Saturday, December 3, 2011

Time for New Stuff

The Test

Well I took WFTDA basic requirements skills test and written test a couple of weeks ago and... (cue music) I passed! Yay me! 

How on earth was I even able to take the whole test, you may be wondering, what about the knee injury? Well the Friday before the test I thought, lets just try this knee out and see, because it had been feeling so much better. I put on my skates and tried some knee falls, very slowly. I did two on each. I was gleeful.

It got me thinking, you know maybe I will be able to do the whole test, although, I must say, I had sort of forgotten how many falls there are and how many skills actually strain my knee. But, in any case, my plan had changed, now I was trying to figure out ways of making my knee get me through the test instead of just planning on not even trying to do those parts of the test.

So when the test came I was pumped of course, test days always get the adrenaline flowing, but I felt good. It just so happened that everything happened in the perfect order for me. There were a number of league derby girls there to help out with testing and everyone was very friendly and helpful. It was clear everyone wanted you to do well. 

We did the endurance first. I did not get twenty-five, which annoyed me, but twenty-four is nothing to scowl about, so I didn't. Then I was happy to be in the group that did the non-fall section first. This was just lucky because all the skills with derby stance skating would have been a LOT harder for me after the fall section. 

So the fall section which also included hops and weaving was straining for me. There is now doubt. At the end I was just willing myself to do them perfectly so I wouldn't have to do anything more then once. Luckily this was nearly always the case but it was still a lot of pushing myself up on the bad knee which it isn't really that fond of. I had to do the weave a second time, also the hops, which I ended up losing marks on anyway, but that was fine. I just couldn't bend into the end of the hop like you are supposed to, my knee was hurting too much at that point. 

But it all went beautifully. I was so pleased I got through it. After the skills we wrote the written which they told us to expect to fail, much as they had told us at ToRD. In both cases I was told that the test is very hard, most girls do not pass it, it's not a big deal, you can study harder and retake it. 

Most of us Freshies who had taken the test met at Crabby Joe's after the testing and waited for our coach Keri Daway to get there and let us know how we did. I really enjoyed getting to hang out with some of the girls from freshmeat in a more real way and starting to know them a little bit. They are some funny girls. I love funny people.  

Most of us had passed the skills test, a couple of the girls would return to retest parts they had failed. I happened to be the only one who passed the written and Keri made me feel special about that which was very cute. I felt like a million bucks sitting there, having passed, finally having reached that goal, surrounded by my new teammates and friends. A million bucks. 

Isn't life interesting like that? What a little thing you have to accomplish in your life to make you feel like a million bucks. Pass a test to play a sport you want to play. I know I try not to leach Life Coaching stuff onto this blog but I tell you folks, you should think about that a bit. What would you have to accomplish in your life to make you feel like a million bucks? Is there one specific thing you can start working on right now? I bet there is.

League Practice

This was an experience an a half. There was little time to stop and catch your breath between drills or think about what was going on or meet any of the other girls on the team who were smiling or saying things to you. There were four other of my freshie buddies there and I thought we all did pretty darn well for our first time.

We first did some intense aerobic/skate skill drills. These included things like skating fast to a pylon, dropping into a deadman (laying on the ground on stomach) then jumping up to return to start line, then skating to further point doing another skill, return etc. etc. Lots of skating and dropping and getting up. My knee felt this one but I ended up just not doing as many falls as everyone else cause it was too much.

Then we did an insanity drill where we skated around the track as fast as we could for thirty seconds before stopping to do thirty squats, then the thirty second fast skate then stop and do thirty push-ups, then skate, then sit-up then repeating the pattern dropping the rep number of squats, sit-ups and push-ups. This. was. insane. Even the really super fit skater girls were skating a bit slower in that last thirty second speed round.

Keri then did a teaching session of a couple of the moves she learned at the latest clinic she had attended. This was super neat too, I learned a move! The one that I liked and could do the best is called the burrito. This is something to capture and move a girl who is skating away from you. From behind her you lean forward and then sideways across the front of her with our arms outstretched, the side of your torso pressing agains her armpit/torso. Anyway, when you are doing this, holy shit, you can just skate them off the track, the only way to get out of it is to transition backwards around the skater who has captured you. Good move. Definitely going to have to become more adept with that one.

The other move was similar but wrapping your ass around her, sort of. I could't really do this one that well as my transitions require work. They are a serious weak spot. Though, I must say, at that league practice I got a bit better at them after getting a little help from a freshie buddy and some good practice time trying to wrap my butt around someone. Good times.

At the end of practice we got to scrimmage. Favourite! I love scrimmaging. So much fun. It was so cool to get to play with real derby girls, just like I was some kind of real derby girl. Hee, hee, hee. I love my life. 

I ended up blocking kind of okay but when I got to jam, which I only did once and it was at the end, I failed miserably. In freshie scrimmages in the past I had been pretty great at getting through the pack but here I was just completely held at the back by one of the blockers. I didn't have a lot left in me by that point either I must admit. But I'll show them soon enough.  I am going to be a jammer and a blocker, double threat!

So, not shockingly, I have stuff to learn. I shall learn it! I'm excited about how much more comfortable I have been feeling on my skates lately, and that is even with a hurt knee. I'm very anxious for it to heal all the way so I can try harder stuff and push harder to learn new things.

World Cup

It's here!! I'm so very excited. I have been watching the updates and some live coverage on DNN which is absolutely amazing and great and awesome. This is my birthday weekend and I and my darling man, and my good friend will be heading to the Cup tomorrow to see the finals. Whee! I'm so excited about it. I will be spending money on t-shirts, and as I have yet to buy a shirt at an event I won't even feel bad about it.

Everything is turning up derby and I'm loving it!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bad knees and faster skating

Bad Knees

So derby babies it has been a while. I have been trapped under a rock while fighting ninjas, or something like that. In fact while doing that, or taking my sailboat out of the water, I totally screwed up my knee.

So injuries are a royal pain aren't they? Having a knee that you are unable to bend makes doing pretty much everything derby a whole lot harder. Most basically it keeps me from being in derby stance. Then there is the whole part of how I can't fall onto my knees, thereby making proper knee falls a bit tricky. I can't even do the knee fall on the opposite knee because rising out of the fall means putting pounds of pressure on my bad knee which isn't happening. So, there is that.

I have been to the doctor and she told me that I had been handling the injury very well. That is, taking Aleve, icing it daily (more so on days of some strain) and doing some derby but not being an idiot and pushing past real pain. The knee has twice now improved after being pushed a bit at derby but I really need to get a physio appointment pronto! It's in the works. I shall physio and be healed.

Faster Skating

Besides that annoyance I have been slowly improving in my skating abilities. I started skating with Renegade Derby Dames/Misfit Militia in November and it's been nothing but good times. The people in the league are super, super nice and have been warm and welcoming to me.

Not only did they let me (and anyone else in the same situation) pay less to enter their freshmeat (very late) but also they have been really great about accommodating my needs with my injury. That is, we are having our test on Sunday but I will not be able to complete all of it. Specifically, I will not be able to do knee falls. But, there is nothing I can do about that, I have to wait for my knee to heal. Kerri Daway assures me that when my knee heals we will just finish up whatever parts of the test I was unable to complete.  I think I should be able to do everything else but we shall see how it goes.

Speaking of parts of the test, guess who finally did twenty-five in five? Yeah, that's right, me! Twenty-five laps in five minutes, yay me! This accomplishment has really made me so happy. I guess because I was stuck at twenty-three and a half for so long it was starting to feel as though it would never change. So, there ya' go, practice does make a difference, eventually.

Also, I picked a name and number. Deamon Star *00*

Well, I shall have more to write soon though finding the time for it is really the challenge.

Derby Love

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cue Dramatic Music

Well, I did my skate test on Sunday. It was a gruelling day for all involved; an hour and a half of "bootcamp" (as we hadn't skated with our rollergirl teachers in three months), then straight into two and a half hours of testing which ended (NOT my bright idea) with the twenty five laps in five minutes part.

I did not pass. I did get close mind you, I got sixty-nine percent where seventy-one is required. When Bryan, the manager of the Chicks Ahoy (my favourite team) walked over to me and said lets talk about your results, I knew I had failed. He's a nice guy and had been part of the testing and clearly felt bad, the results were telegraphed.

I have always appreciated my ability to read micro expressions the most when it comes to bad news. It often gives me time to internally compose myself before being told the bad news so I can look like a champ when they actually say it. I did require some composure because I was pretty ticked off when I saw a few of the marks I had lost.

It's pretty impossible not to just sound like a whinger when talking about how you shouldn't have lost points you did in a test so I certainly didn't go on about it. I did tell Bryan I disagreed with a couple of them just for the record, but I am aware it doesn't matter in the end anyway. I failed, the decisions were already made so that was the end of that.

