Bouts and scrims

Saturday Feb 15th was bout day! I was pretty pleased on a number of fronts, starting with the fact that I actually came up with the bout name! Our theme this year is Grimm’s fairy tales, and I pitched the Events Committee with ‘Snow Bite: Will YOU go into the woods?’. It was pretty awesome to see it turned into this amazing artwork and poster:

Snow Bite Feb 15th

I was helping coordinate the event again, and after a slow start I ended up with a great roster of Volunteers who helped the event run super smooth. A special shout-out goes to my long-suffering derby widow who showed up with me several hours before the event even started to help me move tables and yell at people, and then sat out on the foyer selling tickets for half the bout! I thankfully got to see most of the second half which was lucky, because the finish was nailbiting! We’ve played Blue Mountains a couple of times before and they trounced us last year, so it was pretty thrilling to be tied with only minutes to go and finally win by 20 points. Especially when we had 5 players playing their debut home bout, and one of them got to finish the night with the powerjam that won the bout for us! There’s more details on the official VDL page here.

While at the bout I also picked up these beauties which had just come in with a league group order. The scrim tank is reversible (white on one side, black on the other, with my name and number printed on both), and the armbands are heavy duty non-roll elastic with my number printed and sewn on. They’re actually really comfortable to wear, they’re made by Spank Alley who are one of my league’s fabulous sponsors this year.

Rabid scrim tank

I proudly wore them to training on Sunday, and of course I then took a bad fall in my first jam in scrim and twisted my knee *sigh* It’s not serious but it kept me out for the rest of the session.

But at least that was the second half of the session. Because it was the day after a bout, we had a shorter all-league training session first. Because of lucky coincidence, we had a guest trainer for the day. Copter was one of the original members of VDL, he’s since moved to Brisbane and now skates for Brisbane City Rollers’ men’s team The Scartel. He’s also been chosen for Team Australia and will be competing in the first ever Men”s Roller Derby World Cup in Birmingham next month as part of the Wizards of Aus. You can donate to the team’s travel costs here if you’re interested.

Anyhow, Copter took us through a great session on transitions and backwards skating. This is the second time Copter has guest-coached us and for all its brevity and mixed-levels  it was a fantastic session. We worked on doing transitions in multiple directions at speed, on skating and stopping backwards, on using transitions for blocking and finally having a partner guide you and control your speed while you were travelling backwards (it’s the most bizarre feeling, especially when trying to corner!). Copter is an absolute sweetheart who hits like a truck and it was a pleasure to train with him again, if you get the chance I highly recommend it! You can also become a fan on Facebook, just search for ‘Copter #173’. He joined our boys for scrim as well and they had a fantastic match.

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Brace yourselves, Christmas is coming

For our final all-league session, we started a little differently: we warmed up with a few laps and then practiced stops, but with our skates untied. Doing crossovers was nervewracking for most, but it was one of the few times I was glad to have giant feet (more to stay in the boot!). I didn’t notice too much difference when doing plow and T stops, but when Red Hot Jillie Pepper had us all try hockey stops I felt a bit unstable. I tried them again once we laced up properly, it was much more comfortable but I don’t have the motion down yet (got 1 proper one out of 5 attempts, the rest were more like powerslides or C stops). For the rest of the session we worked on agility, especially lateral cuts and transitions. By the end we were doing multiple 180 turns, and I even managed a couple of 360’s before I got too dizzy (I’m too used to using tight turns as stops, so I need to work on being able to transition without slowing down/ stopping so much now). This was particularly useful given that smooth transitions in both directions were on the Yellow Star test in 5 days’ time.

Sunday was Testing and our Xmas break-up bbq. Unfortunately I didn’t quite pass my Yellow Star, but I was so damn close. At least it means I can retest just on the one bit I couldn’t do after we come back from Xmas break, instead of having to do the entire test again.

The one skill I was really worried about was balancing on one foot (on skates) for 30 seconds. Minimal roll is allowed, you’re supposed to stand still and by the holy Flying Spaghetti Monster it’s hard! I’ve been practicing at home and I could do a full minute here, but my kitchen floor has a touch more give in it than the wooden basketball court we practice on. I did briefly consider being a smart-arse and asking to do it on the carpeted section out the front of the hall (since the test doesn’t specify the surface you have to do it on), but it would have simply been me being a dick so I decided against it.

