m mentally in a bad place. On the way home I’ll remind myself of how far I’ve come and try to name something I did well at practice to counter-balance any negative feelings. If nothing else getting a good workout and getting to spend time with my team are always positives.

Val2How did you pick your name?

In Norse mythology, a Valkyrie decides who lives and who dies on the battlefield. I love that strong, unstoppable female archetype so I knew I wanted something with Valkyrie in it. I added the vicious later to make it unique. I guess the intention behind picking such a fierce name is the hope that I’ll eventually be able to embody it on the track.

We know that you have Lupus, which is something people hear about but don’t always have facts on. What it is, and how has it affected you as a skater?

I was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus Spring 2010. I was relieved to actually have a diagnosis to explain the downturn of my health and begin treatment, but frustrated to learn that this would be something that I would have to face every day for the rest of my life. Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. It can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, brain and other organs. [1] Some environmental triggers that set off the illness are: ultraviolet rays from the sun or fluorescent light bulbs, an infection, exhaustion, emotional stress or anything that causes stress to the body. To get a picture of what this is like, it seems like, whenever I am stressed or even simply go outside my cells attack themselves and flare up symptoms in all of my body systems. I have been fortunately thus far that my case has only been mild/moderate. As far as how this relates to roller derby, I just need to make sure that I listen to my body and put my overall health as the top priority. I am proud of all that I have been able to accomplish and will continue to keep fighting.

  1. “Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.” MedlinePlus. January 20, 2015.

March Featured Skater: Tara Hole-Inu

aholeLeaguePhotoTara is one of our favorite skaters — she’s so upbeat and funny and helps out, but she works hard at practice. No goofing off or clowning around! As the featured skater for March, she agreed to answer some questions for us, her loyal fans.


Q: How long have you been skating?
A: I joined the team in 2011. I spent a lot of time skating as a kid. I have memories of my cousins singing “roller derby woman” to the tune of “Pretty Woman” as I skated on the street in front of their house. So, yeah, derby was pretty much my destiny and stuff.


Q: What made you decide to try derby?
A: I saw a Gem City a recruitment flyer while I was looking for a roller girl Halloween costume. I was immediately captivated and knew I had to try out. Why didn’t someone tell me this existed in real life sooner??


Q: Had you done any other team sports besides derby?
A: I was involved with a good amount of sports, intermittently, as a kid: swim team, softball, soccer, baton twirling (yes, it totally counts), volleyball, basketball, and track & field.


Q: What is your day job?
A: I build commercial project quotes and provide technical assistance for a local garage door manufacture. It’s insanely glamorous.


Q: How much exercise do you get in a typical week? 
A: On average 3-5 days a week, which can be a struggle in the winter. Once the weather warms up, I’ll be running, skating, biking, or walking my tiny dog almost every day.


Q: How did you choose your derby name?
A: When I started derby I wanted people to think I was mean and scary. Unfortunately, I look like I cuddle with kittens all day (which is only sometimes true), so I picked a name that would help me feel a little more aggressive on the track. Kind of a “fake it ‘til you make it” approach.


Q: What helps your mental game the most? That is, what do you say to yourself when you feel like you aren’t performing up to your standards in a bout?
A: If I feel like I’m skating poorly or I’m getting penalty heavy, I’ll use the “power pose” and positive visualization to boost my confidence. I’ll stand or sit bigger and stronger, making sure my chin is held high. I’ll close my eyes and visualize a good jam or think of something that makes me smile. It sounds kind of cheesy, but it can be really effective against negative self-talk.


Q: How has derby changed you?
A: I feel like a kid again. Derby has pushed my boundaries and given me a lot of unadulterated joy. I’ve utterly failed, felt like a super-star, had to apologize for being a jerk, and made some really amazing friends… and sometimes I do all of that in one single night! I also feel stronger physically, but I think the mental and emotional gains are the ones that will stick with me long after I’ve left the track.

February Featured Skater: Beast Mode

Beast_modeHey guys, Beast Mode here! So I guess I’m supposed to tell you some things about me.  My story? Okay. It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child. I remember the days, sittin’ on the porch with my family, singin’ and dancin’ down the Mississippi… Okay, okay, that’s a lie. I stole that line from “The Jerk” (a classic).  Alright, real talk now.

I’ve been skating with Gem City since the tail end of 2012 (sweet baby Jesus I can’t believe it’s been that long) and I was empirically terrible. I had the great fortune of having a sage orchestra teacher in 5th grade (Mr. Wright) who imparted this wisdom on my young impressionable brain: “You aren’t going to get this overnight.  If you keep doing it, it’ll click.  You’re building new connections in your brain – that takes time and only works if you keep doing it.”  So I trudged on (squawkily and screechily, as I’m sure my parents will attest to those early violin days) and one day, it clicked.  I’ve carried that lesson with me into all aspects of my life, but particularly with derby.  All those times I fell on my hind parts (and sometimes my face) and took down everyone (refs included) during a pack 30, I’d take a breath and say, “I will get this”. Eventually, things began to click. Being stubborn with your goals pays off!12696800_10101625416424646_614746469_o

I started doing yoga around the same time I began derby and both have transformed my life and body.  From yoga I am learning to quiet my (often restless, easily distracted) mind and listen to my body.  I’m learning to be gentle with myself and confident in my strength (crow pose lovers holla at me!).  Derby has given me a wonderful community – I can’t remember what life was like before derby! I absolutely love blocking, especially in a 4 wall.  There is something magical about being in a great 4 wall.  I have mad respect for dedicated jammers, jamming is physically and mentally taxing.

12696434_10101625416549396_433449726_oMiscellaneous things to know about me: I enjoy 5Ks, 10Ks, and have run 2 half-marathons but actually loathe running in and of itself.  I became a vegetarian after reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s book, “Eating Animals.”  I read voraciously. I donate blood every 8 weeks and volunteer with Ronald McDonald House Charities and Five Rivers Metroparks.  There is really not much I won’t do for charity. I love living in a geographical place that gets all four seasons. Thanks to the X-Files I wanted to be a cryptozoologist as a kid and was completely crestfallen to learn that wasn’t an actual thing, so now I work in software support.   If I had to pick a spirit animal it would probably be a bouncing baby goat.  Or a squirrel. My sister and I spent a whole summer as kids watching Star Wars on VHS and pretending we were in the film.  I have amazingly supportive parents who also happen to be lovely human beings. I’d be lost without my best friend (Hi Jenn!).  I think pizza is proof that whatever deities may be love us and want us to be happy.  I believe if everyone read Mary Oliver the world would be a kinder place. I have a full, wild, blissful existence in a beautiful and broken world.  Being part of GCRG these last few years has been a gift and I am beyond excited to keep working toward building a better league!