It is frustrating to feel pretty confident that the mark would have been different in a different testing scenario where the very few testers hadn't just finished a two hour practice of their own team before skating for three more hours with us. There are other sciencey sort of reasons about decision making fatigue and the human tendency to see trends especially in small populations and that sort of stuff but none of that really makes a difference either in the end. It is as it is.

I do the think the girls/boy testing did their best and they are all really nice people. They tried hard to help us with the bootcamp and I got some really great tips from Rebel Rock-it (who is just an incredible blocker if you ever see her play) about ways to strengthen my legs to try and counteract my physiological issue of having knock-knees, which of course effects my balance and skating. So, that was really cool.

I do feel I learned a lot, if nothing else that I can skate for four hours and still do an endurance at the end and get twenty-three laps in five minutes. Not a perfect score but I was pretty impressed considering when we began the endurance the first two minutes I was thinking, shit, I'm not even going to get twenty here. This feeling of doom was added to as the few other girls I was testing with were all higher calibre skaters then I (two were transfer rollergirls from BC), and both of the girls on the track with me did around twenty-eight laps in the allotted five minutes. It was good mind training, not getting defeated in the face of better athletes.

On the up side now it's done! Hahaha... I shall take away as much as I can from it and move on. I have already been in contact with the Renegade Derby Dames (their farm team is The Misfit Militia) who skate in Alliston, which is much closer to me anyway, and will be skating with them as of next weekend. I will be able to retake my test at the end of November which sounds fine to me. I really look forward to meeting them and getting to be a part of a league for real.

I really wish I could have continued with ToRD though, I'm sad to leave the girls I went through freshmeat with and all the people I was just starting to get to know and whatnot. I was really excited to skate with them on the D-Vas. But, unfortunately, the only choice I would have with them is to redo the whole freshmeat programme and then be able to try again for the test, next summer. That's a bit insane for me for numerous reasons, the biggest one being I want to start playing derby already I know how skate well enough to be on a farm team.

I was very touched by the response my news got on facebook. I'm not big on being felt sorry for and wrote my news there for continuity. I knew I had been talking about the test for days so everyone would want to know how it went. It was nice that there was a lot more empathy then anything else and I really appreciated the love being sent my way. I even had a couple of girls I skated with in freshmeat personally message me kind words. Super sweet. Thank you all of you.

So, for the record here are the things which I was marked down on (lost one point):

3.3.2 - hop from one foot to other - I  do need to improve with this clearly, I didn't even realise it was on the test until a few days before it
3.5 - cone weaving - well, this one was just unfortunate, I did this perfectly four times practicing an hour earlier but when it came time to do it for the test... poo.
1.6.2 - propel with eight wheels on the ground - this one as well, I hadn't practice correctly. That is, I knew we had to do this, and I do it well - when I'm moving. I hadn't realised we have to start from a standstill. This is WAY harder. It's really the starting that they are testing as we skated only a short distance, what they were looking for was the ability to get up to speed from standstill while keeping all wheels on the ground. I shall absolutely be practicing this.
5.2 - positional blocking - I did a fairly crap job of this for the test, I was tired it was near the end, it's not my strongest ability anyway.
5.3.1 - hip blocking - I disagree with this mark off but will continue to practice I can only get better.
5.3.2 - shoulder blocking - I disagree with this mark off but will continue to practice I can only get better.
4.1.3 - receiving hip whip - I STRONGLY disagree with this mark. I find this VERY easy and simply stumbled on my last try as I was getting tired (we did it three times though and it is meant to be best one of out three; two were perfect)
4.3 - pacing speed - I STRONGLY disagree with this mark as well. I am very good at this. (Not only in my estimation, I have been told so numerous times by rollergirls in class.) Also I had my arm up often (as it is about staying an arms length away from girl in front of you at all times as line speeds up and slows down) to check. I will note however that all of the other girls (who were overall better skaters then me) had trouble with this as they were all commenting about it afterward and I know the girl in front of me bumped into the pace keeper a couple of times.
2.1.2 - single knee fall right - I don't understand what would possibly have been wrong with this either but I have to imagine something - practice, practice, practice.
1.4 - 23-25 laps in five min

So, there you have it. I shall now strive to improve on these things. It is interesting to note that one of the things I had been worried about, jumping, I got full marks on and a number of things I felt extremely confident on I got marked down. I don't know what that says, but there you have it. I endeavour to be better at all of it. One day the title of the blog will be a lie, one day!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Skate test! Skate test! Skate test!

Well kids it is time for my skate test, scheduled as it is four to eight on Sunday. Once tested I will finally be out of freshmeat limbo and able to move forward with my derby career, or revisit my freshmeat one I suppose.

I am nervous about the test but of course very, very excited. I have been skating a fair bit over the summer, generally at least once a week and it does seem to be improving my skating. I even finally went to Scooters and checked out there absolutely amazing jam skaters. Wow. Those cats can dance.

One day if I'm as cool as cool can be I'll be able to skate half as well as the seventy five year old man speeding around the rink at Scooters jam skating in this way that looks like he's dancing out of control and about to fall yet he is so clearly constantly in total control. I think it's the way he skates on the back wheels of either skate with such ease that is so disconcerting. One day baby, one day.

But today is not yet that day. I can not skate on the back wheels of my roller skates without landing on my ass, but, I have improved my crossovers and they now speed me up as I'm going around the bends. It's really neat. I'm actually using my inside foot to push out and thereby propelling myself forward faster.

I want to be even better at balancing and I really continue to work on this skill. I need to be the best balancer ever to be the best skater and player ever. At the CN Power versus Montreal Sexpos game last Sunday at the Bunker (ToRDs new digs) I watched Bambi play half her games on one fucking skate. It's insane. That girl has some great balance; also she's a great jammer.

Okay I have lots more to write about lots of things but I am supposed to be studying for my written test right now, which is what I am now going to go do. I look forward to having something new to tell you about my derby status in the very near future. More to come soon!
Derby love!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Not YET!

What's the Deal?
Seriously, am I a derby girl yet or what? No! I am not. Not a fully functioning WFTDA-tested-and-passed one anyway. I am still Freshmeat technically I suppose, though at this point I feel more like I'm in some sort of derby purgatory.

The Freshmeat programme is all but done. We no longer have training once a week as all but a handful of us have written the test whether it led to passing or failing. If the girls passed they are now ostensibly on the D-VAS, the current farm team at TORD, and can go to league practices with them. If the girls didn't pass the test then they are now done until the next Freshmeat programme where they can try again to gain their WFTDA testing expertise and hopefully pass the test next time around.

There are however a handful of us who missed a whole module (a session made up of two weeks of training sessions). We were allotted a maximum of three misses for the whole programme but we were not allowed to have a whole module missed. When I had my car crashum-smashum I missed two weeks of derby, and, unfortunately it was a whole module that I missed in doing that, not one piece of two different modules as I had thought at the time.

When this was pointed out to me I was tres unhappy, until Lady Gag-Ya said that they would be doing a bootcamp for the handful of us that had this situation. Yay! This is an excellent thing, this means that I will still have a chance to write the test. That is very good. But right now, due to TORD changing venues, there is confusion as to when this bootcamp will actually occur.

So, now I skate in purgatory, waiting for my time to prove my skating prowess, or lack thereof. It is more difficult of course now to practice my derby skating. I can practice skating of course outdoors now, when it's nice and better still go to the skate rinks. But I don't really have anyone to practice hits with or things of that nature.

Well, I didn't that is. I may now in fact have some options for getting hit. Cause, we all want to get hit dontcha know! These new possibilities come about from making new friends and finding out new derby stuff in my NSOing for 2 Fast 2 Furious, the tournament which took place last weekend for farm teams/new derby girls.

2 Fast 2 Furious
This was a super fun derby experience for me for multiple reasons. First, before even getting there I was excited because it was a derby thing where I knew practically no one and I was getting to try out a new NSO position, jam timing. I love doing new things.

Another reason for excitement was I would get to hang out with my friend April Cruel, who skates with GTA Rollergirls, who were putting on the tournament. I hadn't actually even thought of this possibility when signing up but was delighted that I got to spend the day hanging with a good high-school friend.

Here is the main arena at the start; warm-ups and organising.
All of the other reasons were the lots of fun stuff that happened to me and fun people I met AND finding out about the South Simcoe Rebel Rollers open skate night on Monday's at Orillia's Rolling Skate Place. This is AWESOME. Well, I hope it's actually awesome but I'm sure it is. I haven't yet attended said open skate practice, but I will be this Monday. I am SUPER stoked to be able to skate and have someone yell at me to get my ass down and hit better. I want to pass my test!!!

Of course, another reason I had been excited about for the tournament was that I was getting to see my girls skate. That is, girls who had gone through Freshmeat with me. I had of course held hopes of skating in 2 Fast 2 Furious, [check out that link, by the Derby Nerd, he is so great, great review!] but it was not to be. Still, it was super neat to see my girls playing for real. It made it seem so much more real. *sighs* My time will come. Also, they were so cool. They did so well, you couldn't tell it was their first game ever.

