Monday, December 19, 2011

All I want for Christmas...

I've found that while being off skates injured I would often have images in my head of how I imagined I'd be back on skates and it served as motivation but once I put my skates back on reality quickly shattered all those illusions. Injuries suck, trying to get back to the level you were at before the injury sucks just as much. This year has felt as though that all I've been doing is playing catch up to everyone else. I know it's not a race and that everyone develops at their own pace but there's times where I've felt that no matter how much I work my arse off to get back to where I need to be another injury pops up and I'm stuck in the same spot again. Then I have the problem of being over eager to try things beyond my level because I'm so desperate to train with everyone else even though I *know* it's beyond my current level and I get the shit's with myself and all those injuries I've had because it's stopping me from training with them. I'm starting to think that maybe it's a good time that we finished up for the year because the last couple of week's I've been so frustrated with derby that I've started becoming quite angry and that's not cool. There's times where I love and hate roller derby in equal measure.

One thing I have come to enjoy in a twisted way is endurance, even more so coming back from injury. For me there's no better way of testing your mental strength on the track. The more laps you do, the more you hurt and the more your head is screaming for you to stop that it makes it easy to want to stop but the only thing I'm trying to think is 'don't stop, just keep putting one skate in front of the other'. Once it's over and you get your breath back it's hard to not to think hell yeah I just did that :) When we were doing the endurance on Friday night in packs, I was starting to struggle a bit to keep up, my legs felt completely fucked and I couldn't keep the correct derby stance. All I could think was that if this was a bout I couldn't let my team mates down and do a lay down Sally by going off the track so I put my head down and although it didn't look pretty I kept skating and you know what I completed the endurance drill with my pack :)

Fangirl hat off for a moment, I had a pretty good chat with Cherry on Friday night. I got some tips from her on how to improve my skating technique to stop getting such a sharp pain down the side of my right leg. It was pretty cool to see that we shared similar thoughts on roller derby and the more I chat to her the more that I realise that she's probably one of the few people who really gets the struggles I'm going through with derby. She's testament that if you want it bad enough and you're willing to work hard for it you could achieve your derby goals despite all the setbacks along the way. How could you not be inspired by that?

While I was pondering over what to do with my blog I got a message from RDAU asking me on whether I was interested in doing a regular post on their website, kind of along the lines with what I do on my blog ie: thoughts, opinions and bout recaps. I thought about it and said yes, so I've basically gone from almost packing it all in to having two different writing projects in the space of a week, it's funny how life sometimes turns out :) My blog will still be my up's and down's with derby but now I've also got a chance to write to a bigger audience on all things derby which is a little daunting especially writing about derby issues to people who have bouted for ages and I haven't even scrimmaged yet. One thing I will be changing for RDAU are my bout reviews. I haven't liked the ones I've done so far for them because by trying to make them sound more professional than my blog they may have been more detailed but they were also pretty boring (in my eyes). Funnily enough the first bout review I did on my own blog got me the most attention and positive feedback, Newy and Adelaide actually linked it on their own pages. So next year my reviews will hopefully go along this sort of format - fun, factual, a little less formal and hopefully with the feeling that you were actually at the bout.

Since Christmas is the season of giving I thought I'd give you guys a laugh. I often get asked where I learnt how to write. No writing courses or anything formal, it was from a prank that went too well and ended up biting me on the arse :D Back when I was in high school and Dawson's Creek was all the rage I wrote a fake spoiler/synopsis for upcoming episodes of the show. It was about 2 1/2 pages long and I told one of my friend's that I got it from a website. She read it and loved it and started passing it around to other people in my grade and it started catching on so I was left with having to continue on with them. This went on for a few weeks but I wasn't getting my homework done on the weekend's because I was too busy writing these fake episodes. I eventually confessed that they were fake and the reactions ranged from not believing me to actually being disappointed that they weren't real haha. So there you have it :)

So my new skates arrived last week thanks to Suzie at Sydney Derby Skates :) It's the Riedell 122's with Reactor plates and my current wheels. They may not be the flashiest boots like the 265's but out of all the skates I tried from my team mates they felt the best for my shitty ankles so that's good enough for me. I love derby but I LOVE Liverpool so I customised my skates as much as I could to make them Liverpool inspired from the laces to the toe guards to the red astro nuts so it was nice to combine my two loves as much as possible. I tried them out on Sunday and after a lot of fine tuning (thanks to Mon who was my mechanic for the day!) and taking them for test skates I finally got them to a setting I was comfortable with and just skated with them until it felt like I've been skating on them for ages. The plates are a lot more responsive and I noticed a big difference when I did some carving and weaving on Sunday, it was so much easier to do both. These skates and I are going to clock up a few km's together next year on the track!

