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Red Five, standing by! Q&A with Fluke Skywalker #red5

Written by InDeepEndEd
Photos: Marko Niemelä, Thomas Pihl 

A while back I met this ref from Stockholm. He surely was an awesome guy. I was a newbie ref then. Didn’t think then, before I saw him ref bouts, that this will be the guy who will be my mentor in jam reffin’, someone to get tons of info and hints from. Well that’s the way it went. That’s the way it is. He is a ref I look up to, surely a great role model. Awesome person, and I’m happy to have become such good friends with him. Threw some Q’s to this bloke, here’s what he had to say.

Fluke, a jam reffing wonder kid. Photo: Marko Niemelä

Fluke, a jam reffing wonder kid. Photo: Marko Niemelä

When and where and how did you find yourself on quads for the first time?

My first time on quads was down a steep street in the middle of Stockholm. It was pretty scary because I hadn’t figure out how to stop yet…

Well you survived! What about derby, when was the first touch?

As so many other officials I started because I was in a relationship with a person who started to play roller derby. I realized that if I wanted to spend some time with her I had no other choice than to join the league. I’m glad I did. 
That was three years ago.

Fluke Skywalker… I think it’s clear to everyone where that name comes from, but why him? Why not Han or Lando? Or Boba Fett? He has a jetpack!

Solo might be more cocky, Lando more flamboyant and Boba way more cooler, but it was always Luke I connected to as a kid so it was pretty natural for me to base my derby name on him.

Were you one of those cool kids with lightsabers and Jedi-clothes wondering around the city? Home full of SW stuff? Well, it is full of it now but how bad was it then?

Yeah, I thought I was really cool back in the days when I walked down the street in my Jedi robe and my lightsaber. In retrospect it probably didn’t look as cool as I thought… 
Now a days I think my apartment is pretty clean from Star Wars memorial, even though I have a three meter canvas of the Battle of Yavin. I also have framed a letter from LucasFilm when they tried to sue me and my nerdy friends. I’m pretty proud of that one.

Checking the score. Photo: Marko Niemelä

Checking the score. Photo: Marko Niemelä

You are a busy traveller in the name of derby. You’ve been all over, and 7 times in Finland last year..
 Any favorite places and experiences to share?

I clearly like derby in Finland a lot. I had my first bout in Helsinki and I will never forget that weekend. It is still one of my favorite memories. I probably did a terrible job as a referee, but it was a profound experience. I was so nervous and scared several days before that bout. I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t concentrate. But during the bout everybody was so supportive and I managed to get through those 60 minutes. After the game I was so happy, it was magical! It’s hard to explain, but I knew then and there that this was something I want to do for a long time. I had found my home.
 So Helsinki will always be close to my heart.

You we’re home for the weekend last year like 2 times. Do you have time to watch Star Wars or do non-derby stuff? And if you do, what is it?

Last year was pretty crazy, and this year is probably going to be even crazier, but I love derby and I really can’t say no when people ask me if I want to come and help them out. But I try to find a balance between my derby life and my non-derby. So I force my self to have at least one day every week away from derby. Just hanging out with non-derby friends, drinking wine and playing music. 
And there is always time for Star Wars. I travel with my iPad anywhere I go and there is always a Star Wars movie on that device. 😉

Jam reffing at Team USA vs. Team Finland bout. Suzy Hotrod jamming for USA. Photo: Marko Niemelä

Jam reffing at Team USA vs. Team Finland bout. Suzy Hotrod jamming for USA. Photo: Marko Niemelä

Stockholm is your home league. Tell us a bit about the team.

Stockholm Roller Derby is in many ways a fantastic league. They give us officials so much respect and support. It is a great place to grow and build that confidence that is so important for all officials. Without STRD I wouldn’t be where I am today.
 I’m also amazed how they managed to grow and become one of top ranked teams in Europe. It really shows their skill and determination.

STRD is coming to bout HRD next weekend, 13.4.2013, and you’re in the refcrew. Which looks awesome btw. 
Any expectations?

I except to be the first one to fall on my ass and because of that ending up buying the whole ref crew beers at the afterparty…

Is your calender filled for this year already? Derby? Holidays? 8 trips to Finland?

So far this year I have only been to Finland three times so I suspect there will be a couple of more trips to the Land of a Thousand Lakes. But at the moment I’m booked till August with a lot of amazing trips in the calendar. Some of the highlight would be the WFTDA European Cup in Gent, the WFTDA Annual meeting in Florida, the first ever Swedish Roller Derby Cup (super excited about that) and then a nice holiday in California. 
It’s going to be a great summer!

Oh, Swedish Cup! Awesome! Open up a bit, who will be competing and when? Definitely need to see that one..

The Swedish Cup will be arrange by the Swedish National Skating Association between 5-7 of July in Halmstad.
There will be eight top teams from six different cities. All competing for the glory of being the best team in Sweden. 
It is going to be awesome!

Is there a mentor for you as a ref? Who taught you your first steps, and who have you been learning from through the years?

Along the way a lot of people have helped me to become the referee I am today and the list would be very long if I would try to name them all, but there is three people in particular I would like to give a massive thanks to:
 First there is the person who got me into the whole roller derby business and who also learned me how to skate. That person was Hyper Nova. She taught me so much and was always there to give me support and boost my confidence. Without her I would never have been here, so I’m eternally thankful to her. 
The second person, who I still considering being my mentor and my friend, is the great Riff Reff. He has always shared his knowledge and have helped me every step on the way. Having a mentor like him have been invaluable.
 The third person who always been there for me is the amazing Cherry Fury. She believed in me from the start and has always supported me along the way. Both on skates and off skates.

Once upon a time in a gear check in Malmö... Photo: Thomas Phil

Once upon a time in a gear check in Malmö… Photo: Thomas Phil

I heard you recently had your first junior derby experience?

Oh yeah! That was amazing! I was a little bit worried that it would be hard to send 10 year old kids to the penalty box, and some of them unleashed there sad-puppy-eyes-face, but I think I did ok. 
When these guys are allowed to play in the big leagues, derby will never be the same again. They are amazing!

What do you think about the new ruleset?

I know I had my expectations about how they would affect gameplay, and they pretty much did what I thought they would, most parts only got better. What about you? Think the game has changed after their release?

I think the game have improved in many ways. Getting rid of the minors made it easier for the audience to follow what was going on on the track. And that is really great! But I still think there is room for improvements. Personally I think power jams have a big impact on the game so I think that is something we have to look into. Maybe we should give the jammers a 30 second penalty instead of one minute to tighten up the game?

30 sec penalties for jammers would definetly make powerjams a lot less dominate part of the game, and propably make the bouts more tight. Would love to see that happen!

But hey, thanks for this, we’ll be seeing you in few days, back in Helsinki again, only the fourth time this year… Cherry Fury is here too, so it’s gonna be a great weekend. Two bouts between HRD and STRD, ref bootcamp by Cherry, NSO bootcamp by Offtrack, mixed scrimmage with HRD, STRD and Kallio Rolling Rainbow, afterparties… Well those afterparties won’t count, since we always leave at eleven o’clock, when it’s bedtime… But damn, what a weekend it will be!

See you on the track!

About HRD

Helsinki Roller Derby is the oldest roller derby league in Finland - hitting, blocking and skating since 2009.

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