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Andrea Jacobson is an elite referee who rules Denver's roller derby rink. Photograph by Claudia Lopez

This Denver Roller Derby Ref Rules The Rink

Andrea Jacobson is one of the highest-ranked female roller derby officials in the world.

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Over her 11 years as a Denver Roller Derby official, Andrea Jacobson has made at least one woman cry. Being tough comes with the territory when you police a sport marked by hip checks and fishnet rashes. But Jacobson—known as Loren Order in the skating world—has also earned the respect of the seven-team league, which opened its season January 28 and hosts its second home matches on February 25 at the Glitter Dome in RiNo.

The 36-year-old Denverite is one of just three female “gold certified” referees in the world. (Gold is the second-highest level of certification. No active women have reached the top ranking: pink, of course.) Jacobson is also the only lady to have served as the head official at the women’s flat-track world championships—the roller derby equivalent of reffing the Super Bowl. Unlike Super Bowl refs, however, who make tens of thousands, Jacobson’s only reward is the love of the game: Roller derby refs are unpaid. In fact, Jacobson discovered the job in 2005 while scanning Craigslist for volunteer opportunities.

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Although skating came naturally to her—refs have to be fast enough to keep up with the pack—it took her a month to understand the game’s rules. Now she helps teach potential refs the basics and holds court in front of thousands of spectators. In true Colorado fashion, Jacobson, an accountant by day, still considers officiating just one of her many hobbies (she also does triathlons). “I live a pretty regular nine-to-five life,” she says. “I watch a lot of Law & Order. A lot.”


Editor’s Note: An original version of this story stated that no woman has ever reached the top level of certification available for a roller derby official. While there are no active women who have reached that ranking, two women have done so in the past. We regret the error.

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