Thursday, September 11, 2014

Victories here, there and everywhere.

I'm suddenly feeling the urge to write again with this blog. I suppose it's a good sign that I'm writing a bit more frequently now, maybe it's a sign that all the feelings are coming back again for me. There's a lot going on derby wise so I may as well get started...

A few weeks ago it was the finals for the 5x5 roller derby championships. My guys were facing off against Inner West for the battle for third spot in their group. I didn't see any of our bout because I was looking after the merch table so although there was a wall seperating me from the track I could hear random cheers going on but I had no idea for which team. I ended up following our bout through our members page thanks to one of our members who was posting updates on the bout. We were leading 67-55 at half time and the 'kazi's that I saw at half time were absolutely buzzing. It was infectious :)

Roll on the second half and my guys went on to win 175-109!! I was proud as punch for them. Just seeing how made up they were with the win was awesome. I'm still grinning just thinking about it. They were talking so excitedly about certain things that happened during the bout, how various things they worked on in training paid off in the bout and just how happy they were with it all. You could see how much it meant to them. Hopefully this spurs them on to even greater heights in the upcoming Eastern Region roller derby tournament. I had to leave after our bout as I had other plans so I didn't watch any derby that day so I can't report on the other bouts sorry!

Last month was a write off in terms of derby for me. I barely went to training. My mind was elsewhere, most days I didn't want to get out of bed. To be honest derby was one of the furthest things from my mind. Even watching bouts didn't have the same impact for me. I have never been that quiet at any HARD or NRDL bouts before. I was cheering but not as much as I usually do. I almost fell asleep at Newy's bout, not from boredom but because I wasn't sleeping well that month so I was so frigging tired. So yeah, it was a pretty shitty month but it started getting better ever so slightly towards the end of the month.

I didn't want to walk away from derby so I knew I had to go back to training again even though part of me still wasn't feeling it 100% for things in general and not just derby. I told myself it was just two hours I had to get through and see what happened. Life isn't a Hollywood movie. I didn't put on my skates and everything was suddenly perfect, I was nailing all the things I struggled with and all was amazing. Nope the reality was more like, yep I still suck with the same things I struggled with pre-August, there's some rustiness but it was ok. I'm glad I went back to training. I did a couple of things that surprised me, things I wouldn't usually try. It was a start. These last four months of the year are about trying to pick up the pieces from the first eight months and trying to finish the year strongly. So yay for small victories and all that :) 

Last Saturday saw another NRDL double header with the Newcastle guys taking on South Side Derby Dolls. For the second bout in a row it clashed with a Sydney Roller Derby league bout and even though the Sydney bout would have been a lot closer to home it was a no brainer really on which bout I ended up at ;) I wasn't the only HARDie who made the trip up the F3. Ref, Moxie and Tom. Ref was jam ref for the first time at a Newy bout and covered both bouts. It was Moxie's first non-HARD bout. Both guys were nervous but I had complete faith in them.

Just before the start of the Riots vs Empire bout I saw one of my favourite moments of the night unfold. Danger found a bit of space in the venue and started doing some jam skating. I'm as flexible as a brick wall and have no rhythm but I do appreciate the awesomeness of jam skating. What made it great to watch was seeing Danger in a room full of people skate around and pull off jam skating moves like there was no one else there, she looked lost in her own little world. It was awesome to watch.

Roll onto the opening bout and it didn't take long for the Riots to put their stamp on the bout. Missy and Tiny were attacking the Empire blockers in waves and leaving them flat footed with their agile skating as they weaved through the pack when they were jamming. The jammers were well supported by the likes of Kell, Tanties, Rum and Queen Slander (it was the first time I watched her bout). Kell was the organiser and set them up well when she was on. The Riots were leading at half time 80-37 and were deserved leaders.

The second half was more or less the same. There was some playful banter in the crowd with a group of the S2D2 cheer squad engaging with Jill but the Mexican wave attempt started by Aprilla unfortunately died in the arse right from the get go. I love watching Tanties play. She plays with a look of 'I'm going to destroy you' on her face and she doesn't hold back. She copped an accidental hit to the head but carried on like the champ that she is. Not only does she destroy opposition blockers she can jam too. I always make sure I yell out her name when she skates past me when she's jamming. Apparently she can hear me haha. While I was busy cheering on the Riots I still looked out for Empire's player and my old team mate Xena Sparkle. She's a tough cookie. She jammed a lot so she was heavily targetted by the Riots blockers but she kept coming back for more, The final score was 177-82 for the Riots in what was a good win to take into the upcoming Eastern Region roller derby tournament.

Roll on the main bout Dames vs Force and I was nervous as hell. The Force aren't exactly shit opponents. I've seen them slaughter teams and they just came off the back of successfully defending their 5x5 crown so I knew anything was possible. To prove my point the Force came flying out the blocks. Champain picked up successive majors while she was jammer but the real issue was the Force absolutely blitzed the Dames in the first few jams to race to a 24-0 lead I think it was. Their blockers easily broke the Dames walls while their jammers left the blockers at 6's and 7's. In the first jam that Jilla was involved in it took literally all 4 Force blockers to stop Jilla and split her from her players so they succeeded in stopping Jilla from conducting her side like she usually does from the front of the pack. Later on in a lot of other jams Jilla was often double teamed by the Force to stop her from getting to their jammer. The Force did their homework and it showed on the scoreboard.

