Monday, December 19, 2011

All I want for Christmas...

I've found that while being off skates injured I would often have images in my head of how I imagined I'd be back on skates and it served as motivation but once I put my skates back on reality quickly shattered all those illusions. Injuries suck, trying to get back to the level you were at before the injury sucks just as much. This year has felt as though that all I've been doing is playing catch up to everyone else. I know it's not a race and that everyone develops at their own pace but there's times where I've felt that no matter how much I work my arse off to get back to where I need to be another injury pops up and I'm stuck in the same spot again. Then I have the problem of being over eager to try things beyond my level because I'm so desperate to train with everyone else even though I *know* it's beyond my current level and I get the shit's with myself and all those injuries I've had because it's stopping me from training with them. I'm starting to think that maybe it's a good time that we finished up for the year because the last couple of week's I've been so frustrated with derby that I've started becoming quite angry and that's not cool. There's times where I love and hate roller derby in equal measure.

One thing I have come to enjoy in a twisted way is endurance, even more so coming back from injury. For me there's no better way of testing your mental strength on the track. The more laps you do, the more you hurt and the more your head is screaming for you to stop that it makes it easy to want to stop but the only thing I'm trying to think is 'don't stop, just keep putting one skate in front of the other'. Once it's over and you get your breath back it's hard to not to think hell yeah I just did that :) When we were doing the endurance on Friday night in packs, I was starting to struggle a bit to keep up, my legs felt completely fucked and I couldn't keep the correct derby stance. All I could think was that if this was a bout I couldn't let my team mates down and do a lay down Sally by going off the track so I put my head down and although it didn't look pretty I kept skating and you know what I completed the endurance drill with my pack :)

Fangirl hat off for a moment, I had a pretty good chat with Cherry on Friday night. I got some tips from her on how to improve my skating technique to stop getting such a sharp pain down the side of my right leg. It was pretty cool to see that we shared similar thoughts on roller derby and the more I chat to her the more that I realise that she's probably one of the few people who really gets the struggles I'm going through with derby. She's testament that if you want it bad enough and you're willing to work hard for it you could achieve your derby goals despite all the setbacks along the way. How could you not be inspired by that?

While I was pondering over what to do with my blog I got a message from RDAU asking me on whether I was interested in doing a regular post on their website, kind of along the lines with what I do on my blog ie: thoughts, opinions and bout recaps. I thought about it and said yes, so I've basically gone from almost packing it all in to having two different writing projects in the space of a week, it's funny how life sometimes turns out :) My blog will still be my up's and down's with derby but now I've also got a chance to write to a bigger audience on all things derby which is a little daunting especially writing about derby issues to people who have bouted for ages and I haven't even scrimmaged yet. One thing I will be changing for RDAU are my bout reviews. I haven't liked the ones I've done so far for them because by trying to make them sound more professional than my blog they may have been more detailed but they were also pretty boring (in my eyes). Funnily enough the first bout review I did on my own blog got me the most attention and positive feedback, Newy and Adelaide actually linked it on their own pages. So next year my reviews will hopefully go along this sort of format - fun, factual, a little less formal and hopefully with the feeling that you were actually at the bout.

Since Christmas is the season of giving I thought I'd give you guys a laugh. I often get asked where I learnt how to write. No writing courses or anything formal, it was from a prank that went too well and ended up biting me on the arse :D Back when I was in high school and Dawson's Creek was all the rage I wrote a fake spoiler/synopsis for upcoming episodes of the show. It was about 2 1/2 pages long and I told one of my friend's that I got it from a website. She read it and loved it and started passing it around to other people in my grade and it started catching on so I was left with having to continue on with them. This went on for a few weeks but I wasn't getting my homework done on the weekend's because I was too busy writing these fake episodes. I eventually confessed that they were fake and the reactions ranged from not believing me to actually being disappointed that they weren't real haha. So there you have it :)

So my new skates arrived last week thanks to Suzie at Sydney Derby Skates :) It's the Riedell 122's with Reactor plates and my current wheels. They may not be the flashiest boots like the 265's but out of all the skates I tried from my team mates they felt the best for my shitty ankles so that's good enough for me. I love derby but I LOVE Liverpool so I customised my skates as much as I could to make them Liverpool inspired from the laces to the toe guards to the red astro nuts so it was nice to combine my two loves as much as possible. I tried them out on Sunday and after a lot of fine tuning (thanks to Mon who was my mechanic for the day!) and taking them for test skates I finally got them to a setting I was comfortable with and just skated with them until it felt like I've been skating on them for ages. The plates are a lot more responsive and I noticed a big difference when I did some carving and weaving on Sunday, it was so much easier to do both. These skates and I are going to clock up a few km's together next year on the track!

Yesterday was our final training session for the year and we're supposed to be going back on the 6th January so in the mean time I've planned a pre-season for myself involving both on and off skates work so that I can build up some momentum and hit the ground running by the time we start up training again. It also gives me a chance to bed in my new skates so Skatel, the gym and the outdoors will become my next best friend's.

I had to go for a follow up session with the physio tonight to see how my ankles pulled after resuming skating again and she said there was some tightness in the musles near my left ankle and my right ankle was swollen but she worked her magic and said I wouldn't have to book another appointment with her. She's a lovely lady and helped me get back on skates twice now but I really hope it's a very long time before I have to see her again :) I also showed her my GT-50 skate and my new 122 skate to show her the difference with what I was skating with before and what I changed to. Needless to say she thought the GT-50's were crap in terms on ankle support but she loved the 122's for the extra ankle support.

It has been a strange year for derby and I. I've have more up's from off skate stuff whether it was writing, meeting my favourite skaters, making new friend's, watching bouts etc and apart from passing my Corporal test the majority of down's I've had have been on skates. Call me selfish but I'm hoping for a better year on skates next year, it's just not the same experiencing it from the sidelines.

Lastly, to you, yes you who is reading this post, I hope you have a great Christmas and a cracking new year. No doubt I'll see you at some derby do next year :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Far out I can't put into words what I'm thinking because it's all jumbled so bare with me because this post might be all over the shop.

Like I've mentioned before I used this blog to keep me accountable and not quit if I thought it all got too hard, even if no one read it I KNEW it was on the internet. Safe to say it helped and I've now got derby running through my veins so quitting is no longer an option. Along the way people started reading my blog and telling me they actually liked it which surprised me because the majority of it was about my struggles with injury and trying to pass my Corporal test, it wasn't anything cool like bouting or learning some new skill. Its always made me laugh when I've had team mates or friend's happy that they got mentioned in my blog like it's a badge of honour or something :D I've even been lucky enough to have complete strangers (and ended up forming friendship's with them) come up to me and tell me they like my blog but I still can't figure out how they even came across my blog in the first place since the only place I link my posts is on my Facebook page. I just wanted to say once again a massive thanks to all of you who have read my blog, hopefully it hasn't been too crap :) At the same time the blog has also veered into different directions with me doing a couple of reviews and getting the chance to interview my skating idols.

You'll probably laugh and tell me I'm a bloody idiot but the main reason why I've debated on whether to pull the plug or not on this blog is fear. All the time I've spent off skates due to injury has allowed me to learn more about the sport whether it be hanging around Team White Tiger, doing this blog or writing reviews that I started getting worried that I would be one of those people who would know all the in's and out's of derby but I couldn't make the grade as a skater. With the year I've had on the sidelines I am DESPERATE to get out on the track, work my arse off and prove that I'm worthy of holding a spot down in the team and that I'm not just some permacrock. If that meant being selfish and not doing this blog or any more reviews for RDAU so that I could completely concentrate next year on getting myself where I needed to be on the track then so be it. I also knew that next year training was going to be a LOT tougher and more would be expected of me if I wanted to bout so I'd be spending a large chuck of the year pissed off and frustrated and that wouldn't make for interesting reading and that wasn't including picking up injuries in between which I hope with all my might that it doesn't happen because I think I've picked up enough injuries this year to last me a lifetime. 

This blog has served its purpose for its original intentions and with that there's no real need for me to continue with it. I was gobsmacked with the reaction I got from some of you when I suggested pulling the plug on this blog. I honestly thought this blog would disappear without a murmur, especially since it's not a big blog which I'm happy about because I never did this blog for popularity. I'm also surprised by the reaction I got with my 'controversial' post last night and getting positive feedback even if people didn't fully agree with my thoughts. It's looking less likely that someone will knee cap me on the track for thinking the way I do about the sport. All this also played a part in my decision. I hope you realise that there would be a lot of frustration and whinging in my posts if I continued blogging next year (shut up Cherry I know what you're thinking :P) If you guys are happy about reading that then I'll continue with my blog but I swear to god heaven help anyone who complains about it being too negative because I will personally come over and can open your arse to the floor, don't say I didn't warn you that'll it be shite :)        

Monday, December 12, 2011

Where do we go from here?