Also at 2 Fast I was gifted my first whistle. I needed help learning how to blow. Le sigh. It is so sad that that is actually true.

There was a bit of disorganization when I first arrived on the scene at 2 Fast 2 Furious at Ted Reeves Arena. Not total chaos or anything, just some minor chickens-running-with-heads-cut-off. It was no surprise, GTAR isn't a huge organisation, and it's not-for-profit, volunteer run of course. There were eighteen farm teams there to play and two buildings were going with games occurring simultaneously with at least eight NSOs needed for each game at any given time and of course the refs. I'm trying to think what is the least amount of refs a game can have and I think it may be five, though I'm not sure. I should look that shit up I should probably know that. [Somebody should tell me... hint... hint..]

So in any case, I wasn't wearing white like I should have been, but nobody had told me that I should do that. Not surprising since I had had to write to the volunteer wrangler and ask where and when I was supposed to be at the tournament. But, tra-la-la, everyone is doing their best I have no doubt. It's all volunteer time so we all can understand the difficulties.

Here is a game taking place in the bubble which has been stopped, with all of us going down, for a girl who is hurt on the track. It was one of the players for Violet Uprising from Guelph, she hurt her ankle badly unfortunately. 
When I went to do my duties they asked me if I had brought a whistle and a timer. Gah! I hadn't. I didn't know I should have. No, I am assured, I was not meant to, they had just been hoping because one of their whistles had run-oft so I was without whistle.

This was not good. I'm not great at whistling. I sort of looked around helpless and befuddled while they did some more chicken-with-heads-cut-off running around. What to do, what to do. Then, suddenly, up skates a lot of leg; Bratty Cardia. She was one of the referees working the first game and had been warming up ( I am familiar with her from TORD but don't know her very well yet). She says, "You need a whistle? I'll get you a whistle." And off she skates, presumably to obtain said whistle.

It was interesting that while she was gone on her mission of whistledom a number of other NSOs around me began talking about their whistles and how they had acquired their first whistles. In fact they all had little stories about someone giving them their first whistle. And now, I have mine.

So, here begins (continues really) derby lore. Like a Buddah statue, one is best given their first NSO derby whistle, I imagine so that they might glean all of the knowledge of the one who gifted it. Sounds good to me, Bratty is like a rules dictionary. Also, I love my whistle, it has plastic around the mouthy part which in practical use at said tournie was waaay better then the ones without. Yay me. Thank you Bratty.

Here are the winning teams (r-l), Coal Miners Daughters first, D-VAS second,  Queen City Brawlers third.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Test Time

Hello! I know I have continued my dismal writing trend this month but I really have had a lot going on a much of which has been derby or derby related business. 

As you know the test was fast approaching and in fact occurred on Sunday. Well, it occurred for many of the Freshmeat girls, but not me. So sad! But, it is not the end of the world so I take heart. The reason this happened was that I had (when I had my car accident) missed a whole module. The rules set out at the beginning say that this makes you ineligible for the test writing. 

Luckily the ladies in the Freshmeat Committee are actually going to do a boot camp for those of us who fall into this category, and then let us write the test at that time. They said that they will let us know but they are hoping for in a month or so to make that happen. So, that's that.

Because there is a whole month before my test now there are some good and bad things. It means that I can practice more jumping and hopefully become more comfortable with that. (Although I don't really know where I will practice that as I don't relish falling onto pavement from a jump.) It means, in fact, that I can become better at all of my skating skills, as long as I am vigilant about skating practice as there will be no regular training scheduled at the hangar for me.

It also means that I will be further away from the training and practice of the derby skills (hitting, blocking etc.) which require another person to practice with. I am hoping that I will not forget those skills and obviously I will try and do my best to practice the skating skills which help in those derby skills. That's a lot of skill. 

I have become very comfortable with my previous issue, the one foot weaving. This is no longer an issue for me especially since finding out that we do not have to weave on each foot, we just choose our strongest. No problem.

I also found out that the test that is points based, that is, for each skill you get a mark of 0, 1 or 2. To pass the test of 79 skills (each is very specific, ie. giving an outside whip, taking an outside whip etc,) you are allowed two get eight 1s. You are not allowed to get any 0s. Also, for the endurance portion, which is 25 laps in 5 minutes there is a special marking, 0 to 3. This means that you do not have to get 25 laps in the 5 minutes to actually pass the test. You only need to get 20 laps in the least, which will give you 1 point, 23 laps gives you 2 points and 25 gives you 3 points. My current best is 23 laps.

So, before finding out that I was not able to take the test I was very excited and feeling pretty good about taking the test. I am going to do my best to take the extra time to learn the rules perfectly as I would hate for that to be the reason I fail, and continue to do my squats and keep on rollin'. If I pass the test when I take it in a month it will still be time for me to be up for the draft (though I highly doubt I will be placed on a team (which is okay as you immediately go in the farm team the Divas and can still play), there are like 30 new girls in the league and last year they drafted seven girls).

I have volunteered to work as an NSO (non skating official) for 2 Fast 2 Furious, the rookie tournament being held by GTAR Rollergirls in Toronto in July and will continue to be a part of derby in this way. I'm very used to NSOing though I think I will be doing a new position as jam timer which sounds pretty funnerific to me! 

That's updates for now. I will try and write more soon!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May Already!??!

How it is possible that time passes this quickly I can't even imagine.

Last week was an absolutely FABULOUS training session with the Dolls. We just love them. We had three groups set up and each did different drills with the Dolls at that station. 

My first drill section was weaving with one foot! I was so excited to try this on my indoors for the first time with my new truck set-up, but things did not go my way. I was disappointed in how wobbly and off kilter I felt on my skates. I had done better outside on the shit pavement with my outdoor wheels, well, after a while I had. I only started to feel normal on my skates nearing the end of the training session too. Meh. 

The Dolls did have lots of input as to how to improve as they watched and shouted things at us to try and help mould us into the best skaters we can be. One of the biggest things to remember is of course bending the knees, so we heard this a lot. I start out good and bendy but as I'm concentrating on other aspects of what I'm doing I slowly raise up. 

Keeping my ass down is also something I have to work on a great deal, though sometimes I feel it is down when they tell me to put it lower. Like at least twice after being told to think, shit in the woods, I was thinking, this IS what I look like shitting in the woods already. My back hurts me a lot when I am in this position for an extended period and I'm trying to find ways, by being stronger and with better posture, to combat this.

Today I practiced in the parking lot besides my kids circus school. (Yeah, circus school, cool eh? I wish I was my kid.) This turned out to be really awesome because it's a decently clean pavement area and also the business there had these uber reflective windows so it was like having mirrors there. This was super helpful because I was checking out my posture a lot thinking about all the things I am being told and actually being able to see how it looks. I look forward to practicing there again.

I did, while practicing today, really get a better handle on weaving with one foot. I'm wondering after today's evidence whether I do better skating on my outdoor wheels? I'm thinking of leaving them on for this weeks practice and see how that works out for me. They are narrower then my indoor wheels so that is making some amount of difference in how they skate for me. But, they are softer so they will not skate as fast as my indoor wheels; but do I even skate fast enough for that to be a noticeable difference? I dunno. We'll see how it goes.

Okay, that's it for now brothers and sisters. I should be sleeping. I shall write more later and answer some questions for Ana about outfitting for derby.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Skate Upgrades!

I have been lagging with my writing and have in fact had three sessions since last I wrote. Not only have I learned a whole lot more about roller derby but I have also greatly increased my knowledge of my skates. 

Even though there is more skating session info and other stuff to talk about I first have to tell you about my skates. I got new bushings!! Do you know what a bushing is? I just learned. I do recall hearing them spoken about as well as my trucks, and knowing it had something to do with the bottom of my skates but that's about it. But now I know for real. You can too! Check out the diagram here (you have to scroll down a little) if you don't know what the hell I'm talking about, it is really good and makes it simple to see all the bits on the bottom. 

The whole assembly with the bushings (numbers 4 and 6 in the diagram) is called the truck so loosening the nut at the end is having looser trucks. I also learned that there are different hardnesses of bushings, so not only had my trucks been tightened tightly I had the hardest bushings possible (I switched to medium softness). So with the hard bushings there had been very little give of the boot on top of the wheels, leaning to either side didn't really make the skate turn just start to tip over. This is also why (I can tell now) I had an easier time with plow stops then some others. With looser trucks and softer bushings plows are now more work for me. 

The reason getting new bushings on my skates, and loosening my trucks a bit, was such a big deal for me was how it has allowed me to weave on one skate. This is a skill I will need to pass my WFTDA test (I have mentioned it before) and had hoped that hardware changes would help. Guess what? They did! 

