I thought I'd open up with some good news, we've gotten a new member in our league. Leah has come over from WSR and I was really excited by this news because when I first started derby last year with WSR Leah was one of the first people I met. She's a lovely person and I kept in contact with her when I switched over to HARD. Leah also bouted last year so we're getting more experience come into our ranks which is always great to have. Hopefully you enjoy your time here with us Leah and welcome to HARD :D
Yesterday was my first proper training session since I injured the ligaments in my right knee over a month ago. To say I was completely knackered by the end of it would be an understatement but at least I know I gave it everything I had. We started off with a 20 minute endurance and the aim was to skate 80 laps in 20 minutes. I wanted to see how close I could get to the mark but my legs really started to tire out and the best I could do was 65 laps. That gives me a starting point so the goal is to improve on that next time. Jacqui absolutely smashed it and got 95 laps, well done mate :)
After getting our breath back it was onto manouvering a carve in between Poz and Cherry who were stationary and then quickly going into a snowplough all while making sure we didn't go out of bounds off the track. I stuffed up a few times but I was carving on my favourite side and managed to pull off a few decent ones. We then switched to have moving targets with Cheya and Cherry. It was so much easier to do when the targets were skating and I'm pretty sure I did it correctly. The funny thing was this was the first time I've carved Cherry every other time whether it be Skatel or training she's done it to me. My problem was that I was afraid I wasn't going to come in correctly and that I'd end up clipping the other person's skates and go splat on the ground. This time though I wasn't even scared and just went for it each time and would you believe it I made contact with Cherry (nothing that would knock her over) each time I carved her and the contact didn't threaten to make me stack it. Each time I did it correctly and then skated around to do the drill again I did a little fist pump and broke out a grin because I was doing the drill correctly :) After the endurance though I felt as though I was going to hurl and that feeling came back so when we had to do the drill carving from the opposite leg I went to the side and held onto the goalpost trying to stop myself from hurling and it worked. I wasn't ready for the night to end yet.
We moved onto trying to push a wall of blockers out the way to create a gap for your imaginary jammer to get through. When it came to me doing the pushing I locked myself into the right position on the first blocker in the wall and just pushed. My problem is whenever I do these kind of exercises I get too excited and keep pushing until they're well off the track which you can't do in a bout otherwise you'll get penalised. When it came to me being part of the wall that was supposed to get pushed out of the way my other problem came to surface. When it comes to me being on the receiving end of a hit I can't just be a sitting duck otherwise I'll go flying from the impact so I always put up some resistance the only problem is that it's as subtle as a sledgehammer so most times I'm usually pushing the person hitting me more than they're pushing me, oops! So basically whenever I was on the inside line I'd push back so the person in the middle would get sandwiched.
Poor Candy had to try and get passed our wall of three which consisted of Lauren, Jacqui and I and she had absolutely no luck through our wall we held strong. Hopefully we'll get the chance to replicate that in a bout situation. When I came up against Cherry I started pushing against her but I didn't get my foot in front of her (a common problem I have) so she got in front of me and was able to push me off. I did get an almighty massive complement from her she did tell me about getting my foot in front but that I had strength. Coming from someone who knocks people over like bowling pins on the derby track for fun it left me grinning like an idiot again :)
We were doing scrimmage based exercises with everyone having a go at pivot and jammer at least once. Cherry put me in the opposite team to her because she knew I'd enjoy coming against her, she knows me too well haha. My legs were gone by this stage it felt as though someone was physically holding them back so it was harder to skate. Keiryn and I were discussing strategies which I absolutely loved even though I was mostly listening. We started off minimal amount of blockers and worked our way up with more blockers as the night progressed which was good because it meant we could change tactics as required. A few things I noticed especially when I'm covering the inside line and going around the bend I often get caught out because I drift too far in and leave a gap for them to get passed me on the inside line. Next thing I noticed even when I was playing pivot some of it may have had to do with tiredness but I would drift to the back of the pack and play the sweeper role, I think that's the fullback in me from all the soccer I played coming out also. I can't really unlock a wall or be more attacking in a pack I find getting in way and being more defensive a lot easier which is another reason I enjoy playing at the back of the pack. Also when I'm at the back I find it easier to read the pack and direct my blockers or yell out where the opposing jammer is. I did have a moment where I was at the back of the pack when Cherry was jamming instead of thinking OMG OMG fangirl moment Cherry is coming towards me instead I got down even lower and thought I'm going to try and stop you getting through. One time I stepped in front of her and she went straight into the back of me, it certainly didn't tickle haha. I did love the challenge of trying to stop her.
I know I'm never going to be a derby superstar and I never joined the sport under those pretences. My goal instead is to be the Dirk Kuyt of HARD (he's a Liverpool player read and watch up on him) not the most technically gifted player, but a dependable workhorse type of player who pops up for the important moments when required. I feel as though I'm progressing. I still have a LONG way to go to see whether or not I'll make the grade in time for our first intraleague bout in May/June. One thing I do know is I'm going to give it my all and not be left wondering whether I could have done more.