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)