The home crowd were as stunned as the visiting supporters were vocal in appreciation for what was unfolding on the track. The Dames started to get their bearing on the bout as they started playing the way we've come to expect. Jilla adjusted her game play and managed to break free of all the extra attention she was getting from the Force blockers. She was back to the front of the pack controlling the pack. Danger was doing her famous last line of defence and positional blocking to perfection by slowing down the jammer. Fannie and Reggie resumed their destructive duo partnership in the pack. Poor Thunder picked up a leg injury a few jams in and missed the rest of the bout. The Dames were in need of points and who else stepped up but the magnificant Ruddo. She's performing at such a high level each bout now that I've come to expect those performances from her now :) The bout was a nailbiter as the Dames dragged themselves back into the bout to be trailing 59-52 at half time. The Force had so many high calibre players in their ranks but I had complete faith that the Dames were going to push on in the second half and win.

If the first half was a nail biter the second half was a guaranteed heart attack inducing one. It was so frigging tight with the bout hanging in the balance for most of the half. My throat was hurting so much but I kept screaming and cheering like my life depended on it. My fingers were bleeding from biting my nails so much. I was swearing at bad calls. The intensity of the highs, lows and inbetweens I was feeling duting the bout was akin to what I feel when I watch Liverpool and then it struck me I think I might love the Dames as much as I do Liverpool. I so didn't see that coming.

I was watching the bout with Moxie. Poor girl must have gone deaf in her right ear from all my screaming and cheering haha. I must have annoyed the hell out of her with my 'DID YOU SEE THAT?' statements. Nah she was watching the wall on the otherside of the room. Yeah, I get a little worked up and excited when I watch my teams play ;) We were talking about the way the Dames played and one thing we both said was they played with purpose. They didn't nail someone for the sake of it, when they hit someone there was a reason for it. They play clean. That brings me onto my next point. Reggie Ramjet, besides having one of my favourite derby names of all time I love watching her play in the same way I loved watching Brig play (damn I miss seeing her play). Reggie would be one of the first names on my team sheet. She doesn't need to resort to risky blocks and risk a penalty because she gets herself into the right spot that she can either positionally block or put the opposing skater on her arse if need be. Absolutely reliable and a joy to watch on the track. Her link up play with Fannie at the back of the pack is a sight to behold. It really is. As for Jilla, I've given up with her. I have come to accept the fact that I will never be able to watch her play and not sound like a 10 year old fangirl. I thought she had a better performance in this bout than the BCR one. S2D2 nullified her initially but then she proved why she's an awesome player and not just a good one. She adjusted her game and then got back to playing at the level that every man and his dog knows her for.

There was one jam towards the end of the bout where Newy scored a 13-0 jam. For me it will go down as one of the best jams I have ever watched. The game was very much in the balance. Both teams were throwing everything including the kitchen sink into the bout. The venue was heaving from the noise of sound from both sets of supporters. Ruddo steps up onto the jammer line and puts in a faultless jam. In one pass through she weaved through completely untouched. The blockers were in absolutely harmony as they repelled wave after wave of Force blockers and the jammer. It was total derby. I was completely losing my shit on the sidelines haha. The Force fought right up until the very final whistle but the Dames had the final say as they won 122-107. I had nothing left in the tank by the end of it and I was sound like a tranny after all the screaming haha. It was such an awesome bout for so many reasons.

So, it's pretty obvious that I talk a lot about Danger and Jilla in my posts especially when they bout. Recently the two of them started a coaching collaboration called NachoPoints. Having been coached by them on separate occassions in the past I am keen as mustard to get some one on one training with them because there's things I see them do in bouts that I would love to learn from them. I'm still living in hope my league gets them down to train us and join in our scrimmage session. I think my guys would get a lot of it.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

I'm still here :)

I've realised that it's been a few months between posts from me. Lots and nothing has happened in that time...how vague of me. In more recent times there's a couple of bouts I watched which I will go into further detail later on in this post. Like every other year since I started derby I've had no shortage of niggling injuries which kept me off the track at various stages. I missed my first chance to bout this year after tearing my calf muscle while doing an obstacle race then missed the rescheduled bout because I didn't meet minimum attendance levels required due to all the training I missed from the torn calf muscle. I had absolutely no issue with that one, it was the right call.

The biggest issue I'm finding this year is that I've lost my spark. No, I'm not quitting derby. If I haven't quit by now after all the injuries quite frankly I don't think I ever will. Well at least until I can't physically skate anymore! Going into this year I was injury free and had an awesome pre-season and I was feeling the fittest I had been since I started derby. I genuinely felt this was going to be my year in derby but then my world went to pieces when I lost my grandmother in February. Her death has affected me more than I've ever let on but I've discovered that it has come out in other ways. I've felt really flat in general and things that normally leave me on such a natural high like roller derby and Liverpool just aren't having the same impact for me this year.

Don't get me wrong I have experienced some amazing moments this year both in derby and outside of it. I really do have some awesome people and team mates in my life which I am so thankful for. Personally this year is a write off for me. I just want to get through this year and try and get my spark back again in the process. Even if I don't fulfill any of my derby goals this year that's ok they'll just get transferred over to next year or until I finally achieve them. I can be stubborn like that sometimes :)

This month has been bit of a funny one for me. Personally it has been absolutely rubbish but derby wise it has been absolutely fantastic. A couple of weekends ago it was the ULTIMATE derby weekend for me. On the Saturday night I travelled up to Newy to watch the Dames bout for the first time since the Great Southern Slam. It kicked off with the Brisbane City Rollers boys taking on a mixed mens team from skaters all around NSW. I got there late and missed most of the first half...oops. I do like watching the guys play. I love their different playing style. The BCR boys came away with a pretty comfortable win but the mixed team certainly gave them a scare at the beginning of the second half when they started to claw away the defecit.