Ahh roller derby. It's a sport that brings together people from all walks of life but at the same time often has a negative connotation to the outside world who often think it's just women (predominately butch lesbians - might as well get the stereotype right) putting on skates and smashing the crap out of each other. Personally speaking I still don't know how to effectively hit people on skates and I'm straight and really who cares what one's sexuality is, we're all human and we all love the sport.

From the moment I watched Whip It, to when I watched my first bout, to when I first started training and up until now I've seen and learnt a lot that is the world of roller derby and I haven't even begun to scratch the surface. The more I get involved the more I form an opinion on where I think the sport is heading and where I would like to see it go. Roller Derby literally brings people from all walks of life which I think is a good thing as I'm meeting people with different interests that I probably wouldn't have met if I wasn't doing the sport. It also brings up the challenge of having to deal with a kaleidoscope of opinions and trying to make the sport into something that the majority can agree on. What I'm about to write are my opinions, yeah you may not agree with them and that's cool. There is no right or wrong, it's what you make out of the sport that matters.

I'm one of the majority who first got into derby after watching Whip It. I saw a sport where strategies and tactics reigned supreme, a physical game of chess if you like and it was an advantage to have a big arse - bonus! I saw an actual sport and not a roller disco where everyone got to play dress up's. I'm a tomboy to the extent that it's been over a decade that I've worn either a dress or a skirt so the most I dress up at training is a t-shirt and basketball shorts. When I eventually bout I'll be wearing Skins under my uniform not derby skinz and definately no fishnets, but that's just me. I know derby has the whole 'dress culture' where it's all about expressing yourself and there's nothing wrong with that but it becomes a problem when that part of the derby culture means more to you than putting in the hard yards at training and trying to be the best derby SKATER you can be. I don't believe that the two have to be mutually exclusive, there will always be a place for both especially as long as people continue to customise their skates :)

Ahh the little things, things that don't mean much to me in the grand scheme of things but they could mean a great deal to someone else. We're currently going through picking names and uniforms for our two intraleague teams next year. To be honest I don't really care about all that, I'm more than happy to leave that to those that want to have a say in all that. I'm more concerned about being good enough to get picked for a team and being good enough to be able to bout.

Derby names. A source of constant debate. I often go online to try and read as many derby blogs and articles I can find and I found a perfect one to sum up the name issue. It's from the Derby Life site. The comments below the article covered both sides of the arguement really well. I've come across some clever, witty names and there's others where I thought really? It's another area of derby where people can be as creative as they like, and if you're happy to have your derby name yelled out by a commentator during a bout in front of your family and friend's and it may sound crass or controversial then power to you but you also need to realise that there's other people in the same crowd who might not want to hear it. But, but if they don't like it they shouldn't be going to the bout! Yeah well last I checked none of us get paid to play and without bums on seats and sponsorship it would be hard to continue running a league so perhaps it's something that needs to be considered. The only real issue I have with names are the rape themed ones there's some examples in the article above. I really hate those ones. The guy that went with the name Mr. Ray Pugh gave his reasons behind his choice of name from terms used in the gaming world. I've also seen it used on Liverpool message boards where some posters might say 'We'll rape so and so opposition', sue me but I hate hearing it. We have the term 'skate rape' in derby, I cringe when I hear it and you won't hear me say it but I'm not going to be some sort of derby nun and tell others not to say it, it's their choice.

All this brings me to my next point: public misconception of roller derby. There was a perfect example on Facebook last week when an article appeared from a paper in Queensland titled 'Roller Derby isn't a sport'. Needless to say the guy got bombarded by derby folks around the world. I didn't agree at all with his comments but it highlighted what some people outside of derby think about the sport. Those of us that play the sport know from the hours we put in at training each week and volunteer work in committee's etc in our spare time know that they've got it all wrong but they don't see all that. Maybe there's a way of educating them and help make them see what we see or there might be another option, an option that might not sit well with most derby folk...

Each paragraph has made me sound more boring than the last and this one will probably make me sound like an absolute killjoy but fuck it here goes. I was watching the Derby World Cup that was recently on when I got the chance to and I was struck by how professional it all felt, from the uniforms to the way it all ran, to me that actually represented roller derby as a sport if you were going to show that to someone who was watching derby for the first time. I love the idea of having roller derby as an Olympic sport or even one day being a professional sport. Imagine getting paid to play derby, that would be pretty cool having derby pay your bills. I know, I know I've taken all the fun out of derby, no skateouts, everyone wearing the same outfit, using your own name instead of a derby name like I said killjoy. Yeah but that's completely different to how it started in Texas. It sure is but then what started in Texas is completely different to the original version of roller derby which was an endurance race and you've also got the 70's version which was scripted wrestling style theatrics. The sport is constantly evolving. I feel the sport will continue to change and I wouldn't be surprised if there was a split with those that want to keep derby the way that it currently is and those that want to see the sport in the Olympic Games. I think it would be a good thing because it would probably please more people in the long run and they can pick whichever way they want to go instead of everyone being dragged into a direction they don't want to go. We already have different options with flat-track and banked derby so there's always something for everyone.

At the end of the day just because I prefer the strategies and tactics over what I wear doesn't mean I love the sport any more than someone who likes putting effort into what they wear on the track. I'm just one of the many people who try and play the awesome sport of roller derby to the best of my ability.              

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Is this the end?

Hi folks,

With Christmas just around the corner and me being focussed on getting back to the level I was at before my injury, there isn't really much to write about. I was working on a post about my thoughts on roller derby in general and what I think on where the sport is going but it may end up being too controversial for some so I won't post it.

This blog was always intended to keep me on track and not quit the sport if I ever thought it got too hard. Safe to say I'm in too deep now and have no intention of quitting roller derby. I'm currently debating on whether or not to continue with the blog next year. I'll have a think over the Christmas break and make a decision then.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So much awesomeness that I can't even think of a decent title for this post.

What a crazy, action packed week in the world of roller derby. Friday night I strapped on my skates for the first time in two months to test my ankle out, only problem was I psyched myself out so much that I couldn't get my backside off the bench and skate. Given my track record with injuries this year I was worried I'd skate and pick another one up. This last injury I picked up the same week I finally fixed my right ankle injury hence why I was so nervous this time around. I'm sitting on the bench and who comes my way but Cherry and here I was hoping I wouldn't be noticed that night. Despite my pleas as to why I couldn't skate she ignored them and even took it upon herself to strap my helmet up for me, I felt like such a child! She is extremely persistant and I realised I wasn't going to win so with shaking legs I got up and felt like Bambi, my legs weren't co-operating the way I wanted. I eventually felt more comfortable on skates and picked up on what I needed to work on again. I had another go on Sunday and tried t-stops and snow ploughs also and pulled up ok with no new pain in my ankle.

So it all came down to the physio on Monday night. She worked on my ankle and said it improved even more since my last session and it was good enough to get a clearance letter! YAY!!! She even told me to continue skating during our 'off season' to continue strengthening my ankle. I'm going to hit Skatel again on the weekends and I'll train by myself for the rest of our training sessions for the year getting myself up to the level I need to be so that I can hit the ground running next year and work my way to scrimmaging training and bouting by my birthday next year.

Perhaps I should warn my team mates now that I'm starting to go into 'Liverpool mode' more often when I skate. I've got bit of a Jeckyl and Hyde thing going on. Off skates I'm painfully shy, I struggle to go up to someone and talk to them. When I watch Liverpool play I'm a completely different person, I've hugged complete strangers in the pub when we won the FA Cup, I've almost stacked it over the barrier and onto the field when I was at Anfield when we scored. I even almost got into a fight with male Croatian supporters in Germany during the World Cup in 2006 when Australia played Croatia, my younger brother had to actually calm me down. The funny thing is my parents are from Croatia. I get on skates and I'm not scared of Cherry and getting hit by her in fact I look forward to it and try to give it back to her. I'd probably be the same with GodJilla. I know when I start scrimmaging I'll have no problem communicating in the pack, but get me off skates and I revert back again.

