Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Swings and roundabouts

When I close my eyes I can picture the glamour of derby: working as one unit with your team mates and pulling off a great move to stop the opposition, the satisfaction when you hit your opposition in that sweet spot and send them flying, finally being able to do a certain skill that you've struggled with for ages etc Moments that make all the setbacks and failures along the road worthwhile and make you appreciate that moment of derby happiness just that little bit more. Moments that most rational people would say isn't worth the pain and tears, all the strapping you need to do to your knees and ankles just to get out on the track and get through a training session relatively pain free. That's the power of derby, for me anyway and it's what helped me get through the week.

After the training high from the previous week where I discovered I could do things that I previously told myself I couldn't do reality set in as the pain in my right knee returned in full force. I got to training last Friday all strapped up but right away both my ankle and knee were protesting. All the stretching in the world wasn't helping either. The first training drill for the night was weaving through a pace line in pairs and I was partnered up with Cheya. She was holding onto my shorts during the drill so whenever I got too far away from her I was in danger of her pulling my shorts down so that kept me as close to her as possible hehe. The longer the drill went on the more pain I got in my knee and ankle. It got to the point where it felt as though my leg was going to give way so I conceded defeat and got Cherry to take my spot. Try as I might I couldn't get the pain to go down enough to get back and skate so the tears of frustration kicked in. By this stage I didn't care if anyone saw me cry. I'm such a tough derby girl eh? More like cry baby. 

Although the good old thought of 'Fuck this I quit' flashes across my mind when I find myself on the end of another setback, deep down I know I won't quit. I keep going back to a quote from my favourite movie 'Million Dollar Baby' although it's boxing related you could use it for derby 'If there's magic in boxing, it's the magic of fighting battles beyond endurance, beyond cracked ribs, ruptured kidneys and detached retinas. It's the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you.' For all the setbacks I've had, I've had some equally great moments and achievements. I just want that chance to bout with my team mates on a regular basis and an even bigger chance to bout with my team mates against Newcastle.

Unless a doctor tells me on medical advice to quit derby, I'll keep my derby dream alive. I don't want to hang up my skates unless I know I've done everything possible to try and fulfil my derby goals. I've accepted the fact that I'll be going through more setbacks before I progress to the point I'd love to be at. I've stopped counting how much groups of freshies have caught up and overtaken me. I realise I'm probably going to go down in the Guinness records as taking the longest time to get to bouting level and that's just to bout, not to be some sort of superstar.

So fuck you latest setback, you may have brought me to tears temporarily but I'll be back on my skates again trying to create some more moments of derby happiness.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tick, tick and tick

In last week's post I set myself some pretty big goals in regards to getting up to scrimmage level and also going up to train with Newcastle. I got the checklist from our head trainer on what skills I need to demonstrate to move up to scrimmage level to help me focus on what I need to do. Also the chance to train with Newcastle won't come around often so I want to take this opportunity with both hands. I also made the decision not to allow my fear's stop me from moving forward.

Training on Friday night gave me a great chance to test out my newly discovered confidence as Cherry took us through various weaving, pack work and hitting. Things I would usually try to avoid doing. I was getting a lot of help from my awesome team mates whether it was when I was partnered with Dobie when we were weaving through a paceline, Gina helping me out with transistions or getting feedback when I tried to do various hitting exercises, they were all a great help. Not even the tendon in my leg which played up and forced me off the track for a few minutes could put me out of the 'zone'. I was forcing my way through a pack and laying off hits, sure there's room for improvement and I could be more forceful on my way through the pack but I ended up surprising myself but how much I pushed myself and how the fear's of serious injury didn't eventuate when I skated in a close pack or when I fell. It's funny how a bit of confidence and belief can make you take on things you would normally try to run away from. While everyone else was cooling down and de-gearing after training Cherry and I went for a few more laps around the track pushing and hitting each other. Maybe I'm still stuck in a state of awe from what she can do on a derby track but for some reason I tend to lift a gear out of somewhere when I come up against her. Although I'm yet to get the better of her I love coming up against her on the track.

Last Saturday my fellow HARDies bouted against the Blue Mountains league. I put my hand up to bout commentate which I had never done before. To be honest I can't remember much of the bout because I was so focussed on what to commentate on I didn't get the chance to watch the bout as I normally would. I was trying so hard to stay professional and not say anything inappropriate or sound like too much of a fan that I thought I sounded boring. By the second half the conservative approach was wearing thin so I may have slipped in a few inappropriate comments like when Killabee got sent to the penalty box when she was jamming hehe. I have to thank Big Kahuna once again because he was a great help before and during the bout with his tips and advice. I simultaneously grinned and blushed when I introduced myself to the crowd because my team mates gave me a big cheer :) Most people know I pronounce derby the English way instead of the American way that most derby folk do. Things were going ok until my team mates all in unison yelled out DER-BEE one time after I said dar-bee, the cheeky fuckers so of course the next time I said the word the crowd joined in trying to correct me so I replied with 'NO, IT'S DAR-BEE'. I shake my head when I think back to when I first started derby in January 2010 I could barely string together two words to my team mates because I was so shy and here I am bout commentating. It really does amaze me how much of a positive impact derby has had on me. I've done bout write up's for HARD, I've bout commentated for HARD, surely the next step is to represent my league on the derby track? ;)

