Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cherry Popped

My First Game
Well I played my first game with the Misfit Militia this month. I was only on one line and got bumped a number of times due to penalties or strategy plays (using the power jam line) but the moments I was on the track, it was a lot of fun. I got in a couple of decent hits but didn't really feel I had enough time to do too much.

I am very much looking forward to playing a game for real as I will be in two weeks with our house team the Bombshell Battalion. I am on three lines and pivoting as well as blocking. On this team I will not be the weakest link, which will be a really, really nice feeling.

I have to say I did get to feeling a bit down when playing with the Misfits. That is, not when actually playing (or sitting on the bench watching them play) but in the few practices before the game. It was an unfortunate thing that a number of the girls who were rostered were not coming to critical practices (though I was) and those of us who were new who were at practice sort of took the brunt of the anger towards those other players (as we were the players doing things wrong due to our newness/lack of knowledge/lack of skating skills). At least, that is how it felt to me.

Also, I have very good attention skills, and make good eye contact. I think this means sometimes I feel like everything the trainer is saying is being said to me (which may or may not be true). All the critical things anyway. Also, there was a bit of an imbalance of criticism to positive reinforcement and knowing when it is the best time to use either of these.

I am a coach at heart and would really like to see a lot more team think going on, and positive reinforcement. Cause, the thing is, when you suck, you kinda already know you suck. (At least I really do!) So, that doesn't mean that someone can't point out how to improve (showing you where you made your errors), that is important for learning not occur, but someone also needs to be pointing out when you have improved or note the effort that is being made. There is nothing more discouraging then really putting in a big effort and having no positive feedback or acknowledgement of it. It's one of those moments you throw your hands up in the air and think "Why am I even trying".

In any case, I am not usually so sensitive to such things but there has been a lot going on in my life and, you know, I actually do have feelings too. So, what I take away from this is that I am going to try harder now to take the bull by the horns and not feel stupid to speak up more to say things to other players, spread even more positivity than usual.

We have a lot of capable people in our league with some really excellent skill sets I have no doubt we will all continue to grow and learn how to be better in all of our different roles and get even better at being a cohesive team.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

So many things have happened in my little derby world. Starting from where I left you in January one of the biggest things was doing the advanced test in February and not making it into the advanced practices or the possibility of being rostered for the Misfits home game in March. This sort of bummed me out, even though in my heart of hearts I hadn't really thought I was going to be quite good enough to make it.

Meh. No one likes the feeling of not being good enough. But, I did not let it get me down, I made sure to be super positive to the girls who had made it, my peers from Freshmeat particularly, who felt bad for me. I knew that all it meant was I had to get better.

So instead of being in that game I was the Head NSO, which was also a cool thing which I had never done before. I was lucky to have Keri Deway (who was playing in the game) very much help me with the scoreboard as I had never actually run it before, and it was on her old computer which was being a bit dodgy. I had a lot of fun, even though the arena was FREEZING that night. Our girls won that game by a fair margin so it was good feelings all around.

                                                       This is me sitting at the computer with my derby sister's daughter 
                                                                (and junior roller derby girl) who is helping NSO.
                                                       Photo Credit - Meg McKenna
Jump forward to April and it is retest time for the advanced practices and possibility to be rostered on our league's A team (travel team) the Misfit Militia (currently ranked #15 out of 84 in Canada). I had been working very hard to get my transitions better and though they had improved they are still not what they should be. I was feeling kinda down about it.  I was a bit of an Eeyore going into the test but I did try my hardest anyway.

Happily I found out that I had passed the advanced testing and was now able to go to advanced practices and be considered for the roster for the Misfits. And, then, yes, you guessed it, I DID get rostered for the Misfits home game coming up on May 12th. Yay! I am only on one line so may not see a lot of track time but I will be doing my best to block the shit out of that jammer with the time that I do get.

I have been just delighted by all of my friends, homeschool, hiking and otherwise getting excited and buying tickets to come out and see me play. It is super duper awesome and I can't wait to hear what they all have to say. Most (if not all) have never been to a derby game so it should be pretty fun and interesting for them. Who doesn't love derby?

There have also been a couple of scrimmages since I last wrote. There was an open black and white scrimmage hosted by GTAR and then there was our league being invited to scrimmage with the Betties who were prepping for Beast of the East.

    Here we are all looking in the right direction, behind us! That's where the action takes place, I'm the pivot in this one.
                                                        Photo credit - Sean Murphy
Both events were really fun but I learned a lot more from the Betties game. This isn't really surprising as they are a well oiled team and had strategies that they were trying out on us and such. The great part was getting to watch them do their thing and then also the times when one of them would come over and chat with us and give us some pointers. It was really nice that they took the time to share their knowledge, we all appreciated it.

