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Ref Profile: Harry Spot'er

This week RDA catch up with Australia's highest qualified WFTDA referee Harry Spot'er. Keep an eye out for Spot'er at this weekends sold out WFTDA Officiating Clinic in Brisbane.

Referee name, number & league?
Harry Spot’er 934 Victorian Roller Derby League

How long have you been involved in roller derby?
I have been involved with roller derby since April 2007

What do you like most about reffing this sport?
I really like that the action doesn’t stop when there is a penalty. There is also the fact that there is offence and defence happening almost simultaneously.  The sport can be very challenging to officiate but it can be super rewarding.

What’s the biggest challenge when it comes to reffing? 
This is difficult to answer because there are multiple things that you need to consider when officiating derby. Firstly you have the rules, something that luckily came relatively easily to me. Then you have the skating skills. Skating well is something that’s super important; because without solid skate skills you can’t get yourself into the position you need be to make the right call. This is where you need to anticipate the action. By anticipating the action you can be sure that you’re always in the right place at the right time, and able to view the penalties and points as they happen. 

If you could create one rule OR change one rule – what would it be?
If I had my choice  it would have to be  limiting skater numbers to 3 digits, numbers only. Yes boring I know, but it’s the small things.

Can you describe the most unusual game scenario you’ve had to review? 
Off the top of my head I can’t pinpoint a specific moment there are so many to think of that one doesn’t stick out clearly out.

Is there a ref that you look up to or go to for advice?
I have a few that I frequently talk to, Eric Rawk, Richie Frangiosa (Judge Knot), Matt Mantsh (Rev Riot) and Sir Osis.  They're all great referees, who are really passionate and knowledgeable about the game, who are now really good friends of mine.

The stakes are high, there’s only a couple of points in it and the crowd is going bonkers… how do you deal with the pressure of being Head Referee? 
I try to remain calm and take a few deep breaths between jams and sometimes positive self-talk. I make sure to relax, as tensing up can lead to frustration. That’s one thing you most definitely want to avoid. One big thing in my role as a Head Referee is to make sure the rest of my crew is doing ok, so I will check in on them to make sure there doing well and are staying focused.

What’s your preferred skate set up? 
I’m currently rolling on Riedell custom 495’s with Snyder Advantage plates with Atom Jukes which vary in hardness depending on the floor.

Did you go into derby wanting to be a ref?
When I first got into derby I honestly had no real idea what to expect as derby was only  in its infancy, and VRDL were still a few months off scrimmaging when I joined. But after the league started to scrimmage I knew I wanted to be a ref.

What are the personality characteristics of a good ref?
I value communication, focus, fast thinking, impartiality and honesty very highly

Any advice for up and coming zebras?
Focus on your skate skills. It’s really important for referees to be good skaters. It’s ok to just read the rules to begin with,but you can’t apply the rules until you can skate well.

What’s your greatest achievement in your reffing career? 
There are so many that I’m super proud of:

2011 – Becoming the first Australian official to be granted WFTDA Referee Certification; and Head Refing the VRDL All Stars vs Texas Hotrod Honeys game at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds 

2012 – Reaching Level 3 Certification; and Head Referee for the VRDL All Stars vs Gotham Girls All Stars

2013 – a massive year for me! I am now a WFTDA Level 4 Certified Referee as a Head Referee, Inside Pack Referee and Jammer Referee; and Head Referee for the Rose City vs VRDL All Stars game in Portland, Oregon. But my biggest achievement was being a Jammer Referee at the WFTDA Salem playoffs in September 2013.

If someone was interested in joining Victorian Roller Derby League as a ref or NSO, who should they contact and how? 
You can contact us via email

Reffing aside, how do you like to spend your time in real life? 
Derby and work rule my life though I do enjoy general exercise outside of derby; I also do enjoy doing some design work or hanging at home with my two dogs.

Image: Jules Doyle Photography

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