Testing time

In case any of you are hanging in suspense, I won’t wait- I passed!!!  The Varsity White Star test criteria is here, and as of tomorrow night I will had a stylish sticker on my helmet to prove it.

Because it was the day immediately after a bout, normal Sunday training was cancelled, and instead we had the end-of-bootcamp White Star test. We did some warm-ups of our own as we waited for the clock to tick over, partly to prepare ourselves and partly just to control the nerves. Fang has us run a few laps, then divided us into four groups of 5 or so. We had Lil Miss Spanky as our test master. Last week I asked the Training Committee for a special allowance to do the push-up and plank component of the fitness test on my knees, which was granted thankfully as even in my days of soccer and competitive gymnastics I was never able to do push-ups on my toes! I could do 100 sit-ups in less than 2 minutes and do pull-ups and bar work, but not push ups, something about them just doesn’t work with my body. Anyway, we did the fitness test first as a group; side planks, front plank, push-ups and crunches, then a static squat and wall sit. I was a bit worried as I haven’t been practicing my wall sits as much as I should have, and side planks had only been announced recently as being on the test (the new test was officially approved and unveiled to everyone at the start of this month), but I incorporated the test into my work-out on Friday (including doing the squats and wall-sits for 45 seconds and planking for a minute, not just the 30sec required for passing the test) so I could be mentally prepared on the day with ‘Yes, I can do this!’ The fitness component passed acceptably with the help of Joebotron. Because we were planking on the wooden gym floor, a few of the Freshies had brought yoga mats with them to cushion elbows and also help with slippage. I had put my yoga mat by the back door to take with me, but forgot it all the same. Joe kindly put his mat out sideways so that he could share it with myself and Juleigh Noted, and so we planked in a lovely line with cushioned elbows.

Once we got skates on, we skated some warm-up laps and then got back into our groups and moved onto the skills component. For skills you get three attempts at everything, and Spanky had us doing everything twice to begin with just so we could be comfortable and not stress about doing it badly the first time out. Our group began with stops, skating the width of the gym and back one by one and doing a T Stop (both feet) and then a plow stop. Plow stops are definitely one of my strengths, and after I did mine across the gym Spanky said I already had full marks so it was up to me if I wanted to do another or not (hooray!). Next was knee taps (both knees), which replaced single knee falls on the test as they’re no longer in the WFTDA standards, and double-knee falls. I had made sure to do a few of each of these during my warm-up laps since I hadn’t been able to practice them for the last two weeks with the bung knee. My knee taps were OK, my double-knee falls weren’t super as the movement isn’t natural yet; I pause a little too long between the first and second knee coming down, and spin sideways as I do it.

Next up was stepping, which shows balance and control with your skates. We stepped sideways (both directions), and then forwards and backwards, all with minimal rolling. Then we got on the track and one by one we weaved through cones, then demonstrated sticky skating and stride (ie. Fluid, confident movements and using both feet to push on straightaways). As a group we demonstrated our ability to hold derby stance while skating, then individually glided on one foot for a straightaway and apex, before finishing by demonstrating crossovers.

We had a tense 10 minutes while the tests were marked (we were all feeding off each other’s nerves, not helped by the fact that my family had come to watch me), but Spanky soon came around to tell us all our result one by one. I literally jumped for joy when she said I had passed, which no doubt looked hilarious on skates. I asked her what I needed to improve on and she said planks and double knee falls, I got full points on everything else (each criteria has a possible score of 0-3, and you needed a minimum of 2 points on everything to pass). The double knee fall is no surprise, not sure what exactly I need to work on with planks, but since we only did the one I may have wobbled a bit or lost form.

Since testing was all done by 4:30 and we had the rink til 6, we did some more skating but without a formal training session everyone was a bit lost. So Jamme and I took some initiative and found some panties and declared a game of Stuck in the Mud, which lasted maybe 10 minutes before everyone was too hot and winded to continue haha. I was pleased though as it gave me a chance to show my family what I could do and why I loved derby. Since we pestered her with questions about the new Yellow Star test (as it will be upgraded to match the new White Star test we had just completed), Fang went through the skills requirements with us; grapevines and standing on one foot while stationary, the 10-in-2 (10 laps to pass, 11 for full marks), pushes and basic contact and so on.

We then did some pushing, I paired up with Joe and it was pretty amazing how much speed you could get from someone giving you a shove in the hips. Then we attempted the 10-in-2, and once again I was juuuuussst short of making the 10 on the whistle (only by a meter or two). I was very pleased; I was winded and my right arch was aching and the floor was super slick today, but I did crossovers almost the entire time and given in the last 30 seconds I almost fell over twice and glided the apex a couple of times and almost ran into some slower people, I think if I’m a bit fresher I should be able to make it. Plus of course I’m working on improving my endurance every session!

There was still 20 minutes left on the clock after that, but I was pooped and needed to take my sister to the airport, so I geared down. All up, this was a seriously excellent weekend of derby 😀

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