                                                Here we are doing a pretty decent job of blocking. I am the leftmost player
                                                          then Sara Phim pivoting by my side and Randy Rollin on her way.
                                                                Photo Credit - Sean Murphy
The day of the Betties scrimmage was the day I also happened to get new wheels and bearings. The difference was just HUGE. I felt like I was moving so fast on my new wheels, I couldn't believe it. It was SO awesome. Now I am trying to use my new wheel lay out, omegas and stingrays, to do better power stops (don't have them yet) and turns and the like.

                    Here we are trying to help our jammer through. My eyes are narrowed, I'm heading for Renny Rumble.
                                                          Photo Credit - Sean Murphy
Well I did pass my advanced test but not by miles. There are many, many things that I need to improve on. Aren't there always?

Of course as is always with tests, sometimes you do shitty on things you are actually usually good at and sometimes you do well on things you mostly suck at. This certainly happened to me the first time I took the test. Initially I did stuff I had never done before, a power slide (not well mind you but I did it) jumped over the two foot pylons (again, had never tried, really thought I couldn't do it, another awesome derby girl shouted me into it). Yet one foot weaving which I do really well normally, particularly with my left leg, I totally messed up. Also I did horrible hitting. But, so it goes with tests.

The second time I took the test I did not have to redo the things I had already scored perfectly on (there weren't many of these) but could retry any skills which I had less then perfect, but I would never lower my score if I did worse. I improved enough to pass but there are still lots of things which I need to work on. These include but are not limited to: backwards crossovers and just overall ease with skating backwards (I know the more comfortable I am backwards the better I will be with transitions), transitions (yes I'm better but still not like the pros), tomahawks (being more comfortable with these will also help me do better transitions), getting low just like, ALL the time,  no elbows as I leave a hit (even though I realize I'm not pushing it looks like it and of course I will get called on it),  skating sideways (I can't even do this still fighting issues with my knockneededness trying hard to stretch those tendons out and strengthen my knees) and I'm sure many other things but those are what I am working on currently.

        Me up on my toes, as I was for an hour and a half for this class. It was really cool, I actually use my toe stops now.
                                                         Photo Credit - Sean Murphy
One of the things that really helped me improve my skills was going to the training camp in Montreal. It was really amazing. I would love to do a training camp again it is an amazing way to get better skills. I had meant to write a long entry about it and all of the drills we did and the shenanigans, but then, I didn't. I think I may still do a drill entry because I have to sort that out in my head for junior derby anyway. Stay tuned for that excitement. :)

Derby Life
Things in the league have been going well. There have been little personality ups and downs but in the end derby brings everyone back on track, literally. Skating as team and having to rely on each other does force one to get over any little issues they may have with teammates and watching the girls it seems this plays out well. The team is more important than any annoyances, and that seems right to me.

It has been a really neat thing feeling more and more a part of the team. Now that I am scheduled to play in the May 12th game I feel even more a part of the team. It makes me feel special every time I put on my Renegades jacket with my name and number on it, or one of my team shirts. Catching myself in mirrors wearing them makes me smile. It's these little things that really add to the whole derby experience, being a part of something bigger than you and all that. It is neat.

It seems I went from a dry well to a full one as far as playing games is concerned. I have the Misfit's game in two weeks and then I've been asked to play on the B Team (house team), The Bombshell Battalion, in June and then I will be playing with the league in the Freshmeat tournament 2Fresh2Furious (having still played less then three bouts I am fine to play) in July. Yay! I am super excited about having a game a month, it's gonna be lots of experience. I will feel decidedly less like a newbie by the end of July.

Also I did get the Alliston Junior Roller Derby up and running! It may have been a bit bumpy but the programme is going super well. We have nine girls and two boys (refs in training) it is a lot of fun so far and I really hope to be able to get game for them at some point. Right now that part isn't looking good. I thought it would be easier since before I got it up and running two people were asking me when we could book a game and now that it is actually up and running one says they are totally booked and the other I haven't heard back from in a while. Sigh. Oh well, the kids will be doing a demo on the 12th, at the home game and that will be lots of fun and give them a chance to show their stuff.

Looking forward to my first game, I will be updating you for sure. After that game my blog title becomes a lie. Hahahahaha...

Derby love.

All photos in this entry are credited to Sean Murphy, if you'd like to check out more of his work go to there are a lot of very cool derby pictures there, just scroll down.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year Updates

Well I have been sadly remiss in keeping up with my blog, but why don't I make it a New Years resolution. Those work right? For now, here's some catch up (not ketchup, or even catsup though with me there are generally tomatoes involved).

Roller Derby World Cup
So I got to attend this extremely monumental first for the world of roller derby. My darling husband and good friend both accompanied me on my birthday (perfect present!), for the final day of the cup. It was really amazing.
Here is a fuzzy picture of us at the World Cup.

There is something very magical about big sports events no matter what, particularly if you do have a team or person for whom you are specially cheering. As human beings we are all affected in a crowd of chanting people, it does things to your brain. It's such an intensity that's so particular, screaming for your team to win, and really, really meaning it. Gotta love that adrenalin.
Here is team USA getting ready to start the final game.