Yesterday was our final training session for the year and we're supposed to be going back on the 6th January so in the mean time I've planned a pre-season for myself involving both on and off skates work so that I can build up some momentum and hit the ground running by the time we start up training again. It also gives me a chance to bed in my new skates so Skatel, the gym and the outdoors will become my next best friend's.

I had to go for a follow up session with the physio tonight to see how my ankles pulled after resuming skating again and she said there was some tightness in the musles near my left ankle and my right ankle was swollen but she worked her magic and said I wouldn't have to book another appointment with her. She's a lovely lady and helped me get back on skates twice now but I really hope it's a very long time before I have to see her again :) I also showed her my GT-50 skate and my new 122 skate to show her the difference with what I was skating with before and what I changed to. Needless to say she thought the GT-50's were crap in terms on ankle support but she loved the 122's for the extra ankle support.

It has been a strange year for derby and I. I've have more up's from off skate stuff whether it was writing, meeting my favourite skaters, making new friend's, watching bouts etc and apart from passing my Corporal test the majority of down's I've had have been on skates. Call me selfish but I'm hoping for a better year on skates next year, it's just not the same experiencing it from the sidelines.

Lastly, to you, yes you who is reading this post, I hope you have a great Christmas and a cracking new year. No doubt I'll see you at some derby do next year :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Far out I can't put into words what I'm thinking because it's all jumbled so bare with me because this post might be all over the shop.

Like I've mentioned before I used this blog to keep me accountable and not quit if I thought it all got too hard, even if no one read it I KNEW it was on the internet. Safe to say it helped and I've now got derby running through my veins so quitting is no longer an option. Along the way people started reading my blog and telling me they actually liked it which surprised me because the majority of it was about my struggles with injury and trying to pass my Corporal test, it wasn't anything cool like bouting or learning some new skill. Its always made me laugh when I've had team mates or friend's happy that they got mentioned in my blog like it's a badge of honour or something :D I've even been lucky enough to have complete strangers (and ended up forming friendship's with them) come up to me and tell me they like my blog but I still can't figure out how they even came across my blog in the first place since the only place I link my posts is on my Facebook page. I just wanted to say once again a massive thanks to all of you who have read my blog, hopefully it hasn't been too crap :) At the same time the blog has also veered into different directions with me doing a couple of reviews and getting the chance to interview my skating idols.

You'll probably laugh and tell me I'm a bloody idiot but the main reason why I've debated on whether to pull the plug or not on this blog is fear. All the time I've spent off skates due to injury has allowed me to learn more about the sport whether it be hanging around Team White Tiger, doing this blog or writing reviews that I started getting worried that I would be one of those people who would know all the in's and out's of derby but I couldn't make the grade as a skater. With the year I've had on the sidelines I am DESPERATE to get out on the track, work my arse off and prove that I'm worthy of holding a spot down in the team and that I'm not just some permacrock. If that meant being selfish and not doing this blog or any more reviews for RDAU so that I could completely concentrate next year on getting myself where I needed to be on the track then so be it. I also knew that next year training was going to be a LOT tougher and more would be expected of me if I wanted to bout so I'd be spending a large chuck of the year pissed off and frustrated and that wouldn't make for interesting reading and that wasn't including picking up injuries in between which I hope with all my might that it doesn't happen because I think I've picked up enough injuries this year to last me a lifetime. 

This blog has served its purpose for its original intentions and with that there's no real need for me to continue with it. I was gobsmacked with the reaction I got from some of you when I suggested pulling the plug on this blog. I honestly thought this blog would disappear without a murmur, especially since it's not a big blog which I'm happy about because I never did this blog for popularity. I'm also surprised by the reaction I got with my 'controversial' post last night and getting positive feedback even if people didn't fully agree with my thoughts. It's looking less likely that someone will knee cap me on the track for thinking the way I do about the sport. All this also played a part in my decision. I hope you realise that there would be a lot of frustration and whinging in my posts if I continued blogging next year (shut up Cherry I know what you're thinking :P) If you guys are happy about reading that then I'll continue with my blog but I swear to god heaven help anyone who complains about it being too negative because I will personally come over and can open your arse to the floor, don't say I didn't warn you that'll it be shite :)        

Monday, December 12, 2011

Where do we go from here?