When I went to Cardinal skate shop (if you recall, earlier I didn't purchase items there and felt bad) the girls who were working there (who turned out to be Bambi and Dust Bunny of the Gores) were super helpful. Dust Bunny actually showed me how to take my skates apart and put new bearings in the wheels, put in new bushings, loosen my trucks and change my wheels (to the red outdoor wheels I purchased). I feel like a pro! Also I couldn't help myself I bought a pair of those cute bootie shorts with the skeleton hands on the ass. 

I had already been skating outdoors on my indoor wheels. I went to the skate park near us where I take the kids to ride their bikes (it has ramps and stuff that they like to use). The ground is asphalt and somewhat littered with broken bottle bits and crap. I did end up getting used to it with my indoor wheels on, but it took a while. It came down to little steps, better footwork. I figured that was a good way to get better at that, nothing motivates like the the fear of falling on broken glass.

At any rate, I was hoping it would be a bit better with outdoor wheels on and of course I wanted to know what the softer bushings and looser trucks felt like. I reminded myself that I would have to tighten my trucks no matter what initially as the new bushings squished in a bit. I had a new skate tool now too to do this with. See, pro! 

So when we got home we stopped for bikes and off we went to the skate park. It was SO exciting in how different it felt. When I first got on my skates I felt like I was on jello, they are bouncy and squishy now. Of course being on the bumpy asphalt made me have to get used to the new squishiness fairly quickly, again the fear of broken glass was a good motivator.

I was very excited to try and skate on one foot and do some weaving but I had to skate around in circles getting used to the new feel for a while before I could do that. Eventually it was feeling more normal and I tried the weaving on one foot and I could do it! Not to say I was a super pro and perfect at it, but I can do it. I still need lots more practice to be super good at it but the difference in how I can move my skates by the pressure in my foot is crazy! As you can tell this excites me a great deal.

I have many more things to talk about (cool derby websites, the upcoming test, a derby moniker for me etc.) but I think I will leave you with this for now. I am going to re-watch Doctor Who episodes to try and spot The Silent. 

Friday, April 8, 2011


Well, I was pulled out of the country there for a bit due to familial issues and property dealings. I had a visit with the old country, which for me is Latvia. I wonder if they have roller derby? I suspect not but I had no time to find out as I was busy, busy, busy!

But the day after I got back it was time for derby practice once again and I was ready to go! It had been two weeks since I was on skates and though I have been trying to do extra squats and whatnot none of it compares to actual on-skate time.

We were hosted for training by the Death Track Dolls and they were absolutely delightful. We were working on hits and whips, both a lot of fun. I found it interesting that the way they split us was by asking those who felt they were a bit more advanced to go to one side of the hangar and those who didn't to go to the other side. It wasn't an even split but it worked okay.

 It was interesting to note how many of the actually advanced skaters went into the less advanced group, and then there was me, smack dab in advanced knowing it might be the case that I oughtn't to be there. But, how else are ya' gonna get better! I have high a bar, I hope one day to actually be able to reach it!

So first my group did whips, we tried the inside whip and the outside whip. I found these a lot of fun and really not too hard do. They are very intuitive. Inside whip grab girl, who is coming up on the inside, with your outside arm, whip forward. Outside whip, grab girl, coming on your outside, with your outside arm and fling her (that one is super fun!). I initially wasn't grabbing my partners arm too well for the outside whip but with a little insight from the Dolls and my partner it was all good. Whips are fun! You get to go even faster then normal.

The hits were fun too but actually a bit harder then I had expected. That is, hitting in the best way possible required more of a fine tuned hip raising motion then I had really thought about. I hadn't considered the fact that you're really trying to get under the girl you're hip checking.

The Dolls told us to watch the youtube clip of Beyonslay doing some great hip checking. So of course I went and watched the video (good stuff stuff is at :44). Here she is doing it again to a different jammer. She is AWESOME at getting under her opponent and depositing them on the sidelines, certainly someone I will try and emulate in my hip checking.

The last thing we did was play a game they called Last Chick Standing. I'm sure you can guess the idea. We had to practices our hits and try to stay standing while others did the same. If we went out of bounds or got put down we were out of the game. I actually did pretty well at this, took some girls down and lasted till close to the end.

 I know that all of the girls were not hitting with all their might though, nor was I. You can't help but monitor what you're doing with the girls who you know are less capable skaters, it just feels nasty. I mean, you hit them, but I don't think most of us were using all of our strength on each other, I know I wasn't. I still don't know what it will be like when I use all of my might, I will have to be surer on my skates to release most power I can.

Of course, I did feel a bit wobblier then I would have liked on my skates this session. I know that I have not had enough time on them lately. I have been doing some exercises, like this great one from the great Hard Knox Roller Derby Fitness site to try and improve my ability. As well, I actually have been watching youTube videos roller skate instruction and derby. This has also been very enlightening, but no comparison to time on skates. I am waiting with bated breath for summer to come so I can skate outside and get better faster.

Speaking of the videos, I really like this one and this one, which show how to turn from skating backwards to forwards specifically, but also really helps with the turning stop and whatnot (which I STILL can't do properly, though I am getting closer). Also this one here for the sideways skating skill that is SO important for a lot of things that I can't do!

I have been practicing the ballet first position, feet pointed out sideways from body, an awful lot lately, cause doing that in skates is not as easy as bare feet where your feet stick to the floor a bit and hold you. In skates you roll, shocking as that may be. My knees are not used to stretching in that direction either so practice, practice, practice.

Clearly being able to have yourself with your feet, knees and hips in first position is very important to derby and good roller skating. I have to be able to more comfortably flip my skates around into different positions and, of course, I still can't do the steering around pylons on only one skate. Need to get that one still too. Lots more to know that's for darned sure.

So, more skate time required, I need to start improving more. Plateaus can be annoying, but I shall keep on keeping on.

It's game time on Saturday, I shall be trying out a new NSO posting as Outside Whiteboard. I am frightened, I do not know the ref hand signals well enough. Learning is FUN!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Game Day

Well this training session was a ref run event. This means that we spent a fair amount of time going over rules and having questions answered.

The first thing the refs went over were some hand signals. I have actually been reading the book, and have looked at the hand signals more then once (though I certainly haven't studied them) but I couldn't remember what any of them were standing there looking at her motions. Meh.

In any case it reminded me that I really need to keep up with studying the book as well as trying to become a better skater. I certainly wouldn't want the written rules test to be the thing that kept me out, that would be embarrassing!

After the sit down lesson we did the funnest part yet. We got to play! Real scrimmage, like we all knew what we were doing. Hahahaha...well, actually not so much like we knew what we were doing, but it was still LOADS of fun.

When the ref announced we were going to play everyone was really excited, but when she told ten people to take places not everyone jumped in at once. I, on the other hand, immediately went to be the jammer, I was so excited to try for real. I was up against a guy (who had also immediately gone into the jammer position) who was training for refdom; he was a better skater then me but that just made me want to try even harder.

I almost made lead jammer but was checked to the ground and lost my place. Du-oh! But I kept on keeping on and did my best to catch up with him and make it through the pack. I had two skaters from the other team doing a great job blocking me but eventually I made it through. It was so much fun! I even got two assists from my teammates, one push and one mini-whip. Super COOL!

I was so happy that playing was as much fun as it looks. It's awesome. I also got to try blocking in our second time around, which our team, team Rainbow (we were all delighted by this in a very silly way) got to do because there had been fewer people not wearing black shirts. So we got to skate more whilst the black shirted people sadly waited in line for their turn.

Blocking is hard. I know it is SUPER important because I have seen (as I've spoken about here) the difference in a team with good blockers, with a strategy, working together and one without. A team without good blockers could waste a super jammer, leaving her stuck behind the pack without a way out. They are exceedingly important.

I found it difficult as a blocker to keep looking back and keep track of where everyone was and where I needed to be in relation to them. Even though I know we were move in slow motion compared to a real derby game, it really felt like stuff was happening SO fast.

Going from slow pack to trying to move quickly to get in the jammers way to stop her, while also fighting your way in the pack for a good placement to clear your jammer's path. It's a lot of stuff to think about while skating and looking backwards and fending off other blocker's hits and shoves and whatnot.

It was all great though. I liked being a blocker and a jammer. Being a jammer is a bit easier in a way, certainly not in skating skill but in how much thinking is required as there are a lot fewer decisions to make really. There could be decisions of course about calling the jam and whatnot but that would be about it. You know you have to skate fast and then get through the pack, and then skate fast and then get through the pack and then skate fast and etc.

A number of the women are too frightened to be jammers. This works out well truthfully because with the amount of us not all of them would have gotten to try it yet. There were some girls trying the jamming who were not the strongest skaters though and I loved seeing their bravery. I love being able to be proud of other women, there is so often I am ashamed.

If even most of these women finish the fresh meat programme TORD will have to add another team, I've heard rumours that it would be another farm team (newbie team) which certainly makes sense with so many new players. I hope that this means that eventually the TORD teams will change from having so many shared players, making the teams more even and team fan following more compelling.