In other kick arse news we learnt the line up's for our intraleague teams next year. I found out I'll be assisting Santina on the bench on the Hellbombs team which is the Army themed team. The funny thing is that my sister is on the other team so I'll be plotting against her haha. Mon is in my team and would you believe so too is Cherry. True story a few night's before they announced the teams I actually had a dream that I somehow saw the team line up's on Facebook and saw I was on the same team as Cherry hehe. I've been spending my time reading the rules and getting as much info as possible on benching. It's going to be a cracking year next year and I can't wait for it to start!

The City vs Coast bouts, far out eh? I was bouncing off the walls by the time I got to the venue. I was so excited and I wasn't even bouting. It was the first time our league hosted a bout, we had help from some of the guys from SRDL and thanks to the excellent work from Sarah the whole thing went off without a hitch. It was cool being able to help set everything up and seeing how it all worked. Considering most of us were doing this for the first time, we all worked together really well and I think it came off pretty well. I got dubbed the Newcastle expert because Jeremy had trouble identifying which Newy players had arrived for the second bout and I was able to point them all out for him right away, maybe it's a sign I go to too many of their bouts ;) I discovered that RDAU wanted me to cover both bouts so it's the first time I've covered a double header. They should be on their site this week. I also discovered it's difficult to be impartial when you're trying to cover a bout featuring skaters from your own league. I think the whole thing went well and I was proud of the guys from HARD who bouted, especially those bouting for the first time. They did us all proud :) I'm going to do a special write up about the day, keep a look out for it :)

On a personal note I lost count of how many times I got lost for words that day. I had Aprilla say hi to me. Lady Quirkinator from Newy told me she liked the review I did on my blog for the Newy vs Adelaide bout. She's on the Fort Smashley side in Newy's intraleague side and I'm bit of a fan of hers so I was grinning on the inside talking to her. I had the Big Kahuna from Viva la derby call me by my derby name and tell me he liked my work and if I wanted he'd be happy to read my write up's on VLD. I also had Noms from VLD tell me she liked reading my blog. I just wow, I get lost for words when anyone comes up to me and says they like what I do and blush like crazy, yeah I'm pathetic :) The only annoying thing was I missed out on interviewing Booga from Newy for the second bout for the review. I struggle with the interview part when it comes to doing the reviews for RDAU because I'm so bloody shy. I also missed out on interviewing her at the last intraleague bout for Newy because I was too shy to go up to her. She's a real character on the track and is a really decent jammer even if she does play for the Harbour Hellcats ;) 

All in all I'd say it was a pretty successful week :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The light at the end of the tunnel

So I've entered the two month stage of being off skates and I'm still feeling pain in my ankle. I went to the physio on Monday and she was actually pushing me to get back on skates! Perhaps I'm being overcautious and paranoid after all the injuries I've picked up this year but I was a bit hesitant to get back on skates while I still felt some pain. She reckons I'll still have that pain for a few months but it shouldn't impact my skating. Shirley ended up giving me a letter to say I could try skating (only) for about an hour this week at training and see her again on Monday to see how my ankle pulls up. If there's no new damage I'll finally get a clearance letter and go back to derby training. Now I'm torn, a part of me can't wait to get back on skates and work my way up again to the level that I was before I got injured but a part of me is shitting bricks about getting back on skates and re-injuring it again. Injuries aren't just physical they're such a head fuck for me anyway. If I get over my fear and manage to skate again I'm going to be sensible about it and spend the rest of the year with the freshies and work on all my falls, stops and endurance again. This year has been a write off for me in terms where I was hoping to be. I want to be firing on all cylinders next year and make next year my year to prove to myself that there's more to me than just writing. I want to be good enough for my league and be an asset and not a hinderance. If I get myself in order by the end of this year I'll be able to push on and work even harder to get to the level that I want to be at next year.

I've had some of my team mates ask me at training how I manage not to go crazy sitting on the sidelines watching the rest of them train. Easy! I occupy myself with stuff to do so that I don't think about it too much. I've been hanging around Team White Tiger and listening to them go through rules and hand signals so that's been fun and helpful. We had Womb Raider come to training on Sunday to take the city team for the city vs coast bout through tactics and strategies before this week's bout which was amazing. I loved learning new tactics and seeing my team mates execute the tactics on the tracks, it was like poetry in motion. I've also been doing the jam timer duties during scrimmage practise, it's nice to have some control over Cherry ;) haha Lastly I've spent the last couple of weeks taking photos at training in the hope that my team mates might pick up on things they're doing correct or might want to work on. Instead I've discovered most of them love having their picture taken and then asking me to upload them on Facebook hehe. Here's some of my favourite pics I've taken.

Yep that's Cherry mid air after Bede's hit haha

There's heaps more pics on my Facebook profile!

There's been such a build up amongst our league for this week's city vs coast bout. Not only will we have members from our league bouting but we're hosting it so it's been a massive learning experience seeing what goes on behind the scenes with putting a bout together. It's been amazing to see my team mates and the guys from MARD push themselves in training and seeing how far they've come. It's going to be a great bout, in fact it's going to be a great night, hurry up already Saturday! I'll be doing the write up for RDAU and possibly HAM but I'm also going to do a special one for our league. No idea where I'll post it but I'll focus it more on my team mates and interview as many of them as possible especially those bouting for the first time. It'll be nice to be able to keep a record of this moment, the first of many for our league :)

Lastly I had a fangirl moment on Saturday night at our H*A*R*D trivia night, Cherry actually came up to me and asked me if I wanted a pic with her so I finally got a pic with her. I've gotten a pic with Jilla, now I've got a pic with Cherry, now all I need is a pic with both of them :)

See you guys on Saturday!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

To skate or not to skate? Is it really that easy of a decision to make?

I found myself at a crossroads on Monday night. I was at the physio getting my injured ankle worked on. My physio Shirley was telling me that the tightness in and around the injured area had improved a lot and for me it was the first session I've had with her that I haven't felt any additional pain while she's been working on it. She said I could probably resume skating this week and was going to give me a clearance letter but I had a decision to make, should I take the letter and start skating or tell her the truth that I was still feeling some pain and I wasn't 100% confident that I wouldn't re-injure it the second I got back on skates? I told her the truth and didn't get my clearance letter. This is the 7th week straight I've been off skates injured and I hate it. I really want to be back on skates and training again but then I think back to all the times this year where I rushed back on skates before I was over my injury and ended up making it worse which resulted in such a stop/start year which stunted my progress. I'm also having to deal with those negative thoughts you get in the back of your mind when coming back from an injury, the fear of skating again after being out for so long. I've had it happen before where I psyched myself out so much that I felt physical ill driving to training and ended up sitting out the entire session. I don't want a repeat performance this time but I can feel those thoughts already forming in my mind and I'm not even on skates yet.

Looking back on the year and the way I dealt with my injuries I made a pretty big discovery and ended up surprising myself in the process. The first few times I got injured I spent all my time on the sidelines with a shitty look on my face and angry that I was falling behind everyone else. Don't get me wrong I wasn't angry with my team mates, far from it I was just so angry with myself for getting injured. When you dream of being able to bout it's so easy to get narrow minded and not see the big picture. I then realised that staying angry wasn't going to change my situation, so while I would still have a sook that I was injured once again, I would get it out of my system and started looking at ways that I could be more productive. The first thing I started doing was going through the derby rule book and would you believe it I started learning more about the sport, who would have thought! I then started doing jam timer duties at scrimmage practise and started learning even more from seeing the game played at that point of view. Listening to the skaters yell out instructions and ref's making calls and learning more rules, I was really starting to get into it.

All this ended up having a flow on effect because Roller Derby Au asked me to fill in for them for a Newy intraleague bout and from there it all kind of exploded. I made notes for every single jam and started seeing patterns and tactics unfold as I looked back on my notes which I probably wouldn't have seen if I only watched the bout. RDAU and Newy liked my review so I thought I would continue doing bout reviews for my blog unless RDAU asked me to fill in for them again in future. The more reviews I did the more I learnt. I was now able to start looking at a ref calling a major and know what it was for without even listening to them. My biggest discovery was I was starting to be able to read a game and see tactics and patterns unfold, it was like I was really seeing roller derby properly for the first time. I've filled in RDAU for a few times this year and it has ended up resulting with an amazing opportunity - the chance to be published in H.A.M for next week's city vs coast bout. It may not happen but to be even considered in the first place is an amazing honour. The funny side with doing my blog and bout reviews is getting noticed. It still never fails to shock me having someone come up to me and ask me if I do 'that' blog or add me on Facebook :D It's not like I have people flocking towards me, just having one person come up and talk to me is like WOW some people actually like what I do! haha.

