It's funny what you can get used to. It took me two years to move from freshie to scrimmage level thanks to almost near constant injuries that I became used to slow progression. This year has taken me by complete surprise. I feel as though I've achieved more in the first three months than I have in the past two years. I can narrow it down to a few things as to why this year is different than previous years. Firstly, I've only had the one injury this year which was the knee injury I got during pre-season. I've done a lot of work on strengthening my knees and ankles to the point I don't even need to tape them up anymore, and I've had no problems with them since. Physically and mentally those two training sessions with NRDL did more for me than they'll probably ever know. It certainly kickstarted all the improvements I've made this year. Lastly, plain and simple I just want to start bouting. I don't want to hide behind the injury excuses anymore. I want to improve, pass my levels, and go out and bout with my team mates and do the best job I can possibly do.
Our two 'kazi co-captains Lola and Punkie have started organising outdoor bootcamps on Saturday mornings. I'm eager to improve my fitness so I joined them. I hope they continue to make it a regular occurance because I really enjoyed the tough session. There are a few derby folk out there whose only exercise is derby training but it's so important to do off skates training too. Punkiw had a great circuit planned out that targeted every part of our body. It was a confidence booster too because I realised I could hold myself up on the monkey bars after convincing myself for years that I couldn't. It's amazing to find out how much more you can really do once you give it a go instead of telling yourself you can't.
I wanted to make the most of the Easter long weekend and work on things that scare the shit out of me in derby like transitions. My plan was to go to Skatel Saturday to Monday which I ended up doing. On saturday night a few of my team mates turned up and it was great to skate with them. Sharni and I tried psyching each other out by skating right behind each other until the other person noticed or playfully carve each other. It was great fun. Poz was back on skates after being off skates for so long due to hip surgery and it was an awesome sight to see! She went really well, she managed to skate 22 in 5 after being off skates for 2 years.
For a while now whenever Cherry and I are at Skatel we've played a game called cat and mouse. It's basically the two of us trying to catch each other out by carving the other one and catching them off guard. This game has helped improve my speed, awareness on the track and confidence whenever we've played, plus it's a lot of fun! I managed to get ahead of her a couple of times but she owned me. She ripped me for pace but i enjoyed the challenge of trying to keep up with her. One of the biggest improvements I noticed was I don't try and grab onto her when she blocks me, I'm a bit more sturdy and confident receiving her blocks. She got me once though when I wasn't paying attention and it felt like I got punched in the stomach. Good reminder to keep my guard up around her!
I got some absolutely amazing feedback which ended up changing the rest of my weekend. I asked Cherry how far she honestly thought I was from passing my next level which is bouting level. She said I wasn't too far off which left me gobsmacked. I wasn't sure if she was just being nice or I was being way too hard on myself and not actually noticing the improvements I had been making. Testing should be coming up very soon so if I pass it and meet attendance I may be bouting sooner than I imagined. Let me repeat I MAY BE BOUTING VERY SOON! There's a lot of work to do in a short space of time to even pass my test. It's a massive challenge and on a skating rink out in Emu Plains I accepted the challenge. I've got the list of things that will be assessed for the Sergeant's level test and it's all I'm focussed on for the next month.
Due to the big woggy Easter lunch I got to Skatel late on Sunday arvo but I still managed to catch up with some of my team mates. For an hour all Shona and I did was practise doing transitions up and down the middle of the track. My biggest problem with transitions was once I went to do the transition I could never get my foot to lift or pivot to complete the transition. If I did get it to move it would be by dragging it along the ground while I tried turning. I know the problem was mainly mental because after all the injury problems I had with my ankles I didn't trust them to be able to do it without fear of injuring them again. During that hour I went from my problem of overthinking them and doing them REALLY slow to pivoting on the front foot AND actually doing them correctly!!! The biggest thing was that I stopped looking down at my skates and started looking ahead whenever I attempted them which helped a lot. Apart from a few lapses when I started to overthink it again, I was slowly starting to do them at a quicker pace and that's when I started cracking the biggest smile while I was practising them :D It's amazing how you manage to find a bit of extra courage to try things when you set yourself the crazy short term goal of trying to pass the next level test in a month's time.
Today was the last Easter session at Skatel, Shona and Andrew were there again with a few extra team mates joining in plus Bailee and one of her S2D2 team mates came out too. We were practising transitions for a bit again and then the question of what is a correct transition came up. Once you move from the transition part to completing the final turn is it a correct transition if you pivot on that front foot or must you lift your foot while you're turning? I finally got up to being able to pivot on that front foot to complete the transition but now I'm not sure if it's right.
Since there were a few of us we got a paceline going and practised weaving through the pack both forwards and backwards. I was pretty happy with the speed and control I got through the paceline. I'm feeling more confident doing paceline work. It's been a while since I got to skate with Bailee and it was amazing to see the improvements she's made with her transitions and tomahawks and getting through the paceline. They're teaching her well at S2D2!
Foggy turned up and we had a few attempts of trying to carve and block each other. Foggy's a really agile jammer which is great practise for someone like to me to try and come up against. I quickly discovered that she must be made of teflon because it's almost near impossible to hold her back, she's so bloody slippery and manages to get away from you. She can more than hold her own, when she got her foot in front of me I couldn't shift her off the imaginery track. A couple of times our skates clipped when we blocked and we stacked it. She accidently skated over one of my fingers when I stacked it but apart from a red mark on my finger from my wheel, my finger was a-ok. That'll teach me to keep my fist clenched when I stack it next time!
Overall it's been an amazing weekend. I put in a lot of hard work and got rewarded. Even if I don't pass my test this next month, I've already won. I tackled the one thing that scared the most: transitions and I finally got to a confident level of being able to do them. I've received positive feedback not just from my team mates but also from the likes of Cass and Jilla. I'm not getting ahead of myself, there is still so much work to do but it's all starting to get real exciting! LET'S DO THIS!