It does seem now there are a couple of all-star teams on the league and then those same all-star players playing on other teams to make them better. Though, one imagines that the reason for this shared-ness is due to the lack of players and with more players that problem would slowly solve it self. I hope I can become one of the good players the teams actually want!

Here is a picture of me in my gear!

Next Up: The Game Continues

Monday, March 14, 2011

Drilled Into Submission

Time for derby drills! Everybody loves drills, it means you get to show everyone over and over again how well you do or do not know a skill. And, well, it is also a lot of really good practice especially with two roller girls watching you and giving you pointers the whole while.

For this training session we were split into four groups, which is good because though we have lost at least twenty fresh meaters there are still about sixty of us which can be a bit unwieldy at times. There were four stations on the circuit and we spent about fifteen or twenty minutes at each (which seemed like an hour when it was a hard one let me tell you). The stations were stops (plough and t), rockstar fall (and 180 stop), baseball fall and duck walk.

The group I was in began with baseball fall. This is a fun fall to do, in a way, once you get it. The thing that some girls had trouble with at first was not falling on both knees at once (ouchy!) but dropping first to one knee and tucking that leg, bent, under your body, and then dropping to hip/bootie while you slide in.

Also there was the whole coming to understand how to fall on your hip or ass in the right way so that you weren't totally hurting yourself. It's fun to learn. I had also learned in the warmups that my left leg has definitely been injured in a real way, in that first or second training session.

This is the muscle in my left leg that I have been able to instantly feel when I try to raise from a fall since that initial hurting time. I think it is my adductor longus or possibly magnus, which I have strained badly (I hope that is all at least) and hasn't yet been able to heal all the way. Anyway, this just means that the falling isn't the part that hurts me the most (though I did fall once REALLY hard on my hip), it's the getting up.

The next stop for me was duck walk. Duck walk is so ridiculous and hilarious yet very effective. It is tough getting your skates to be in the first position of ballet, pointing out sideways and sort of stomping about but it's fun to try. It sure does allow you to start quickly when you get it working right. It is a skill I look forward to trying to put into action in a game.

Rockstar fall looks cool. There's no denying it, the sliding in on two knees leaning back, very cool. This was no problem for me to do but my leg sure was starting to be angry with me. With this fall part of the requirement is a no hands on the ground get up. Hello burning thighs! We've met here before haven't we?

G-Force then showed us the 180 stop, which starts with a one knee slide except right after you begin your slide you take the leg still up on it's skate and swing it around the outside of your body, which swings you around and then you quickly lift up your other leg for getting up. If you do this right it just whips you right around so you're facing the opposite direction and you can get up and skate away all cool like. I really liked this, it was fun whipping around. Even with my stupid leg hurting I did some giggling.

Ploughs and t-stops were, well, stoppy. Not exciting but great practice and some good insight from the roller girls how to do them better and faster. You get the drill.

We also did measuring for endurance again. I forgot to mention that we did this last session, I don't know how cause I thought it was so cool. For the WFTDA test to be a part of roller derby you have to be able to skate around the track twenty five times in five minutes, this is called endurance. So, we got to try this last week and I got twenty laps in five minutes.

I was proud of my last weeks number, and I wanted to try and get at least one lap better. It may have been a lofty goal considering the insane drill session we had just been through but, it's good to have goals. At any rate, I was lucky to get twenty. I think I pushed to hard at the beginning and there was so little left to give, I was happy with my twenty by the end of it cause I wasn't even sure I would get that!

My very sweet husband had a hot bath ready for me when I got home, because he loves me and enjoys it when I take off my clothes. I have been trying to take good care of my leg with nice stretches, hot baths with epsom salts, massage, rest balanced with minor muscle building exercises. Until next weekend of course, then it's back into battle.

Coming Soon: Game Day!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Back on My Skates

Well was I ever happy to be back on my skates. I was however also a bit worried about how awful I would be having not been on my skates for two weeks. Although I was a bit wobblier then I had been two weeks ago I  hadn't slipped too far back.

I certainly noticed the difference that the two weeks had made in the skaters around me. Many of those who had just started on skates didn't look that way anymore and the skaters who had been rusty weren't looking so rusty anymore. Gah! I had catching up to do.

In my absence the girls had moved forward but I was determined to claw my way to their skill level. I spent a lot of this session practicing skills we had already gone over and trying to catch up on things I had missed. I asked a lot of questions about what I had missed and a had the instructors show me the moves I didn't get, which they were so willing to do.

It was a very informative session but not that exciting news wise. The one neat thing we did do was jumps. I found out that one of the sessions I had missed they had done a class of jumps, so I thought they must all be pros at it. Luckily this wasn't the case and it turns out I was okay at them. I didn't even fall on my ass! That's always a good omen.

The other thing which we did that left an impression (because of how much I couldn't do it) was weaving between pylons on one skate. So that means after you have some speed just lifting one skate up (I can do that part) and then making yourself turn and weave using your body weight and skate edges to turn the skate where you want it to go.

When they did the demonstration of this skill we were all a bit frightened. Gliding on one skate is one thing but turning? I did my best here, but I have to say, I sure didn't get it. And, even the times I got a tiny bit close to doing it  I was always on my left skate, and we have to be able to do this on each foot, respectively, to pass our WFTDA test. Crumbs.  This will require some practice.

A number of us skating were a bit downhearted about this skill and our lack of ability in it, but one of the roller girls pointed out that this is a difficult skill and in fact kept her from passing her test on her first try. So, try and try again. And, try and try again.

Hopefully, eventually I will get it!

Coming Soon: Drilled Into Submission

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Birthday Double Header Fun

Well it was my sweet man's birthday on Saturday and besides having a scrumptious dinner (I had the surf & turf, it was yummy!) we checked this out.

TORD's double header featured a bout between newbie teams Toronto's Dvas and Sudbury's Nickel City, and then headliner teams CN Power and opposition Michigan's Killamazoo Derby Darlin's. These sure were two different games to watch.


It was really interesting for me to see the newbie teams play as I hadn't seen this before and it was nice to see that there is a place for starters to ease in if they are not sure enough or skilled enough to be in the big leagues. This will be one of the options open to me when I complete TORD's freshmeant programme.

If I pass the WFTDA sanctioned skillz test (written and practical) I can put myself up for draft or simply choose to enter the Dvas, TORD's newbie team. If I were to put myself up for draft and not get drafted then I also fall into the Dvas to bone up on my skillz and if I want to try again, putting myself up for next draft pick or whenever I feel ready.

I have heard from some cool rollergirls that they did not start out super skaters and immediately pick everything up. A lot of them speak of getting stuck not being able to do certain moves and I've also heard stories of failing their first test and having to skate with the newbie team for two years. This is nice to hear. They make it look so easy it's nice to be reminded that they got that way by working hard; I can do that!

Now Back to the Game

The biggest difference with the newbie teams was in skating speed, so it was sort of like watching a regular game in slow motion. This turned out to be really great because CBB (my husband) had never been to a match before and really didn't know what was going on. He was mostly confused watching the first match, though he did seem to enjoy it. (I knew he would love all the ass, who doesn't?) He asked lots of questions about what was going on in the action and I obliged with the answers I could.

It was actually pretty funny when I was explaining stuff because different people in our vicinity would hear me and then lean in and sometimes even ask some questions. I felt like the information fairy. The game ended with the Dvas kicking butt to the tune of 71-38. Yeah Dvas!

The second game was faster but less gripping because Toronto absolutely trounced Michigan, at the halfway point they led 112-11. Ouch! By the end of the match CN Power had the score at 197-35. The biggest difference between these two teams was the blocking. It seemed like the team from Michigan just had four girls sort of haphazardly trying to stop the other team each with their own idea of how that should be done.

In the first half the Michigan team's coach was asking the team who wanted to be jammer or pivot, like, they didn't even have a real plan of who played what. Didn't they think about each skaters strengths? He was offering them to any takers. It was weird. That's how the blocking struck me as well, like they forgot that it's a thinking game too, they needed some plays. This was VERY different from the CN Power team who had coaches with clip boards with different plays written out with who was in what position, not only jammer and pivot but front blocker, back blocker etc.

Clearly everyone on the Toronto team knew there were different jobs for every part and they worked as a team. This was a great difference in coaching I think and it was certainly evident in their games. The CN Power jammers are superb and their blockers were just awesome at opening up all of the roads for the jammers to just slice through the pack like it wasn't there. They worked like a machine and the score shows just how well.

I loved the crowd at derby games SO much. Have I mentioned that before? I know I have, but it really pleases me. All the mixing. Young and old, gay and straight, boys and girls, punks and conservatives all happy together to appreciate watching girls skate around a track. It's what sports are supposed to do, but so often don't. I'm lovin' the derby kids.

Next up: Back on My Skates

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Session Four: The Let Down

Well guess who missed another training session? Yeah, you know it, it was me bitches. This means that I have only one pass left. Go on, judge me!

