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.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

And we're back! (now with added bursitis)

The feeling was building up all day from the moment I woke up and only intensified as I left the house to go to the first derby training session for the year. However terribly cliqued it may sound I was genuinely excited to be going back to derby this year. The first year I was shitting myself, the second year I was a little jaded due to injuries and setbacks. The interesting thing is between my previous post and this one things went horribly wrong for me that my preseason plans were derailed and things still aren't 100% but despite it all the experience has given me a new attitude to take into this derby year.

The first sign of trouble was over a month ago. The further along my preseason went the more I exercised. At the same time I was getting a sharp pain in my right hip with any sort of movement. The pain was getting worse so I hit up my physio and she identified it as bursitis. I was suddenly restricted to just pool work, weights and rest which sucked because I was starting to some positive results with my fitness. The physio part not only physically hurts but I also have to expose more of my arse than I care to because she needs to work on all the tendons connected to the bursa so I close my eyes and wish for it to be over. The things you have to do to try and get yourself fighting fit again!

While I was dealing with the injury in the off season I also had to deal with my grandmother ending up in hospital. To cut a long story short she has cancer again for the third time but this time they can't operate on her because her heart wouldn't last the surgery so it's spreading. Her immune system is wrecked from all the medications she has consumed for all sorts of medical issues over of the years that her organs are starting to give out. She ended up in hospital because she got pneumonia. Her condition is stabilising but ultimately it's a losing battle as her health deteriorates. I'm close with my family so it has hit me hard especially as I see her condition get worse and I can't do anything to help her. Despite the really shitty situation my grandmother has taught me a massive lesson. She's had health problems for over 25 years and in that time she's pulled through situations that no one should have the right to because she refuses to quit. She has more heart and fight in her than Rocky Balboa. Although I'm struggling with her situation I decided to take a leaf out of her book. She accepts what's ultimately going to happen and she isn't fearing it but she sure as hell will be going out fighting. This year for derby I will be turning cannot into can regardless of how many falls I have in the process I will keep getting back up. There will be no quitting on my part. I am my grandmother's granddaughter.

Butters ran our first training session for the year on Sunday. It was really great to see my team mates again and train with them. I am one of those 'lucky' people that if my exercise levels drop even just a few days my fitness levels all but disappear. I felt a little off with my skating for a while and by the time we were doing paceline work my quads were protesting very loudly but my new sassfit compression shorts were trying to tell them to shut up. My blocking was a little off and rusty but if I keep working at it it'll come back. My agility shortcomings were hugely apparent and I made a mental note to work on that in my own time.

It was blocking week so we were working on a lot of blocking drills which I really enjoyed. Butters tested out a new drill which was quite fun and educational. When I was in the same line with Cherry she pointed out that I needed to try and slow down the jammer more instead of gaining speed. I also discovered that it has become so natural for me to resist when someone pushes me on the track that I'm even doing it to my team mates if they're trying to push me onto an opposing skater. I'm not exactly small so if someone like Butters struggles to shift me then someone like Rex has no chance! It's something I need to be mindful of. When I had to jam I liked the fact that I started thinking about how I was going to try and split the wall and get through that way.

I was like a kid on Christmas morning when they said we were going to have scrimmage. I didn't care that we were short of players which meant we would have to play multiple jams WE WERE SCRIMMAGING! Both sides were evenly split in experience with some team mates scrimmaging for the first time which was awesome. Cherry might not talk much on the track but in between the jams she was a wealth of knowledge pointing out things she picked up or different tactics to try. I really enjoyed scrimmage, personally it felt like one of the best ones I had had up to now. I was working on offensive blocking trying to break up the opposing teams walls to help my jammer get through which is something I hardly attempted last year, I was very focussed on defensive blocking. I even attempted wriggling my arse to break up the wall behind me without doing direction of gameplay. It was such a good learning experience especially when Butters caught me winding her up for a block and sidestepped me which highlighted the need to do quick, sharp blocks. Butters and I jammed against each other in one jam, she got lead but I chased her down and we had a bit of jammer on jammer action going :)

I got a massive compliment for Butters. She annihilates opposing players for fun on the track and in one jam she came up on my inside and tried to take out our wall to help her jammer get through. She hit me but I hardly moved. She then said that I was hard to move, coming from her that's a massive compliment and I couldn't help but smile :D That scrimmage finally cemented in my head that I finally found something I was good at in derby - counterblocking. I'll fight my ground so if you're going to get me out of the way it better be a good one. Although the likes of Cherry still gets me off the track I think it takes her a bit more effort to do so :) Throughout the scrimmage I had opposing skaters lining me up to try and take me out and more often than not they bounced off me and fell. I was just standing my ground. I feel as though I've finally laid my base in derby now I can really start to push on from being so one dimensional and become a better all round skater like working on things like my lack of agility.

There are so many amazing bouting opportunities coming up this year starting with 5x5 kicking off next month. I'm still one level away from being able to participate in things like that. It's so hard not to be excited about this year even about bouts that haven't been confirmed like us against the Harbour Harpies (yep I'm not giving up on that one!). This year has the potential to be my breakthrough year for derby. I'll certainly put the effort in to make it happen, anything is possible!      

Monday, January 13, 2014

The year of smashing derby goals.

