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.