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.

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