Thursday, 20 January 2011

I think you'll find awesome is spelt B-R-A-W-L-E-R-S....

It's bout recap time folks!

Saturday the 15th of January saw the first EVER roller derby bout take place in South Wales. My beloved league, the Tiger Bay Brawlers, took on the Bristol Harbour Harlots in Newport's sports centre to a sold out crowd of raucous derby fans.

Shall I tell you how it all went down?

First, let's rewind a little. This bout was the culmination of months of hard work by our bout organizing committee, headed up by our own Jen Clawed Van Slamme. There were so many things to organize: venue, insurance, PA, music, announcers, seating, the afterparty ect ect. We were looking at about 300 ticket sales to break even on the venue, and according to the venue owner we would need 400 for 'an atmosphere'. Well, guess how many people we got through the door?


We SOLD OUT at our very first bout!

And my role in all this?

I was commentating!

Yep, me and my big mouth. If there is one thing I love more than derby, it's talking about derby. And talking about derby to a captive audience? Heaven.

Before the bout I didn't have a chance to get nervous...I was stuck in work from 7am, and if there is one thing that will calm your nerves it's people throwing up on you. Repeatedly.

But...once my shift had finished and I was rushing to the venue the nerves started to kick in, BIG time.

Seriously. Terrified.

I was so scared I wouldn't be able to think of anything to say, or worse, I would just talk utter crap or accidentally swear and my league would hate me and drive me out of the country with big sticks. Big POINTY sticks.

There was one thing I wasn't worried about though: my amazing Brawler travel team. All the hard work we'd been doing with BB and the coaching team during training had really been paying off, and our performances during scrimmage were showing it. I was confident we were going to win. And you know what? We got a lead early on in the game and just ran with it. Our jammers were fast and agile (particularly worthy of note were Crash Bandicute and Billie Pistol) and our blockers were walling up and providing a hard hitting defence (my favorites were Queen LaQueefer and Prisilla Deadly). Bristol put up a good fight and had some really stand out players, particularly Tattooed Terror and Katie Clysmic. I missed their game against Severn Roller Torrent, but weighing what I've heard against their performance on Saturday, I would say they have seriously upped their game, and this experience will allow them to kick it up another notch. Now, there has been some debate about the fairness of having BB in our line up, and I'm going to give my two cents on it. Going up against BB is a pretty terrifying experience, and I should happens to me all the time at scrimmage (in fact, she took great delight in pummeling on Sunday!). But...there is NO better way to learn than to play against people who are awesome, and get your ass kicked a little. Frankly, I think it's the only way to really learn derby - not the actual skating part of it, but the game itself. A smart team is a strong team, and I think that's what really gave us the edge against Bristol - skater for skater, I don't think their skill was much different to ours, but the strategy and game play that BB has taught us has been totally invaluable. So there.

BB Bombshell herself <3

And the final score?

So proud &lt;3

To the TT skaters, to BB, to Jen and the bout organizing committee, to everyone who came...THANK YOU FOR BEING SO AMAZING!

Trauma xx

Monday, 10 January 2011

what I want.

1. To get faster. Work on stance and crossover, crossover, crossover ALL THE WAY AROUND. I have long legs. It's time I used them properly.

2. To get lower. Squats, squats and more damn squats (already on this).

3. Quick feet. I'm not so good at faking out people. Practice this at free skate night and during warm up/cool downs.

4. Jumping from foot to foot. I hate it. Again, do it at free skate and during warm up/cool downs

5. ENDURANCE. More cardio needed. Again, really give it my all during endurance drills AND do an endurance during free skate.

6. Bigger hits and better timing. They're getting there, just need to keep practicing with Judge Redd (she doesn't know the meaning of 'light contact'!)

Sunday, 9 January 2011

game on!

Today was our first training session back after the Christmas hiatus. I'd been to a few free skate sessions, just to get my wheels back under me, but OH MY GOD. The pain! The blocking! The ENDURANCE!!

Yeah, I pretty much thought I was going to die. Big props to Peril Flynn who kept shouting at me to keep going. Apparently I respond well to shouting. Who knew?

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Only problem was, during the endurance my skates had rubbed a massive, horrible hole in my foot. OW OW OW. And it was time to scrimmage. DOUBLE OW OW OW!!

The scrimmage itself was a mixture of awesome and absolute suck. There were moments when I did really cool stuff (like knocking BB Bombshell out of bounds. OK, it must've been an accident and she quickly got back in the game...but hell, I'm still proud!) and balancing on one leg, Urrk'n Jerk'n style-ee as Kid Block hit me.

(photo by the AMAZING Joe Rollerfan, Oly vs Rocky Mountain at Western Regionals)

She even came up to me after to tell me how impressed she was by that, which totally made my day. Then I was blocker 2 with BB Bombshell in the next line-up, and I was so obsessed with guarding the inside line that I didn't pay attention to where BB was. Which wound up with her yelling at me, which is fair. I wasn't where I was needed. Will be working on this in future sessions.