The night was even more awesome because three of our refs were officiating both bouts and another zebra in training Thomas was NSOing both bouts. HARD represent ;) Last year I won Jilla's actual team jacket in the auction that the NRDL guys had so this year I've worn the jacket to all the NRDL bouts I've been too. The only problem is in the last two home bouts that I've worn it I've had people come up to me from behind thinking I'm Jilla only to disappointed when they realise I'm anything but because clearly Jill and I look the same. Should have gone to spec savers hehe.

The night was made even more special due to catching up with some old familiar faces like Deathrow, Quirky and Stotty. Sure I love the Newy league but given all the year's I've spent watching them it's evolved into more than just derby. It's the social aspect of it that I also love which is pretty huge for me because I'm such an introvert. I lost count of how many times that night I had my arse pinched or slapped and felt up by various members too. I guess I'm 'in' with them!

For the main bout it saw the Dames take on the Brisbane City Rollers. I've never seen BCR bout so I didn't know what to expect but the Dames didn't have Babycakes who was still tearing up all the half pipes in the US. It was all Dames at the beginning. It doesn't matter how many Newy bouts I watch it never gets old seeing the same things happen every bout. You can bet your life that Fannie and Reggie will be amongst the pack belting the crap out of opposing skaters with ridiculously good, solid blocking or they will just get in their way and stop them from passing. Danger and her ghetto arse blocking as I like to call it stopping an entire team by herself not to mention the wicked angles she gets her body to positionally block another skater. Then there's Jilla. With all her backwards blocking she sets her team up like a conductor from the front of the pack. Surprisingly this bout was a mixture of how she currently plays with all the backwards blocking and all the non backwards blocking when I first started watching her bout. I haven't even mentioned the jammers. Champain and Ruddo were phenomenal that night with their jamming. They were unplayable. BCR had no chance of resting because the likes of Drop Bear and Thunder were just as effective when they jammed. It was just such a good all round team performance. It was all Dames with a convincing victory :)

The next day saw a derby dream come true for me. My league were taking on NRDL's B team the Star Riots. Before you ask, of course I was cheering for my own team but I won't lie the bout was an absolute head fucker for me because I have never cheered against an NRDL team before. Hell I even cheered on the Hellcats against WSR just to prove my point haha. My guys started the stronger and it all went to shite for the Riots initially. They lost their jammer Vanilla to an ankle injury in the opening few jams then Tanties broke the plate on one of her skates. The Riots were short on personnel and had Champain, Kali and Thunder backing up from the previous night's bout. Champain's quality stood out. She was doing backwards blocking and bracing at a high level, Jilla would have been proud. I kept yelling to my guys to avoid Champain because once they were in her sight they weren't going anywhere. My guys dealt out some big blocks and walls and Posh as jammer was a guaranteed points winner. The change in lead see-sawed and it was a fairly close bout in the first half. My fingers were actually hurting  from how much I was biting my nails from nerves.

The second half was more of the same but then the Riots hit some tempo and Missy was picking up points as jammer as they started to edge ahead. My guys kept fighting on but it wasn't to be as the Riots held on for the win despite ending the bout with only seven skaters. My guys did some good things and hopefully they got a lot out of it. Outscoring the Riots jammer who was lead on a couple of occassions was a major plus. Rex is very sneaky :) Hopefully there's a re-match down the track. I watched the bout with Tox who had me in stitches. She's awesome company :)      

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Road trippin'

A few weeks ago I found out that the Dockyard Dames were playing a bout up in Lismore on the same weekend my league had the bye in the 5x5 derby tournament. I quickly decided to go before I even bothered checking how far it was from my place (it's actually 763.9km one way according to whereis.com). I had a chat with Jill about the bout and discovered there might be a spot available on the team bus and accomodation up in Lismore. Not only would it cut my driving time down, I'd save a lot of money on fuel too so I quickly took them up on the offer.

As the date drew closer I was suddenly struck with two thoughts. Firstly, I was going to be with these guys for a long time. There's nowhere you can hide on the bus. Most of them are larger than life characters whereas I tend to hide in my shell. Secondly, I was beginning to wonder if I had made the step from fan to pain in the arse? I love cheering them on so I go to just about all of their bouts and end up getting invited to a few of their public social events. I just don't want them to start thinking 'ohh it's you again' and overstaying my welcome.

By the time Saturday morning came around I was mega excited even though I was on the road at 4:50am to drive up to Newy to meet up with the rest of them. As more and more people arrived I promised myself I was going to try and be more social and get out of my shell a bit that weekend. What's the worst that could happen? Jilla who had to pull out of the bout due to injury was there to see us off along with her two fur babies Mavis and Henry. Mavis and I share the same shy personality and Henry looks like the dog equivalent of grumpy cat :)

I was sitting next to Bermuda for the trip and my god did she make me laugh. She was an awesome travelling companion. Whether it was her accidently squirting me in the face with her water, making jokes, singing and dancing in her seat, my head almost sliding onto her boob when I fell asleep and just general fun and laughs. It made the LONG trip much more enjoyable.