Of course I had a good reason! I must say that in fact I had a really good reason. I didn't want to die. It's sort of a base emotion, the survival one, and after having had an accident one week before it was pretty strong. The weather decided to mess with my shit and have some sort of insanamaniac snow/ice storm. The roads were a skating rink covered by blowing snow and of course on and off white outs.

I did set out, I was very determined to not miss another session. I drove for some time. I witnessed numerous accidents all around me. Numerous. I did not get very far kilometre wise when I witnessed yet another accident, two cars spinning out on either side of the road because they were idiots and driving too fast (there were people PASSING!! wtf?).

I thought, you know what, I don't wanna die. I can still taste the fear of imagining missing my children's lives should things have taken a different turn a week ago. I turned around and went home.

It did not make me feel good to do this. I was NOT happy. I felt wimpy, weak. I do not like giving in to things. I am my own master. Except when I'm not. Clearly I am the weather's bitch. I am coming to terms with this reality. (It also shows me how I'm getting

The next training session is on Sunday, you can bet your asses I will be there, come hell or high water (though I REALLY hope those things just leave me alone.)

Roller Derby Basics

To keep things derbyish I thought I would take a moment to go over the basics of roller derby for those reading this with no derby background. The game is played on an oval shaped flat track (thusly the sport is now called Women's Flat Track Racing) with two teams who have a maximum of five players on the track at a time.

The five players consist of four blockers, (one of whom is a pivot blocker) and the jammer. Each jam lasts two minutes on the clock unless called to end by the lead jammer (explained below). There are two half hour periods with an intermission between them. There is a bar.

As I spoke of earlier the jammer is the quarter back of derby, she is the player who races around the track as many times as possible (deeking out the other teams blockers with the help of her own blockers) collecting points on the second and all following passes by passing the opposing team's players. A point is gained for each player passed.

Then there are a whole lot more complicated things. When the 'jam' (two minute bout) starts the first jammer to get past the group of blockers (the pack ) is called the lead jammer. Whoever becomes the lead jammer has the ability to call an end to the jam.

Why would this be important you may ask (or you may not, but shut up who asked you anyway). Well, this gives the lead the jammer the ability to keep the other jammer from grabbing points. So, when she has gone past the pack for the second or third time, the other jammer could very well not have passed any opposing players and when the lead jammer calls the game to an end (by putting both hands to hips and raising and back to hips) her team has banked good points and the other team has not.

Being the lead jammer has clear advantages. It is possible that neither jammer gets called as lead if no one has presented as clear leader in the first circuit around the track. In this case the jam comes to an end at the allotted two minute mark.

There is far more. I shall continue with this in my next post!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Crashum Smashum

Well another derby practice has come and gone, and I missed it.
C'est what? How could you miss practice *littlestar? After all of your vigour and big talk?

Well, I do have a pretty good excuse, I cartwheeled my car three times and landed it in the middle of a field. You know, just for fun. Because, I had never done that and of course I have wondered what it would be like. And, now I know. It's mostly not a lot of fun because you don't know if your careening to your demise. I would not recommend it to my friends.

It is fairly disconcerting, flying in a car. As you're flying it occurs to you, you know, this is not right, usually I'm much more upright then this and my wallet doesn't hit me in the head as it is flung about the cabin. Luckily for me when all of its energy had been spent the Matrix I had been driving, catlike in its descent, landed on all four tyres.

It took me a while to find my phone after we landed. I unbuckled my belt and opened the car door and looked around. It was very confusing to be in the middle of a field. The road was strangely far away from me, and there was a fence between us. How peculiar. It took me a bit of time in the bright sunshine to discern from the marks in the snow what had occurred. The area of the fence I vaulted over had been slightly pushed down but was really only evident because of the marks on either side of it. Car vault.

I have always thought that being a stuntman would be a neat job. I still do.

I wrote to one of the lovely ladies who run the Freshmeat programme for TORD and let her know I would be missing the practice on doctors orders (SEE! I do listen sometimes!) and asked her to let me know what they went over. She was very sweet and let me know that they practiced snow plows (I already know how to do these) cross overs (good at right, not so good at left), T-stops (can't do that well) and one foot chase, which is when you pump with one foot while gliding on the other.

I don't know if I've really tried one foot chase since restarting my roller skating career. I think I may do it when I'm skating without knowing it has a name. I will have to try it out next session to make sure.

I will be returning to the track this Saturday for practice but I may be pushing a bit less hard then usual due to my still somewhat dodgy body situation. I am trying things out tentatively but have noticed that my muscles fatigue very quickly right now. It still hasn't even been a week since the accident so this seems like fairly normal muscle behaviour to me.

I may in fact find that I suddenly feel horrible a week from now, I'm told that happens now and again with accidents. I'm hoping that it won't be the case for me. It will take a little while for my body to bounce back though, from being shuffled about as it was in the cartwheel. I hope to continue good recovery and will take to the track with vigour.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Session Two: The Hurting

After seeing the game on Saturday I was even more excited to go to the next training session  in hopes of one day looking as cool on a pair of skates as the roller girls had. It is very important to have goals!

In the first training session I had acquired a blister on one of my feet, where the tongue of my boot rubbed on the front of my ankle. I hadn’t actually noticed while skating but as soon as I undid my skates it started to hurt; funny how that is. One of the roller girls had sent out some helpful tips specifically about foot lesions and blisters and how to do deal with them when skating again the next week. Very helpful.

It was suggested to first put a blister pad around the blister (or in my case open wound!) then bandaid and then tape around the ankle so the tongue of the skate slides over it more easily. I knew I would be skating no matter what but I hoped that it still didn’t hurt so much which all the layers never mind about rubbing more skin off.

I bandaided up and brought the tape with me and taped over my sock. The rigging seemed to work very well for me and I felt no pain from the blister the whole night. When I took the tape off at home there was as new blister formed but it didn’t hurt at all so I consider it a win.

There were a lot less ladies at this second session which was in keeping with what I had been told about the rate of dropouts. There were eighty to start and I would say that there were about twenty less for session two.

I also noticed that there were a few women who were in attendance but not on skates. I have to imagine they had been hurt but didn’t want to miss; but, to note, they could all walk around just fine (not even limping) so I don’t get why they couldn’t get on skates. If you can’t take a bit of pain then I think you’re in the wrong sport.

As I skated around the track for warm up my legs felt a bit funny. There was a muscle at the top of my right thigh that felt… strange. The first drill was knee drops, not my favourite but needs improvement so I threw myself into it. Then, BOING! It was like that muscle, the funny one, stopped laughing and started screaming. Either that or some invisible person was stabbing me in the leg. (Why would they do that?)

I knew the drill wasn’t going to go on forever so I switched to dropping on my left leg. Not to be left out the same muscle in my left leg also decided to get angry, though not quite as angry as the right leg. So, I stuck with my left leg for drops, which I am not as good at so it forced me to become better. Painfully. That was NOT a good drill. But, what doesn’t kill ya’…

The next drills were about learning the plough stop. I was excited to learn a new stop until halfway through the drill I realized that this is really how I already stop I just didn’t know that’s what it was called. I had been wondering why I couldn’t  do it faster, but learned that in fact it is not a quick stop, so I felt like less of a failure.

In learning this stop we did a drill of push out and pull ins to learn the technique necessary. That is, we widened our legs out and forward to meet and then pulled them back in and together, making a sort of circle in totality.

There really are many things in this world that look so easy when other people do them aren’t they? This is one of them. I did really like this exercise though, you could feel your inner thigh muscles growing stronger with each movement. This will be one I will absolutely add to my exercise regime. (The one I haven’t started yet but have REALLY been thinking about.)

I have been really impressed thus far with the roller girls who are there doing the training and TORD's Freshmeat programme in general. I have no basis for comparison of course, but I feel like I'm getting a really good deal. Each session there have been at least five roller girls there doing demos and skating around helping. This is a really big deal considering the number of women as well as the varied skating levels.

Some of the ladies are really just starting on skates and obviously can use more one on one, hands-on time, and they get it. This is pretty cool considering you're not really paying to be taught to skate, it's just part of the deal for joining derby. I mean, I guess it makes sense (and having to pay more money would have impeded me from joining, the skates on their own cost SO much), and they do need skaters and most people don't already have that skill, but still - I recognise that we pay for our kids to attend progammes like this to learn new skills. It's pretty neat that if you are really interested in this sport and want to take part in it they take you in and teach you how so you can participate. It's so communal, what's not to love.

We also did glides on a single leg which is easy peasy for me to do on my left leg and for some reason was hard on my right. I guess I couldn’t balance as well as usual because I was having intense pain in my thigh, but it still seemed odd to me. It’s different muscles so it made me wonder if I may be having bearing issues of some kind. I will have to learn more about this as  I have been informed that it’s a big deal, there will have to be a an exciting post about bearings at some point. Oh what intrigue there is in store for you.

