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