Given the company on board it didn't take long for the laughs to start whether it was passing phones around and showing inappropriate cake pictures, poor Drop Bear getting stuck for ages but asking hilarious questions trying to guess her celebrity for the celebrity head game, the general funny and inappropriate comments and discussions that popped up throughout the bus. It wouldn't be Newy if there wasn't twerking so where better to twerk than against the bus while we were at a servo fuelling up! These guys were introducing me to all sorts of things perhaps one of the funniest things I experienced on the way up to Lismore was Beaver introducing us to a parody of the Beach Boys singing without autotune. I snorted...a LOT when she played this on the van's speakers!!


On our way through Coffs Harbour we drove past the Big Banana. It was the first time I had ever seen it and it was pretty disappointing I thought it would be bigger. No surprise there was no shortage of sexual connotations from the Newy guys about the Big Banana :D I was laughing so much that I was beginning to wonder if it was possible to die from laughing too much? I'm sure I was coming pretty close to it. There was lots of sing alongs but perhaps the biggest reaction was from this song. I'm pretty sure the bus driver was thinking what he got himself into!



The longer the trip went on the quieter the bus became as people started to drift off and tiredness kicked in. It really was quite a long trip, it got to the stage where some people wanted it to be over and they still had to bout when we got there. We got to Lismore later than expected that it was literally get to the hotel, get changed and go to the bout venue. I was decked out in Newy related and even wore Jilla's team jacket that I won in the auction last year. All the purple and yellow!

The venue for the bout the Lismore skating rink goes down as my all time favourite venue to watch a roller derby bout. It's tiny but has this real old school charm to it. The track and the walls around it remind me of Skatel but this one has wooden grandstands and they had actual lounges around the suicide line. I had seen Northern Rivers bout last year when they came down to Newy to bout the Dames. It was a tight bout with the Dames eventually shooting out to a lead and holding onto it for the win so I expected another close one.

Northern Rivers ran out to a quick and well deserved lead. They were much quicker to everything and it reflected on the score board. I couldn't sit still so I ended up standing up on the grandstand and I remained like that yelling out support and cheering on the Dames for the rest of the bout. I find it difficult fully expressing myself in derby because I have to be careful of what I say because there's kids around and it's not as hardcore in terms of support like it is with football and Liverpool so it's slightly muted cheering from me but it's still more vocal than what I am in real life!

The Dames were missing someone taking charge at the front of the pack and organising them but the likes of Danger certainly helped try and fill the void. The ultimate irony was that Northern Rivers were doing a Jilla on the Dames. Dreaded Cat especially parked herself at the front of the pack and kept holding back the Dames jammers time and time again that would then get swallowed back into the pack and have to start again. Northern Rivers did a great job of breaking up the Dames walls so that the Dames players were left isolated which left gaps in the pack for the Northern River's jammers to get through.

Northern Rivers may have been pulling off a near perfect gameplay but the Dames were slowly getting their feet back into the game and who else but Babycakes pulling off some huge point scoring jams with some great support by her blockers to bring them back into the contest. I've always been the kind of fan who believes their team can win right up until the point it's mathematically impossible and the closer the score got the louder I got that the lady next to me left the grandstand to get closer to the track and away from me haha.

Who know maybe with five more minutes the Dames might have come away with the victory they certainly had the momentum  but ultimately Northern Rivers ran away well deserved winners 159-129. My MVP for the Dames was Reggie Ramjet. Not only did she absolutely nail some HUGE blocks, she an awesome blocker overall. I've noticed her blocking while playing for both the Bogey Rollers and the Dames for a while now. No fuss, just goes about doing her job for the team but what an amazing job she does. Completely reliable too. I was proud of them and the handful of us who were cheering on for the Dames that watched the bout more than showed our appreciation for their efforts. While we were waiting for the Dames to de-gear Bermuda said I was Newy's biggest fan. Regardless of whether that was true or not I was grinning from ear to ear hearing that :D

I was also keeping Jilla up to date on the bout through Facebook and once the bout finished she told me to give all her team mates a slap on the arse from her. I looked at my phone like it just grew another head. Was she serious? I couldn't do that! The more I mulled it over I thought stuff it I'll do it! Problem was I completely bottled it as shyness got the better of me and we ended up back on the bus to go to the hotel. While the skaters were getting their gear from the trailer back at the hotel I somehow gathered up the courage to get everyone's attention to tell them Jilla had a message for them. They looked at me seriously until I told them I had to slap them on the arse then all hell broke lose haha. Some of them started lining up while I ran past. I don't really slap people's arses so half way through I was worried I was slapping them too hard and toned it down. Once it was over I couldn't quite believe I had just done that. It was so unlike me haha.

Everyone got ready and then it was off to a local nightclub for the after party. It was here that I hit a hurdle -  I can't dance. The only rhythm I have is when I used to play the drums. Being as flexible as a brick wall I have no dance moves so I sat myself on a bar stool and watched the Newy guys tear up the dance floor. I was entertained just watching them dance. Not only could they bust a move they did it without a care in the world and it was evident they were having a great time on the dance floor. Champain was in a league of her own, damn she can dance. I certainly wasn't bored, far from it. I can't believe I'm admitting this but a part of me wanted to get up and join them I just didn't know how to move on the dance floor. When yep you guessed it, Baseline Junkie (I swear that's got to be the Dames theme song) came on Valfreya dragged me onto the dancefloor. I had no idea how I 'danced' I think it was more my technique I use when I'm using a skipping rope. As soon as that song was over I was off the dancefloor quicker than roadrunner!