It was so neat to see this sort of intense revelry that was also attached to some nationalism. That was cool. I don't really see or feel that that often from Canadians. Our nationalism is increasing but it's not often you're in a room full of people chanting CA-NA-DA, CA-NA-DA! I can really see why americans use nationalism to unite their people, it is SO effective. If someone had turned us (the screaming derby fans) on an enemy we probably would have just flattened them.

Also of course, the derby was just, well, world class. The Americans dominated the games heavily, but that was no surprise to anyone and it was amazing to watch. One of the things I love so much about derby is the openness to accepting what you are and working towards being what you want to be. If you know me as a Life Coach it will seem obvious why. Its okay to suck, I mean if you hafta, (and we all do some times in some ways), but if you want to you can try and get better, and with practice, you WILL!

The final score of the final between Canada and USA, and we got more points against them then all other teams combined.

So it was great at the world cup to see that ideal played out completely. Teams who were beyond outmatched by the Americans and others, faced them, and they all tried their hardest anyway, knowing they were fighting a losing fight. Pushing as hard as you can in the face of certain failure is a very, very difficult thing to do. Not everyone has the cahones to do that. But, they did, and they knew that they were gonna learn one hell of a whole lot from the experience.

Now each of those teams is going to go back to their home country and watch those tapes of the games and learn and learn and learn, and at the next Derby World Cup, the Americans are going to have to fight a little bit harder to win. That will be so super cool, but of course it won't be here in cold country again but who knows maybe I will be able to go.
Team Canada girls waiting for their turn to go back up. You can see Luludemon there on the right.

The Team Canada skaters were just awesome. My favourites were Smack Daddy, who won MVP of the games, and Luludemon. Both just amazing skaters and great derby players. There were of course SO many amazing skaters there playing and I'm sure every derby girl in attendance walked away from those games with dreams of being as good as one of the girls they had seen playing. I know I did.

League Business
All things derby have been going just swimmingly. The league that I am now a part of, the Renegade Derby Dames, is just really lovely. I'm very fond of watching the very different personality types that come together to make up a league. Sometimes it can be interesting watching women do their social dances, sometimes a little frustrating, but mostly I find when you're all going for the same goal it works out just fine.

At christmas the league had a little party and we did secret santa which was very cute. I was lucky and got a super secret santa who got me star socks and a squishy and warm scarf. I love both things. I felt lucky cause you never know with secret santas, especially since I am new and stuff and didn't/don't really know everyone yet.
My awesome socks and squishy scarf.

I attended my first league meeting yesterday, in a board room, for three hours. Sigh. I did have a headache when I got home but it wasn't because the meeting was horrible. We actually got a whole lot of stuff dealt with and it was good learning how the league actually works and who does what and that sort of thing. It's tedious, as minutea is, but very important, as minutea is, it's what keeps the machine running smoothly and I'm all for that.

So, I joined some committees and put in my two cents, as you know I am prone to do, and felt even more a part of the whole thing. It was also great to hear about the upcoming games that are scheduled and start to think about the games I will actually get to play for realz! I am very excited about that.

Also, it turns out I am now starting the Junior League. I was going to be helping whomever it was who was starting the league, but it turns out no one had really taken that bull by the horns. So, I will be learning a lot quickly and getting that rolling; luckily I do have three derby sisters who are all ready to help and be set to tasks, so that's awesome. I am excited about getting this rolling as I can't wait for Ingrid to get to take part in derby, and she's really into it too.

My Skillz
Let's see, what is going on with my skating? Things that are bothering me intensely that I can not do are all centred around my inability to do transitions. I can't do transitions!!! Gah!! Transitions, for the non-skating folk, are when you are skating in one direction, say forward, and you quickly switch direction, here is a video of it. (I like that one cause she does it slowly so you can really see the skills required, I also really like this one for sideways skating instruction) This means I can not change direction of skating quickly. This is very BAD!! One of the problems I have is "opening my hips" as shown in that second video linked. I'm working on it.

I need to be able to do transitions to keep up with the advanced skating, and to eventually pass that test to skate in the advanced class in hopes of being used eventually for the A team (travel team). In keeping with this I have to skate better backwards. I have absolutely improved in my backwards skating, in that I can actually do it decently now, but I'm certainly not a super comfortable backwards skater. I feel that if I was more comfortable skating backwards it would help with me my transitions as well.

I also have to jump better. The thing with this one is I can't really practice getting better at it as I can't really jump yet because of my knee. So, I do think about this and perhaps will have to think about some exercises I can do to practice the motion of pulling my knees up to my chin rather then just getting lateral height. There are of course many other things that I need to improve upon; many other things. Endurance, fast feet, getting low, more stops better, sharking, hopping etc.

I do have to say though that with each practice I feel I must be a tiny bit better because they are not easy. We are made to work very hard. I absolutely love it, as I enjoy being pushed hard in a positive way. I want to be better and the only way that will happen is if I push hard and keep trying. In keeping with that I shall now continue my ballet stretches to open my hips. Aaaand, stretch one, two, three, four!

Derby love from your Daemon Star