Meet Duke City Roller Derby's August spotlight member, Fowl Play! You've probably seen Fowl Play jam reffing at Duke City bouts and helping out at junior and newbie practices. You may also know him as spouse of Duke City's well-known skater, ref, and coach, and August '15 spotlight member, Doom Dee Doom.
How did you get involved with roller derby?
When I moved to Albuquerque, the only people I knew in town were John and Nan Morningstar (long-time friends of DCRD and owners of Free Radicals!), so I hung out with them, and went to practice, and helped out. John asked me to ref, so I did.
Tell us about your roles with DCRD and your involvement with junior derby.
I started out as a ref and general support. After reffing for a number of years, Doom and I moved out of state, offering me an opportunity to stop reffing for while. I enjoyed just being a fan, and a "turn three" coach at games and tournaments. I’ve bench coached a couple of times as well. In 2015, I came back as a ref, and started helping Doom with the juniors and newbies. Now I coach and ref for the juniors as well.
Why are you called Fowl Play? (Tell us a cool fact about birds!)
Several of my early jobs involved bird research, so I thought "Fowl Play" was appropriate. My first ref jersey (which I still wear, ten years later) has a very faint chicken skeleton on it. The most painful bird that I have been bitten by was a cardinal. The largest I ever caught in a mist net was a great blue heron. The stupidest bird is the Mexican Spotted Owl--we used a fake mouse on a string, and caught it by hand.
What advice do you have for people who are interested in reffing? Is there a referee training program?
Come to practice, learn to skate, try the skating skills test, read the rules (several times), practice reffing at scrimmage, ask questions. DCRD does not have an official ref training program, but we are happy to train new refs just like we do new skaters. We’ve trained one (junior) ref so far this year--he reffed his first game recently!
The best way to keep a ref interested is for them to be the partner of a skater (it’s a good way to get to see your partner, rather than be a derby widow!). So recruit your boyfriends, girlfriends, and just friends. It is also tough to keep refs when coaches yell at them. Duke's coaches are pretty good, but I have seen coaches from other leagues behave very poorly.
Do you have any crazy referee stories?
I’ve been punched by a skater (early on, when fighting was still okay). I’ve had skaters intentionally try to take me out. I’ve been yelled at a lot. I don’t think any of that is particularly crazy though.
What's something you wish skaters understood about reffing?
The best way for skaters to understand reffing (and make life easier for refs) is to try it. I think that every skater should try reffing a couple of times so that they can see how hard it is to see things, judge appropriate impact, maintain accurate point totals during complicated jams, and experience all of the other chaos that goes on to support the league. Skaters also need to know the rules and keep up with the interpretations. It’s amazing how often I get yelled at for a good call based on a new interpretation that would have been different under the old interpretation.
Tell us about how you met Doom!
I met Doom reffing roller derby and at Roller King. I liked to chase her at Roller King, to see if I could keep up. She invited me to one of her art shows, and we started dating shortly after that.
Have you ever played roller derby?
Not really--I was never very interested. I've jammed on shoes a couple times. It was tiring without the skates, but acceleration is much easier.
What are your other hobbies?
Climbing, knifemaking, wood turning, archery, camping, hiking, and reading.
What is your favorite part about your involvement in DCRD?
Supporting my wife, supporting women’s athletics, being around good people, and the sense of community.