Coming Soon: Session Three – will the coughing have ended…? Stay tuned to find out.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Game Time!

Well, what an exciting weekend I've had, filled with athletic, shiny bottomed, leggy girls in fishnets. Not too bad, not too bad at all.

I arrived to sign in for my volunteering as a Non-Skating Official, or NSO at the Hangar for 5 o'clock. Lot's of stuff was already going on and there were a fair number of volunteers already about. The track had already been laid and and the refs were in the back corner in the midst of their start up meeting.

I found someone at the door to sign up with who pointed me to the NSO area. I had to wait for a little bit but I didn't mind, there were lots of people about, and I got to have an awkward conversation with an awkward sort of fellow. Who doesn't love awkward conversations.

We had our NSO meeting in the back corner with the refs. There was a lot of information thrown at us by Penny Whistle the head referee. She assured us (when seeing the deer in head lights faces) that the freshmeat NSOs were not expected to fully understand all she was saying but needed to start taking it all in.

I don't know if ya'll know this, but there are like, a lot of rules in this game.  I have already been reading the manual so this wasn't my first introduction, but it was dense reading and I sure didn't remember as much as I had hoped. There were so many different types of penalties and I sat on the bleachers hoping I wouldn't have to track penalties. I didn't. Luckily I was paired with a nice girl I'll call  Sparky and given the job they called Lineups.

Lineups meant that Sparky and I were to track a team each, and write down (on our sheets which we were given with clipboards and pencils) for each jam, the numbers of each of the girls who held each position (that would be pivot, blockers and jammer). This didn't sound hard.

We were also to keep track of the opposing teams jammer and how many times she went around the track (there were little numbers to circle on the side of the sheet for this). Okay, a bit weird to have to watch the other teams gal, but okay, I can do this. Also we were to keep track of when players entered and exited for a penalty, and which lap of the opposing teams jammer it was when this occurred. Ummmm... yeah.

We were told to stand by the hangar door, by the benches, so we could see the girls backs as they stood waiting for the start of the jam. Sparky and I went to check out our allotted area as we had time to kill before the game started. Of coures I wanted to really understand what the heck we were doing so I read all of the small print at the bottom of our charts and tried to figure out exactly how it was were supposed to represent all of this information in all of the columns and boxes set out before me.

 I didn't want to look like a weenie. This is why I must fully understand everything. I went and asked the other refs questions, they were uber helpful, super approachable, very patiently explanatory. Seriously awesome vibe those guys had; professional, organised and friendly. So we figured our shit out and felt comfortable enough to relax until game time. We watched the junior girls rugby rehearse their demonstration of how the game is played, which was really cool and very well done. If they decide to some of those girls could grow up to be killer roller girls.

Then the players came out, first one team then the other, skating around the track to warm up. It seemed to me they were skating around for too long to just warm up, though it was neat watching them do their little drills and whatnot, snaking together and weaving in and out expertly.

Through all of this people had been streaming in. I sort of didn't notice having had eyes peeled to my sheets and then the track (trying to figure out how the hell I was supposed to see the bloody numbers on their backs! High definition colouring my ass.) and then when I looked about, Ta-da! Lots of people.

My derby girlfriend Trish, who has a broken collarbone (Ouch!) was there and it felt so nice to meet someone I knew! Hahaha.. I'm so easy to please. Also Trish pointed out to Sparky and I that we had our sheets reversed (as they were prelabeled with teams names) for the teams we were tracking. That was really helpful.

It  is such a neat feeling that you get at sporting events, that ready to be excited feeling tingling in the air; everyone is sizzling waiting for the opportunity to exude emotions, cheering or booing or shouting or clapping. A place where you are allowed to feel out loud. Emote! It's really great.

I smile a lot and look at people, just, you know, cause I do. People need more smiles in their lives. Anyway, in the world, a lot of times people don't smile back, they are confused to have a stranger smile at them and aren't sure what they are supposed to feel. At the roller derby game I got lots of smiles back. It was really neat. I loved the crowd that was there. Sparky said to me at one point during the game, "Isn't it like, you would just be friends with anyone here? They're all so cool looking? But not like, they think they're cool, just like, nice to know."

I couldn't have agreed more. And, I must say, to all of my girl loving girlfriends and boy loving boyfriends, attend the games! It was queer central. I loved that too. I think it was part of what gave it such an awesome vibe, a place where being you, whoever you are is just completely fine. I love it when there is no normal.

The games began with a great caller on the mic, and it was, well it was wild. I mean, for me and Sparky it was a little bit insane. Because when the game starts there is no stopping. We had to write all of this information for EACH jam, and the players switch between each jam never mind what has been going on with penalties and whatnot.

So each jam ends with skaters skating off after having been visible for less then two minutes while new skaters come on and stand ready for moments before the whistle blows for the next jam to begin and then skating commences again. And of course, you have to be able to SEE them, to actually read the numbers which is a whole other thing. So, the first half of the game there may, possibly, be some errors in our sheets.

The second half went much better, Sparky had given me a tip about what to look at first, helped me. We helped each other with noticing girls going in and out of the penalty box and it went much smoother.

The hardest part for Sparky and I was not getting excited and cheering for the game. GAWD! There were so many AMAZING plays where we were hiding behind our boards saying, holy shit! can you believe she got that! We weren't exactly poker faces but nary a cheer escaped our lips.

Did I mention how many hot girls were there? I think I did a queer callout above, but seriously, there were like, SO many hot girls there. Players and otherwise. I don't know if it was hot girl day or something, but wow.

The roller girls were just awesome. The easiest to notice are of course the showy ones, the jammers - the quarterbacks of derby. Those girls can move, and do, really fast. Of course they are massively helped along and controlled by what the blockers are doing holding back the other jammer and letting their own through faster. The coaches have plays written out on cards that they show their players as they're sitting on the bench waiting for their turn up.

There is a lot going on here my friends. A lot going on. I can't wait to learn more. I have to return to the manual now, having had this experience and try and learn some more about what the hell was going on with the refs and all their hand signals. I want to understand it all (see above about not being a weenie).

Coming Soon: Session Two : The Hurting

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Whee! I can go fast!


I was SO excited to go to the first training session. When I got there I scored a righteous parking spot beside the front door which made me feel like it was going to be an awesome night. I was not disappointed.

There were a lot of girls there; I found out later there are eighty of us freshies, compared to a more normal intake of fifty. As I went through the first session I was thinking about the insiders info I had regarding the programme which was that more then half of the freshies drop out by around the halfway point and that by the end there are usually less then a quarter left who actually take the test. This was from my derby girlfriend's experience going through anyway, and I actually heard another girl telling the same story from her own derby girlfriend.

Thinking about this made me look at every girl in a sort of different way, assessing whether she would go all the way or be one of the many drop outs. (And, of course, thinking about how that applies to me.) I don't have a hard time seeing a lot of  the girls dropping out. Not because they are bad people or stupid or unable (although they could be, who knows) but because they aren't really sure about it to begin with and they have a sort of leisurely attitude about the whole thing, like it's sort of a fun outing rather then taking part in a sport, where in the end you have to be good enough for a team to want you. There are also the girls who, it's easy to see, are not going to be dropping out unless made to. They are serious and motivated, on the track right away after signing in versus dilly dallying around and chatting with friends.

There was a bit of line standing to sign in, as I said, there were eighty of us, so I met some line friends as I had done on the intake day. All the girls were really friendly though some were certainly more serious then others. I met another Baltic babe with whom I connected culturally who has the same cheekbones as me and smiles a lot. There were women there aged nineteen to fifty of all shapes and sizes, from pixie to giant. As usual I gravitated towards the red heads. I don't even know how I do that it just happens

The Mouthguard Mistake

I forgot to boil and mould my mouthguard to me. D-uh. What a wiener. I still had to use my mouthguard though because it's the rules, which truthfully I'm pretty behind because I don't really want any uneccesary concussions or chipped teeth. I mean, really, who does. It was pretty annoying though having my mouthguard in my mouth in all it's bigness and not mouldedness. Don't do this. Remember to boil and fit yours before you're first lesson.

I did however get some good tips about the whole moulding thing, and plan to cut the back half inch off each side before boiling and moulding so that it doesn't cause such a gag reflex. My other derby girlfriend (who plays for a different league) showed me these really cool things from Protech which I think I will be purchasing in the future for a more comfortable mouthguard experience.


After signing in I eagerly went over to the track and joined the girls who were already skating around. This is the part I had been nervous about, how I would do compared to the other girls. Turns out I'm pretty okay for going in. I'm certainly not the best skater on the track, though the best skaters were roller girls already, from other leagues. But, under them in skill, there were the girls who clearly were good skaters before, maybe on roller skates or maybe on ice skates, perhaps hadn't done it in a while, but it was all coming back quickly. I was just behind those girls on the track. I would follow them and try and keep up, deeking in and out of the slower skaters, trying to figure out how to slow down faster and with more control, trying to remember how to take the curves faster. I was loving it.

