Thursday, September 11, 2014

Victories here, there and everywhere.

I'm suddenly feeling the urge to write again with this blog. I suppose it's a good sign that I'm writing a bit more frequently now, maybe it's a sign that all the feelings are coming back again for me. There's a lot going on derby wise so I may as well get started...

A few weeks ago it was the finals for the 5x5 roller derby championships. My guys were facing off against Inner West for the battle for third spot in their group. I didn't see any of our bout because I was looking after the merch table so although there was a wall seperating me from the track I could hear random cheers going on but I had no idea for which team. I ended up following our bout through our members page thanks to one of our members who was posting updates on the bout. We were leading 67-55 at half time and the 'kazi's that I saw at half time were absolutely buzzing. It was infectious :)

Roll on the second half and my guys went on to win 175-109!! I was proud as punch for them. Just seeing how made up they were with the win was awesome. I'm still grinning just thinking about it. They were talking so excitedly about certain things that happened during the bout, how various things they worked on in training paid off in the bout and just how happy they were with it all. You could see how much it meant to them. Hopefully this spurs them on to even greater heights in the upcoming Eastern Region roller derby tournament. I had to leave after our bout as I had other plans so I didn't watch any derby that day so I can't report on the other bouts sorry!

Last month was a write off in terms of derby for me. I barely went to training. My mind was elsewhere, most days I didn't want to get out of bed. To be honest derby was one of the furthest things from my mind. Even watching bouts didn't have the same impact for me. I have never been that quiet at any HARD or NRDL bouts before. I was cheering but not as much as I usually do. I almost fell asleep at Newy's bout, not from boredom but because I wasn't sleeping well that month so I was so frigging tired. So yeah, it was a pretty shitty month but it started getting better ever so slightly towards the end of the month.

I didn't want to walk away from derby so I knew I had to go back to training again even though part of me still wasn't feeling it 100% for things in general and not just derby. I told myself it was just two hours I had to get through and see what happened. Life isn't a Hollywood movie. I didn't put on my skates and everything was suddenly perfect, I was nailing all the things I struggled with and all was amazing. Nope the reality was more like, yep I still suck with the same things I struggled with pre-August, there's some rustiness but it was ok. I'm glad I went back to training. I did a couple of things that surprised me, things I wouldn't usually try. It was a start. These last four months of the year are about trying to pick up the pieces from the first eight months and trying to finish the year strongly. So yay for small victories and all that :) 

Last Saturday saw another NRDL double header with the Newcastle guys taking on South Side Derby Dolls. For the second bout in a row it clashed with a Sydney Roller Derby league bout and even though the Sydney bout would have been a lot closer to home it was a no brainer really on which bout I ended up at ;) I wasn't the only HARDie who made the trip up the F3. Ref, Moxie and Tom. Ref was jam ref for the first time at a Newy bout and covered both bouts. It was Moxie's first non-HARD bout. Both guys were nervous but I had complete faith in them.

Just before the start of the Riots vs Empire bout I saw one of my favourite moments of the night unfold. Danger found a bit of space in the venue and started doing some jam skating. I'm as flexible as a brick wall and have no rhythm but I do appreciate the awesomeness of jam skating. What made it great to watch was seeing Danger in a room full of people skate around and pull off jam skating moves like there was no one else there, she looked lost in her own little world. It was awesome to watch.

Roll onto the opening bout and it didn't take long for the Riots to put their stamp on the bout. Missy and Tiny were attacking the Empire blockers in waves and leaving them flat footed with their agile skating as they weaved through the pack when they were jamming. The jammers were well supported by the likes of Kell, Tanties, Rum and Queen Slander (it was the first time I watched her bout). Kell was the organiser and set them up well when she was on. The Riots were leading at half time 80-37 and were deserved leaders.

The second half was more or less the same. There was some playful banter in the crowd with a group of the S2D2 cheer squad engaging with Jill but the Mexican wave attempt started by Aprilla unfortunately died in the arse right from the get go. I love watching Tanties play. She plays with a look of 'I'm going to destroy you' on her face and she doesn't hold back. She copped an accidental hit to the head but carried on like the champ that she is. Not only does she destroy opposition blockers she can jam too. I always make sure I yell out her name when she skates past me when she's jamming. Apparently she can hear me haha. While I was busy cheering on the Riots I still looked out for Empire's player and my old team mate Xena Sparkle. She's a tough cookie. She jammed a lot so she was heavily targetted by the Riots blockers but she kept coming back for more, The final score was 177-82 for the Riots in what was a good win to take into the upcoming Eastern Region roller derby tournament.

