Monday, March 10, 2014

Oh well, oh well...

What a difference a weekend makes. Last weekend it was assessment time  which meant I had to pass one final assessment before I could try out for our travel team. This assessment had a couple of first's for me. It was the first time I was attempting this level of assessment. It was also the first time I was going into an assessment not worried about the outcome. I planned to give it my all but ever since my grandmother's death I had been in a state of numbness so I hadn't felt anything in almost a month.

There was 13 people getting tested over the weekend for various levels so the place was buzzing. Those of us going for the Lieutenant exam had the 20 minute endurance up first. I had never gotten the minimum laps so I needed to do it for the first time that night to have any chance of passing. I tried getting into a bit of a rhythm. Eventually the inevitable 'ohh crap my body is protesting' started happening and I noticed I was slowing down but I made the effort to keep my feet moving and not coast. It eventually ended and I felt completely knackered and after a quick break it was onto the next component...

Push up's, sit up's and planks were next on the list. With a bit of effort I got through the push up's and sit up's but I ended up flunking the planks. I got told to lower my arse a couple of times and on the second time my foot slipped and down I went barely over the half way mark. I knew my assessment was over. Oh well come back and try again in May.

I walked into training on Sunday knowing I had flunked but I still had to do the scrimmage part of the assessment which I still planned on giving it my best shot. Betty came up to me and said that I could re-do anything I flunked on Friday which meant the planking. Out of curiosity I asked how I went with the endurance. To my surprise I passed by three laps (first time ever I achieved that) but I flunked by having shitty form so I had the option of re-doing the endurance too. I got geared up and went straight to where the planks were being done. With some last second tips from Punkie I passed the planking with ease compared to Friday night's attempt. I got feedback on what was expected of me in regards to form for the endurance and lined up on the track with Sam and Te'res. I *think* my form was better the second time around and I completed it but I had no idea if the laps or form were enough for a pass.

Before scrimmage started we resumed normal training with some last bits of assessment for those doing their Sergeant's assessment. We did the 10 minute switcheroo drill we learnt from Canberra which is always fun. The one thing I won't forget is turning around to see where the opposition jammer was and getting nailed by Butters on my right side resulting in a good stack haha.

With scrimmage I felt more at ease in the previous weeks I think because I didn't have in the back of my head 'ok I have to demonstrate this, this and this etc' to the assessors. I moved around a bit more on the track this time instead of staying glued to the inside line which was fun. I did however get called for three majors (elbows, track cut (while jamming) and failure to reform) which was the most amount of penalties I ever picked up in one scrimmage tsk tsk. It was hard to gauge how I went. I thought there was a couple of things I did alright but not so on other things. I gave the assessment my best shot it was up to the assessors to determine if it was enough.

I didn't have to wait too long to find out. I got my results back today - I flunked. I'll get told when I go to training next on what I flunked. My money is on the endurance and scrimmage. It's strange I haven't felt any sort of emotion for almost a month but once it sunk in that I flunked I felt gutted. Yep the first thing I feel in a long time ended up being the feeling of failure. I guess although it didn't feel like it last weekend deep down I really wanted to pass.

This is a genuine question and not a sook - why am I so shit at derby? I try my heart out but it's still not good enough. All jokes aside I seriously think I am in contention for the Guiness record for taking the longest to get to bouting level. It's three years since I started derby and I haven't been good enough to bout yet. I can't hide behind all the injuries I picked up because I still had a decent amount of time on skates between all the injuries. I'm befuddled.  

Monday, March 3, 2014

To pass or not to pass

This week is the week for assessments. Pass and I'll be having my first bout in a matter of the weeks in the opening round of the 5x5 tournament. Flunk and I wait until May for my next chance to take the assessment. This past week I had all these thoughts swirling in my head. What if I pass my assessment, will I be ready to bout? What if I let my team mates down on the track and they had to carry me so they're effectively playing one player short for the jams? I was driving myself crazy over something that won't even happen if I don't pass the assessment. After finally looking at it rationally I decided that just like the Sergeant level assessment I passed last year I'm not going into this assessment stressed and heaping pressure on myself to pass. If I deserve to pass I will pass. I will give it my all and see what happens.

In preperation for the assessments last weeks training sessions were both tailored for the assessment for both the Sergeant and Lieutenant levels. Friday night felt a little surreal for me. While we were going through the Lieutenant assessment components on one track we had our latest group of freshies have their first training session on the other track. It took me back to the first year and a half of derby where I struggled to get past the freshie level from injuries and lack of confidence. It was a nice reminder to myself to see how far I've come even though at times it might not feel like it.