Ahh roller derby. It's a sport that brings together people from all walks of life but at the same time often has a negative connotation to the outside world who often think it's just women (predominately butch lesbians - might as well get the stereotype right) putting on skates and smashing the crap out of each other. Personally speaking I still don't know how to effectively hit people on skates and I'm straight and really who cares what one's sexuality is, we're all human and we all love the sport.

From the moment I watched Whip It, to when I watched my first bout, to when I first started training and up until now I've seen and learnt a lot that is the world of roller derby and I haven't even begun to scratch the surface. The more I get involved the more I form an opinion on where I think the sport is heading and where I would like to see it go. Roller Derby literally brings people from all walks of life which I think is a good thing as I'm meeting people with different interests that I probably wouldn't have met if I wasn't doing the sport. It also brings up the challenge of having to deal with a kaleidoscope of opinions and trying to make the sport into something that the majority can agree on. What I'm about to write are my opinions, yeah you may not agree with them and that's cool. There is no right or wrong, it's what you make out of the sport that matters.

I'm one of the majority who first got into derby after watching Whip It. I saw a sport where strategies and tactics reigned supreme, a physical game of chess if you like and it was an advantage to have a big arse - bonus! I saw an actual sport and not a roller disco where everyone got to play dress up's. I'm a tomboy to the extent that it's been over a decade that I've worn either a dress or a skirt so the most I dress up at training is a t-shirt and basketball shorts. When I eventually bout I'll be wearing Skins under my uniform not derby skinz and definately no fishnets, but that's just me. I know derby has the whole 'dress culture' where it's all about expressing yourself and there's nothing wrong with that but it becomes a problem when that part of the derby culture means more to you than putting in the hard yards at training and trying to be the best derby SKATER you can be. I don't believe that the two have to be mutually exclusive, there will always be a place for both especially as long as people continue to customise their skates :)

Ahh the little things, things that don't mean much to me in the grand scheme of things but they could mean a great deal to someone else. We're currently going through picking names and uniforms for our two intraleague teams next year. To be honest I don't really care about all that, I'm more than happy to leave that to those that want to have a say in all that. I'm more concerned about being good enough to get picked for a team and being good enough to be able to bout.

Derby names. A source of constant debate. I often go online to try and read as many derby blogs and articles I can find and I found a perfect one to sum up the name issue. It's from the Derby Life site. The comments below the article covered both sides of the arguement really well. I've come across some clever, witty names and there's others where I thought really? It's another area of derby where people can be as creative as they like, and if you're happy to have your derby name yelled out by a commentator during a bout in front of your family and friend's and it may sound crass or controversial then power to you but you also need to realise that there's other people in the same crowd who might not want to hear it. But, but if they don't like it they shouldn't be going to the bout! Yeah well last I checked none of us get paid to play and without bums on seats and sponsorship it would be hard to continue running a league so perhaps it's something that needs to be considered. The only real issue I have with names are the rape themed ones there's some examples in the article above. I really hate those ones. The guy that went with the name Mr. Ray Pugh gave his reasons behind his choice of name from terms used in the gaming world. I've also seen it used on Liverpool message boards where some posters might say 'We'll rape so and so opposition', sue me but I hate hearing it. We have the term 'skate rape' in derby, I cringe when I hear it and you won't hear me say it but I'm not going to be some sort of derby nun and tell others not to say it, it's their choice.

All this brings me to my next point: public misconception of roller derby. There was a perfect example on Facebook last week when an article appeared from a paper in Queensland titled 'Roller Derby isn't a sport'. Needless to say the guy got bombarded by derby folks around the world. I didn't agree at all with his comments but it highlighted what some people outside of derby think about the sport. Those of us that play the sport know from the hours we put in at training each week and volunteer work in committee's etc in our spare time know that they've got it all wrong but they don't see all that. Maybe there's a way of educating them and help make them see what we see or there might be another option, an option that might not sit well with most derby folk...

Each paragraph has made me sound more boring than the last and this one will probably make me sound like an absolute killjoy but fuck it here goes. I was watching the Derby World Cup that was recently on when I got the chance to and I was struck by how professional it all felt, from the uniforms to the way it all ran, to me that actually represented roller derby as a sport if you were going to show that to someone who was watching derby for the first time. I love the idea of having roller derby as an Olympic sport or even one day being a professional sport. Imagine getting paid to play derby, that would be pretty cool having derby pay your bills. I know, I know I've taken all the fun out of derby, no skateouts, everyone wearing the same outfit, using your own name instead of a derby name like I said killjoy. Yeah but that's completely different to how it started in Texas. It sure is but then what started in Texas is completely different to the original version of roller derby which was an endurance race and you've also got the 70's version which was scripted wrestling style theatrics. The sport is constantly evolving. I feel the sport will continue to change and I wouldn't be surprised if there was a split with those that want to keep derby the way that it currently is and those that want to see the sport in the Olympic Games. I think it would be a good thing because it would probably please more people in the long run and they can pick whichever way they want to go instead of everyone being dragged into a direction they don't want to go. We already have different options with flat-track and banked derby so there's always something for everyone.