I was rooming with Bermuda and Hippy and we were one of the last ones to leave. Walking back to the hotel after one in the morning was fun. There was no one else on the streets and we were laughing over stupid shit. Our efforts to quieten down as we approached the hotel probably made us louder than we already were. We joined Baby, Danger and Beaver next door for a little while and once again I was laughing a lot from some of the stories. Bermuda, Hippy and I were outside chatting (probably loudly) until well after 2am. We eventually hit the bed at about 2:30am but I got to know the both of them a bit better so it was well worth the lack of sleep. Next morning Bermuda told me my snoring sounded like Darth Vader. I don't think that's a good thing!

On the way back to Newy most people swapped their seating arrangements. Bermuda and I went to the back of the bus to join Kell, Fannie, Glitter, Champain and Thunder otherwise known as the backseat bandits according to Glitter. If I was laughing to the point of crying on the way up to Lismore, I was laughing and blushing on the way back to Newy with these guys! Glitter was playing some music on her phone and I thought I was going to get thrown off the bus when I asked who sang the Poison song was playing. I kept digging an even bigger hole for myself the more I talked so I promptly shut up! Glitter introduced me to Steel Panther. So wrong BUT so funny. One of the highlights of my trip was Glitter singing a Steel Panther song acapella. If you didn't fully pay attention to the lyrics it sounded real sweet haha.

Just in case I thought I had lost my innocence by this stage on this trip Glitter and ChamPain confirmed it when they showed me the Shrek is love, Shrek is life video clip. If you don't want Shrek to be forever ruined for you DON'T watch this clip! I was part horrified, part laughing, and completely WTF is this? Who comes up with this stuff?


The longer the trip went on, the more at ease I felt and the more I felt I was getting out of my shell. I was getting to know these guys a lot better too. Some completely surprised me in a good way. Personally it has been a pretty shit year, my grandmother's death has hit me harder than I let on but I don't know what it is about these guys. They really make me laugh and I really do enjoy their company. If I had any concerns before the trip about fitting in they quelled those fears by treating me like one of their own the whole time I was with them. Perhaps on the biggest things from that weekend was that they got me out of my shell one sloth claw at a time by exposing me to all sorts of things that I didn't completely go back into my shell after the trip. If anything that weekend finally opened parts of myself that lay dormant for so many years. I may have lost my innocence that weekend but you know what? I liked it! :D At the end of the day my priority will always be with my own league but I do get a kick out of watching and hanging out with these guys too. It's strange and it shouldn't work but somehow it does!

The Great Southern Slam got mentioned on the way back and I said I was going down to Adelaide to cheer them on when ChamPain suggested I stay at the same place they were staying at. Maybe they weren't sick of me yet! I was chatting with Jill on Facebook as we were getting closer to Newy and she asked me if I wanted anything for my drive back to Sydney so when we finally arrived back at Newy at 8pm she was armed with Red Bull and Coke. I was so grateful that I hugged her because I was so bloody tired by that stage and I still had a two hour drive to look forward to. Jill asked if I wanted to go back to her place to freshen up and it was probably the best idea ever because it allowed me to wake up a little and she hit me with more caffeine and sugar which was much appreciated and allowed me to get home in one piece with only four hours sleep before I had to get up for work the next morning. Do I regret it? HELL NO! Would I do it again? In a heartbeat or more acurately TGSS in June. Valfreya said I could room with them again. If all this can happen in just over 24 hours what on earth will happen over 4 days? haha

For me this trip felt like the roller derby equivalent of the movie Almost Famous. I wouldn't change any of it for the world. Thanks again Newy guys for letting me tag along. It's all ogre now ;)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Back to where it all began.

Years down the road I will probably look back on last weekend and see it as one of the defining moments in roller derby for me. Ever since I had flunked the last assessment for derby the previous month I was heading down a path I never should have taken. I was so frustrated and disappointed with myself that it built up to the point that the anger started spilling out. I have no doubt I was such a gobshite to be around. I deeply regretted some of my behaviour and knew I needed to change my behaviour quick smart. Once I took a breath and looked at the situation rationally I realised that the longer I continued with derby the more consumed I became with the notion of wanting to finally bout after all these years that I forgot why I joined derby along the way.

I went into training trying to drop some of the intense pressure I put on myself to get to bouting level. I wanted to still work hard and improve but I wanted to enjoy training again too. I pushed myself and worked up a sweat and was happy with how it went. By the end of it Betty as head of the training committee gave me feedback on my assessment on what I passed and didn't pass. It was good to know what I didn't pass, to be honest it was things I suspected I was weak on. I found all the feedback that Betty gave me really helpful and talking with her about the assessment finally allowed me to move on from it and start focussing on the next one especially now that the assessment has been changed.

Roll onto Saturday and it was back to where I really first fell in love with derby - watching a Newy bout. My sister and I made the trek up to Newcastle to watch the Scott Pilgrim themed double header. Both Newy rep teams were in action against pot luck teams made of skaters from around the state. I was wearing Jilla's jacket which I won at the auction last year and I was proud as punch to be wearing it because for me it was the derby equivalent of wearing a Liverpool jersey when I'm watching Liverpool player. If only derby did something like that, I know which player names I'd be getting on the back of the team shirts :)

The opening bout saw the Star Riots and the Sex Bob-ombs take each other on. I was cheering madly for the Star Riots but the Bob-ombs were just way too strong for them across the track, especially Phar Slap who played an amazing bout. The highlight for me was seeing Glitter knock down poor Hazy Demon three times in the one jam with some ridiculously big hits but to Hazy's credit she kept coming back up. The scoreline might have blowed out in the second half but I still loved watching it. It was interesting to see how the new rules affects the gameplay and how teams try to adapt to the changes.

