As I was getting geared up for my first training session of the year I was doing some thinking. I was heading into my third year of derby involvement and coming off another year of almost constant injury setbacks. Sure it's easy to say the obligatory 'this year will be different' only to have history repeat itself and nothing really changes. Yes, I was coming off another injury, not as serious as some of my previous ones but something did genuinely feel different about this time. I've done a lot of work away from the track with the physio and also trying to get my head right because I know a lot of my injuries have been mentally based where I've been so scared about getting injured again that the tension and holding back has led to yet another injury.
Another major obstacle I've attempted to address is my self controlling issues. Over the years I've held myself back and not really let loose with most things, derby included. While I've thought I've put everything I could have put into derby, truth is I probably haven't. I know I've let fear take over so many times in the past that there's probably more things I could be capable of instead of constantly telling myself I can't do something because I didn't back myself enough. This year I still intend to work as hard as possible and also push myself out of my comfort zone a lot more. Sure there's a chance I'll probably be stacking it a lot more than I have previously but I'll know it's because I haven't held back and put everything I can into what I'm doing. I'll just get back on my skates and carry on.
Agility work was the name of the game for Friday's training session. Something that I've really struggled with in the past. I move like I've got concrete shoes on. There was some hair raising moments trying to basically do a ballerina turn round a wall to try and get past them and then sprint away from the wall which leads us to another area I've sucked with in the past - jamming. I gave it all a crack and while my turning speed was as fast as a turtle I did it. Life isn't a Hollywood movie so just because I found this new way of thinking and approaching training more positively it didn't automatically mean that I would be amazing at all these skills like magic. Nope the answer is good ol' fashioned hard work and extra practise in my own time to try and make this come more naturally to me.
During the drills I quickly noticed how much my team mates like Shorely Tremble and Butter Scream have improved. For the life of me I could not get past them when I played jammer. I was made up for them, it's always nice to see your team mates improve it forces you to lift your own game up. Try as I might I could not get past the walls when I jammed but I was having so much fun in the process trying whatever I could do to get through or around them. When I got to block in one drill I was slow off the mark so I was playing catch up against Apple who was jamming, she was almost past Shorely but in a moved ripped from my soccer playing days I came through with cover defense and forced Apple off the field which left me grinning like an idiot :) I was knackered by the end of the night but I was happy with the fact that I'm starting to get lower when I block. It's something I've tried to work on.
Just before I left the house to travel up to Newcastle for Sunday's training session a message got posted on HARD's group page about a benchie assistant position becoming available for our travel team and they were looking for expressions of interest. It certainly caught my attention and right away I was questioning myself whether I could really do it if I got the position? It was something that required serious thinking because while it would be a massive honour to help bench the Camokazis it's also a massive responsibility, not something to be taken lightly. It certainly appeals to the part of me that loves all the strategy side of the game, the chance to improve my own knowledge of the game and trying to keep everyone cool as a cucumber when tensions and adrenaline are running high during a bout. I'm waiting to hear back from our head benchie Poz on some of my questions before I decide whether to throw my name into the hat to be considered for the role. I was touched that some of my team mates suggested I put my name forward for the role and that they had the confidence in me to think I could do this.
Driving up to Newy my mood ranged from excited, to feeling sick with nerves, to feeling ridiculously excited that I probably should have illegally obtained valium from somewhere to calm the fuck down ;) My training has been so stop/start these last few years from injuries that when I have tried blocking I've formed bad habits and techniques that I really wanted to correct. The chance to train with Newy came at a great timeand while I thought I'd get one training session Jilla surprised me and said I could join in on two training sessions. I might not be a member of NRDL but they've treated me like one more than once when really they don't have to. Whether it's getting to train with them on more than one occassion now or all their extra help when I've gone up for social skates, I'll forever be greatful to them. I was there to train and learn as much as I could but I won't lie I was doing cartwheels inside the whole time I was there :) I was also hoping to last longer than the first time I trained with them last year. Bonus points I got to speak to Brig briefly but I didn't get to come up against her on the track.
Jilla was introducing us to latitude, booty/hip check, and positional blocking. All my blocking deficiencies quickly made their appearances like not being able to turn sharply, getting so caught up in the block that I start blocking with my head, not getting my foot in front, the occassional elbow and forearms or I get so caught up in the moment that I keep blocking someone once both of us are over the sideline. Yeah not much to work on at all haha. One thing I do have going for me is that when I'm getting blocked I counteract the hell out of it so that I'm not as easy to push out of the way as when I first started taking contact.