At the end of the day just because I prefer the strategies and tactics over what I wear doesn't mean I love the sport any more than someone who likes putting effort into what they wear on the track. I'm just one of the many people who try and play the awesome sport of roller derby to the best of my ability.              

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Is this the end?

Hi folks,

With Christmas just around the corner and me being focussed on getting back to the level I was at before my injury, there isn't really much to write about. I was working on a post about my thoughts on roller derby in general and what I think on where the sport is going but it may end up being too controversial for some so I won't post it.

This blog was always intended to keep me on track and not quit the sport if I ever thought it got too hard. Safe to say I'm in too deep now and have no intention of quitting roller derby. I'm currently debating on whether or not to continue with the blog next year. I'll have a think over the Christmas break and make a decision then.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So much awesomeness that I can't even think of a decent title for this post.

What a crazy, action packed week in the world of roller derby. Friday night I strapped on my skates for the first time in two months to test my ankle out, only problem was I psyched myself out so much that I couldn't get my backside off the bench and skate. Given my track record with injuries this year I was worried I'd skate and pick another one up. This last injury I picked up the same week I finally fixed my right ankle injury hence why I was so nervous this time around. I'm sitting on the bench and who comes my way but Cherry and here I was hoping I wouldn't be noticed that night. Despite my pleas as to why I couldn't skate she ignored them and even took it upon herself to strap my helmet up for me, I felt like such a child! She is extremely persistant and I realised I wasn't going to win so with shaking legs I got up and felt like Bambi, my legs weren't co-operating the way I wanted. I eventually felt more comfortable on skates and picked up on what I needed to work on again. I had another go on Sunday and tried t-stops and snow ploughs also and pulled up ok with no new pain in my ankle.

So it all came down to the physio on Monday night. She worked on my ankle and said it improved even more since my last session and it was good enough to get a clearance letter! YAY!!! She even told me to continue skating during our 'off season' to continue strengthening my ankle. I'm going to hit Skatel again on the weekends and I'll train by myself for the rest of our training sessions for the year getting myself up to the level I need to be so that I can hit the ground running next year and work my way to scrimmaging training and bouting by my birthday next year.

Perhaps I should warn my team mates now that I'm starting to go into 'Liverpool mode' more often when I skate. I've got bit of a Jeckyl and Hyde thing going on. Off skates I'm painfully shy, I struggle to go up to someone and talk to them. When I watch Liverpool play I'm a completely different person, I've hugged complete strangers in the pub when we won the FA Cup, I've almost stacked it over the barrier and onto the field when I was at Anfield when we scored. I even almost got into a fight with male Croatian supporters in Germany during the World Cup in 2006 when Australia played Croatia, my younger brother had to actually calm me down. The funny thing is my parents are from Croatia. I get on skates and I'm not scared of Cherry and getting hit by her in fact I look forward to it and try to give it back to her. I'd probably be the same with GodJilla. I know when I start scrimmaging I'll have no problem communicating in the pack, but get me off skates and I revert back again.

In other kick arse news we learnt the line up's for our intraleague teams next year. I found out I'll be assisting Santina on the bench on the Hellbombs team which is the Army themed team. The funny thing is that my sister is on the other team so I'll be plotting against her haha. Mon is in my team and would you believe so too is Cherry. True story a few night's before they announced the teams I actually had a dream that I somehow saw the team line up's on Facebook and saw I was on the same team as Cherry hehe. I've been spending my time reading the rules and getting as much info as possible on benching. It's going to be a cracking year next year and I can't wait for it to start!