Watching the skaters warm up on the track before the main bout I was once again blown away by Dangerass. I would pay good money just to watch her skate in a non derby environment. I was simply mesmerised by the moves and skills she was pulling off effortlessly. That coupled with her blocking, she is simply a joy to watch on the track.

The battle I was looking forward to the most was between Jilla and Vishious Ness. Two almighty blockers going toe to toe. I kid you not you could feel the vibrations whenever they collided. They both gave as good as they got. I must have swallowed a few flies because my jaw had permanently dropped watching them two in action. It'll go down as some of my all time favourite scenes in derby to date.

It's funny in more recent times I managed to get over my star struck phase with Jill and got to know her well enough off the derby track that I ended up becoming friend's with her. Believe it or not I can actually have a normal conversation with her haha. It's a different story when she has her skates on, I still fangirl as much as I did the first time I ever saw her bout :) She still continues to amaze me with her performances. I have no doubt she'd school me if I ever got to fulfil my dream of bouting against her but how awesome would it be to come up against someone of her ability? I have run out of superlatives to say about her but she did put in another AMAZING performance on Saturday.

The second bout was a lot closer. The evil exes had a handy lead but on no less than 3 occassions Babycakes dragged the Dames back into the contest with some high scoring jams. The Dames eventually took the lead towards the end of the second half and from there they never looked back. Reliving every hit and block on the sidelines and going bat shit crazy on the sidelines cheering on the Dames that I ended up sounding like a tranny by the end of the bout. For me it was another perfect example of why I fell in love with this sport and this particular team in the first place. Overall it was another amazing night. Of course it wouldn't be an NRDL event if I didn't have Tantrum invade my personal space like she always does :)

Just before the Dames bout started I discovered that my league was having a home bout in May so given the fact I'm at the level that I can bout at intraleague level it quite simply meant that I was eligible to bout in this bout. Yes, you read that correctly I AM GOING TO HAVE MY FIRST BOUT. I couldn't get to CAss quick enough to tell her at half time! After nearly 3 1/2 years I couldn't believe it either, I still can't. I feel a mixture of nerves, excitement and disbelief about it all. There is that nagging little thought in my head 'Am I really ready to start bouting?'. I hope I am! I know I will throw everything I have into preparing for the bout. I thought I would have more to say about this news but the truth is I don't know what to think! Maybe as the day gets closer it will get to the point that I won't shut up about it haha. You have been warned!

Literally the cherry on top to this massive derby weekend was catching up with Cherry at Skatel on the Sunday morning just like old times when I was learning to skate before I joined up with HARD. The week before she announced her retirement from derby. I was happy for her because she was doing the right thing for her but I was sad for selfish reasons because it meant I would never get the chance to bout with her. We missed it by one freaking month!!!! At her last bout she gave me the dog tags she won for blocker of the year at our awards night in 2012. That and the reason why she gave them to me made me tear up.


What started as me fangirling whenever I was near her on skates turned into a teacher/student relationship and finally friendship both on and off the track. Here we were back again where we first met up and while we weren't just skating she took the time to give me one on one training just like she always did. When we were working on my crossover form she would record me doing it and then we'd analyse it and she'd show me some things to try to try and fix my form and it was really working. Even when we were working on the blocking stuff it was such a massive help and I really got a lot out of it. I was grinning like a fecking idiot the whole time :D

If this weekend taught me anything it's that sometimes you need to go back to where it all began to be reminded why you started something in the first place because it's easy to get lost along the way like in my case. It really was a great weekend, hopefully it continues!
     

Monday, March 10, 2014

Oh well, oh well...

What a difference a weekend makes. Last weekend it was assessment time  which meant I had to pass one final assessment before I could try out for our travel team. This assessment had a couple of first's for me. It was the first time I was attempting this level of assessment. It was also the first time I was going into an assessment not worried about the outcome. I planned to give it my all but ever since my grandmother's death I had been in a state of numbness so I hadn't felt anything in almost a month.

There was 13 people getting tested over the weekend for various levels so the place was buzzing. Those of us going for the Lieutenant exam had the 20 minute endurance up first. I had never gotten the minimum laps so I needed to do it for the first time that night to have any chance of passing. I tried getting into a bit of a rhythm. Eventually the inevitable 'ohh crap my body is protesting' started happening and I noticed I was slowing down but I made the effort to keep my feet moving and not coast. It eventually ended and I felt completely knackered and after a quick break it was onto the next component...

Push up's, sit up's and planks were next on the list. With a bit of effort I got through the push up's and sit up's but I ended up flunking the planks. I got told to lower my arse a couple of times and on the second time my foot slipped and down I went barely over the half way mark. I knew my assessment was over. Oh well come back and try again in May.

I walked into training on Sunday knowing I had flunked but I still had to do the scrimmage part of the assessment which I still planned on giving it my best shot. Betty came up to me and said that I could re-do anything I flunked on Friday which meant the planking. Out of curiosity I asked how I went with the endurance. To my surprise I passed by three laps (first time ever I achieved that) but I flunked by having shitty form so I had the option of re-doing the endurance too. I got geared up and went straight to where the planks were being done. With some last second tips from Punkie I passed the planking with ease compared to Friday night's attempt. I got feedback on what was expected of me in regards to form for the endurance and lined up on the track with Sam and Te'res. I *think* my form was better the second time around and I completed it but I had no idea if the laps or form were enough for a pass.

