Personally speaking derby training on Sunday was pretty epic. I'm still grinning like an idiot just thinking about it :D
Blood Red Penny took us through training that night and got us to do various drills. One of them was walking around the track on our toe stops. This was my first attempt at doing them away from any walls to support me if I stumbled. Going ever so slowly I was managing to walk on my toe stops on the track without any support but I eventually stuffed up when I tried walking faster. Everyone else had pretty much managed to get around the track by the time I got around a 1/4 of the track. I got to the line that Red had set me to get to and joined the rest of the group feeling like the special kid in school as they all watched haha but stuff it I'm making progress and catching up on lost time which is what my goal is.
We ended up working on crab skating which got a laugh from me because I attempted crab skating for the first time on Friday night while holding onto the rail at Skatel but I could not get my back leg to generate any speed no matter how hard I tried. This time around I was attempting to do it while skating. I had a few attempts while skating round the track and sucked all three times but I was still happy that I even attempted to do it.
Then came THE moment. Cheya said we were doing scrimmage based exercises since we didn't have enough players to have a jammer for each side so we'd have to alternate. I asked sheepishly if I could join in and she said yes that I almost gave her a massive bear hug that I probably would have crushed her :D To me it made absolutely no difference that we were had to alternate jammers that it wasn't a 'proper' scrimmage this was going to my first ever scrimmage, no one was going to take that away from me. Full credit for the title of this post goes to my team mate Apple Ya'hair who came up with the 'I can't believe it's not scrimmage' phrase when we were told it wasn't a full scrimmage. One year of waiting finally led to this moment, I was so excited that I almost stacked it and I was smiling so much that I was worried I might break my jaw hehe. Baley was also participating in her first scrimmage too which was great to experience with her even though we were on opposite teams. As we were getting ready to line up I was on the opposite team to Matron and she started with the trash talking so I gave it back to her. Yep I wasn't so shy anymore once I stepped on that track! Our side even talked about tactics before the first jam, could it possibly get anymore exciting before the first jam even started?
The second the first whistle starts everything changed. The atmosphere completely electrified and my heart was in my throat. I was trying to do my job at the front of the pack on the inside line and keep a wall while trying to stop the opposition from getting through while trying to avoid getting clipped by other skates. Until you scrimmage you really can't imagine what it's like. The constant turning around (this sport really is played 360°) to see where everyone is and what plays are being executed behind and around you. I made sure I was low as possible for all the jams I was in to avoid being taken out by a hit and boy did I feel it in my legs the next day. Since I spent a large chunk of last year on the sidelines I had very minimal scrimmage/hitting training (read - virtually none apart from the cat and mouse games with Cherry and one session of hitting practise while stationary) so I didn't try and force my way through the pack that much in case I unnecessarily injured any team mates, instead when I saw any gaps I went straight through them.
I tried getting in the way as much as possible but sticking my arse out or leaning into the opposition players and I managed to push a couple off the track. Of course there were stacks. I had three but I can't remember one of them. My first one happened when Baley stacked it in front of me and I tried lifting my left leg out of the way to avoid her but I couldn't do it in time and stacked it. I remember my left ankle bending like I was Gumby as I fell and thought 'ohh shit this isn't good' but I felt no pain even as I landed on my arse but I got up as quickly as I could and continued on my way. The other stack I remember was when Jodie tried getting through our wall and all I remember is she pushed past me on her way through that I somehow did a 180° turn and smacked the ground. I didn't feel any pain and got up right away. It must have been a decent stack because a few people quickly asked me if I was OK and it wasn't until I started skating that my right boob started hurting I must have landed on it when I stacked it. Needless to say when the jam ended I decided there and then to invest in turtle shell bras at the first chance I got, something tells me they'll be excellent investments! It helped a lot having experienced team mates like Apple and Hurt direct me and tell me what to do during a jam. I had no problems being vocal by yelling out where the opposition jammer was, poor Mon copped it right in the left ear when I started yelling out 'OUTSIDE, OUTSIDE' to try and stop the jammer from getting through. I've got no problem being vocal on the track but get me off the track and you'll be lucky to get a word out of me! I just remember that it felt like my senses were heightened that my skin was almost tingling while I was scrimmaging, there is so much stuff going on that everything you do needs to be by instinct because if you take too long to think about something it could cost your team points or throw strategies out the window. Ohh and when you fall you really have to bust a gut to catch up, not only that a two minute scrimmage feels like forever haha! There's so much I need to learn but I've had the taste of scrimmage now that I'll do everything in my power to experience it again and i'll continue to work my arse off to be a better skater and player in a pack.
I feel as though I'm finally enjoying skating. Last year I had injury clouds and fear of picking up injuries that I was often scared to push and try new skills. Having that break over Christmas, going to Skatel and making some changes in my private life have all played a part in how I've approached this year with derby. I let my ankles heal and worked on strengthening them and it's paying off. I still have some soreness which is normal but I'm not nursing any injuries for the first time in a year that I'm finally able to just concentrate on skating and finally pushing myself to learn new skills instead of managing injuries and I swear it's one of the most amazing feelings I've had with derby. I would have killed to have had this feeling at least once last year when I was really struggling with injuries, not progressing and often in tears (which is pretty big for me since I hardly ever cry). Now that I'm finally in a happy place with derby it's also reflecting outside of derby as I have people telling me that I look a lot happier nowadays. I want this feeling to last as long as possible.