The 20 minutes endurance. I personally love it. The longer it goes, the more your body and mind protest. It's that internal battle of quitting or keep pushing on that I love. I love giving the quitting thoughts a two finger salute and pushing on to the end. I've never achieved the minimum laps required for a pass for the 20 min endurance and it didn't happen on Friday BUT I did record my best ever result and I only pulled up two laps short for a pass. If I fix my technique especially when I start to get tired I think I can pull it off on Friday. I flunked the planks too so it's back to practising every night in the lead up to this Friday to try and improve my time and reach the time required to pass.

Sunday was bit of a rehash from Friday night. It was good to get one last practise session before the assessment. There was one drill where there was a wall of two blockers and they had to leave just enough of a gap for a jammer to step through. When it came my turn to do the jammer role I was as graceful as an elephant. I am anything but dainty with my steps. Power to those jammers who manage to glide through the smallest of gaps like ninja's. Although I sucked at that drill it was cool to experience something I'm not used to doing.

I'm really loving these dedicated scrimmage teams because we're quickly discovering our team mates traits and little things to look out for like assists which in turn will help when it comes to forming tactics against the opposing team. I felt a little more involved in this scrimmage compared to the previous one. I claimed the inside line again and from there I was able to give some of my jammers an assist by opening up the inside line to allow them to get through while holding off the opposing blockers from getting to them. I'm quite liking coming up the side of the blockers and charging them to create the gap for my jammer. My favourite one for the night was holding off Cherry for as long as possible from getting to Sia'Nide and annihilating her. Even though I eventually lost Cherry it was enough for Sia'Nide to get around her and continue on her point scoring ways. I know the guys on the white scrimmage team are going to figure out how I play and it won't be long before they try and nullify me but I'm looking forward to it because it'll force me to improve my play and play smarter.

With a few of us getting assessed this week we were also getting some feedback to help us for our assessment. I got told that when I block someone I need to continue blocking them because I tend to stop. I didn't disagree with that. Despite the size of me I'm not a big blocker I tend to positional block mostly. I don't know why it is but I'm not someone like Butters, Cherry or Jill who will annihilate skaters with huge blocks. Maybe there's a big blocker in me somewhere but I am yet to find it. Taking on the advice I got given about carrying on with my blocks, in the next jam I was in I saw Toad find a gap through our wall so I tracked him through the pack and sent him flying by hitting him on my weaker side. Maybe there's hope for me yet :)

My favourite play for the night had to be when we kept the opposing jammer on her initial pass. Our wall just kept repelling her. We wall stayed strong and there was no weak spots for her to exploit. Those are the sort of plays I love watching from the sidelines, it may not be a high scoring play but it's amazing to watch as you see the jammer get more and more frustrated because they can't get through.

Although I am back on skates I'm still not '100%'. I might have stopped crying two days after my grandmother died but ever since then I've felt numb and empty. With derby I've noticed that I've found it difficult at times to get my head into training. Last Sunday was a perfect example with the first drill of the night. I just stood there. Cherry must have realised something was up because she got me to join her on the other track and skate laps while she finished her warm up. I don't know it feels like my brain slows down and it takes me that big longer to make a decision especially if I'm doing a drill or during scrimmage and it probably shows. I don't know how long this is going to last but one thing I do know is that if I don't pass my assessment this week I won't be using this as an excuse.

If the last few weeks have taught me anything it's that there's more to derby than just the sport. While I had no shortage of offers from family and friend's for a shoulder to cry on or someone to talk to I pretty much passed up on every single offer because I'm not the type of person to lean on someone for support. There ended up being a few times where I even surprised myself and took people up on their offer at various times these last few weeks. Although I could never thank them enough I'll never forget Cass, Cherry, Jill and Karen being there for me while I went to pieces. There might be some dickheads in our sport but having people like these four in our sport easily outnumber the fuckwits.

Ending on a happier note my other league are having a fundraiser to try and get a permanent venue since they lost their venue last year because it was being transformed into a trampoline venue. Depending on the amount you donate there's different rewards you can get. I'm doing the one where you get to be trained by an NRDL skater of your choice for you and up to 3 other friend's. I know you're all going to be shocked but I picked Jill haha. Naturally I picked Cass to join in and I'm going to see if any of my team mates want to join in and find out why I've been begging both leagues for so long to have Jill come down and train us :) All the details are here if anyone is interested.