Cherry's picked up on my love of tactics and strategies so this has opened up another door for me. She's asked me if I wanted to be an assistant benchie for one of our intraleague teams next year along with Sarah. We'll be paired up with either Santina or Katie so there will be even more opportunity to learn from either of them which is a win-win situation. This is only until I make it onto one of our intraleague teams then I'll pass the baton on and show someone else the ropes. What an amazing opportunity though, once she explained what it entailed I was chuffed to bits to even be asked. I've already thrown myself into it by trying to find as many benchie tips as possible, I pity the team I'll be helping bench for next year ;)

So I've learnt that once I'd gotten over my sooking at being injured and looked at the bigger picture I learnt a LOT about the sport and it resulted in getting a lot of opportunities in other areas of the sport. I might not be the quickest or strongest on the track but all this game intelligence I've picked up this year will help me next year so that I play the game smarter and not just physically.   

So it's city vs coast next week and I'm split in my loyalties! I'm going for city in the first bout since it'll have members of H*A*R*D in there but I'll be going for coast in the second bout because it'll have members from Newy in there. I thought I'd have a bit of fun and 'pick' the coast team for the second bout. If you asked 20 different people you'd get 20 different selections so don't shoot me people. Here's who I would go with:

GodJilla Sold Separately
Broken Arrow
Brigand Strong
Hippy Hardarse
Dino La Rouge
Belt'er Goodrem
Vicious Ness
White Hawk
Janis Job'em
Penny Nartsy
Mocha Killingbird

Lady Quirkinator

Let me explain! Susy Pow doesn't feature because she's about to go play for Team Australia so you wouldn't want her to pick up an injury. I went for combo's which I've seen work well on the track like Danger/Jilla, Brigand Strong/Broken Arrow, Janis/White Hawk. For specialised jammers I picked ones that don't spend too much time in the penalty box because having your jammer in the penalty box can break you. I tried picking strong pivots or people who play the pivot role without having the stripe on their helmet like Dino, White Hawk and Vicious. There's some strong blockers in there too who have good game intelligence and there's some kick arse all rounders in there to boot. I know I've favoured Newy but to be honest I've seen more of their bouts this year so I've picked up on more of their patterns. It's all theoretical and a bit of fun :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

2011 - The year of injuries. 2012 - The year of kicking arse.

It's been a month since I've been off skates and sadly there is no end in sight. I can't even flick a ball up with my left foot without it feeling as though someone is stabbing me with a knife in my heel. I've gone back to the physio that fixed my right ankle up and this week she said she noticed some improvements compared to last week while working on my ankle and calf, yay for some improvement. She did however say that this sort injury can take weeks or months to heal so I've made the decision not to get back on skates until I'm 100% confident my left ankle is fixed, even if it means not skating again this year. No matter how much I hate being off skates injured, it's not fair to my team mates not being able to go 100% at training or not being able to complete a training session because I'm carrying an injury, plus the whole stop/starting due to picking up niggling injuries because I didn't let the initial injury heal correctly does my head in so it's for the best.

It's not all doom and gloom though, I've tried to make the most of my time off skates. I picked up the WFTDA officiating manual which has absolutely everything rules, all ref info and NSO duties descriptions. Personally I like to learn as much as possible and how it all works to get a better understanding. During scrimmage practise on Sunday nights I've gotten a protege in team mate Black Jaq with jam timer duties. She's picked it up pretty quickly. I've had so many people teach me so much about the sport that it's nice to be able to pass on that knowledge.

As for writing reviews Roller Derby AU have asked me to cover the WIRD intraleague bout this weekend between the Vixens and Vipers. I've never seen a WIRD intraleague bout before so that'll be something new for me, plus it'll also be the first time I'm writing a review that doesn't involve Newcastle's league at all so I've got no idea how it'll turn out haha. If that wasn't enough RDAU have also asked me to cover the first bout at the City vs Coast bout on the 3rd December. It'll be the first bout my league will be hosting plus it'll have members from my own league bouting, so that was a nice honour to be asked to do it. Shameless plug, please come it'll be an amazing spectacle - 8 different leagues involved, 4 teams bouting, 2 bouts and all proceeds go to charity. Oh and there will be lots of kick arse people there, it's a win win situation ;)

Although I'm currently off skates, I still go to watch training or help out if needed. While sitting on the sidelines and going to bouts this past month it's only helped highlight how badly I want all 'this'. I'm over the moon that my reviews have been pretty well received, it was initially only to help out my friend's but I ended up learning more about the game and tactics by doing it. Watching my team mates prepare for the City vs Coast bout, watching the freshies improve truckloads each week and watching Corporals going for their Sargeant tests it's given me even more of a hunger to try and fulfil my goals. I really couldn't give a shite about getting attention or popularity because it wasn't why I joined in the first place, as a matter of fact I'm pretty shy. Although this year personally has had a lot of starts and stops due to injury or illness I've gone from not being able to stand up without rolling around at my first training session with WSR to passing my Corporal aka white star test. That feeling I got when I passed I can't even put into words how happy I was. I want to experience that feeling a lot more often with derby. I set myself the task of passing my Corporal test by my birthday this year and I did. My big goal for next year is to be bouting by my birthday next year. Lots of work involved before I get to that stage which is why I want to get my ankle fixed up so that I'm firing from all cylinders physically and mentally.

One thing I also need to work on is not being so fangirly especially around Cherry and Jilla. I need to believe that I'm worthy of being on the same track as them not because I'm arrogant but because I shouldn't have them on a pedestal because they would have no hesitation knocking me on my arse in a bout. I would like to join Newy in one of their training sessions but I wouldn't ask before I at least knocked Cherry down once on skates because she's not easy to knock down and Newy are at a pretty decent level. Yeah I'm probably dreaming big but fuck it if you don't set yourself some decent goals you won't end up pushing yourself and finding out what you're made of. Liverpool will always be my first love but sometimes it scares me how quickly derby has become so important to me. I know you shouldn't have tunnel vision but I'm so focussed on my goals. I've already set the wheel in motion by changing my eating habits and doing exercise that doesn't impact on my injured ankle. I've set up another blog to keep track of all the exercise and eating issues since this blog helped keep me on track.  

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fort Smashleys vs Harbour Hellcats decider - the untold story

In what is almost becoming my second home, it was up to Newcastle again last Saturday to watch another bout. This time it was the decider between the Smashleys and the Hellcats. Roller Derby AU asked me to do the review because they were covering the WSR bout on the same night, so I did the review and it can be found here.

As always there was other shenanigans that went on that I couldn't put on the review but could put here. It all started before I even got inside. RDAU had my name on the door because I was doing the review so I had to sign a media form and got given a media pass. It all felt surreal, it was like I was important or something haha. I would have a done a review on my own blog if RDAU hadn't asked me to do it for them.

Ness and I walk in and who do we see at the merch stand but CASS! She was working the merch stand that night. I can't help but smile when I see her, she's always doing something derby related. I picked up some merch for Mon and another Smashleys shirt for myself because I was hoping to get the Smashleys to sign my other shirt.

I kid you not it was humid as buggery that night. I was sweating just standing there, kudo's to all the skaters and ref's that night for coping with the temperature. As for the bout itself it was another cracker of a bout. I think in future all NRDL should carry a health warning in their bout programs. They love nail biting bouts up there. It's bad for your heart I tell ya haha. This bout went down to the last jam just like their bout against Adelaide and it also required an official time out to sort out the final score.