Roll on the main bout Dames vs Force and I was nervous as hell. The Force aren't exactly shit opponents. I've seen them slaughter teams and they just came off the back of successfully defending their 5x5 crown so I knew anything was possible. To prove my point the Force came flying out the blocks. Champain picked up successive majors while she was jammer but the real issue was the Force absolutely blitzed the Dames in the first few jams to race to a 24-0 lead I think it was. Their blockers easily broke the Dames walls while their jammers left the blockers at 6's and 7's. In the first jam that Jilla was involved in it took literally all 4 Force blockers to stop Jilla and split her from her players so they succeeded in stopping Jilla from conducting her side like she usually does from the front of the pack. Later on in a lot of other jams Jilla was often double teamed by the Force to stop her from getting to their jammer. The Force did their homework and it showed on the scoreboard.

The home crowd were as stunned as the visiting supporters were vocal in appreciation for what was unfolding on the track. The Dames started to get their bearing on the bout as they started playing the way we've come to expect. Jilla adjusted her game play and managed to break free of all the extra attention she was getting from the Force blockers. She was back to the front of the pack controlling the pack. Danger was doing her famous last line of defence and positional blocking to perfection by slowing down the jammer. Fannie and Reggie resumed their destructive duo partnership in the pack. Poor Thunder picked up a leg injury a few jams in and missed the rest of the bout. The Dames were in need of points and who else stepped up but the magnificant Ruddo. She's performing at such a high level each bout now that I've come to expect those performances from her now :) The bout was a nailbiter as the Dames dragged themselves back into the bout to be trailing 59-52 at half time. The Force had so many high calibre players in their ranks but I had complete faith that the Dames were going to push on in the second half and win.

If the first half was a nail biter the second half was a guaranteed heart attack inducing one. It was so frigging tight with the bout hanging in the balance for most of the half. My throat was hurting so much but I kept screaming and cheering like my life depended on it. My fingers were bleeding from biting my nails so much. I was swearing at bad calls. The intensity of the highs, lows and inbetweens I was feeling duting the bout was akin to what I feel when I watch Liverpool and then it struck me I think I might love the Dames as much as I do Liverpool. I so didn't see that coming.

I was watching the bout with Moxie. Poor girl must have gone deaf in her right ear from all my screaming and cheering haha. I must have annoyed the hell out of her with my 'DID YOU SEE THAT?' statements. Nah she was watching the wall on the otherside of the room. Yeah, I get a little worked up and excited when I watch my teams play ;) We were talking about the way the Dames played and one thing we both said was they played with purpose. They didn't nail someone for the sake of it, when they hit someone there was a reason for it. They play clean. That brings me onto my next point. Reggie Ramjet, besides having one of my favourite derby names of all time I love watching her play in the same way I loved watching Brig play (damn I miss seeing her play). Reggie would be one of the first names on my team sheet. She doesn't need to resort to risky blocks and risk a penalty because she gets herself into the right spot that she can either positionally block or put the opposing skater on her arse if need be. Absolutely reliable and a joy to watch on the track. Her link up play with Fannie at the back of the pack is a sight to behold. It really is. As for Jilla, I've given up with her. I have come to accept the fact that I will never be able to watch her play and not sound like a 10 year old fangirl. I thought she had a better performance in this bout than the BCR one. S2D2 nullified her initially but then she proved why she's an awesome player and not just a good one. She adjusted her game and then got back to playing at the level that every man and his dog knows her for.

There was one jam towards the end of the bout where Newy scored a 13-0 jam. For me it will go down as one of the best jams I have ever watched. The game was very much in the balance. Both teams were throwing everything including the kitchen sink into the bout. The venue was heaving from the noise of sound from both sets of supporters. Ruddo steps up onto the jammer line and puts in a faultless jam. In one pass through she weaved through completely untouched. The blockers were in absolutely harmony as they repelled wave after wave of Force blockers and the jammer. It was total derby. I was completely losing my shit on the sidelines haha. The Force fought right up until the very final whistle but the Dames had the final say as they won 122-107. I had nothing left in the tank by the end of it and I was sound like a tranny after all the screaming haha. It was such an awesome bout for so many reasons.

So, it's pretty obvious that I talk a lot about Danger and Jilla in my posts especially when they bout. Recently the two of them started a coaching collaboration called NachoPoints. Having been coached by them on separate occassions in the past I am keen as mustard to get some one on one training with them because there's things I see them do in bouts that I would love to learn from them. I'm still living in hope my league gets them down to train us and join in our scrimmage session. I think my guys would get a lot of it.