The week has arrived, it's testing time this week. If I pass the skills assessment this weekend I'd still need to pass the written test next week to move up to bouting level. I also discovered last weekend while having breakfast with some of my team mates that you can put your name down to be assessed for mor than one level so I could be tested for both intraleague and interleague bouting levels. I thought why not, it would be good to know where I'm at for both levels.
Friday night kicked off the first of five consecutive days of skating and training in the lead up to my test. Butters ran the session. It covered a good mix of drills and skills that would be included in our testing, stuff like transitions, backwards snowploughs, scrimmage related drills.
The game we played at the end of the night was pretty good. We were split into two teams white vs black shirts. One side would randomly draw a name from the other side and they would have to try and force out or knock down that skater during the two minute 'jam'. The skaters on the other side had no idea who was targetting them until they started getting hit once the jam started. It was good because it forced you to pay close attention to your surroundings because you had no idea who was going to target you. I struggled against Matron, once she knew she was my target she hid behind other skaters and it was hard to go back through the pack without getting pulled for direction of gameplay blocking. She got the better of me in that drill!
The last part was fun because both sides picked a name out so not only were they targetting another player they were also being targetted. Funnily enough both Cherry and I picked each other out so that a nice tough battle to end the night! She pushed me off the track a few times. The biggest problem I have coming up against her is not the fact that she's Cherry but once she gets in front of you, it's so bloody difficult to get in front of her because it doesn't matter if you try to get around the inside or outside of her she covers both sides with ease with her carving. The bloody smartarse forces you to take the inside line where she strikes with full effect as her strongest block is coming in from the outside line.
I headed up to Newy social skate on Saturday night to work on some stuff with Cass. Being tall I've often struggled with shorter skaters because I don't get down low enough and often get dominated by them. It proved to be really helpful, we both got the better of each other and while I was blocking Cass I started refining my blocking technique, I started cutting out some of the use of elbows and started making better contact.
I've mentioned Marilyn Tantrum here once before. She's going to be something special on the derby track if she keeps improving the way she is. She's going to strike fear into the heart of opposing skaters with her blocking. I asked her if she got block me as a bit of preperation for my test. It was good because she was forcing me to use agility to try and get past her. Cass was once again great, we worked on a few different things which was all really helpful.
As always the NRDL social skate was a great help. If I keep this up I'll probably get as used to some of their skaters like I am with my fellow HARDies ;) Here's an interesting bit of trivia whenever I've gone up to skate or train with NRDL before a derby assessment I've ended up passing the assessment. I'd laugh if the same thing happens with my Sergeant's exam.
A few of us rocked up to training an hour early on Sunday to work on endurance. There was the option of 20 minutes and 5 minutes depending on which test you were going for. I was a few laps short for both in terms of testing requirements and was knackered by the end of it.
It was another great training session. This weekend quote a few of the bouting skaters turned up to help us bouting hopefuls whether it was making us work hard in drills or offer helpful advice. We had a mini scrimmage going on with both sides evenly split in terms of experienced and non experienced skaters. Personally I was happy with how I went. I thought I was more controlled and getting in opposing skaters way to slow them down withouth having to resort to try and knock them down. When it was my time to play jammer the middle of the pack opened up, Matron started skating backwards and almost came to a complete stop, she was my final obstacle from getting through. I sized her up and charged at her. I completely collected her but I unfortunately used my elbows when I connected with her. The hit revved me up and gave me more confidence for the rest of scrimmage.
Last night I had a pretty massive opportunity and got to fulfill a derby goal in the process. I got to scrimmage with NRDL! I was struck with nerves driving up there that I almost pulled to the side of the road to throw up. The nerves didn't abate when I was on skates and as such it reflected in my performance. There's no point in sugar coating it, I was really shite last night. I'm pretty sure my grandmother probably would have done a better job.
The pace they scrimmage at caught me be surprise because it's a lot faster than what we do at HARD. The whole session felt like a level higher than I was used to so my brain just switched off which left me completely lost on the track. The best I could do was just try and get in the jammer's way if they came behind me or yell out if the opposing jammer was coming up to the back of the pack.
Yep there was a couple of times that I came up against Jilla but because my mind was all over the shop I didn't act all fangirly whatsover, my biggest concern was trying to do the right thing for my team. At the time I didn't even fully appreciate the fact that I was actually scrimmaging against the first derby team I fell in love with.
The drive home was full of self deprecation questioning myself whether I was deluding myself with derby. I wasted such a great opportunity by bottling it etc. I tore myself to shreds. I slept on it and although there was still some disappointment with my terrible showing last night I began to look at the bigger picture. It's so easy to get caught up in the romance of bouting that despite making some decent improvements this year last night demonstrated that I've got a fair way to go to get to bouting level. Last night and Sunday highlighted what I really need to work on. Even if I do pass the Sergeant's test this weekend I won't be putting my hand up to bout in the family and friend's bout because deep down I know I'm not ready. It's a big step from scrimmage drills to scrimmaging to bouting. Regardless of how painful last night's session felt at the time I'm actually glad it happened then and not in my first bout. Sometimes you need a reality check to make sure you stop from getting ahead of yourself. I won't be wallowing in self pity, instead I'll learn from last night and work hard at lifting my game. That dream I've held since October 2010 of bouting against the Dames is alive and well (it might just take a while to happen) ;)