I probably look like an absolute loony when I watch their bouts, I'm trying to cheer/yell either the Smashleys or Dames on (when they bout) while madly scribbling down notes in my notebook for the review. There's been a couple of times when I've had paper flying everywhere. I have enjoyed doing the reviews, I'll keep doing them for my blog next year unless RDAU need me to fill in for them or NRDL tell me that the reviews suck and I'll stop. Being a lifelong Liverpool supporter I've grown up appreciating tactics and I've found that by doing these reviews I tend to look out for tactics and patterns when I watch a bout. It's another reason why I love NRDL they employ a lot of tactics in their bouts so I have an absolute field day doing their reviews. Here's a funny fact, in this last season the Smashleys had a 0% win rate with Jilla in the side. She played in the first and third bout which the Smashleys lost both bouts but they won the second bout when she was on the sidelines. Please don't kick my arse Jilla haha. Speaking of Jilla I can finally carry on a conversation with her without going all shy and fangirly around her, yay for progress :)

At the end of the bout I walked up to Jilla and gave my Smashleys shirt to her to sign. Ness who was wearing her Hellcats shirt gave Jilla a hug, I wouldn't have blamed Jilla for decking her since the Smashleys lost in controversial fashion :P While the Smashleys were signing my shirt I had to go off and get some interviews for the review. Here's where I hit a stumbling block, I'm notoriously shy and rubbish at interviews. I was trying to pull questions out of my arse and wanting to go and try and interview either Dino la Rouge, Booga or The Cramp but I was too shy to actually go up to them. Bloody hell, I eventually found the guts to go up to The Cramp and ask her a couple of questions.

Once the interview was over I went over to pick up my signed shirt and while I was standing there admiring it DangeRass came up and started talking to me. She asked me if I was the one who wrote the blog (what I wouldn't do to have the same reputation for my bouting skills). I've never spoken to Danger before so it completely threw me that she even knew about my blog. While I was still coming to terms with the fact that she was talking to me she was giving me positive reviews about my NRDL reviews and how I picked up how her and Jilla work off each other on the track, I thought it was common knowledge. She also said that although Jilla was my favourite skater I wrote balanced reviews and didn't just favour Jilla's side. I was still in shock but also over the moon that my reviews were appreciated by the guys I was writing about. As for the signed shirt here's a pic and thanks heaps to the Smashleys for signing it :)

Since Ness and I were staying overnight we decided to go to the after party. Wasn't that one big epic fail. We got there and we were too shy to talk to anyone. It's not as if they were snobs or unapprochable, I just don't have it in me to butt in on a group conversation and start talking to people I've never met before. Eventually we both felt tired and gave up trying to get over the shyness and left. I also had to get up and watch Liverpool's match at 3:30am, yep I was jumping up and down and cheering on Liverpool at 3:30am from a hotel room. What a weekend. I can't wait to do it all again next year :) (hopefully I'll actually have a conversation at the after party haha)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I swear I've been here before

Last Sunday night I was pretty focussed, pretty excited and a little nervous because it was my first Corporal training session. Yay I finally made the step up and now had the chance to train with the big kids. Even better I finally got the all clear from the physio on Thursday on my right ankle. I was doing my warm up and started to stretch my left ankle when I feel a tearing sensation down my heel, the same pain I felt when I first injured my right ankle all those months ago. Despite all the swearing I was doing on the inside and wanting to put a hole through the wall in anger (knowing my luck with injuries I would have shattered my entire arm and not just my knuckles) I just KNEW that I had done some damage. So what do I do? I tested it out to see how bad it was. It only hurt when I tried stretching my ankle but I could skate pain free so I continued on. Probably not the most smartest decision but dammit I worked so hard to get to this level and to miss out right from the start it just felt so unfair.

Right away I noticed the difference in training. It was a lot more advanced and better footwork was a major requirement. I felt like a freshie all over again starting from the bottom and having to work my way up. I did have that nagging thought 'I don't know if I can do this' in the back of my head but I tried to ignore it and kept carrying on. One of the things we practised was getting in groups and kicking out at each others skates. While it is illegal to do in a bout it's all about getting used to have your skates clipped in a pack situation. I found that alright and didn't stack it yay! Then it came to practising carves and can openers. I was teamed up with Mon which was good because we're a similar build so I didn't have to worry about hurting her. This one was bit of a challenge for me because given the size of me I should be able to pack a strong hit but I'm weak as piss. I know I could probably cause some damage if I execute a good hit but I'm also worried I might injure a team mate unnecessarily so I hold back a bit. I had a big smile on my face when Mon was practising can openers on me because I was hardly moving and she said I'd be hard to knock over on the track which is what I'm aiming for. I want it to take something special to knock me down on the track. We then started practising carves and hits on the track, far out it is not easy you need to get the timing right and get yourself in position and try and catch them unaware. Mine were pretty crap. I did injure Danger Blond she did a shoulder hit on me and re-injured her shoulder. I felt a bit bad about that. I did get a chance to finally try and hit Cherry but she saw me and got down even lower that I would have to be skating with my arse touching the ground to have any chance of doing a can opener on her. I think she's making it harder on me because she's worried I'll fulfill a wish of mine of knocking her on her arse in training :P It's all good though by making it harder for me she's making me a better skater. I won't lie I'm a little excited that I now get to work with one of my favourite skaters to be able to learn from her and hopefully reach her level one day is ace and I'm also not acting like a fan girl around her at training which is new for me :)

First thoughts on Corporal training it's a lot harder skills wise and I know I'll be battling mentally to push myself when it all feels too hard but I've also had a taste of it and I want more, this is where I want to be. Unfortunately I'm going to have to wait at least a month until my next training session because I ended up straining the ligaments in my left ankle which is what I did to my right ankle a few months ago, this really bloody sucks. If I was a horse I would have been put down by now. I've come to accept that roller derby is not going to come easy for me due to setbacks from injuries. If I can take anything out from that it's that it'll make me mentally tougher to keep coming back despite the setbacks. When I start bouting and have my arse handed to me but more experienced skaters i'll hopefully have that mental toughness to keep picking myself up and keep carrying on.

During our team talk Cherry asked us what our goals were, I had a thought about it and came up with this list (in no particular order):

1. Stop picking up so many frigging injuries.
2. Be good enough to finally bout not just intraleague but against other leagues.
3. Knock Cherry down on her arse in training :)
4. Somehow have a scrimmage training session with Jilla.
5. Be in a bout with Cherry and Jilla and try and take on Jilla.
6. Bout against my friend's from other leagues like Cass, Ivy, Jo and Pepa.
7. Try and learn the 3 point transistion move, walk and run on my toe stops, tomahawks and backwards skating.
8. Become a fearsome blocker but also have a crack at jamming one day down the road.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

ERRD finals - Newcastle Dockyard Dames vs WIRD Steel City Derby Dolls bout review

It was the weekend of the Eastern Region Roller Derby (ERRD) finals and there were two bouts to look forward to. First up was the bout to determine third and fourth spot which was between the Newcastle Dockyard Dames and Wollongong's Steel City Derby Dolls. I knew what to expect from the Dames. I'd never seen WIRD bout before but I've heard they're a tough, physical team to come up against. One player I was interested in seeing was WIRD's White Hawk. I've heard a lot about her in terms of her blocking skills, even Cherry said she was the toughest skater she's ever come up against. I was curious to see her come up against someone like Godjilla who loves a good hitting contest and see who would come out on top.

The bout came to life right from the first whistle when Steel City's Chakram got lead jammer over Hippy Hardarse. Thanks to some great defence from her blockers, Chakram was able to call off the jam and grab an early 8-0 lead. The Steel City blockers even got the measure of Godjilla as they double teamed her whenever possible so that she couldn't lay a hit on their jammers. It was all Steel City in the first few jams and it wasn't until the fourth jam that the Dames finally got lead jammer thanks to Booga but she called it off early to make it a nil all point jam.

The Dames started getting into the contest when DangeRass jumped over the apex to get lead jammer over Janis Job-em and score a 4-0 jam to bring the score to 15-8 for Steel City. Hippy Hardarse then added another four points in her next jam to make the score 15-12. Despite the comeback the Dames needed to find a way to stop White Hawk from dominating at the front of the pack, even without the pivot stripe on her helmet she was controlling the pack and as for her blocking, I was starting to see why she has such a big reputation, honestly it's almost near impossible getting past her.

The Dames did however manage to capitalise when White Hawk wasn't on the track when once again DangeRass got lead jammer, this time over Chakram as she scored an 8-0 jam to give the Dames the lead for the first time 28-23. Steel City appeared to bounce back when Underbelly Morelli got lead jammer over Brigand Strong then White Hawk to the detriment of her team went to land a hit and took most of her team out instead which allowed Brigand Strong to score a 4-1 jam and take the score out to 32-24 for the Dames.

Steel City formed a wall at the front of the pack but great team work from Godjilla and DangeRass created space for DangeRass to get past two blockers. Chakram got lead jammer and called it off for a 4-4 jam to make the score 36-32 for the Dames. Speaking of DangeRass and Jilla, I've noticed a pattern lately whenever they've played for the Fort Smashleys and the Dames. These two work as their own little unit. If DangeRass is jamming while Jilla is blocker, they'll be close to each other. Jilla will create the space for DangeRass to get through the pack, or give her a whip. They seem to operate on the same wave length when they're on the track.

