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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:43 am 
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So apparently I'm not the only Glader who knows there's a roller derby league in his area.

Good!

First things first -- many of you guys probably have a local league, too, even if you've never heard of derby. You should go check it out. Heck. Some of you guys have the privilege of having some of the top roller derby teams in the country right in your backyard -- I know we've got regulars from or near San Francisco, Austin, L.A., Des Moines, St. Paul, Denver, Philly, Seattle, St. Louis, Columbus, Detroit, Vegas, etc. It's one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and the largest association of leagues (the Women's Flat Track Derby Association) boasts 238 member leagues (use the link to look up ones near you -- they often hide behind city or regional nicknames, references, or homages, like Windy City, Gem City, or Burning River) across the globe, with most of them right here in the US. Derby is awesome, and if you love contact sports, I can't fathom how you could overlook or dismiss it. It's very grassroots, featuring amateur athletes and volunteer support and officiating staff, and as such it's easy and rewarding to really plug into the community surrounding it.

Beyond that.. let me kick this thread off with how I discovered roller derby, and what the last year spectating and officiating my hometown team (the Gem City Roller Girls) has offered me. Some names have been abbreviated to protect the innocent. Well, to protect the people who I don't want to just plaster non-derby names all over the internet for, at least.

So a year and a half ago, "B" got hired on as full time faculty at the small college I work for. Being a small town, she was old high school buddies with one of my coworkers in my department, "J" -- they were thick as thieves back when. J and I had neighboring desk areas, so we're pretty friendly. B would come by to talk to J, and I'd occasionally join in the conversation, getting to be more friendly with B than I am with the average faculty member as a result. When B and I discover we both like board games, she invites me over to her friends' fledgling weekly game night that they had been running for a few months. Turns out to be a good fit, so I quickly make, oh, another 6 friends there. Two of them are "C" and "N". C had skated with Gem City for a little while, but then stopped when she and her husband started trying for a baby. She encouraged N to join the ref squad since he liked skating and was looking for an extracurricular activity. This was shortly after I joined the game night group.

Well, March of 2013 rolls around, and with it, derby season for Gem City. N invites us all to come watch him ref his first live bout. We all do (along with J), and have a blast. (Because roller derby is amazing fun to watch, of course.) I promptly bought season tickets, as the Saturdays they played home games were interleaved well with my biweekly pencil and paper RPG sessions. J and B were so enamored with it after one bout that they asked how they could join -- turns out the league had just done an open recruitment session the week before but N offered an introduction that bypassed that near miss.
(Oh, this is probably a good opportunity to explain the league terminology. A league is localized to one city or metro area; WFTDA is actually made up of lots of member leagues, unlike something like football or baseball, where it's all one big league with teams in multiple cities. Large leagues have several teams that often play home bouts against each other, but field a single "charter" team (either a permanent team that uses the others as local farm teams or an "all-star" team that comprises the best skaters from each of the other teams in the league) that is the one that represents the whole league in WFTDA standings and interleague tournaments. Smaller leagues may only field one team (the charter team by default) or, like Gem City, field a permanent charter team and a B team that don't play each other in public bouts because they're not good matchups with each other... Many leagues offer open recruitment to help develop new skaters who will practice basic skills until they can pass muster to be cleared for contact drills, and then continue to practice with the league until they roster, others (usually bigger leagues) hold periodic intensive clinics for fresh meat and then hold try-outs to join the league proper)

So now I have 3 friends, two of which I see regularly at work, who are skating 6 hours a week with Gem City. You can see where the claws begin to sink in on top of the hook of derby itself. :D I go watch my second bout, still great. I start picking up some strategy and rules with the help of J, N, and B. By the 3rd bout, J has convinced me to come volunteer to learn how to help out on bout day. I show up at a designated practice where Anna Lytical, one of the experienced NSOs (formerly a skater who jacked up her knee and had to stop taking hits on a regular basis, and was at the time learning reffing) was teaching the new skaters (and a couple unaffiliated volunteers like me) how to perform the various NSO positions properly. Based on J's recommendation that I was good with numbers and detail-oriented (hah! selectively, sure), I had scorekeeping thrust upon me.

So for the 3rd home bout, I didn't punch my season ticket... I was on the NSO crew, scorekeeping. (Scorekeeping in derby consists of watching for reports from the Jam Refs and documenting, tallying, and relaying the score updates to the scoreboard operator. We don't count the points as they come in -- that's the Jam Ref's job since they're on the track with the right angle to watch that accurately. But we keep the official score total and all the related paperwork in order. Oh, and for that matter, NSO stands for Non Skating Official. Versus Refs, which are technically called Skating Officials. If you see pictures, Refs wear stripes, NSOs wear pink or solid black.) And I spectated only one more bout that season, and that only because I had another commitment that meant I I couldn't make it for the first half of that day's double header.