Before scrimmage started we resumed normal training with some last bits of assessment for those doing their Sergeant's assessment. We did the 10 minute switcheroo drill we learnt from Canberra which is always fun. The one thing I won't forget is turning around to see where the opposition jammer was and getting nailed by Butters on my right side resulting in a good stack haha.

With scrimmage I felt more at ease in the previous weeks I think because I didn't have in the back of my head 'ok I have to demonstrate this, this and this etc' to the assessors. I moved around a bit more on the track this time instead of staying glued to the inside line which was fun. I did however get called for three majors (elbows, track cut (while jamming) and failure to reform) which was the most amount of penalties I ever picked up in one scrimmage tsk tsk. It was hard to gauge how I went. I thought there was a couple of things I did alright but not so on other things. I gave the assessment my best shot it was up to the assessors to determine if it was enough.

I didn't have to wait too long to find out. I got my results back today - I flunked. I'll get told when I go to training next on what I flunked. My money is on the endurance and scrimmage. It's strange I haven't felt any sort of emotion for almost a month but once it sunk in that I flunked I felt gutted. Yep the first thing I feel in a long time ended up being the feeling of failure. I guess although it didn't feel like it last weekend deep down I really wanted to pass.

This is a genuine question and not a sook - why am I so shit at derby? I try my heart out but it's still not good enough. All jokes aside I seriously think I am in contention for the Guiness record for taking the longest to get to bouting level. It's three years since I started derby and I haven't been good enough to bout yet. I can't hide behind all the injuries I picked up because I still had a decent amount of time on skates between all the injuries. I'm befuddled.  

Monday, March 3, 2014

To pass or not to pass

This week is the week for assessments. Pass and I'll be having my first bout in a matter of the weeks in the opening round of the 5x5 tournament. Flunk and I wait until May for my next chance to take the assessment. This past week I had all these thoughts swirling in my head. What if I pass my assessment, will I be ready to bout? What if I let my team mates down on the track and they had to carry me so they're effectively playing one player short for the jams? I was driving myself crazy over something that won't even happen if I don't pass the assessment. After finally looking at it rationally I decided that just like the Sergeant level assessment I passed last year I'm not going into this assessment stressed and heaping pressure on myself to pass. If I deserve to pass I will pass. I will give it my all and see what happens.

In preperation for the assessments last weeks training sessions were both tailored for the assessment for both the Sergeant and Lieutenant levels. Friday night felt a little surreal for me. While we were going through the Lieutenant assessment components on one track we had our latest group of freshies have their first training session on the other track. It took me back to the first year and a half of derby where I struggled to get past the freshie level from injuries and lack of confidence. It was a nice reminder to myself to see how far I've come even though at times it might not feel like it.

The 20 minutes endurance. I personally love it. The longer it goes, the more your body and mind protest. It's that internal battle of quitting or keep pushing on that I love. I love giving the quitting thoughts a two finger salute and pushing on to the end. I've never achieved the minimum laps required for a pass for the 20 min endurance and it didn't happen on Friday BUT I did record my best ever result and I only pulled up two laps short for a pass. If I fix my technique especially when I start to get tired I think I can pull it off on Friday. I flunked the planks too so it's back to practising every night in the lead up to this Friday to try and improve my time and reach the time required to pass.

Sunday was bit of a rehash from Friday night. It was good to get one last practise session before the assessment. There was one drill where there was a wall of two blockers and they had to leave just enough of a gap for a jammer to step through. When it came my turn to do the jammer role I was as graceful as an elephant. I am anything but dainty with my steps. Power to those jammers who manage to glide through the smallest of gaps like ninja's. Although I sucked at that drill it was cool to experience something I'm not used to doing.

I'm really loving these dedicated scrimmage teams because we're quickly discovering our team mates traits and little things to look out for like assists which in turn will help when it comes to forming tactics against the opposing team. I felt a little more involved in this scrimmage compared to the previous one. I claimed the inside line again and from there I was able to give some of my jammers an assist by opening up the inside line to allow them to get through while holding off the opposing blockers from getting to them. I'm quite liking coming up the side of the blockers and charging them to create the gap for my jammer. My favourite one for the night was holding off Cherry for as long as possible from getting to Sia'Nide and annihilating her. Even though I eventually lost Cherry it was enough for Sia'Nide to get around her and continue on her point scoring ways. I know the guys on the white scrimmage team are going to figure out how I play and it won't be long before they try and nullify me but I'm looking forward to it because it'll force me to improve my play and play smarter.

With a few of us getting assessed this week we were also getting some feedback to help us for our assessment. I got told that when I block someone I need to continue blocking them because I tend to stop. I didn't disagree with that. Despite the size of me I'm not a big blocker I tend to positional block mostly. I don't know why it is but I'm not someone like Butters, Cherry or Jill who will annihilate skaters with huge blocks. Maybe there's a big blocker in me somewhere but I am yet to find it. Taking on the advice I got given about carrying on with my blocks, in the next jam I was in I saw Toad find a gap through our wall so I tracked him through the pack and sent him flying by hitting him on my weaker side. Maybe there's hope for me yet :)

My favourite play for the night had to be when we kept the opposing jammer on her initial pass. Our wall just kept repelling her. We wall stayed strong and there was no weak spots for her to exploit. Those are the sort of plays I love watching from the sidelines, it may not be a high scoring play but it's amazing to watch as you see the jammer get more and more frustrated because they can't get through.