This bout was a very physical encounter. The pack was skating at a quick pace and it wasn't until an official time out was called with ten minutes left in the first half with the score at 36-all that both the skaters and the crowd could start catching their breath back. Once the next jam started it didn't take long for the intensity to pick up when White Hawk knocked down Godjilla while Jilla was skating backwards. Almost instantly Dino La Rouge had the last laugh when she knocked down White Hawk.

Steel City went for a no pack start but it didn't take long for Godjilla to show everyone the human wrecking ball that she is at the front of the pack which helped Hippy score a 3-0 jam and help even the score 40-40. Steel City's Penny Nartsy managed to get lead jammer by skating along the outside line but then got sent to the penalty box so DangeRass capitalised  with help from her blockers by slowing down the pack to allow her to catch up as she scored a 9-2 point jam. The Dames' Babycakes also joined in with points as she scored a grand slam to take the score out to 54-42. Special mention has to go to Lady Quirkinator as her massive hit on Steel City's iKandy stopped her from scoring any points.

The first half ended with Steel City's Demander got a whip from Unleashed but she got whipped face to face with Godjilla. I've noticed her do this more often in the last few bouts I've watched. If she does it for the intimidation factor, I'm sure it works real well just like in these pics taken by the legendary Kim Lee

Hippy scored a 9-0 jam to give the Dames a half time lead of 63-42. Some things I noticed in the first half were the Dames needed to do more to stop White Hawk's effective blocking. I thought they would have tried to double team her to try and stop her dominating so much. Both Godjilla and White Hawk were hardly on the track at the same time, they seemed to be on alternate jams. I've got no idea if that was a tactic by either side so that it allowed either player to be at their destructive best without worrying about coming up against each other. I finally met Susy Pow in person at half time. I also need to apologise in my last review I kept spelling her name Suzy, sorry Susy with an S :)

Steel City came out with all guns blazing in the second half, almost all the jams they started with a no pack start to try and get their jammer scoring some much needed points. They eventually had a power jam as the Dames had a blocker and jammer in the penalty box and they closed down the deficit to 67-58. Babycakes tried to stop Steel City's momentum by getting lead jammer but when Godjilla lined up a hit to take out Steel City's jammer she ended up taking out her own team mate and a ref which allowed Chakram to score a 3-0 jam and cut the Dames lead to 69-61.

White Hawk and Janis Job-em (who really impressed me too, she'll hit anything that moves on the track in opposition colours) took turns stopping Babycakes from getting through the pack. I know jammers usually get all the glory but there was great blocking like this going on in this bout which made the crowd really get into it. Courtney Lovebite whipped Chakram to help her score a 2-0 jam and make it a 3 point bout 69-66.

Despite the comeback Steel City were mounting it was snuffed out again as the Dames starting picking up lead jammer consecutively. A 4-0 jam here a 9-0 jam there and the score is 87-70 for the Dames. Amongst all that while iKandy was jammer for Steel City, Dino La Rouge lined a hit on her that sent her flying into the crowd at the suicide seating.

I applauded Penny Nartsy when she appeared to face plant the floor but she got up and got lead jammer over Babycakes but then got smashed by Godjilla but got a 4-1 jam to make the score 101-75. Hippy fired out of the blocks to get lead jammer by the second bend but then the bout got really painful as there was a multi player stack which left the Dames' Fannie-tastic and Vicioushire Cat both injured. Vicioushire Cat came off the worst and ended up making a trip to the hospital after the bout.

DangeRass is a really good jammer but she can more than hold her own when it comes to blocking too which serves her well when she's jammer because she can take hits really well from opposition players. In one particular jam she actually outmuscled White Hawk on her way to getting lead jammer. It then left White Hawk and Godjilla to go at each other in a rare moment and my gosh was it great to watch as someone who wants to become a really good blocker.

Penny Nartsy gets lead jammer over Babycakes by hugging the outside line. Demander went for a hit on Babycakes but only succeeded in landing on her backside. Babycakes ended up outscoring Penny 7-6 to take the score to 113-82. The last jam summed up the bout. Lady Quirkinator tried stopping Chakram but she still got lead jammer over DangeRass. DangeRass managed to take down White Hawk and then Booga got taken out by a late hit. The bout ended 117-86 for the Dames in what was a great bout to watch and I imagine even better to have been involved in.

Special thanks to Roller Derby Au's Indy Carcass and WIRD's Courtney Lovebite for helping me identify some of the WIRD skaters for this post :) and to Mon who I watched the bout with, I learnt more rules and enjoyed your company.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Earning your stripes

Last weekend was a pretty big one for me in terms of roller derby. It all started when Ness and I went up to Newcastle for their social skate on Saturday morning. Both Pwnie and Skarz were both attempting to teach me how to do a crossover before I had to re-do my Corporal test on the Sunday night so this was my last chance to learn how to do it. It also gave me a chance to meet some of the guys I had been chatting to on the social skate Facebook group like Skarz, Carley and Susie. I think Pwnie has taken it upon herself to become my PR person. When she was introducing me to some of her team mates she was telling them I did this blog and that I had done some reviews for the Newcastle bouts, thanks Pwnie :D She was in full coach mode before I even got my skates on. She was running me through what we would be doing so once I stretched and warmed up I was ready to go. God knows Cherry and my team mates have tried teaching me various methods to do a crossover and the method Pwnie was teaching me was a completely different method again. Pwnie's method was about completely breaking down the crossover and then putting it back together again, just like stripping down an engine and then re-building it again. It sounds so simple. I found some parts more challenging than others but the more times I did all the parts, the better I got and the more comfortable I became. Pwnie quickly picked up that I look at my feet when I try to do crossovers, I'm aware I'm doing it, it's because I have this fear at the back of my head that if I don't look down, my feet will get tangled when I try to do a crossover and I'll stack it. She got me to stare at a point on the wall when we were practising the drills and I soon came to realise that I could do these drills and not get my feet tangled up if I didn't look at my feet so that was a nice little win for me. By the end of it although I hadn't gotten the crossover down 100% I knew for sure that my technique had improved so I was happy with that.

Skarz asked me if I wanted to join her and the freshies practising falls for their level one test so I did. For those that don't know Skarz is better known as Skarz N Strikz, she's the only female ref in NRDL. I'm weak doing single knee falls on my left knee and I completely stuffed up on my first attempt. Skarz took me through it and it worked. I was able to do them with a bit more control after that. I practised other falls like double knee, four point fall, single knee fall with a 180° turn, then I tried a fall they call 360° porn star. I never attempted that one before so my first attempt wasn't too crash hot but my second one was better. I learnt a lot that morning and had a lot of fun too. The freshies I was practising falls with were a nice bunch too. Pwnie and Skarz are really good teachers, they helped me a lot. I really hope I can return the favour one day. Once again thanks heaps guys. I hope to skate with you guys again more often :)

Roll on Sunday for D-Day. The realistic part of me didn't think I would pass on my second attempt because although I had noticed improvments in my skating and general skills I didn't think it was at the level required to pass. Plus I had gotten the cold on Wednesday so my nose completely blocked so I knew I was going to struggle with breathing especially during endurance. Despite all that I knew I was going to go all out and not leave anything in the tank and improve on my first attempt from a few months ago. I took on Pwnie's advice and followed the pre-training meal plan she suggested. I also decided to wear my lucky shirt which is the Liverpool jersey with my derby surname and number on the back of it

By the time we were warmed up and lining up to start the endurance part of the test I was focussed and ready to go all guns blazing. Lynda was counting my laps so I didn't worry about counting laps I was just worried about my form and trying to do crossovers. After the training session with Pwnie the day before I made a conscious effort to look straight ahead instead of my feet when I attempted crossovers. It didn't take long for my blocked nose and wearing a mouthguard to hinder my breathing. My chest felt like it was on fire. I wanted to give up, I didn't feel like I was going fast enough and eventually every second I kept thinking the five minutes will be up and I won't have done enough laps in time. I kept skating though left foot, right foot then attempt a crossover coming out of the bends and repeat and then I hear Lynda telling me one more lap until I hit the magical 20 laps so I tried picking up the pace and I do it. It was the first time I've hit 20 laps in a 5 minute endurance. I manage to do 21 before Poz calls time. I end up on the floor unable to breathe thanks to the stupid cold and I'm thinking it would be easy just to quit right there and then but I eventually pick myself up and get ready to do the rest of the test. Unlike my first attempt, I attempted everything this time around stops, falls and jumps. My double knee and four point falls aren't as tight as I'd like them to be but I keep going and eventually it's over. I feel completely stuffed and no amount of blowing my nose unblocks it. I was pleased with my effort but I didn't think I passed.