The City vs Coast bouts, far out eh? I was bouncing off the walls by the time I got to the venue. I was so excited and I wasn't even bouting. It was the first time our league hosted a bout, we had help from some of the guys from SRDL and thanks to the excellent work from Sarah the whole thing went off without a hitch. It was cool being able to help set everything up and seeing how it all worked. Considering most of us were doing this for the first time, we all worked together really well and I think it came off pretty well. I got dubbed the Newcastle expert because Jeremy had trouble identifying which Newy players had arrived for the second bout and I was able to point them all out for him right away, maybe it's a sign I go to too many of their bouts ;) I discovered that RDAU wanted me to cover both bouts so it's the first time I've covered a double header. They should be on their site this week. I also discovered it's difficult to be impartial when you're trying to cover a bout featuring skaters from your own league. I think the whole thing went well and I was proud of the guys from HARD who bouted, especially those bouting for the first time. They did us all proud :) I'm going to do a special write up about the day, keep a look out for it :)

On a personal note I lost count of how many times I got lost for words that day. I had Aprilla say hi to me. Lady Quirkinator from Newy told me she liked the review I did on my blog for the Newy vs Adelaide bout. She's on the Fort Smashley side in Newy's intraleague side and I'm bit of a fan of hers so I was grinning on the inside talking to her. I had the Big Kahuna from Viva la derby call me by my derby name and tell me he liked my work and if I wanted he'd be happy to read my write up's on VLD. I also had Noms from VLD tell me she liked reading my blog. I just wow, I get lost for words when anyone comes up to me and says they like what I do and blush like crazy, yeah I'm pathetic :) The only annoying thing was I missed out on interviewing Booga from Newy for the second bout for the review. I struggle with the interview part when it comes to doing the reviews for RDAU because I'm so bloody shy. I also missed out on interviewing her at the last intraleague bout for Newy because I was too shy to go up to her. She's a real character on the track and is a really decent jammer even if she does play for the Harbour Hellcats ;) 

All in all I'd say it was a pretty successful week :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The light at the end of the tunnel

So I've entered the two month stage of being off skates and I'm still feeling pain in my ankle. I went to the physio on Monday and she was actually pushing me to get back on skates! Perhaps I'm being overcautious and paranoid after all the injuries I've picked up this year but I was a bit hesitant to get back on skates while I still felt some pain. She reckons I'll still have that pain for a few months but it shouldn't impact my skating. Shirley ended up giving me a letter to say I could try skating (only) for about an hour this week at training and see her again on Monday to see how my ankle pulls up. If there's no new damage I'll finally get a clearance letter and go back to derby training. Now I'm torn, a part of me can't wait to get back on skates and work my way up again to the level that I was before I got injured but a part of me is shitting bricks about getting back on skates and re-injuring it again. Injuries aren't just physical they're such a head fuck for me anyway. If I get over my fear and manage to skate again I'm going to be sensible about it and spend the rest of the year with the freshies and work on all my falls, stops and endurance again. This year has been a write off for me in terms where I was hoping to be. I want to be firing on all cylinders next year and make next year my year to prove to myself that there's more to me than just writing. I want to be good enough for my league and be an asset and not a hinderance. If I get myself in order by the end of this year I'll be able to push on and work even harder to get to the level that I want to be at next year.

I've had some of my team mates ask me at training how I manage not to go crazy sitting on the sidelines watching the rest of them train. Easy! I occupy myself with stuff to do so that I don't think about it too much. I've been hanging around Team White Tiger and listening to them go through rules and hand signals so that's been fun and helpful. We had Womb Raider come to training on Sunday to take the city team for the city vs coast bout through tactics and strategies before this week's bout which was amazing. I loved learning new tactics and seeing my team mates execute the tactics on the tracks, it was like poetry in motion. I've also been doing the jam timer duties during scrimmage practise, it's nice to have some control over Cherry ;) haha Lastly I've spent the last couple of weeks taking photos at training in the hope that my team mates might pick up on things they're doing correct or might want to work on. Instead I've discovered most of them love having their picture taken and then asking me to upload them on Facebook hehe. Here's some of my favourite pics I've taken.

Yep that's Cherry mid air after Bede's hit haha

There's heaps more pics on my Facebook profile!

There's been such a build up amongst our league for this week's city vs coast bout. Not only will we have members from our league bouting but we're hosting it so it's been a massive learning experience seeing what goes on behind the scenes with putting a bout together. It's been amazing to see my team mates and the guys from MARD push themselves in training and seeing how far they've come. It's going to be a great bout, in fact it's going to be a great night, hurry up already Saturday! I'll be doing the write up for RDAU and possibly HAM but I'm also going to do a special one for our league. No idea where I'll post it but I'll focus it more on my team mates and interview as many of them as possible especially those bouting for the first time. It'll be nice to be able to keep a record of this moment, the first of many for our league :)

Lastly I had a fangirl moment on Saturday night at our H*A*R*D trivia night, Cherry actually came up to me and asked me if I wanted a pic with her so I finally got a pic with her. I've gotten a pic with Jilla, now I've got a pic with Cherry, now all I need is a pic with both of them :)

See you guys on Saturday!