For the latitude blocking I was partnered up with Mindy and we were about the same height which proved to be a good challenge. Like me, she was having trouble getting her foot in and even when she did she was having trouble pushing me out. Jilla who was watching everyone practise stepped in to show Mindy about getting her foot in front by blocking me. I know you're all thinking I must have gone all fangirly because Jilla was going to block me. I won't lie I grinned like an idiot for a couple of seconds but then got down as low as I could in the derby stance ready to give as good as I got. It was a nice solid block from Jilla like a brick wall on wheels but I stayed on my feet. She came at me again, our wheels clipped, I stayed on my feet but she fell but that really doesn't count as me knocking her down on the track :)
I was learning a lot, I realised I had the wrong definition when it came to positional blocking so learning proper positional blocking was new to me, things like changing my approach when I do latitude blocking because of how the tripping penalties get called now. We had a laugh when funny stuff happened but everyone was so focussed when it was time to train that I was getting more out of the training session because there was no time wasting. I loved that. When we were partnering up for hip check/booty blocking I saw Danger by herself and joined her. I could have gone for an 'easier' option but I really wanted to test myself and it's not every day you get to train with a Dockyard Dame. Danger had her game face on and by the end of it both of my sides were really tender. Danger's a tough cookie, I loved coming up against her, she made me work my arse off.
The training session ended with a couple of games of blood and thunder or queen of the rink as my guys call it. In the past I've shitted myself when I've played. Now I love it, having to be on constant alert not just by skaters coming from behind to try and take you out but the skaters lying all over the track who have been taken out of the game. I tried blocking a few people, some tried blocking me none of took the other out so we kept skating. Danger was lining me up ready to take me out on the outside line. I got down as low as i could to try and counteract her. We smashed into each other, Danger fell, I straddled the outside line then tried to balance on one skate so that I would stay inside the track and kept skating. I was completely shocked that Danger fell. I'm not known for taking down skaters, I'm more the push them out the way kinda blocker. I couldn't tell you how I did it, it was probably dumb luck more than anything. Danger got hurt which I felt bad about but she pulled up ok afterwards. Seriously I'm a guest of their league and I'm breaking their skaters, a great way to get yourself welcomed back in the future...not. Bermuda had her eyes on me and she was lining me up but I saw Glitter coming behind on my left side with eyes for Bermuda. So I played smartly and stepped out of the way at the second so that Bermuda who got completely blindsided got absolutely nailed by Glitter and starfished to the floor. Time ran out and I was one of the last four still standing on the track. I've never lasted until the end before, woohoo!
Before I got too excited the second round started. I thought I'd be a kamokazi and try and take on Jilla even though it would guarantee certain stacking on my part. I was trying to search her out only to realise she was already taken out as I got closer to her. Since I wasn't paying attention to my surroundings I didn't notice Cass until it was too late, she came around on my inside, I got down too late so she was forcing me off the track. Don't let Cass' height deceive you although I couldn't get low enough to move her she's not easy to move, she's pretty sturdy. Try as I might I couldn't shift her and I then found myself trying to avoid Jilla who sitting down on the floor. I got caught in two minds that it didn't take much for Cass to force me off the track and me narrowly avoiding Jilla. It was great fun!
Earlier in the week I asked Jilla if she could backwards block me after training. What the hell was I thinking, this is the same Jilla who was left destruction in her wake with this block refer to exhibit's A and B (thanks to the wonderful Nav Man for letting me use his pics)
So why would I risk broken bones for something so crazy? The answer is simple. I've spent the last few year's sitting on the sidelines nursing one injury after another that I've hardly ever participated. I really didn't care if I ended up like Bacardi Bruiser in the pic above I just wanted to have a crack. Some of my team mates thought I get so caught up in the fact that it was Jilla and go all shy but I knew I wouldn't. When I step over that line my competitive side that I've had since I started playing sports as a kid comes out. I don't get intimidated by Cherry at training in fact I somehow found some extra grit from somewhere and give her everything I've got so I knew it would be the same with Jilla and the same would go for Brig if I ever come up against her. Cass told me not to look into Jilla's eyes when she backwards blocks me. I've seen people intimidated by Jilla in bouts whereas I'm weird and thrive on the challenge and don't get scared or intimidated by her even though I've got the upmost respect for her. I had a few cracks at Jilla and I made virtually no impact against her. I got my positioning all wrong and blocked with my head tsk tsk. I realised how much effort is required to counteract a backwards block and how quickly it can tire you out. Jilla gave me some tips and picked up a few things myself but I managed to stay on my feet the whole time so I classify that as a small win hehe
I know this training arrangement of training with both HARD and NRDL is only a temporary arrangement and it ends this week but I really am living the dream. I can't wait to go and give it all, learn more and surprise myself in the process again this week.