Although I am back on skates I'm still not '100%'. I might have stopped crying two days after my grandmother died but ever since then I've felt numb and empty. With derby I've noticed that I've found it difficult at times to get my head into training. Last Sunday was a perfect example with the first drill of the night. I just stood there. Cherry must have realised something was up because she got me to join her on the other track and skate laps while she finished her warm up. I don't know it feels like my brain slows down and it takes me that big longer to make a decision especially if I'm doing a drill or during scrimmage and it probably shows. I don't know how long this is going to last but one thing I do know is that if I don't pass my assessment this week I won't be using this as an excuse.

If the last few weeks have taught me anything it's that there's more to derby than just the sport. While I had no shortage of offers from family and friend's for a shoulder to cry on or someone to talk to I pretty much passed up on every single offer because I'm not the type of person to lean on someone for support. There ended up being a few times where I even surprised myself and took people up on their offer at various times these last few weeks. Although I could never thank them enough I'll never forget Cass, Cherry, Jill and Karen being there for me while I went to pieces. There might be some dickheads in our sport but having people like these four in our sport easily outnumber the fuckwits.

Ending on a happier note my other league are having a fundraiser to try and get a permanent venue since they lost their venue last year because it was being transformed into a trampoline venue. Depending on the amount you donate there's different rewards you can get. I'm doing the one where you get to be trained by an NRDL skater of your choice for you and up to 3 other friend's. I know you're all going to be shocked but I picked Jill haha. Naturally I picked Cass to join in and I'm going to see if any of my team mates want to join in and find out why I've been begging both leagues for so long to have Jill come down and train us :) All the details are here if anyone is interested.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

When you fall the only way back is up.



It has been a little while between posts. A couple of weeks ago my grandmother lost her third and final battle with cancer. Despite her poor health it came out of the blue. She was well enough that she was two days away from being discharged from hospital when she suddenly developed internal bleeding and from there she never recovered. In those last four days it broke my heart seeing her struggle to breathe and unable to talk from all the medication. The one thing I’ll never forget though is still seeing her fight to live right up until the final time we saw her alive. That’s the biggest lesson I can take out of this huge loss. Hopefully I can show some of that fighting spirit in derby and life in general too. 

It was back to derby training last week. My league is in the 5x5 tournament again this year so the training is tailored towards preparing the kazi's for their first bout on the 29th March. It was good getting back into the swing of things again. We had a new team mate join us Myna Bingle transfered from WSR and it didn't take long to get stuck into training. She's certainly a welcome addition and I'm looking forward to training with her more in the future. 

One thing that stood out for me was my lack of speed especially when we were doing pack work. I'd slowly drift to the back and then struggle to catch up when the pack sped up. It's something I'm going to need to work on. Continuing on with my hopes of finally making this my bouting year I made the decision that this year I really needed to step outside my comfort zone so whenever we have to pair up with someone I'll pick one of the more harder team mates to come up against for that particular drill like lining up with Foggy for the fast feet shuffle which left me feeling knackered but extremely challenged by the end of it!

At the end of training on Friday night I found out the next assessments are on the 7th and 9th March which means NEXT WEEK! I need to pass one final assessment before I can try and fight for a place on the kazi's. I don't know if I'll pass this time but the worst that'll happen is that I attempt the assessment and flunk. It'll just mean that I have to keep working hard and try again in May. It's also hit me that if I pass this assessment I may just be bouting next month in 5x5 and then it all felt so sudden. That's probably the last thing anyone would expect me to say after getting up to three years and still not bouting. With the chance to bout maybe not that far away it's made me question myself whether I really am up for it physically and mentally to start bouting. The one thing that sticks in my head is what Glitter once told me 'bouting is just scrimmaging with people watching'. When you put it that way that's a pretty accurate definition, that and you're bouting against people you don't train with so there's the element of surprise too. Even though I'm not bouting yet it's a good thing to remember.

One of the things I loved about training on Sunday was training with Toad. I'm loving the fact that we get to train with a guy because they play the game differently in some ways. The beauty with Toad is that he gives as good as he gets so I'm absolutely loving the physical aspect of it because I fully expect to be hit as hard as he does. One thing most of my team mates have said once they started bouting interleague was being shocked by how hard they were being hit by opposing teams. It was a lot harder than what they were used to at training so it's something I have kept in mind to try and prepare myself as much as I could so it wouldn't be as much of a shock to the system when I do eventually start bouting. Besides coming up against the likes of Toad and some of the harder hitters in our league I've also started doing boxing with my brother in law by getting my body used to copping impact.

The training committee announced they had formed two set scrimmage teams. We'll be in the same teams each week so that it'll hopefully allow partnerships to form and give the training committee a chance to see how works well with who or not. The aim is for it to hopefully to lead into home teams for proper bouts in the second half of the year EXCITEMENT! I'm relishing the challenge of being in the opposite team to the likes of Cherry, Lola and Posh. That's going to a massive challenge for us to stop to those three on a weekly basis. I can't wait :D

During scrimmage on Sunday I discovered my best position on the track - covering the inside line. Bugger all agility - check, not that easy to be forced off the track - check. I found that this position plays to my strengths. I can postional block and hold my ground while protecting that inside line to stop any opposing skaters from getting past. It may not sound glamorous but if doing that role means that my team mates can trust me enough to do it so that it free's them up to do their jobs on the track then I know I've done my job. It gives me a foundation to build on and help improve my skills so that I can hopefully become more versatile on the track and be of more use for my team in the future.