Pre-season. In years gone by I've made all these grand plans of skating, working on my weaknesses etc so that I'd be full steam ahead at the first training session for the year. The reality was I'd go to one or two sessions at Skatel and spend the rest of the off season on my arse watching DVD's and then of course struggle with my lack of fitness when the new season kicked off. I knew that wasn't going to cut it this year so I had to change my approach. Not only did my pre-season start before training finished for the year last year it also came at one of my lowest points in derby.

Last month as derby training was slowly starting to wind down for the year it finally confirmed that I wouldn't be bouting which meant I wouldn't fulfil the one derby goal I was desperate to finally achieve last year. Those two knee injuries aside I had thrown everything I had into the year to try and achieve that goal and still fell short of achieving the chance to bout. I felt completely empty and didn't have anything left in the tank to pick myself up and keep going with derby. I had allowed myself to be consumed by the goal of bouting that I had burnt myself out that the only viable option was to be a piker and walk away from derby. I really wasn't as strong a fighter as some people thought I was.

This is where my derby story would have ended if something unexpected didn't happen. For most of my life I've pretty much internalised everything. I don't want to be a whinging, pain in the arse offloading my problems to everyone even though I have no issue if someone came to me with their problems. I'd always try to help someone out. This time I actually voiced my frustrations to two friends who have become more than just derby friends to me. They got me to see common sense in regards to my derby situation but the thing that got me the most was that they actually had belief in me. I wasn't used to that because usually I'm quite cynical and would dismiss it but I trust these two to be honest with me. If others had belief in me why couldn't I see it in myself? I did a whole lot of soul searching only to realise that I had to stop being a dickhead and make myself see I belonged in derby no matter how shit I was or how SLOOOOOOOW my progression was.

Once I was back on track with derby I knew that I had to have a proper pre-season plan because without structure my pre-season would be wasted with excuses just like in previous years. First thing I drew up a list of all my derby goals for 2014 which looked something like this:


A couple of them were carried over from last year's list since I didn't achieve them, mainly the bouting and Jilla ones. I know I harp on a lot about Jilla in this blog but this training and scrimmage wish has nothing to do with my fangirling. Having had the chance to be trained by her a couple of times last year and having the chance to scrimmage against her I got so much out of it. I would love for my league to get the chance to experience that too.

Since most of my goals are bouting related it quickly became obvious that the key to achieving most of these goals was passing my final level for derby the Lieutenant assessment. Although I can bout in home teams being at Sergeant level we don't have home teams yet so really my best chance of bouting was passing the assessment and then fighting for a spot on the travel team. With that in mind I decided to tackle the assessment piece by piece. I got a copy of the assessment criteria and then broke it down into each criteria and wrote down what I needed to do to pass each criteria so that way I could plan out my pre-season and hit the ground running when derby training resumes on the 2nd February.  


I knew that skating, studying rules and analysing NRDL bout footage wasn't going to be enough so I started looking outside of derby to help make me a better skater. I started doing crossfit last month. I post the worst results in each class and I'm the only fat kid in the class while everyone else is super fit but I've learnt to not care because in the one month I've done it I've already noticed improvements in what I can do and my overall fitness. Crossfit is super tough and I feel completely fucked after each class but I know it's going to help me in derby especially with not quitting and lasting until the very end. I've also started running by using the couch to 5k podcasts. I love running and I'm sure all this extra cardio will help with the endurance part of my assessment. I have been feeling inspired by all this non-derby training especially while I am running that I picture myself like Sylvester Stallone in the Rocky movies when the reality is I look more like Eddie in Absolutely Fabulous :)




It hasn't been all work and no play in this off season. In between all the exercising and studying I've been filling my time with some great motivational movies (I'm a complete sucker for motivational movies). I've been rewatching all the Rocky movies. My favourite scenes are the ones where he's training for his big fight at the end of each movie. I even downloaded some of the songs from the movies off itunes to put on my ipod to listen to while I exercise. I've even incorporated some boxing drills like skipping and movements to help me with my derby fitness.  

The longer this pre-season has gone on and the more exercise I do I've been to realise that I've caught the exercise bug. I seriously can't get enough of exercising! I was up in Newcastle for a few days before I had to go back to work and while I was up there I even joined some of the NRDL folk at the gym for a few days. Each session was challenging but what made me happy was that I coped with each session pretty comfortably. I knew I was heading in the right direction with my pre-season.

The thing that has pleased me the most is my exercise regime has gotten longer and harder with each week but my knee has coped with it all pretty well so far. I'm hoping for more of the same for the rest of the year and that this song won't be my theme song for derby anymore :)



Another thing that has kept me on my toes is reading all the other derby folk posting on Facebook about their pre-season. So many people out there are working hard preparing for the new season so the last thing I want to do is drop the ball with my fitness.

If you want to be the best skater you can be then learning from the best in the business will surely help. I've asked three skaters if they could help me out throughout the year by working with me one on one on various skills I want to improve on. Cherry has already been helping me out at Skatel on things like more effective blocking, crab skating etc. Jilla said she do some sessions with me whenever the NRDL social skates start up again. Lastly I asked Dangerass from NRDL if she could teach me the amazing arse blocking that she does and she said yes :) Right now I'm only really good at counter blocking. I love to learn and improve so getting the chance to work with these three is an amazing opportunity. How lucky am I! 

Will I finally get to bout this year? I fucking hope so! This month will be three year's since I started derby. I'm throwing everything I have into hoping that it finally happens this year. I'm pretty happy with the work I've put into my pre-season so far. It has easily been the most productive one I've had to date. I hope everyone else's pre-season is going well :)