By the middle of the season, another of the girls from the game night group, "M" had joined the team, as well, during the late summer open recruitment. J was rapidly improving her skills in the meantime (B was a little slower coming up because she was trying to build endurance while struggling with newly discovered exercise induced asthma), and by the end of the season, J was skating with our B team.

Fast forward past the off-season. Gem City's explosive growth (the league literally tripled its active skaters over 2013) saw it move venues from its practice rink (owned by the Head Coach) to a larger venue that hosts Dayton's minor professional hockey team, which had the benefit of not only a larger venue, but one with a beer license. Then, in December, the league completed its Apprenticeship requirements and regained its full WFTDA status, which, as I mentioned in the Flora and Fauna Commentary thread, makes us eligible to earn a spot in the WFTDA rankings, which will open up the scheduling opportunities as we become more attractive for other WFTDA members to play since we now will meet division play requirements and offer opportunities to earn points in the standings against.

Two weeks ago saw M and B's debut bout on the B team. By now, both J and Anna Lytical have been encouraging me to work towards NSO certification. After all, now we're WFTDA members again, but we don't have any certified NSOs or Refs. Certification also opens up the opportunity to apply to officiate WFTDA tournaments (which is on J and Anna's list of things to do, hehe). So, lately I've been looking into the requirements for that. The biggest hurdle is serving under Head NSOs not a part of your own league in order to solicit evaluations, which means travel. The good news is, our team is travelling to a few other nearby WFTDA members and apprentice leagues this season, so I should be able to finagle that. So far, I've only scorekept, too. That makes it a little trickier serving on somebody else's NSO squad, because while my reliability and non-skater status carries some weight when it comes to position preference (I *like* scorekeeping, as the nature of watching the jammer and jam ref means I can follow one team's side of the scoring action as I volunteer, and I've gotten quite comfortable with it over the course of scorekeeping a dozen bouts, now), you're a much more useful NSO for other teams that don't know you if you can fill multiple positions depending on who else they have and their strengths/preferences. So, now I'm in the process of learning penalty box timing. I've done it in a few practices, now, and in two weeks I'll be pbt for the two bouts then and I'll see how I like doing it in a live bout. The end goal is for me to get my head around penalty box timing so I can graduate up to penalty box managing, which requires some more intimate understanding of the rules regarding jammer penalties and penalty queues. It's a position that you can't just give to any NSO and it's definitely one you can't teach in ten or twenty minutes and consider a newbie ready to give it a shot in a live bout. Since the ballooning league size hasn't been matched with a similar growth in the NSO crew, and several of the former NSOs are now skating on the B team which is skating regular double-headers rather than occasional ones, and the league leadership has been having a hell of a time getting fresh meat to suck it up and learn to NSO... we've been short officials to the point where we have been scraping together the last few volunteers just days before the bout lately.

Oh, yeah. So what have I been getting out of all of this? I've discovered a sport I love to watch. I've met a lot of fantastic people; the skaters range from tough-as-nails badasses to sweet women you'd never expect to lay somebody out on the track, the refs are tightly knit and always appreciative of the fans and NSOs, the fans are fantastic in their support (often of family and friends on the track!). The camaraderie both within the league and with opposing teams is really cool, and the afterparties are usually pretty epic.


So that's my derby story. I can't recommend enough that you look up your local league(s) and see what it's about for yourself. I will happily field questions about the sport, rules, etc. here if you're curious about anything in particular. If anybody else gets bit by the bug, then as the season progresses, maybe we can discuss hot teams, great clips, or tournaments. This past year I've been mostly paying attention to Gem City at a local level -- I haven't been travelling, or digging into internet footage of other teams, etc. But with WFTDA certification on my mind, and Gem City's reinstatement to full membership status, I've been slowly broadening my perspective and horizon.

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"... Mirrorshades prevent the forces of normalcy from realizing that one is crazed and possibly dangerous. They are the symbol of the sun-staring visionary, the biker, the rocker, the policeman, and similar outlaws." - Bruce Sterling, preface to Mirrorshades


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2014 12:43 am 
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So today was a big day for me as well as Gem City -- their first sanctioned bout (sanctioned bouts are ones between the charter teams of two full WFTDA leagues and count for rankings) since graduating back to full member status in December.

