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.