It feels like it’s been a hectic three months since my last post but it probably hasn’t. I’ve missed quite a few training sessions due to holidays/being ill so I feel like I haven’t improved as much as I wanted but also know that I can’t beat myself up over it.
I’m now 99% skills passed and only have to pass my 27/5 before I’m completely passed and it feels pretty scary, actually. To be so close to actually playing on the team, it felt ages away when I first started and now I’m just one skill away from passing! Although now that just means that (almost) every practice someone will turn to me, stopwatch in hand and say ‘you can do your 27/5 today’ which is sometimes before either of us have kitted up. I know it’s just their way of helping and I’m not yet at the point where I don’t want to do it but I’m so close that I think everyone just wants it over and done with (currently I’m on 24.5-25 laps).
Our fresh meat course finished just after my last post and the new pre mins have slowly started integrating themselves with the rest of the team and attending normal practice. I think it’s been a bit strange for everyone, the team sometimes feels a little disjointed with everything as we have new skaters (or new people to the league in general) and the ones who’ve been around for years, maybe even since the league started and some are quite resistant to change. Or were, I’m not sure anymore but hopefully we can get our team back to where it used to be but nothing stays the same forever.
Helping the new fresh meat is really interesting to me as I was in a similar situation to them not long ago and I get what everyone means by it’s easy to see someone else’s progress but not your own. I honestly hope that I help the fresh meat as much as I think I do because I do really want them to succeed and play with me (someday! when we’re all passed) but I also wonder if they have more fear/insecurity/doubt than I did as for a lot of things I just threw myself into them, even though I knew I was terrible and probably couldn’t do it but I tried (and failed a lot).
Our newest fresh meat intake has just started (this morning!) and the taster session last week was really good – almost everyone who turned up was already pretty good at skating (or maybe they’re average? I don’t know but they were way better than I was when I started) and they were doing t-stops already! They were just as good today so Fire said she’s going to have to rethink her plan as they covered a lot of stuff today. One of the fresh meat recognised me from the roller disco! She said she’d seen me around with my knee pads and everything but I wasn’t wearing my team shirt today so I think she thought I was just another person from the roller disco who just turned up to learn more about roller derby.
Team practice was also good today (I have 2 new bruises but not sure from who) and despite there not being a huge amount of us it was a lot of fun and I think we all enjoyed it a lot. We did a lot of one on one blocking and timed to see how long we can hold someone right now with the aim of doubling that time by the end of the month. Then we did some track awareness drills, which I think are fine for me as I don’t find it that hard to see what’s going on but that might be because I’m not so good at the derby so I pay more attention to everyone else than to myself. I’ll have to work on that more but also still keep up with my track awareness.
I did it! Yesterday I finally got scrim passed!
So I can’t celebrate too much as I’m still not minimum skills passed but I’m almost there. To be scrim passed with my league you have to have passed section 5 on the WFTDA minimum skills, passed the rules test and have 80% passed overall.
Last night I just hit the 80% mark which meant that today I actually got to scrim with everyone else. Although the scrim felt pretty similar to other scrims I’d done, there was definitely less hitting than usual but still as confusing as I remember. I didn’t find it as scary as some of the drills that we do where someone barrels straight into you because technically I could do scrim drills before I was scrim passed but I couldn’t scrim. It was always confusing because drills can be scarier than scrimming (in my opinion anyway). The others were grinning like crazy though at the prospect of hitting me with their full force (and a few hits did knock me over spectacularly) but I sort of got the feeling that they were being a little easier on me than usual (which was fine because I’m recovering from a cold so wasn’t ready for full-on scrimming).
I had two skills that needed passing before I was scrim passed, and I chose backwards skating and giving inside whips. I’d tried the inside whip one before but failed because my arm basically collapsed and caused me to lose my balance. This time I got the team skaters to break it down (really break it down) and get them to show me how it’s done (although inside whips aren’t used as often as outside ones we all agreed). Then I added some speed and got passed! Backwards skating was something I had been meaning to pass for awhile as I’ve probably had my laps under 20 seconds for at least a month, maybe more but the last time we did testing I was so tired that I couldn’t do them which was really frustrating. The second time I tried to test them they didn’t count as I needed 2 testers but only had 1 even though everyone knew at that point that I could do it (like my freaking transitions which I did fine for 2 hours of free skating until someone looked at me and then I fell over. Didn’t pass those for another week)
I’m still a pre-mins which means I can’t play in games and stuff like that but that’s fine (for now) as I can at least scrim and practise some jamming/blocking/anything in a sort of game environment. The only other one who is left is Crusher but she has around half of her skills to do and she’s super close to finishing section 5 so hopefully she’ll be passed soon.
