If you have been to a Carolina Rollergirls bout, you have no doubt witnessed our amazing and talented skaters doing what they love most, but did you know that our referees and volunteers are JUST as amazing and talented? In fact, our head ref, Tripp N. Dale, recently achieved something that no other ref ever has- he has the distinction of being the first ref in the world to work up from Level 2 to Level 5 WFTDA Certification! We are incredibly proud of his accomplishment and so thankful to have such an awesome ref crew to keep us in line.
We caught up with Tripp recently to celebrate and congratulate his new certification and to get some background to share.
Q. What brought you to the Carolina Rollergirls?
A. Daisy Rage, Elka Meano and Voodoo. Daisy had just started, Elka was just getting ready to try out and I went to Elka’s skating birthday party. That’s where I got the bug to start skating again. Then Voodoo saw me one Sunday and asked me if I wanted to ref. I was hesitant – I didn’t know anything about the sport – but I eventually said “yes” and couldn’t be happier that I did.
Q. How long have you been involved with the league?
A. Since mid-2007
Q. How do you keep your focus during practice or a bout?
A. Focus is different for officials – we have to maintain focus during the entire bout. It can be difficult, but once you get used to watching the action instead of watching the bout, before you know it…the bout is over.
Q. What do you do to pay the bills and buy the wheels?
A. I’m an Imaging Specialist and Designer at JW Photo Labs in Raleigh, NC. I restore old and damaged photos, print banners, posters, wallpaper, stuff like that.
Q. What does derby mean to you?
A. Wow, it means a great deal. It’s my hobby. It’s my exercise. It’s my passion. It’s the most fun I have in my life. I’m a depressed person by nature, so derby is like my #1 antidepressant.
Q. What is your background? (Education? Family? Work? Sports?)
A. I was a speed skater as a kid. I quit skating when I tore my ACL and MCL playing soccer when I was 16. I always wanted to go back to skating, but I really didn’t like all the kids at the open skates. I always fantasized about having a big house with a full attic which had a floor I could skate on. I still want that some day.
Q. Do you ref other drivers on the road when you’re driving?
A. Absolutely. I’m the ultimate defensive driver, thanks to my Dad. My best derby driving memory was in Minnesota when I was driving the van and I was trying to get out of precarious mall entrance and Deviled Legs said to me “Tripp I’d have you blocking in my pack any day” – I’ll never forget that!
Q. Any advice for new refs coming into CRG or people who are interested in reffing for CRG?
A. Do it. It will change your life.
Q. What is the scariest thing you have ever done?
A. Ride the Drop Zone at the State Fair. Seriously. I’m deathly afraid of heights. But airplanes don’t bother me. Oh, and apply for Level 5 WFTDA Certification.
Q. What is the story behind your derby name?
A. Back in school some kids would call me “Chip N Dale” after the cartoon, since my real name is Ashley N Dale. When I started derby, I already had a nickname, Smash, but I wanted something different. I went with Tripp N. Dale as an ode to the cartoon but also as a play off the Chippendale dancers. Maybe I should wear a tux ref shirt and a speedo? NOT!
Q. What hobbies do you enjoy when you aren’t at the rink?
A. I rescue dogs. Right now I have 2 dogs of my own and 2 fosters – I also have a beagle named Barney coming in in the next couple of days. I’m very pro SPAY AND NEUTER.
Q. What challenges have you faced balancing a personal life with the demanding schedule of roller derby?
A. For me, being an official who travels outside of CRG bouts, it’s about the funds. Taking time off work is hard and finding people to dog and cat-sit for me is difficult too. But the biggest challenge is finding the money. If I could, I’d be heading all over the world to teach and ref, but my finances get in the way of that. I am thinking about making a documentary on derby officials, because we’re often invisible (which we like) but I’d want to go to the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, to film and interview, but who has THAT kind of money?!?!
Q. What do you get out of derby?
A. A sense of pride. I get friends and family. People I would dive in front of a bus for.
Q. What is one bad habit you wish you could break?
Staying up past midnight.
Q. So you’ve got three free tickets you can give to anyone, living or dead, and they’ll come to your bout. Who do you invite?
A. I’d invite my brother and my Dad. They have both passed and I miss them terribly. Then I’d invite George Carlin ’cause both my Dad and brother loved him and they’d have a blast.
Q. All time favorite bout you’ve reffed or watched?
A. I have 2 and they’re both from this year: reffing the Montreal vs London bout at Eastern Regionals (it won 2011 DNN bout of the year) and reffing Gotham vs Rocky Mountain at the Championship Tournament.
Q. If you could slap a ﬂoor down and skate anywhere in the world, where would it be?
A. It would be cool to put a floor down on an airplane carrier out in the middle of the ocean. Blare the music loud and skate as fast as you can. The ocean is so calming and peaceful. What a great place to have a bout too – well, with big barriers so the penalty box doesn’t end up in the water.
Q. What do you remember from your first bout?
A. I was terrified! Voodoo, who was head ref at the time, told us “you’re going to make 1 big mistake and some other smalls ones. Don’t sweat it.” I still think of that and miss his shiny head.
Q. What’s so special about roller derby?
A. It’s something that is hard to explain. It’s a lifestyle. A family. A group of people who work really hard for a common goal. You meet people from all walks of life, and from all over the world. It REALLY helps your friend count on Facebook 😛
Q. Why do you ref?
A. Because this sport is amazing. The people in it are amazing. Being able to work your tail off, get WFTDA certified, travel, it’s the best thing. Every bout I get to see people I haven’t seen in a while, and I also meet new people. I can go anywhere in the US now and know SOMEONE through reffing roller derby. Seriously, how cool is that?
For more information on getting involved with the Carolina Rollergirls as a ref or any other volunteer position, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to learn from one of the best Derby refs in the world? Carolina Rollergirls will hosting a Roller Derby Referee Clinic July 21 and July 22, 2012. Visit the WFTDA website here for more information about 2012 reffing clinics.