For me, it was also the first sanctioned not that I served as an NSO for, as well as my first bout in the penalty timing position instead of scorekeeping. The penalty box is a bit tough to practice in scrimmages, so I wasn't sure how well I'd handle the chaos of juggling the stopwatch, paperwork, track awareness to keep track of who's coming off the track, and communication with the skaters. With 30 second penalties, that can pile up.

I think I did okay. We actually had two really penalty light bouts, so I don't feel like I've seen it at its worst, yet, but so far, what's struck most is the different perspective it offers. Scorekeeping makes it easy to watch the jammers, but it's tough to get a sense of blocker's sense of strategy and whatnot because most of that happens away from the jammer, as they manipulate their position relative to the opposing blockers to control the location of the pack.

Penalty timing seems to come in two modes: frantic activity when a skater comes into your half of the box, or free to watch some of the action as you watch for skaters earning penalties and coming off the track. So that was neat and new for me, and I got to know some of the Gem City blockers play a bit better.

Gem City played Black n Bluegrass and won by a respectable, but fairly close margin. Since the ranking algorithm for WFTDA is open, the points they earned would put Gem City at about the top third of Division 3 on the February rankings release. Not amazing, but higher than all our ranked matches scheduled this season.

The next rankings will include a bunch of other newcomer leagues, but if the second bit scores similar ranking points, it might be right around high enough to take Gem City's strength factor up off the minimum that covers the bottom quarter of WFTDA leagues. Which is kind of my outsider's perspective goal for the season: to place high enough to have a non-minimum strength factor that will be leverageable into tougher (and this more potentially valuable, points-wise) sanctioned matches next year.

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"Aaaah! Emotions are weird!" - Amdee
"... Mirrorshades prevent the forces of normalcy from realizing that one is crazed and possibly dangerous. They are the symbol of the sun-staring visionary, the biker, the rocker, the policeman, and similar outlaws." - Bruce Sterling, preface to Mirrorshades


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2014 8:30 am 
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Driving down to Cinci today to officiate the bout between Gem City's A team and Cincinnati's B team. I'm an alternate NSO for the headline bout between Cinci's A team and New Hampshire, but I probably won't be talked and so will get to watch my first live Division 1 bout as a spectator rather than an official.

Doors open at 5, first whistle at 6 at the Cincinnati Gardens on Seymour Ave. I don't remember if we've got any Cincinatti Gladers...

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"Aaaah! Emotions are weird!" - Amdee
"... Mirrorshades prevent the forces of normalcy from realizing that one is crazed and possibly dangerous. They are the symbol of the sun-staring visionary, the biker, the rocker, the policeman, and similar outlaws." - Bruce Sterling, preface to Mirrorshades


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 11:28 pm 
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A bit anxious tonight. Tomorrow, I'll be driving back down to Cinci to take the NSO "Hellahard" WFTDA Certification test. Normally, I don't get test anxiety, but the tight-lipped-ness in the NSO community about the format and contents of the test has me a bit on edge, simply because I don't know what to expect.

I was able to pry a little information out of one of the Head NSOs down in Cinci who will be administering it for me, but the big takeaway there was that there are 3 parts -- rules, procedures, and paperwork. Rules and procedures can have a few missed answers, and are weighted equally, but paperwork has to be PERFECT.

Given the alarming lack of official documention on paperwork, I've been wondering what I might trip up on that was simply not passed on somewhere in the two or three steps of removal from certified sources inherent in my training.

But, hell. If I don't pass, I can re-take it in a month. But I'd rather not have to delay my certification application (because the test is only one part of that, heheh...), and I'd love to pass first time because the Cinci HNSOs are some of the more respected ones in the WFTDA NSO community, and my interaction with them has been relatively limited to this point.

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"Aaaah! Emotions are weird!" - Amdee
"... Mirrorshades prevent the forces of normalcy from realizing that one is crazed and possibly dangerous. They are the symbol of the sun-staring visionary, the biker, the rocker, the policeman, and similar outlaws." - Bruce Sterling, preface to Mirrorshades


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2014 11:24 am 
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http://www.girlswithslingshots.com/comi ... -willis-1/

David Willis has a guest week at GWS. Its Derby Themed.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:11 pm 
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Yup. I read GWS. Dave Willis needs somebody to take him to some Ohio Rollergirls games and teach him some rules. ;)

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"... Mirrorshades prevent the forces of normalcy from realizing that one is crazed and possibly dangerous. They are the symbol of the sun-staring visionary, the biker, the rocker, the policeman, and similar outlaws." - Bruce Sterling, preface to Mirrorshades


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:19 pm 
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Maybe the rules are different in the GWSiverse ;)

What was broken?