The feel good factor from Friday night continued on into Sunday's training session. More hitting and pack work. I managed to do a proper can opener for the first time with Gina being on the receiving end. I knew the second I hit her it was RIGHT and it felt awesome! Cherry taught us how to fluidly get around a skater to do a can opener or carve on Friday night and it made sense so I was approaching my hits differently. I reckon I got stuck in a lot more during pack work and laid off more hits at training on Sunday night. During one of the drills Dobie got me with a good hit that made me notice she was there which made me pay more attention. Much love to my team mates who were backing up from the bout the previous night, they looked knackered and some were carrying some knocks but they still turned up to train. Much respect to them all! One of my team mates said after training that I've been smiling a lot more at training lately, I hadn't even noticed. I definately feel as though I've been enjoying training more lately.

I know it's only one weekend but a few things stood out. I need to get lower when it comes to executing a hit, a few times I got into a good position but the hit didn't have enough impact because I hadn't gotten low enough. Another thing was making sure I get my foot forward when I'm attemping a carve, hit etc. I may have been able to use my body strength before but it's not going to work against the big kids now in training. I'm more effective with hitting on one particular side I guess everyone does, it's just a matter of making sure I don't completely neglect my weaker side. I'm not a powerful hitter I tend to ease people out of the way. I had a few good hits but I need to work more on technique and timing and getting more consistency with the hits. Although I had some good progress last week I'm constantly reminded of how much tougher it is fitness and speed wise stepping up to the next level so that keeps my feet firmly on the ground so that I don't get ahead of myself.  

Lastly I was struck by an act of kindness. Cherry and I were chatting one night and I said I was secretly hoping to have a photo with all my favourite skaters in the same shot Cherry, Jilla and Brig at next week's Eastern Region Roller Derby tournament. So sneaky Cherry took it upon herself to get in touch with the other two about organising a photo next weekend. I was touched that she did that for me :D

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Testing, 1,2,3...

I reckon if you could somehow bottle roller derby and sell it you could make a fortune. I was having a pretty shit week outside of derby and leading up until the moment I left the door to go to training I was constantly changing my mind on whether or not to go to training as my mind wasn't really in it. Before the night was over I was so glad I went to training. I think because I was so angry with external influences my mind wasn't consumed by lack of confidence like it usually is when I'm at derby training so the drills we went through weren't fazing me like they usually do. With visions of NRDL's Quirky and her last line of defence running through my head I was actually chasing down jammers to try and stop them SOMETHING I NEVER DO! One of them was Cherry, I had her lined up and was just about to lay a hit on her when she lost her balance and fell. I ended up tripping over her trailing leg. Either way I was chuffed that I even wanted to attempt to hit her and slightly disappointed that it didn't happen even though I more than likely would have just bounced off her :)

Our freshies were going through their test to move up to Corporal level one on Friday night. It's a real eye opener to see how far they've progressed in such a short amount of time. Some passed, some didn't which is what usually happens. I've experienced the crushing low of failing on my first attempt and the highest of high's when I passed the second time around, so I knew how both sets of skaters felt. I was so proud of the guys who didn't pass on Friday back on their skates at training on Sunday, I love the fight in them.
Another weekend, another trip up to Newy for a bout. It would probably be cheaper just moving up there ;) So it was Harbour Hellcats vs WSR's Boutlaws. One was the sworn enemies of the Smashleys and the other was the league I started off with before I switched over to HARD. I'm too much a NRDL fan so I went for the Hellcats but I couldn't bring myself to buy a Hellcats shirt so I wore my Dockyard Dames shirt, hey it's still NRDL related hehe. I won't lie I found it weird cheering on the Hellcats at first but then it dawned on me that there was so many ex-Smashleys in the side that I could call them the orange Smashleys so cheering them on was no problem after that! WSR was very physical right from the get go which I think both the Hellcats and supporters by surprise and allowed them to build a healthy lead. The Hellcats finally found some rhythm and started playing their game as they chipped away at the lead and they hit the lead for the first time just before half time. In the second half it was all Hellcats and they ran out deserved winners.

I met a couple of new people and caught up with some familar faces. One of people I met was Deathrow Doll. It's was the meeting of the Sylv's, she's Sylvie and I'm Sylvia :) My gosh she's so funny, I laughed a lot chatting to her. She was great to chat to, one thing I learnt was she'd be ace to come up against on the track, she wouldn't back down at all but you'd also have a lot of fun too. Here's an important date for your diaries - 17th November - Smashleys vs WSR's Boutlaws, get on it!!!