Cheya and Mon were doing the endurance test for their Sargeant level. I was counting laps for Mon and catching my breath back. Once that finished Poz came up to me with my test results. Judging by the serious look on her face I braced myself for failure then I look at the results. I've got ticks next to everything and 21 laps next to endurance. Did I just pass? I look at it again and I appear to have passed. WTF? I ask Poz if I passed and then it sinks in that I passed. I cannot believe it, I've fucking passed!!! I can't help it I scream out to everyone in the room that I've passed :) I'm still in a state of disbelief but I'm so happy I could just scream again. Nine months of injuries, mental battles, illness and tears mixed with stubborness leads to this moment. You know what it was all worth it. Everyone handles it differently but passing this first step means so much to me. Like Pwnie said passing this first level is the hardest thing you'll ever have to do in roller derby and I agree with her. If you can get past that first step then you know you can past everything else because you know you have it in you to do it. It also means now that I get to join in the more advanced skill training instead of watching from the other court wishing I could.

Pwnie's reaction when I posted that I passed on Facebook made me laugh. It was great to be able to share it with her. Not only had she helped me she also knew the feeling of finally passing after struggling with getting past fresh meat level. While I was buzzing for days I also knew that I was back at the bottom. I now have to work my way up Corporal level to pass my Sargeant level. So not only am I battling mental battles I'll have more physical battles as I start doing hits, pack work and eventually scrimmage. It'll only get harder as more will be expected of me so now I have to work even harder.

Roller Derby is my game, Lisbeth Slammed-her is my name.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Newcastle Dockyard Dames vs Adeladies bout review

After seeing the Fort Smashleys defeat the Harbour Hellcats the week before in their intraleague bout, it was time to head up to Newcastle again to watch Newcastle's Dockyard Dames take on the Adeladies. This time round my team mate Lauren came with me. She'd never seen either team bout before, I've seen Newcastle bout before but not the Adeladies. I knew Newcastle were good but I heard the Adeladies were pretty good too so I hoping for a good bout and oh boy was it that and more.

There was a mini bout before the main bout. It was NRDL's Star Riots which was their B-team take on CCRG's The Valkyries. I'd never seen CCRG bout before but I recognised  a lot of the players from the Riots from the bout the week before. It started off fairly evenly in the first few jams then the Star Riots really ran riot (pardon the pun). The Valkyries started clawing back the deficit in the second half but it was too little too late as the Star Riots skated away 102 - 27 victors. I had Suzy Pow sitting in front of me for most of the bout so it was good to pick up on some more rules listening to her. I was really impressed by Newcastle's captain Broken Arrow. She was absolutely amazing that night. Not only was she a beast of a blocker she was also organising her pack really well when she was on the track. There must be something in the water up in Newcastle, they breed blockers that amaze and scare the hell out of me at the same time :) Special mention has to go to CCRG's Kiki Kick Arse Chaos she was sneaking sips of beer when she could, you've gotta love derby :D

By the time the skaters came out for their warm up the place was already buzzing. There were people there at a bout for the first time, the regulars and lots of skaters from other leagues. It was a great turn out. The warm up ranged from just skating to practising moves and added to the excitement of waiting for the whistle to start the bout.

The first few jams started off fairly tame as both sides appeared to be sizing each other out. Then the bout exploded into life when Suzy Pow and Adelaide's Kit Cat Krunch lined up on the jammer line. Adelaide's defence was a brick wall on wheels, whenever Suzy tried getting passed she more often than not fell from the heavy hits she received. I think Adelaide did their homework on Suzy especially GoGo Fiasco who gave Suzy a torrid time. Kit Cat on the other hand was killing it and managed to score a 18 - 0 jam to give Adelaide an early 22 - 3 lead. That was also the last jam that I saw Suzy jam, no idea if it was a tactical decision but it suprised me a little since I'm used to seeing her as jammer in bouts. 

Newcastle weren't going to take this lying down, DangeRass picked up a 7-0 jam over Coconut Rough. Godjilla played a smart jam using various tactics to help DangeRass out and she was leading from the front of the pack and did so for a quite a few of the first few jams. I'm not sure how often she plays from the front, most times I've seen her bout she's been a wrecking ball at the back of the pack. 

Defcon Dani had a power jam and the no pack tactics at the start of the jam from her blockers helped her score a 14 - 0 jam which allowed the Dames to hit the lead for the first time with the score at 37 - 32. The crowd were getting behind the Dames but then Kit Cat struck again. With a power jam she scored a 10 - 0 jam. In her next jam she was hitting Hippy Hardarse from the start and causing major havoc as she scored a 7 - 0 jam to take the score out to 49 - 37. In Kit Cat's next jam she smashed Babycakes on her way to scoring a 4 - 0 jam. I don't think anyone forgot Kit Cat that night, she hurt the Dames not just on the track but on the scoreboard too whenever she was jamming.

The Dames fought back with Hippy scoring 12 points in her jam while Adelaide had a blocker and jammer in the penalty box but then she too got sent to the penalty box. Godjilla found herself in the penalty box for the third time in the first half and I was starting to get worried she'd end up getting expelled from the bout for clocking up too many majors.

But Jilla more than made up for it when she got back on the track and absolutely smashed She-Ra, she was not expecting it all. I almost jumped out of my seat, it's great seeing one of your skating idols at their best. Although I hope she hasn't got a thing for opposition players wearing the number 33 because she also hammered Moe Skeeto who wears 33. 33 is my derby number so now I'm a little worried!

The first half ended 63 - 51 to the Adeladies. This bout was absolutely crazy, the jams were played at break neck speed with the blockers skating at a pace you'd expect from jammers. There were hits galore but there was also lots of trips to the penalty box for both sides, one of the more common majors was for cutting the track.

Half time was quite funny and cute. There was a KISS tribute type band performing for the crowd. To my left and the row in front of me there were a few kids who stuck their program out to any skater who went past in the hope of getting an autograph. It just reminds me of Whip It. It's cool to see kids wanting to get skaters autographs. I have to mention Adelaide's Vaderella. I've read and heard about her but never got to see her bout. I know she's a big deal in Aussie roller derby circles and when it was half time she joined in and danced around but when it came to her players warming up before the second half she was all business, getting them to do various drills. I didn't speak to her but there's an air about her that demands respect.

The start to the second half was all Newcastle, starting with Godjilla who smacked out Kit Cat and allowed Babycakes to score a 3 - 2 jam. The Dames went with the tactic of trying to score quick, fast jams to cut back the deficit and it worked with Babycakes, DangeRass, Brigand Strong and Hippy all scoring quick points which allowed the Dames to the hit the lead again 78 - 76.

Hippy was getting nice and low and weaving through the pack with her great agility. For me the unsung hero for Newcastle was Dino La Rouge, she was playing like a pivot at the front of the pack and more often than not stopped the Adelaide jammers from getting through. Despite Vaderella calling a time out to try and stop Newcastle's momentum, the Dames were still scoring points with DangeRass scoring a 12 - 0 jam and taking the score out to 103 - 76. By this stage there was no full compliment of blockers and jammers for the jams as both sides kept getting players sent to the penalty box. Both sides looked knackered from the physical encounter, my throat was getting sore from cheering and screaming. 

The bout then turned on its head again. I'm believing that the Dames are going to go on and win it but then the trips to the penalty box started costing them. Adelaide started clawing back with the score going 116 - 102, 116 - 111, 119 - 111, then with 45 seconds left this is the score

Number 298 and Kit Cat are pulling off a miracle and bring Adelaide back into the bout. The crowd is almost in a frenzy and the tension in the air is so thick you can't breathe. It's down to the last jam, both sides have a blocker in the bin when Babycakes lines up for the Dames and Tricksy Belt'em lines up for Adelaide. Babycakes gets lead jammer and gets past a few Adelaide blockers and calls off the jam. We're all celebrating thinking the Dames won when Mal the commentator tells us to hang on because there's some Newcastle players in the penalty box so ghost points apply. Vaderella is holding three fingers up to indicate three points for Adelaide with a smile on her face. After an official time out to check the scoring it's announced by Major Puddles that Adelaide won 122 - 121. It's pandemonium by this stage some people don't know what's going on, some are just stunned that Newcastle went from winning the bout to losing it by a point, and the Adelaide supporters are celebrating like crazy!