Anyway, we all lined up and did the various balancing skills: shuffle, quick feet, grapevine, and then it was time. I did my left foot first, and overbalanced about 10sec in. Then tried my right and I didn’t even make it that long. Jillie called out the halfway point and asked me why I was just standing there. I replied ‘Well I have to start again right?’ and she just looked at me and said ‘you can still practice right?’ Duh, too wrapped up in my own failure. We did a third one and a few of the others joined me for a retry and this time I managed the full 30 seconds on my left foot, hooray! Then I had to redo my right. Everyone else had completed it so it was just me, standing inside a circle of skaters, grimacing at a point on the wall as I flailed and wobbled and when my left foot slammed down just a split second after Jillie called time I couldn’t help it and I actually teared up with relief while everyone hugged and congratulated me.

Everything else went pretty smoothly. I got 5.5 laps for the 5-in-1 (and the floor was really slippery so I had trouble pushing around corners!) and one of the observers complimented my stride. My transitions on both sides were good (although it did take me a couple of attempts to make it smooth as we were doing it in limited space), my jumps weren’t perfect but they were good enough to pass, and we did the fastest pace-line I have ever participated in which was kind of amazing for weaving through.

This time we did the fitness component at the end, so we had been skating for a good 90 minutes before doing planks, push-ups, wall-sits and static squats. This is where I ran into difficulty, I just couldn’t get the sit-ups. There are a variety of excuses; I was tired, I thought it was crunches –or- sit-ups so I have only trained for crunches because they’re better for my back, I was being marked by a skater I haven’t trained with offskates before so she has some different ideas of about form to me (I had to redo my plank as well because she didn’t like the way I had my feet)… but in the end it comes down to my own lack of preparation and fitness; it was a fitness test and I didn’t have it. However, since it’s the only part I did not complete, I can retest on just the sit-ups after we come back from break. This means I have 6 weeks to train for 20 sit-ups and then I will be able to scrim. Hooray!

In some ways it’s actually a good thing, as it’s an added motivation to keep my fitness up over the Christmas break. Between the heat, the food and the lack of routine when on holidays, I find time seems to slip away and it’s suddenly been days or even a week between workouts. Instead, this year I’m looking at starting the 100 Push-Up and 200 Sit-Up Challenges, as well as some kettlebell sessions and hopefully some outdoor skating if it’s not too hot. And since there are a whole 3 weekends without derby training to fill the hours, I’m thinking it’s time for some derby socialising instead: BBQ, drinks and derby rules quizzes!

A Good Day to Skate Hard: VDL vs S2D2, 26 October 2013

Hip hip hooray it’s bout day! In the 2 weeks leading up to the bout, I somehow went from offering to help sell raffle tickets/ merch/ whatever to actually coordinating all the volunteers and helping with the day-of event stuff, despite having never been involved with the back end of a bout before (but I have done volunteer coordination previously which is why I agreed to do it). I spent several evenings working out a roster, only to have half the people on it cancel or show up late so that was a bit useless, but oh well. I arrived at the venue at 3pm and was soon joined by Demolicious (Event Coord), Raven Mayhem (Sec and ref) and Miss MeOww. Tyrannosaurus Ref (head ref) eventually showed up with the track kit, we hunted down the venue manager to unlock the storerooms and put out the bleachers and we were underway!

Some of my awesome Vollie crew started showing up around 3:30-4, so I immediately out them to work selling tickets out the front of the venue, setting up the merch stand and putting up signs for suicide and disabled seating areas.  Suddenly the visiting team was here, doors were opening and the roller soccer started. I was particularly nervous/ excited because my mother and sister were visiting me for the weekend, so I bought them tickets for their first ever roller derby bout, and of course I wanted them to fall in love with derby the same way I had.

Once the bout got going everything came together. I even got to sit down with my family and watch a couple of jams! My husband interpreted for my mum and sister while I was scurrying around, and best of all I got to watch the final 3 minute of the game, where Varsity’s DisHonour Rollers and South Side Derby Dolls’ The Force were only a point apart and it looked like the DHRs would take the title, only for S2D2 to get a power jam in the final seconds and win the night with 152 to 145 to the DHRs.

To top the night off, I had made a poster with ‘Team Zebra always wins!’ that I had propped up near my family during the bout, which the refs liked so much they had come over during half-time and asked to have their photo taken with it later. When they found out after the bout that I had made the sign, well, I got to be in the photo too! I won’t post it here because it’s not my property, but you can check out all sorts of fantastic pictures from the night at David Mackie Photography

And the next bout it only a month away, but now that we have a successful event under our belt, Demo and I should be an unstopabble team for ‘Time and Relative Dimensions in Skate’!