So...all in all training was a mixed bag. There were bits of awesome, and bits of fail. Still, I came out at 6 with a big smile on my face...because no matter how much derby causes me to sweat/bleed/lose foot skin/lose sleep/want to cry, I love it more and more each week.

I'm in this for the long haul, baby. And I'm upping my game.

Until next time, sports fans...

Trauma xxx

Monday, 3 January 2011

new year's revolutions...

Happy new year all! I hope you had a wonderful time drinking, dancing, or just chilling out at home. Whatever you did, I hope you had fun! Mine was spent in the company of good friends, excellent food and plenty of booze. I went easy on the sauce though becuase I had work the next day...and doing a 10 hour shift with a hangover isn't good.

So, moving away from the excesses of the festive season brings us straight in to new year's resolutions. I gave up smoking a few years ago (yay!) and for the past few years my resolution has simply been to keep not smoking. Sounds silly, but it is hard for me. While I was never a 20-a-day gal, whenever I'm faced with stress/boredom/beer I want a cigarette. And there is no denying I am heavier than when I smoked. But now...just the thought of how much I would suffer at training is enough to make me put down the lighter. So, this year I'm looking at making some different changes to my life. And yes, a lot of them are derby related!

1. Kick start my fitness. What with being ill and missing training in November/December, I am UNFIT. Like, horribly so. It really hit home yesterday during a freeskate session with my leauge how out of shape I am. I was happily pottering around the outside of the hall, watching everyone else...and I felt a little like I'd forgotton how to skate. My dynamic movement was little to none (in fact, I accidentally locked wheels with another skater, sending us both to the floor. FAIL. UTTER FAIL.)and don't even talk about my stance: any more upright and I'd be on my damn toestops. This has GOT to change. So, I've signed myself up to the 'Roller Derby Workout Challenge' to start eating right and give myself a proper kick up the backside when it comes to my leg/core strength. I did the DVD this morning and almost died during the core section...but I figure if I do this 2/3 times a week then by the end of the 8 weeks I should be a)able to finish the whole thing with my skates on and b) a lean, mean derby MACHINE.

2. Get out of my own head and stop worrying so damned much. I've always been a bit of a neurotic, but recently my rediculous unfounded fears and self-criticism has hit an all-time high. So, enough of this shit already. I'm going so start daily positive affirmations and all that jazz. If that doesn't work...

3. Start doing my damn physio exercises. I've been lax of late, and my knees are protesting in response. This should feed nicley in to perfecting the thigh-burning derby stance I so badly need.

4. Finish the scarf I've been knitting for oh, about 2 years. Yes, I like to knit! It's very relaxing, even if I suck at it (hmmm...kind of like with derby!) and I've never learned more than one type of stitch.

So, that's my list.

Over and out!


Thursday, 30 December 2010

damn weather.

funny pictures - Cat Hit by Snow
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Yep. Feel like this right about now.

I miss skating outside. I miss sunshine. I miss ice cream. I miss not having numb fingers and toes.

Monday, 27 December 2010

equipment musings

Two posts in as many days, well aren't you lucky?

Last night as I was reviewing my haul of derby prezzies, I started thinking about my gear. My current set up is: riedell 195 boot with powerdyne triton plate (with some sure grip yellow cushions snuck on!), bones reds bearings, carrera toe stops and heartless creeper and breaker wheels.
A lot has changed since I first laced up a pair of skates way back in April: back then I thought skates were just skates. Y'know, big boots, huge toestops...I had no idea there was any variation. I felt the same way about my gear...a kneepad is just a kneepad, right?