That was the most intense and nerve wracking bout I've ever been to, I was completely stuffed by the end of it and I didn't even bout. I can't even imagine how the players felt by the end of it. Watching bouts like these makes me even more determined to get out there. These are the kind of night's I think most derby folk dream about. I caught up with Cass and some of my friend's from WSR at the end of the bout and we all had pretty much the same reaction. I won't be forgetting this night anytime soon. The Dames more than held their own and the Adeladies were absolutely amazing. I'll definately be keeping a look out for them.

I saw the cutest thing just before I left. There was a little girl who was getting autographs from players then she went up to Godjilla and got so shy she almost cried. Jilla went on her knees and gave her an autograph. Don't worry kiddo I know where you're coming from, I wasn't much better when I met Jilla for the first time last month :D

Wobble, wobble :)

Hello all, I know it has been a while since my last regular write up. Time has not been my friend lately plus my never ending injury hasn't helped. I'm back on my skates in fact I've come from training and currently have both my right knee and right arse cheek with ice packs on them after I stacked it on my arse when my wheel got stuck on the track while attempting to do a snow plough. Derby is tough but I've long since discovered that you need to be even tougher if you want to succeed in the sport.

As for this never ending ankle injury saga, I finally had enough and booked an appointment with the physio. According to her my skating technique was causing the tendon that runs from my right foot and up 3/4 of my leg to get fatigued and causing me a shit load of pain only when I was skating. She gave me some strengthening exercises to do on the wobble board and how to strap my ankle and leg before training. I also have the problem that my ankles roll out so I'm putting extra pressure on them. I'm sure when I upgrade my skates to the 122 boot it'll support my ankles a lot better so that'll help too. On Friday Cheya pointed out that I skated with my knees pointed in and that was probably causing the problems. So when we had our freshie hour at training tonight I focussed on skating with my knees pointed out slightly and would you believe it the pain in my tendon stopped. I was so over the moon, I really hope this is the end of this long running injury drama. I hate being restricted, I just want to be able to skate and train like everyone else.

I don't know why but I'm getting good feedback about my blog. My blog tends to follow this pattern - got injured again, blah, blah, I'm pissed off about this latest injury, blah, blah, I'm pissed off I suck at derby and I'm not progressing like everyone else and repeat. It's not like I'm writing about knocking Cherry on her arse at training with an awesome can opener or killing it in scrimmage, all the fun stuff I wish I was able to do by this stage. People seem to like it and it has ended up presenting writing opportunities for me that I never expected. First up I did the review for last weeks Fort Smashley vs Harbour Hellcats bout for Roller Derby Au and for me the biggest praise was finding out that Suzy Pow linked it on the NRDL members page for people to read. Next up Cherry has asked me to do a write up on our league and to update it in the future as more things happen, she's trusted me enough to give me free reign on it which is a massive complement. Roller Derby Au have asked me to do the review for the Smashleys vs Hellcats season decider next month PLUS they're letting me do the reviews for H*A*R*D's bouts starting from next year until I'm finally good enough to be bouting myself. I still can't believe it all. After doing the review for RDAU I discovered I enjoyed doing reviews so I've decided to do bout reviews on my own blog. They won't be formal as the first one I did. I've got the Newcastle vs Adeladies bout to write up and I'll also be doing one for the ERRD finals next week for both bouts. I actually had Dicey ask me at training tonight if I had done the review yet for the Newy vs Adelaide bout, it's always nice to hear that people like your work and want to read it.  

Training wise, I'm not too worried about the things I still suck at like walking on toe stops, all my attention is focussed on next Sunday's Corporal aka white star test and giving myself the best chance of passing it once and for all. Ever since I discovered the date of the test I've been making the most of freshie hour on Sunday night training to work on the things I'm struggling with. I don't think I'll pass this time round but I think I've made some improvements from my first attempt a few months ago. Tonight I improved in my attempts at doing a crossover. Over the last couple of weeks I've finally managed to skate around the bends on my left foot which will definately help with the crossovers. Tonight during endurance Cherry was telling us to turn our bodies into the bends while attempting to do the crossovers, I tried it and I swear it helped. I'm at the stage where my technique is getting better but it's JUST not enough to make it a complete crossover. For the first time since I started derby training I'm starting to believe that I can do a crossover. These last two weeks I'm starting to notice some improvements overall in my skating but I think it may have come too late for next week's test but I'll give it my all anyway.

In my desperation to learn how to do a crossover before my test, I'm making an emergency trip up to Newcastle to skate with the NRDL social skating group next Saturday. Cass and some of her team mates are going to show me crossover drills that worked for them, apparently one of them is from Godjilla so that's pretty cool! I'm looking forward to working with them and meeting even more like minded derby folk.

Speaking about Cherry and Jilla, I remember when I read their responses from the interview I did with them that I have something in common with them. With Cherry I'm struggling with crossovers and learning new skills like she did when she started, with Jilla I have the same problem of having to pull my finger out when it comes to fitness. Why the hell couldn't I get their better traits haha Ohh and roller derby gods if you're listening could you please somehow organise a co-training session with these two awesome coaches when I'm at scrimmage level so I could learn from the both of them, it'll make up for all the tears and injuries I've endured so far :D

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fort Smashley vs Harbour Hellcats review - the director's cut :P

Roller Derby Au asked me to do a review for the Fort Smashleys vs Harbour Hellcats bout last Saturday. I was a little apprehensive at first because it's a bit different writing a laid back blog that a couple of people read compared to a more professional site that's read nationwide. I said yes in the end and I'm glad I did because I really enjoyed doing it. Here's the final version. I'm a self confessed Fort Smashleys fan but I tried to make it as un-bias as possible.

Of course there were other things that happened that night that I couldn't really put on the proper review so I thought I'd put it all here instead.

After my own league NRDL has become my next favourite league. I think it comes down to that whenever I've seen them bout I'm always reminded of Whip It. They play at a high level but they also look like they're having so much fun at the same time and it rubs off on the crowd. To me that's what derby is all about. They've also got their fair share of characters in there like The Cramp. Not just that I've also met a few nice people off skates there too.

There were two people I wanted to meet at the bout. The first person was Cass aka Apocalypse Pwnie. She messaged me out the blue a few weeks ago telling me she could relate with the struggles of progressing in derby and she read my blog. We ran into each other at half time and had a chat. She's ace, she really is derby personified - doing NSO duties, getting her skates checked out at half time and down to what she was wearing, she's 100% derby :) I even managed to get a photo with her.

Ness was running around meeting her favourite skaters from the Hellcats and getting them to sign her shirt at half time. She managed to get The Cramp, Suzy Pow, Booga and Heartless Desire so she was pretty happy after that especially since the Hellcats were leading on the scoreboard at half time.

As if the half time break wasn't already action packed enough, so who do I run into while I'm lining up to buy a drink none other than Godjilla! After last months shocker of an intro when I was too shy and starstruck to even say hello, I did what I should have done last month and introduced myself, told her I was a big fan and shook her hand. She asked me what my derby name was and I think she sounded impressed.

At the end of the bout which the mighty Fort Smashleys won I was chatting to Cass, had Jilla hook me with Belt'er Goodrem to ask her a few questions for the review I did, then I waited to ask Jilla if I could have a photo taken with her but then something completely unexpected happen. I had a girl come up to me and ask me if I wrote that blog, I told her I did write a blog and then she told me she was a fan. I swear to you never in a million years did I expect a complete stranger to come up to me and tell me they liked my blog. It took me a second to get over the surprise. I discovered she was Cahlee AKA Beth LeHell and was the NRDL equivalent of me! So there's more of us out there who don't pick up derby as quick as everyone else. She was cool to talk to. I'll get to skate with her and the others in the NRDL social skate group on the 8/10 which I'm looking forward to.    

To top the night off I caught up with Jilla and got a photo with her :D I was proud of myself, I actually acted normal in front of her this time around. I can be around my skating idols without going too fangirly hehe. It was such an amazing night, I had the best time. Mon, Lauren and I are heading up to watch the Newcastle vs Adelaide bout on Saturday night so I thought I'd do a little review on my blog, nothing proper like the one I did for Roller Derby AU.

I'll leave you with this...