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National Officiating Scholarship

RDA are very excited to be following the journey of Jen Heath, aka Numb3r Crunch3r, our very own recipient of the Australian Sports Commission National Officiating Scholarship. Already with the first induction workshop and a WFTDA officiating clinic under her belt, it is going to be a huge year. Check out her first instalment here.

National Officiating Scholarship for Roller Derby - Part 1

Early in the morning on 20th March 2014, I was nervously sitting in a room full of twenty-four very sporty looking people in the Crowne Plaza hotel. The induction workshop for the 2014 National Officiating Scholarship (NOS) had begun, and introductions were underway. Some of the officials in the room were already aiming for part-time or full-time officiating contracts in their sports, aiming to make a career out of their officiating. I was fascinated - the most I've ever been paid for officiating is $50 for a high level tournament.

Several sports were new to the program - most notably the roller-sports, roller derby and speed skating. The other sports in the room were a list of popular professional and Olympic sports - rugby league, rugby union, AFL, soccer, basketball, tennis, hockey, swimming and cricket. Myself and Rhoda (the speed skating recipient) were of the same mind - 'what similarities could we possibly find with these sports?'

We did not have to wonder for long - an hour was set aside on the first day for the recipients to sit in a small group and have a facilitated discussion about our sports and the difficulties we faced in officiating at a high level. Incredible similarities were found between speed skating and swimming, cricket and tennis, roller derby and football. In each case there were struggles - sometimes with nutrition in games that last for hours or days, sometimes with physical fitness, and sometimes simply with the mindset that you need to embody while officiating. Networking was one of the key purposes of the weekend, but the schedule was chock full of other sessions and courses as well.

Introductory lectures were given on psychology (knowing yourself) and nutrition, before the participants split up into one-on-one sessions with various consultants. Media, in particular, was an area I thought would have little relevance to me, but I was wrong. In the week since my media consultation I've been asked to write these blog posts and several other web articles about my NOS experience and the other events of my year to come - and the knowledge and training to confidently do this came just in time! I was also 'interviewed' during that session, and I don't doubt I'll find a use for those interview skills at some point this year or during my career.

One-on-one sessions were also given in nutrition and psychology, with the promise of further sessions and an 'open door policy' with the specialists throughout the year. I feel like at the moment I've barely scratched the surface of the specialist assistance I'll receive this year, but in the meantime I've started my diet plan, and I'm starting to be more engaging, understanding and personable to build my rapport with teams, other officials, and people in general.

Thursday night the officials were treated to a seafood buffet in the revolving restaurant at the top of the Crowne Plaza hotel. The food was magnificent, the dessert table made us glad we didn't have our diet plans just yet, and I got lost several times trying to orient myself to the stationary centre of the restaurant, rather than the revolving outer edge.

Throughout Friday the one-on-one sessions continued, broken up by group activities - and they were certainly entertaining! 'Two Truths and a Lie' made an appearance, as well as a trust-building exercise of navigating an obstacle course blindfolded, as instructed by a partner.

The workshop really clicked up a notch on Saturday, when the mentors for the officials arrived and everyone was taken through an in depth session on DISC profiling, a profiling technique that describes both your natural and adapted behavioural styles, and allows you to assess and understand others' behaviour, and adjust your own to work effectively with them. But before that, bright and early in the morning, the officials found themselves in the pool (and it was pretty cold)! An hour of pool running and conditioning drills left everyone with jelly legs.

Saturday continued with another psychology session (knowing others), followed by a choice of two physical sessions - running techniques or stretching techniques. I chose running techniques, and spent the next two hours making small change after small change to my running style, becoming more and more efficient (and exhausted). On return, I was told the stretching class was no picnic either - a long session of Pilates and core work.

Saturday still wasn't over - another important session about setting up the mentor relationship followed, and each official sat with their mentor to set their goals for the year, and make commitments about ongoing contact and meetings. Kruger and I have decided on a particularly busy year for me, including:

- Co-THR of an invitational tournament in Canberra over ANZAC Day
- Refereeing TGSS
- Refereeing the playoff tournaments in America in August/September
- Applying for Level 3 certification in January 2015

Sunday, the final day, finished with a morning of workshops on communication, including some hilarious exercises of 'blind drawing' - one person describing a picture while the other attempts to draw it without having seen it. With new friendships formed and a head full of an incredible amount of new learning’s, the attendees went their separate ways, but with guarantees of more learning’s and more bonding to come with satellite workshops in May and June, and a final workshop in late November at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.

Stay tuned for my next post - the WFTDA Officiating Clinic in Brisbane, hosted by Sun State Roller Girls!

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