This Saturday night my HARDies will be bouting against the Blue Mountains league. I reckon it'll be a tightly fought contest. Funny thing is I'll be helping out with the commentating. My team mates got me to have a trial run at scrimmage last Sunday night and I didn't end up enjoying it as much as I thought I would. My problem is that sport gives me an outlet so I get to go crazy and scream a lot but with bout commentating it's different. I've got to make sure I don't swear and don't yell out instructions to skaters on the track. There's nothing wrong with commentating but when it comes to derby and me I don't want the bout experience to feel restrictive. I'll give it a crack on Saturday night and have as much fun as possible! After this Saturday I'll leave bout commentating in the capable hands of Big Kahuna and co :)

In my last post I mentioned the whole lack of confidence playing a part in stopping me from progressing. I don't want it to be a barrier anymore. I would really love to be able to learn the skills needed to progress up to scrimmage level by the end of this year. I have to learn to start trusting myself a bit more and not think that everytime I fall down I'm going to pick up another injury. Knock on wood I've had a pretty good injury free period lately. So while I should remain cautious and continue with strapping my knees and ankles perhaps it's time to stop being so paranoid.

I finally worked up the courage to ask NRDL if I could join in one of their training sessions and Danger said yes :D My reaction was 'OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD I'M GOING TO TRAIN WITH NEWY WOOHOO!!!!!!!...hang on a sec, ohh shit I'm going to be training with Newy' Excitement quickly turned to feeling overwhelmed. Everyone who reads this blog knows how much of a fan I am of those guys and how long I've wanted to train with them. The last thing I want is to feel like a shy, little kid and be in my shell the entire time I'm there because it's not like I'll get too many opportunities to do this. I really want to be able to push myself, learn as much as I can and have a shitload of fun along the way. Regardless of whether I get to do hitting practise with them or not I'll more than likely be grinning like an idiot the entire time I'm there :D 

Monday, September 3, 2012

The C word

Truth be told after Friday night's training session this post was heading down a particular road but then once the weekend was over things changed. The issue is still the same but I'm looking at it differently. It's funny how things can change.

Last Friday night was my first time back to normal training with the big kids and I got struck down with a bad case of loss of confidenceitis. I attempted tomahawks and power slides for the first time that night. My transitions still aren't great so I was doing the tomahawks at geriatric pace while everyone else was blitzing me. I get it everyone progresses at different rates and all the injuries I've sustained since I've started have stunted my development, doesn't mean it still doesn't feel a little shitty about not being able to progress a little more regularily. The other thing I was still struggling with was skating in a close pack. I kept dropping off at the back of the pack and never breaking through the pack at all. All in all a somewhat frustrating first session back and that's how I felt until the next night when I started thinking more about it.

Sunday night was all about working on strategies. With all the bouts I've watched and write up's I've done I can pick plays pretty easily but actually executing them is a whole different story. I had a complete mind blank and kept stuffing up things like the kill line drill even though I could picture the move with my eyes closed. It's easy to see how scrimmage can be so daunting when you first start doing it. I was lost out at sea most of the night but I was pretty pleased about knocking down Matron when she almost got through the pack while she was jamming. Plus I managed to push one of the blockers out of the way enough to create space for Cherry to get through so I'm making progress ever so slowly. 

I know what my problem is. It's confidence or moreso the lack of it. It's not a recent thing, I've had this problem for year's. I know with derby my biggest issues are that when it comes to doing sharp turns, fast stops like transitions, tomahawks, power slides etc all I'm picturing in my head when I'm about to attempt them is broken ankles. That mainly comes down to all the injury problems I've had with my ankles since I've started derby. My other major problem is skating close in a pack or having to force my way through the pack. You can add having to lay a hit on an opposition skater to that category to that too. Giving the size of me you'd think that wouldn't be an issue but the thing is I'm actually a big softy and have been most of my life. I worry about unnecessarily injuring my team mates especially the more experienced ones who are bouting or preparing for a bout because I've picked the wrong time to try and get through, caused a massive pile up etc so I don't attempt to and fall to the back of the pack and don't engage at all.

I've got the larger version of this picture that I won at the auction hanging up on my wall. A picture of Jilla in full flight and the word she selected CONFIDENCE above her head. The whole thing screams confidence. Most people would run the other way or close their eyes and hope for the best if they were confronted with this sight on the track. I know Jilla's skated for most of her life so there's no point in even trying to attempt to compare our situations but what I wouldn't do to be able to take the track with confidence instead of cowering at the back of the pack. 

It says it all when the likes of Jacqui and Cherry seem to have more belief in me than I do.
The problem is clearly psychological. Do I see a sports psychologist or get my team mates to knock this stupidity out of me? Either way I need to address the issue otherwise I'll continue to be stuck in no man's land that is between freshie and scrimmage levels.

While mulling over things on the weekend I realised that although it's a drop in the ocean compared to most people I have improved in derby but I know there's a LONG way to go before I can realistically start thinking of bouting against say my dream team NRDL. You only have to read the posts when I first started this blog. Upgrading my skates helped a lot too, along with the Rocktape I use to strap my knees and ankles I've managed to cut out my knee and ankle injuries. If any further proof was required it's in the video below. Cherry recorded it at Skatel not long after I joined HARD in February last year. I think I skate a bit better nowadays :)

This post was never about ohh everyone please feel sorry for me and all that shite, I'm not that sort of person. It's more to address my current issues and try and figure out how to fix them so that I can move forward. I think there's an ok derby player hidden underneath somewhere, I'm just trying to find it :)