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:34 pm 
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Locking arms is the blatant one. Would warrant a Multiplayer Block penalty. Jammers laying out blockers is legal, but pretty uncommon because the back of an opponent is not a legal contact zone (the call would be a Back Block), and jammers are most often among the smaller players, putting them at a physical and positional disadvantage when it comes to delivering hits... And going for hits usually is an unproductive distraction for jammers since by the time you're in position to make legal contact, you're already almost past them anyways. And passing them is the point, no sense slowing down to get that hit in when you could be working on passing the next blocker.

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"Aaaah! Emotions are weird!" - Amdee
"... Mirrorshades prevent the forces of normalcy from realizing that one is crazed and possibly dangerous. They are the symbol of the sun-staring visionary, the biker, the rocker, the policeman, and similar outlaws." - Bruce Sterling, preface to Mirrorshades


Last edited by Kaffis Mark V on Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:39 pm 
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Ahh. I see.

So the Jammer is the one that needs to do all the passing?

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 4:29 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 8:18 am 
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Unsurprising. Unfortunately, come December, WFTDA is removing alphabetical characters as legal parts of roster numbers (though they can still sort of appear on jerseys, so long as the "illegal" characters are significantly less than full height), which will sort of spoil name/number combinations like that.

I'm of mixed opinions on that -- as a fan and appreciator of the clever, fun, and often punnish names we create for derby personas, I'll miss it. As an official that has to use those roster numbers to communicate clearly, concisely, and at a predictable cadence, there are several asinine numbers I won't miss.

Of interest to you, though, Müs, one of our skaters at Gem City is Painbow Dash.

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"... Mirrorshades prevent the forces of normalcy from realizing that one is crazed and possibly dangerous. They are the symbol of the sun-staring visionary, the biker, the rocker, the policeman, and similar outlaws." - Bruce Sterling, preface to Mirrorshades


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:09 am 
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Painbow Dash. Nice :)

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2015 4:40 pm 
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And an update on my adventure with this sport...

101 games (including 4 multi-day tournaments) officiated later, the Women's Flat Track Derby Association has seen fit grant my application for certification as an NSO. It's a young sport and NSOing is often a thankless job, so despite having a worldwide following and over 300 member leagues worldwide, there are currently only 150 certified NSOs. Go have a laugh at the fun names, and spot me as Scotchy Scotch Scott among the level 2's.

So.. you know, I'm kind of a big deal. And I have a very particular skillset... Hmm. I wonder what other movie quotes I could completely inappropriately steal?

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"Aaaah! Emotions are weird!" - Amdee
"... Mirrorshades prevent the forces of normalcy from realizing that one is crazed and possibly dangerous. They are the symbol of the sun-staring visionary, the biker, the rocker, the policeman, and similar outlaws." - Bruce Sterling, preface to Mirrorshades


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2015 10:53 am 
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So I'll be working two heads of the "Hydra" this year. The Hydra is the seven-weekend series of Playoff Tournaments for the top 60 Women's Flat Track Derby Association teams in the world.

The top 40 teams (Division 1) are distributed evenly through four of those weekends, with the next 20 (the top teams in Division 2) split between two more. Then, the top finishers in each of the previous tournaments compete in the D1 and D2 Championships at the final weekend.

Given these are the highest profile games in Roller Derby, official selection is highly competitive and very selective. I'm pretty excited to be working two of them.

So, anyways... I'll be in Cleveland the 21st-23rd of this month, and Detroit the 28th-30th for back-to-back D2 playoffs.

If anybody feels like coming out and seeing some of the best roller derby players in the world, I'll only be working around a third of the games, and would be happy to spend some time in the stands hanging out with you and explaining rules and the flow of the game.

Cleveland Hospitality Guide, and Detroit Hospitality Guide likely to follow, with information about venue location, ticket prices, and so on.

If you can't make it out to these, but are interested, you might find the other 4 playoffs more geographically conducive, in Tuscon, Dallas, Jacksonville, and Omaha in various weekends in September and the first weekend in October, but I won't be available to hang out for those. :)

If none of those work for you, but you're still interested in watching, WFTDA streams the events online with broadcast announcers giving live commentary, which is probably as good a way to pick up on the rules as any not involving actually sitting next to somebody involved in derby. The live streams are a pay-per-view event, I think the cost is twelve bucks per weekend.