Before beginning they lined us up military style and slowly went down the line checking us out, our gear that is, to make sure we were outfitted properly and safely. I almost passed inspection until she got to the toe stops, one of mine was loose! How embarrassing! I could have sworn I checked those last night, but good that it was caught, that could have caused a nasty fall.

Then we were called in for the beginning of lessons. The lessons were a bit annoying again because of sound. That is, we couldn't really hear the lady giving the lesson very well. The information was great but the main teaching rollergirl was a quiet talker to begin with, and she just didn't know how to make her voice go big ( I could have taught her to engage her diaphragm but that's another story for another blog). So, that was a bit annoying now and again throughout the night. They did better when they realised it made sense to pull us all into a group for her to speak and then spread us back out to actual go through the drills.

There were so many of us that they had to split us into two groups to run through the drills, first to one wall and then back, which really worked out fine because it gave the other group time to practice their short game. By short game I mean their small tight moves, stopping, turning, moving slowly and controlled. It is where I am the most noticeably lacking right now.


The first drill we did was to fall on our knees. AAGH! I knew it was coming and I don't know why but I had been a bit nervous about it which is not like me at all. I think it's because my knees bother me a bit now (I'm getting old!) and the thought of just dropping on them sort of made me... nervous. Of course I had my brand spanking new new knee pads on so I knew all should be fine.

Trust the knee pads *littlestar, trust the knee pads. When my turn came I dragged one foot behind me on my toe liked the instructor had said (thank god I had gotten those cute toe guards) and dropped onto that knee and then sloppily dropped to my other knee and then fell to my hands. It wasn't ballet. I had to work hard on my second and third tries not to put my hands down as I fell, as we had been instructed (so as not to have fingers crushed by other skaters) which was difficult. Also, getting up without putting my hands down was less easy then it looked when they did it, but I did start to get it on the way back to the starting line.

Next we did shifting weight on our skates. This was fun because we got to skate around the track and the rollergirl instructors stood on the outside or skated along with people and gave them instruction. I thought that was really, really neat. There were clearly some people who had never skated before and for whom it was all new, and these people had instructors skate with them and help them along. Also we who could already skate and were going around were reminded to keep our eyes up (gosh, that's important isn't it? Why is it so hard to do all the time!), keep our legs bent and stay low ( I need to work on this BIG time) and if we fall to fall small and roll into the middle or the outside of the track as fast as possible. Makes sense obviously but not always so easy to do, luckily falling occurred so we could practice. I had one large fall in this drill when I was coming up behind a girl who was a bit slower and  I thought she was going to make the curve well but it turned out she was wobbly and then I didn't want to hit her but she was turning into me and then I went down. Totally grabbed her boob on the way down to..woops. Sorry about that! Hahahaha... unintentional boob grab, it's a UBG, hazard of the sport. Probably why so many guys like to watch it... well, that and all the jiggling babes boobs, butt and thigh.

We had a sit in lesson on the edges of the skate that was followed up with a PDF from the instructor. I'll have to read that, but I think I get the theory. It's just the being able to access whichever edge it is you mean to be using that I'm not so in tune with yet. Yet another thing I will be having to learn.

Which brings us to T-stops. Dragging one of your legs behind you with your foot perpendicular to your leading, straight forward facing, foot. It makes a fart noise when you're doing it right, as the edges of your wheels rub against the ground. I wasn't so good with these and require practice. I need to learn more stops! This one was a bit hard particularly because the instructor said it's the furthest edge of the furthest wheel on the ground, not the inside edge of the furthest wheel, which seems easier. Further testing and practice required for me for this for sure. Luckily I do have a way of stopping now, by plowing my skates and sort of turning into them, like I'm skiing. It works fairly well, and I'm imagining it must be one of the ways to stop, it just isn't very fast, or at least, I don't know how to do it fast.

Practice went a little bit late, but it started a bit late with all the signing in and giving out of insurance cards and whatnot. We did a quick stretch after led by one of the helpful instructors which was really great. My muscles weren't hurting at the end of the session and I was feeling like a million bucks! (Though I knew something was gonna hurt the next day!) I knew I would love it and I did. It is so excellent when things work out that way!

Coming Soon: Volunteering at my First Game

Monday, January 31, 2011

I'm on Roller Skates!

The Basics

When I was a kid I loved to roller skate. I somehow even convinced my mom to get me roller skates and then skated downstairs to funky calypso music or in the garage if my brother had friends over. I have always wanted to join Roller Derby and have had to stand and watch others do it before me because I just didn't have the time and/or money. I was jealous then but the tide has turned babies!

I have joined TORD (Toronto Roller Derby) through their Freshmeat programme. This means that I go through around five months of once a week training which hopefully prepares me to pass my minimum requirements test and allows me to try and get picked up by a team so I can play in the league.

Because I hope to grow as a skater and become an actually good player I thought it would be neat to keep track of it in a blog (people still do these right?) so that when I've completed this I can look back and hopefully see the progress I will have made (I hope!). Also, I may actually get some other girls to get motivated enough to join themselves if they have a clearer idea of what it's like. It has seemed to me that nearly every girl I tell about derby says they have thought about doing it or wanted to find out more, which is exactly how I felt about it until now!


The skates are bloody expensive. It's for good reason mind you, they are really nice and I'm sure have small production lines and likely still a fair amount of hand craftsmanship required and whatnot. At any rate it is what it is and if you're going to do derby you have to invest in the skates.

I did a lot of research on the internet, looking at rookie packages (which really are the way to go if you don't already have a helmet and all the pads) and tried to learn about the skates. It became clear to me that no matter what I would have to interface with some skates before purchasing them because I had no idea the difference between the fit of a Riedell and a Suregrip, nevermind how a short booted skate even felt.

I had been told by girlfriend already in derby about Cardinal in Toronto for purchasing skates and whatnot, so I made the trek down there. The guy who runs the shop, Glen I believe, was SO nice. What a sweet and helpful guy. I tried on numerous skates and he patiently explained about the skates to me, why some were more expensive, how long each would last, what each one was better for etc. I asked more and more detailed questions, he answered all of them with a smile.

I walked away from this without buying any skates but much better informed. I did feel bad though to not purchase anything then but I needed to reassess. The skates I wanted cost a fair bit more then I was willing to spend and I wasn't sure what the solution was and needed to do some more research. Now that I knew how they fit differently I could go home and revisit the sites I had found, understanding that expensive boots have laces that go ALL the way to the toe, are made out of leather and have aluminum instead of plastic parts.

I found a good deal online at, where I could get the Suregrip skates (I had to settle for a cheaper pair then my favourites of course) that had fit me well with all the pads, a helmet and a mouthguard and toe guards. This is known as a rookie package, though not all come with the mouthguard and/or toeguards, Cardinal's hadn't come with either extra and and other stores online also didn't include them.

So I ordered. Someone from rollergirl emailed to let me know the order had been received and verified processing time and mailing date. That was great, I really like having a response from something ordered online, gives you confidence you haven't just been taken for a ride. I have really received great service from both skate stores I have dealt with I must say, though I still carry guilt for not being able to buy at Cardinal, to stay local, but at least Rollergirl is also Canadian, just out of Vancouver. It made me super happy to get a great deal and buy Canadian.

I shall endeavour to make purchases at Cardinal in the future to appease my latent guilt, nobody likes latent guilt, it's that icky green and it smells bad.  They had some really cute apparel there that I would totally go back for when I have money, little skirts and cutie roller girl tops and I'll need outdoor wheels in a few months so I'm sure they'll see my money one day.


So the first thing I did was attended an intake for freshmeat at the Hangar where TORD has their set up. It's was all very organised and upon getting in the building I was immediately directed to bleachers where a whole bunch of ladies were already sitting. There were a lot of people there. More then I had expected, though I hear TORD girls did say there were the most intakes ever.

The intake was only slightly annoying, it was hard to hear the speaker due to the massiveness of the space and the extremely loud heater. At any rate they gave us the rundown and set us up to pay our insurance and entry fees. Once we had done that we received a manual for the training session. We were urged to read the rules included therein. I was SO excited! A manual! Something for me to read to try and know more, real rules! I was so excited to skate for real but that wasn't to happen for another week.

It was neat at the intake that I looked very normal with my fire engine red tipped hair and nose ring. Since I live rurally I'm seen as fairly strange in town, lovingly I think.. hahahaha... that sounded hopeful didn't it? At any rate, I'm different from everyone else, which of course I don't mind, I mean, I am the one dying my hair funny colours. It pleases me. But there is a sort of soothing feeling to not feeling different, a feeling I'm much less used to. Surrounded by roller girls and roller girl wannabes I was very normal looking. There were of course lots of ladies there who were more regular looking too, it isn't as though it was a room full of piercings and dyed hair, but there was definitely a lot more then I get here whilst shopping at the local No Frills.

Coming soon: Session One!