Dear Head Ref,
I need to tell you how upset I am by the way you spoke to me tonight at training. I ask you to please not read this as an argument, but simply as me trying to express my feelings on what happened.
The reason that I have taken this incident so personally is because you hit a nerve with me tonight. We all have our baggage, and this is some of mine. For years people have talked over me, not taken me seriously, not listened to my thoughts, ideas and opinions. I think a large part of that was me letting them. I decided many months ago that I was not going to let this happen in my derby world, and thankfully it mostly hasn’t. This has helped me to be more assertive and stand up for myself in other areas of my life, and to identify when people are belittling me or not giving me the respect that I believe I deserve as much as they do.
I refuse to let this start happening at derby. Once it begins, it can be hard to stop it. Usually in the past I have taken the opinion that something’s not worth getting into an argument over, and I shut up and say nothing. I think that this is precisely why it keeps happening, because I’d prefer to avoid a commotion rather than to stand up for myself. I don’t want a difference of opinion or a misunderstanding to escalate into a full argument or yelling match, and that is why I let the subject be moved on tonight at training after you raised your voice at me and talked over me, rather than try to explain myself at the time. I do however feel as though I need to say something to avoid this happening in future or becoming a pattern.
When I said that some of the refs need to speak more loudly and clearly, it was not an attack on you or any of the refs personally, individually or as a group. I was simply giving some feedback from my experience in a recent scrimmage. We’re all at scrimmage to practise and to learn, and that includes refs and NSOs.
The way that you spoke to me after my comment was uncalled for and unacceptable. I feel as though you overreacted and jumped down my throat for no good reason. I understand that reffing is a really hard, really full-on job, and I am in awe of what the derby refs do – a point that I tried to make but you didn’t or wouldn’t hear because you were speaking over me. I understand that as part of a new league, all of our refs are in training too and therefore can’t be perfect at everything. That is exactly why such feedback is important. As head ref, you need to be able to take such observations or constructive criticism as they are intended (to help the refs be even better at what they do,) and not as a personal attack.
Surging, for example, is pretty hard for someone who’s learning it; I need to concentrate on keeping my foot in front, keeping the right weight distribution, turning out my knee, getting the timing right, having enough momentum behind my body, making contact with my thigh, butt, hip, back and shoulder, keeping myself from tabletopping as well as avoiding using my elbow – but when you or any coach or skater tells me to keep my elbow in, I usually acknowledge that it’s something that needs improvement, thank you for pointing it out and say that I’m working on it. We’re all trying to be the best skaters, players and refs we can be in order to make ourselves and our league stronger, and part of that is listening to feedback and taking it on.
We both know that sometimes you and I have very different ways of understanding things, but I ask you to please be more mindful of the way that you talk to me because it may have more of an effect than you realise. I don’t want this to become a pattern. I want to be able to enjoy the freedom of my derby world without constantly questioning myself or being put down like I so often have been everywhere else.
Thankyou for taking the time to read this.
I’m probably not sending this to the ref in question, but I thought I’d get it out of my system a little. How should I stop it from happening again? Any ideas would be appreciated.