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