Thursday, 15 July 2010

the little derby girl that could...

Firstly, pictures of two of my favorite Derby ladies:

The AMAZING Beyonslay

Kitty Decapitate showing us all how it's done

I've been doing some thinking recently about my progress in the weird and wonderful world of derby. I've had some real bad attacks of what has been called 'the meh' (as coined by LRG's Vigour Mortis in a post on the LRG forum) recently, and there are times when I've felt so downhearted I've wondered why I'm putting myself through all this.

My problem is simple: my problem is,

I'm not (and have never been) a 'sporty' person: the only sport I liked at school was rugby, and after 12 the girls weren't allowed to play. Hockey was only ever played in the dead of winter, and who wants to try and grip a hockey stick with freezing cold hands?! No, sports lessons were not something I ever really enjoyed. This was not helped that by age of 14 I had discovered cigarettes, and sports lessons then became just another chance to smoke. I don't even have the advantage of previous skating experience to help me: I had a pair of skates but I was utterly terrified to use them outside of my kitchen. Everything I have learned since April I have learned from scratch, from moving forward and stopping to crossovers and transitions. There are some lucky people (and many of them in my team) who take skating naturally: one or two goes and they've got a skill down, and proceed to fly past me as I stumble my way ungracefully around the track. It's so, so frustrating because skating just doesn't come easily to me: I have to work, work and work at it all the time. And I'm slow. Don't get me wrong, I've never been the fastest or most agile...but I've always been able to hold my own and end up somewhere around the middle. On skates however, no doubt about it, I'm S-L-O-W, and it really gets me down (well, it adds to 'the meh' anyway!).

It also makes me think, where is my place? I'm not and never will be a super-lithe jammer like Kitty Decapitate, I'm far too heavy and not anywhere near agile enough. Nor am I a powerhouse of a super-blocker, like Beyonslay, I'm too small. I come somewhere about the middle, and this leaves me wondering where my skill (if any) lies.
But you know what? In spite of all this, and in spite of the little voice in my head that tells me I'm not good enough, I WILL do this. If there is just one thing I've worked out it is that I'm in love with roller derby, even if it doesn't love me back just yet. But it will, in time.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

...pump up the jam!

Since the last post I have moved house - yes, the blood, sweat and tears were worth it: I now have a lovley shiny new place to live which has a huuuuge garden with grass and trees and everything! Only downside? No internet connection as of yet. Which means I'm a bit behind on the ol' blogging. Ah well, I shall try and redeem myself today as I sit in the tranquility of Cathays library...

Last weekend BB went away to London to a jamming bootcamp and scrimmage with the London Roller Girls. The LRG are the UK's first and only WFTDA league in the UK, and they have earned this by playing other WFTDA leagues in the USA and generally working their collective asses off to become a super-league of awesomeness, to which we can all aspire. A few weeks ago Judge Redd, Jen Clawed Van Slamme, Peril Flynn and myself (yes, I want to try and start using our derby names!) ventured to London to watch an LRG bout called 'Smack to the Future', which featured the Steam Rollers taking on the mighty Suffra Jets. This was the first bout I had ever watched outside of the internet, and it made for some really interesting viewing. The sheer amount of work that had gone in to the event was staggering: everyone, and I mean EVERYONE in the league had a part to play, whether it was selling merch, marking the track, announcing, keeping score, timing the penalty box...well, you get the idea. From the rookies to the veterans, everyone pulled together. For example, Kamikaze Kitten: captain of the mighty all-star London Brawling (LRG's travel team) was on hand as a 'spills girl', wiping up any spilt drinks that might cause a hazard to the skaters.

Anyway, I digress. One thing that struck me as I watched the bout was that jammers DO NOT ALWAYS MAKE IT THROUGH THE PACK. In fact, there were several jams where the jammer got stuck behind some amazing blocking and couldn't make her first pass through the pack. And herein lies the lesson that BB started out with during Wednesday's training: you won't always make it through. Sometimes you will be stuck, jam after jam. It will be frustrating. You will be tired, sore, and annoyed. But you have to suck it up, get yourself together and get your ass back on the line to start again. Our first drill was a 'never ending jam', where we had about 10 blockers to 3 jammers. The blockers were allowed to booty block, but no contact. If the jammer couldn't make it through in the allotted time (2 minutes, just like a real jam), back they went on the line to do it again. And again. And again, until they got through. Oh crap, I thought. Jamming is not my strong point: I'm not agile and I lack confidence. The last few times I've jammed I've become trapped and not made it through. Needless the say, I was prepared to be jamming forever! As expected, on my first attempt I didn't get though. I was knocked out of bounds (and was given a whip by BB to get me back up to speed, thank you!) but just couldn't make it though before the 4 whistle blasts. So, back on the jammer line I went. But...instead of feeling sorry for myself, I was more determined than ever. At the sound of the jammer whistle, off I went. It took a little time, but I MADE IT THOUGH!! I was so proud of myself it was unreal. Yes, I know it's just a baby step on the great road of derby, but for me it was a great personal victory over my own self-doubt and fear. I can jam! Hurray!

The rest of the training session was utterly awesome - I don't know if maybe everyone had eaten their weetabix that morning or what, but everyone (and I mean everyone) had bought their A-game with them and really stepped it up. BB even put a lovely post on facebook saying how proud she was of us all. Our new ref Amy skated with us and helped to call penalties too, and she's getting good's so good to have her doing this as it's giving us a real understanding of how the rules work. I've read through the WFTDA rules and they boggled my mind, but using them during training is giving me a better idea of how they apply and when. I can't wait until we can start to scrimmage properly...I know it's a little while away yet, but now I'm getting more of a 'feel' for the game I'm hungry for more! Damn, this derby thing is addictive...

So, today is training day and we have our first 3 hour session...eeek! I'm pretty scared. After 2 hours I generally feel like my feet don't want to obey me any more and my thighs feel like they're on fire..I feel I may be crippled after this. Ah well, bring on the pain! I'm starting to feel more like a real rollergirl (and less like a pink-faced possum on wheels) every week.

Bring it on.