Now to finish the last few skills!
Fresh meat started just under a year ago (if I don’t count the first taster session where I didn’t even try a pair of skates on) and out of my cohort there are about 9 of us who’ve continued until now. Two of them (Mercy and Damage) have just become full skills passed and one other pre mins who was in the fresh meat intake before us (Fire) has also passed. There’s another skater (Bigbird) who only has to do her 27/5 and then she’s passed too.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m so happy that they’re passed and can play and scrim and that I can cheer them on at bouts (but not when I’m NSOing…) but it’s just…a bit sad? I know I’m nowhere near as good as they are at skating – I can’t step forwards and backwards or glide and even though I’m not too far away from being skills passed it still sucks a little. I know I’ve come a long way since I started fresh meat where I couldn’t even stand up on my skates without holding onto someone else (and in one case, two people had to hold onto me) but I still feel like I haven’t progressed as much as everyone else. Thistle even said that she remembered the first time I came and couldn’t make it to the hall without falling over (I actually did that at Tuesday’s practice, guess who’s gonna be showing fresh meat that we all fall over and it’s okay?) I suppose in terms of how far we’ve come I might be the winner for that since the others could actually move from the start and have just needed to learn the skills to play derby.
We’ve just come back from the off season and it was honestly one of my favourite things (Red, you were totally right). Two months of unstructured training was awesome. I got to take my headphones and skate with music (to the annoyance of my teammates who had to yell very loudly at me to get my attention) but it really helped. I need music in my life and being able to skate to it helped me cut out a lot of distractions and noise and just do things. I got quite a lot of skills ticked off too, including my contact ones and transitions (finally!). I’d been practising transitions for ages by myself in the corner and then gradually moved to trying them on the track. There was one practice where I’d spent every second of a break practising transitions on the track which irritated Bigbird when I said that I wasn’t ready to test as she’d seen me “jumping around like a ninja all morning”. She asked someone to test me and what did I do? I tripped and landed on my face. Real smooth.
Some of the skills I passed were things that I didn’t think I could do but apparently I can (the team skaters are incredibly encouraging in that respect, they’re the ones who’ve said that I can and then they test me and I pass to my surprise but not theirs). Bigbird especially is super encouraging/terrifying because she just yells at me that we’re testing something and then I pass and she yells a bit more before moving onto the next skill. I wouldn’t have passed my contact skills without her yelling at skaters to get in a pack and start hitting me.
I guess I was nervous about being tested. I hate being watched when I’m doing something despite the fact that I and everyone else know that I can do it. I’ve mucked up a few times where we all know I can do something but as soon as someone watches/looks at me I fall over and bam. No passing for me. I did that with my double knee slides too – which are now my favourite thing to do besides transitions (oh the irony) because they’re so fun and I’m actually not terrible at double knee slides. Who knew? I hadn’t tried them before but got Red to show me how to do it and then watch me. Even some of the team skaters hate them but I don’t?
I just need to tick off 6 more things and then I’m scrim passed and can join in with the scrims we have at training. Red marked 6 things that she thinks are easy to do and I can do but I’m pretty sure I can only do 3 of those. Oh well. I’ll have to practise more off skates to get those skills down (damn left ankle with no strength) and see how it goes from there!
To be able to actually scrim at full contact/eventually be considered for a spot on the team, I have to pass the minimum skills that the WFDTA dictate (hence being called pre mins since I’m ‘pre minimum skills’).
Each league does the testing differently, mine does testing twice a month on Saturdays with the possibility of getting more ticked off at a different session depending on the number of pre mins at that session/if there’s something you’ve wanted to tick off for awhile but haven’t had the chance to.
I’ve only passed a handful so far (the super easy ones, like skullcrushers and skating with ‘good form’) but am working my way up to some of the harder ones and the pack section too (which requires other people to participate).
At training last night I learnt how to do a T stop (required but I’d never had it broken down before) and then we were also taught how to derby stop (not required but useful to know) and then at the end the pre mins had to show off their derby stop to the team skaters (I fell, by the way) but one of them said they liked my jump and I don’t really know how I jumped but it must have been when I was transitioning round. Anyway, it made me feel a bit better, even if I did fall over because I’d been afraid to use my toe stops up until then and I’m still not 100% confident at using them (toe stop run, anyone?).
I might take a long time to pass my minimum skills, but learning new things and being able to tick off a few at a time is enough for now (until I have more time and can practise more).