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"Aaaah! Emotions are weird!" - Amdee
"... Mirrorshades prevent the forces of normalcy from realizing that one is crazed and possibly dangerous. They are the symbol of the sun-staring visionary, the biker, the rocker, the policeman, and similar outlaws." - Bruce Sterling, preface to Mirrorshades


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2015 11:06 am 
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The only thing I'm taking away from this thread is that Kaffis has joined Hydra.

And apparently they have designs on Detroit.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2015 4:52 pm 
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shuyung wrote:
The only thing I'm taking away from this thread is that Kaffis has joined Hydra.

And apparently they have designs on Detroit.

I will definitely have to pack a green shirt.

I'll definitely be applying to Skate to Thrill again next spring outside St. Louis, and this time, I'll remember to give you and Coro a heads-up about it with more lead time for a similar offer.

Oh. I forgot to embed the promo spot. It's cute, but maybe tries too hard.


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"Aaaah! Emotions are weird!" - Amdee
"... Mirrorshades prevent the forces of normalcy from realizing that one is crazed and possibly dangerous. They are the symbol of the sun-staring visionary, the biker, the rocker, the policeman, and similar outlaws." - Bruce Sterling, preface to Mirrorshades


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2015 10:19 pm 
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IF you are coming this far north you better let me know!!

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Raell wrote:
IF you are coming this far north you better let me know!!

Well, yeah. You were definitely the primary motivation for the offer... I figured I'd make it openly in case anybody that slipped my mind or was interested enough to drive more than I expected wanted to bite, as well. I drive up to Detroit two weeks from today...

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"... Mirrorshades prevent the forces of normalcy from realizing that one is crazed and possibly dangerous. They are the symbol of the sun-staring visionary, the biker, the rocker, the policeman, and similar outlaws." - Bruce Sterling, preface to Mirrorshades


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 10:31 pm 
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I have fire training the 29th but other than that I am pretty open. Where will you be? IS it really in Detroit or in one of the burbs?

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 8:03 am 
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It'll be Canfield Arena in Dearborn Heights, so the latter.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 8:08 pm 
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The nice seasons got away from me and I was unable to cross the Orange Barrrel wasteland that was once a great interstate highway connecting toledo and Dayton as I would have liked. I did want to this though do maybe I can make the Detroit thing work.

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Kaffis Mark V wrote:
It'll be Canfield Arena in Dearborn Heights, so the latter.



Send me a schedule if you have something. I will see what we can work out. I told my wife why you were coming up, she wants to come.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 4:19 pm 
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Okay. Here's the Detroit playoffs homepage. They're a bit late coming out with the handy all-in-one PDF, but the links on the right will take you to venue information (Canfield Arena in Dearborn Heights), detailed schedule (doors open 9am, expect the 8pm game to finish up around 9:30-10ish), and ticket information ($25 for a single day ticket, $15 for 3pm-close Sunday to hit finals and 3rd place games, or $40 for a weekend pass for all three days), and so on.

So far, I only know my schedule for the Friday games (I'll be working game 3 and game 6 on Friday), so I can't say which I'll be working and which I'll be available to hang with you guys on Saturday or Sunday, yet.

:)

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"... Mirrorshades prevent the forces of normalcy from realizing that one is crazed and possibly dangerous. They are the symbol of the sun-staring visionary, the biker, the rocker, the policeman, and similar outlaws." - Bruce Sterling, preface to Mirrorshades


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:36 pm 
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OK, I will talk to the wife and check the girl childs cheer schedule (football is starting.) There is a Applebee's not far from the arena...like a couple blocks away. How burnt are you after the games? Would you want to get something to eat Friday night?

Edit: When are you coming up?

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2015 4:21 pm 
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Okay, here's the Detroit hospitality guide including parking information, information on the afterparties (which are open to fans as well as players and volunteers), and so on.

Raell and Rori -- I've checked, and I'll have the 2pm and 8pm games on Friday. This means that my dinner options will be tight; I probably won't be able to dine out with you guys. This'll also mean that I'll be tied up with after-game meetings and such till 10-10:30.

Saturday and Sunday crew assignments aren't made 'till the night before, but I'll keep this thread updated when I find them out. Coming back from the other Division 2 playoffs last weekend, I expect a bunch of fantastic games that ought to be a great introduction to the best and most exciting features of the sport, so I hope you all can work it out to come watch for a day.

Oh yeah, just a reminder -- they will not be set up to do ticket sales at the door, but you can order them online from your phone outside the venue the day of if you want.

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