The Unsung Heroes – The NSO’s

They are the unsung heroes in Roller Derby and without the Non Skating Officials we would never get to play a bout.

The NSO’s are the ones who have the thankless task of counting time for skaters in the penalty box but are also the ones whose scorekeeping is crucial to the winning team.

Pixie Pixhell is one of a number of officials in the Liverpool Roller Birds but is the only one whose role is an NSO and not a skater.

Medical problems prevented her from skating but she has remained a dedicated member and was recently announced as the league’s Officials Rep.

Pixie Pixhell

So apart from being growled out by angry roller girls when they’re sent to the penalty box, what does Pixie get out of the role?

She said: “Although I had to stop skating, I had already caught the roller derby bug and still wanted to be involved and being an NSO was a way to do this without having to skate.”

Among the best things about the role is meeting people from all over the world and being an integral part of the league.

Pixie added: “You get to be involved at the heart of the roller derby community even if you are unable to skate. It also allows skaters and referees to experience a different perspective of the game and can help with learning the rules. An added bonus is that you get free entry to any bouts you NSO at.”

For those who don’t know much about they do – they are the ones who basically keep bouts running smoothly. Among their more important duties is notching up the scores of the teams.

As well as home bouts, our officials have covered away games and helped out at other teams’ events. One of the most exciting events Pixie has been involved in was The Great Yorkshire Showdown.

She said: “Several teams were competing and I NSO’d for about five bouts within the tournament. It was exhausting but great to see all the different leagues within the space of one day.

“As an NSO you have to be completely impartial which means no clapping or cheering during a bout. This can be difficult if your league, or one you are friendly with, is doing well but you do get used to this.”


For non-skaters, being an NSO allows them to be a valued part of the roller derby circuit and makes it possible for anyone to get involved.

She said: “It’s fantastic. I have made so many friends from all over the world through roller derby. Roller derby is unique as no matter what your age, sex, size, fitness, background or appearance you are welcomed with open arms. It has grown massively since I started almost two years ago.

“I’d encourage everyone to have a go at NSOing at some point. It gives you a completely new perspective from that of a skater or referee. It can be very helpful for newer people as it can aid understanding of the rules.”

So for those who find putting on a pair of skates a little daunting but want to be in the middle of the roller derby action being an official could be the perfect answer.

Pixie added: “The option of being NSO makes roller derby fully inclusive as it makes it possible for anyone to get involved.”


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4 Responses

  1. Sian says:

    I have NSO’d a couple of bouts now and am excited about my first away bout next month. It has been a great way to learn the rules while I’m waiting for the next Fresh Meat intake to start. I hope to become competent at each role but score tracking is my favourite so far

  2. Gemma Reed-Kerr says:

    I love being an nso the hardest part is keeping neutral durning games but I would
    Not stop doing it ever!! It part of the thrill

    Derby love

    Gemolition ball
    Hellfire harlots nso.

  3. Good article!
    We have established a permanent call within our derby for freshies to complete NSO roles as part of their level1-3 training.
    Basically trialed in our 2011 season, the feedback from a lot of the freshies confirmed how beneficial it was in rules awareness along with a desire to continue volunteering for positions in future bouts.
    It’s also a good opportunity for friends and family of skaters to get involved as opposed to just being a spectator.
    You gotta admit, being in the centre of the track is by far the best seat in the house!!

    Prince Harming
    Head NSO
    Jam Timer
    Timeout Fairy
    Allround Legend!

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