The first thing I noticed was the boots: low cut, black speed boots. My rio rollers were like donkeys next to a thoroughbred racehorse when compared to those bad boys. And the speed boots had plates with trucks you could adjust! So you could turn! It was then I first heard the magic word: Riedell. Since roller skating has never been as popular in the UK as it is across the pond, I had never heard of this brand before, but basically riedell have been making skates since the dawn of (skating) time. They have one factory over in the USA and each boot is crafted to high standards. Unfortunately, this comes at a price. The mark up on Riedells over in the UK is pretty much scandalous, with the 'entry level' R3 still weighing in over the £100 mark. Not exactly within budget for most people, especially if they still want to work out whether they want to keep skating or not. And the sizing is strange - they are sold in 'men's sizes', so as a rule of thumb it's best to go down a size. They should feel a little too tight (like rock boots). I was pretty much ignorant of all of this when I bought my first pair of speed skates. I wanted R3's. Sadly, my size being pretty damn popular I couldn't find them anywhere. Being super impatient, I ended up ordering sure-grip rebels. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise: they came with nice toe stops (carreras) and decent wheels (black fugitives, which I still think are awesome 'all purpose' wheels.). I had a pretty good run on them...but I hated the boot. Really, really hated it. The high ankle wasn't for me, and I had been eyeing my coach's skates for a while: Riedell 195's. Beautiful, all-leather, and low cut around the ankle. I tried them on (with three pairs of socks as BB has bigger feet than me) and fell in love. Luckily for me, this coincided with getting my bond money back from my old house...guess what I ordered? I almost died of excitement when they arrived: they were so beautiful! I still remember my first session on them...they hated my feet. really, really hated them. My old rebels were cushy and such luck with these! By the end of the first session my feet were raw, with a lovely blister where the arch counter rubbed my feet. Yeowch! So, being the stubborn bugger I am I was determined to make them love me back. I started wearing them all the time, even around the house while watching TV or doing the washing up. I taped no end of gel pads to my arches and tried pretty much everything to prevent the dreaded arch blister forming. Slowly, they broke in and stopped hating my feet. I invested in some 'ezeefit booties' and have suffered no blisters since. The best boot for you is as much about your skating style as your budget. There are amazing skaters in my league who love their R3s and are awesome on them. Many like a high ankle, and the 125 and 265 are popular choices. Personally, I LOVE my 195's. I like the flexibility of the low ankle, and the fact they lace all the way to the toe allows for my wide feet. My boots should last me a good few years yet, but when they eventually die (not for a long, LONG time, fingers crossed) I will go for the same boot. There is more to derby skates than just riedell (bont, labeda, vanilla ect) but the craftsmanship you get is second to none. The only thing that could tempt me away from my 195's is the Vanilla Brass Knuckles...and that's simply because they are pretty!

So, we've covered the boot. Now for the things that make them go: wheels!
My first decent derby wheels were the black sure-grip fugitives (92a) that came with my rebels. Decent wheels, they're good for almost any surface: grippy without being slow and hard(ish) without sliding out on the corners. However, when I was brand new freshmeat (and was utterly rubbish) I wanted more grip. I wasn't confident enough for hard wheels, and ordered some sugars in the belief that they would help me feel more stable. When they arrived I was so excited to try them out...and was thoroughly disappointed that they made me feel like I was skating through mud. Fail. I'm the first to admit I'm a total gear geek, especially with wheels. I love to experiment, and it's taken me some time and extensive trial and error to work out what I want in a wheel. To my surprise, I like a harder wheel. I currently skate on a 90/94a combo, and prior to that I was on 94/96a. The 96a's were just a little too hard for me though, and I would slide out no end on corners. The 90a pushers seem to suit me fine, and I imagine I will go for a similar combo when I've worn these ones out. I also love, love LOVE narrow wheels. I'm not the most agile of skaters, but I find I feel more 'hoppy' on the narrow wheel...and it pretty much eliminates wheel clipping when skating in a tight pack. My advice to anyone looking for new wheels is experiment! Try new things, and see what works for you. Sadly, wheel collecting is an expensive hobby so don't be afraid to ask other girls in your league what they skate on, ask if you can loan them and give them a try.

Last but not least: always use protection. Derby is a contact sport, and good protective gear will stand you in good stead to avoid injury. My advice? As soon as you know derby is something you want to keep doing, invest in the best knee pads your money will buy. They ain't cheap, but a knee injury is not only super painful, it could even put a massive crimp on your derby career. If you're on the heavier side (like me), chances are when you go down you will go down HARD. I started off with cheap anarchy brand pads, which were just fine while I was learning to stay upright. But as soon as we started repetitive falling drills my knees were starting to hurt in a serious way. After reading various forums and reviews, I splurged £60 on some Smith's Scabs knee pads. The first time I wore them provided me with a steep learning curve: they stuck out so much they made crossovers three times as hard! Eventually I got used to it though, and now I couldn't even imagine wearing a small knee pad. I even have some super cushy gladiator gaskets to provide extra protection (and to keep my pads from sliding around when I hit the deck!). Here are my top knee pads that are worth splurging on if you plan to stay in derby (in no order):
1. Smith's Scabs. They may be sized a little weirdly (S/M and L/XL...and they run SMALL) but they fit around the knee beautifully and feel like falling on clouds. They also open at the back so you can put them on after the rest of your gear! However...they are on the long side, so if you have teeny tiny legs you may be better off with a shorter pads. The caps are also riveted to the pads, so less chance of losing a cap but more hassle to replace if you do break one. It's not happened to me yet, and fingers crossed it won't.
2. 187's. These are endorsed by Tony Hawk (even though they don't pay him to, he just really likes them!) and provide awesome protection. They are on the short side though, so probably best for shorter legged skaters.
3. Rector Fat Boys. These run small too, and again they are quite a long line pad. A few girls on the league have them (including our coach). They also stick out less than the scabs...and if they're good enough for Suzy Hotrod..!
4. Pro Designed. These are the daddy of all pads, and also come with the price tag to match. They are custom made to your measurements, so if you have weird sized legs they are guaranteed to fit you like a glove.

So, enough of my rambings...what gear do you guys love and why?

Trauma x