Exactly a week ago we had testing where I (once again) tried to do my 27/5. However I made the mistake of not asking to be the only one on the track at the time and that really screwed me over. Majorly screwed me over. I don’t think I even made 22 laps because I got stuck behind someone else but wasn’t fast enough to get around her so I ended up giving up about half way in and just followed her around the track. It wasn’t one of my best moments and I was really frustrated that I hadn’t thought about asking to be tested on my own because it’s the very last thing I need to pass. I think everyone noticed I had been slacking and said I should test on my own next time…and yet no one else thought about me having the track to myself but I should also think about that next time. Still frustrating. We had a team meeting after but I wasn’t in the mood at that point to go and knew that I would’ve just sat sulking in the corner when it was supposed to be a fun social.
Training on Saturday was fun, although my shoulders/upper arms are quite bruised from all the one-on-one blocking that we did, and a few attempts at seal clubbing. I tried my 27/5 then too but had to stop because my foot was cramping and I didn’t think it was a good idea to go on (it wasn’t numb but as soon as I took my skates off the pain got worse) so hopefully I’ll be able to have another go soon but I’m also wondering if I just need a bit of time off to heal and come back feeling better.
My laps on Saturday (even though I only did a few) were around the 27/5 pace so I need to see how long I can sustain that for and then build it up from there. It didn’t feel much faster than any of my other attempts so I’m still not convinced I was faster but the floor at our Saturday practice is my favourite (at the moment) and has an actual track painted on which might help psychologically? I’m definitely going to try again another Saturday and see what happens!
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!
Yesterday the 2nd hour of training was dedicated to a physiotherapist who came to give us some tips on injury prevention and how to use a foam roller to help with that. I’d never used a foam roller before and neither had most of the others so we were a little apprehensive about it. Some of them had heard that it hurts too so were a little wary of the pain that would follow. I didn’t feel much pain when we were doing it but I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing? I felt a little pain in one leg for one of the exercises but I think that’s down to derby and always skating in one direction so one side of my body gets a bit more messed up than the other. It was an interesting experience though and I sort of felt a little bit more of the team spirit that everyone’s been talking about. It definitely helped my mood as I’d been a bit grumpy going into training and wondering why I was even there but I left feeling happier than I usually do on a Wednesday.
Last Sunday I went to a roller disco near my house (literally a 10 minute walk away) and saw someone skating with a helmet. Normally people don’t use helmets (myself included) because roller discos are generally pretty tame and nobody goes very fast/small children are unlikely to have an impact if they hit you. I noticed she was wearing proper knee pads (like mine) and all the other protective kit that I had, plus she had nice, white Bonts and I knew that she was a roller derby player. Turns out she’d just started fresh meat with Cambridge and was about 6 weeks in and already trying to do crossovers. I told her she was way better than I was at her stage because I’m pretty sure at 6 weeks in I could still only just about skate without thinking that I wouldn’t be able to stop or that I’d fall before I’d even gone a few metres. She was really lovely and I hope we both pass skills soon so one day we could play together.
I tried to practise the hopping over an object 6 inches high at the disco and promptly fell over, causing a lot of kids to laugh at me as they went past. Deciding that jumping should be saved for another day, I kept working on my one foot glides. I can do the straights just fine but turning seems to be a problem, which seems to confuse everyone as we turn when we do crossovers so there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to turn when gliding…
I actually joined in the games at the disco too. Normally I sit at the side because there are too many kids or because I felt like I wasn’t good enough to play. I was so close to finishing the countdown game which boosted my ego a little as I used to think that I would never be able to do that. They play the countdown music (30 seconds) and you have to skate across the hall. First time you go across once, second time you go twice and so on until the fifth time where you have to go across five times within the 30 seconds. I was really close to making it before the music ran out so next time my aim is to actually make it. I was surprised that I managed to get so close though, but I need to work on derby stops a bit more to get cleaner stops before I start again. The second game is for the ‘advanced’ skaters where the main guy skates around and you can’t overtake him and you can’t let him overtake you. Every now and then he skates backwards too which makes it harder as it’s non derby direction! Some of the kids who play that game definitely shouldn’t be playing and they’re usually a nuisance and get in the way so I end up going out earlier than I reckon I should. Hopefully next time the kids won’t play and I can practise my pacing for 27 in 5.
I’m going to be missing the next few Saturday trainings due to visiting family/people/places which sucks because fresh meat is just starting and I really wanted to help out/practise things but also get to know our newbies and reassure them that they are doing amazingly and way better than me 🙂
So I’m not actually in charge of the league or anything crazy like that. I was recently voted in as Head NSO for the league (after much prodding/encouragement/yelling ‘persuasively’ from the others) which means that I’m now in charge of organising NSOs for our scrims/bouts and any extra things that bout production might need (although that part isn’t technically necessary but I’ll help out wherever I can).
Yesterday was my first time as Head NSO for a small scrim we had against Bath (plus a few extra Hereford skaters helping us out with the numbers). The previous head NSO, Immy, really helped me a lot with what paperwork to use and how many people we needed for the scrim to happen relatively seamlessly (turns out 6 is the magic number).
I was also jam timing for the first time for real (I’d done it before but during training so it wasn’t as official) and almost forgot one of the official timeouts and nearly started a jam XD but otherwise I think I did pretty well at it. The other NSOs said that I’d done pretty well as my first time but a lot of that was due to Immy helping me out with how to do things and telling me not to panic if something went wrong (which I tried to do as I’m normally a very calm person). Now I just have to worry about getting enough NSOs for the next game we have (although that’s a British Champs one so it’s not solely my responsibility) but if we ever do a sanctioned bout/full on open bout I’ll have my work cut out for me.
I’ve been to more roller discos lately, to get more skating time and practise crossovers/hopping/knee taps etc although there are more kids there than I remembered which is annoying. They are primarily aimed at kids but still! At one of them there’s a section coned off in the middle where the newbies can learn to skate but not everyone uses it when they should – if you can’t stand up/fall over every two steps then you should go there and learn a bit before trying to skate with the big kids. There’s also a game they play there which is aimed at the more ‘advanced’ skaters, which consists of the organiser skating forwards/backwards and when he overtakes you or if you pass him then you’re out. Some of the kids who play definitely shouldn’t be but it’s usually the adults who play. There are two dads (I think they are since they usually come with kids) who play this game and are generally trying to show off when it’s the general skate – although one fell over last Sunday which I found amusing (even though I shouldn’t). Whilst there I met an ex-skater from the league who I chatted to about what it was like back when she was there (2013!) and who’s left/would she come back etc and she said a bit about her injuries (which were pretty bad). She also offered to help me with stuff if I ever see her at a disco again which was really nice of her. She’s still really good despite not having skated derby for ages so I’ll probably take her up on that offer in the next few weeks. At a different roller disco I met an ex-league member who now skates for Bath (and was at the scrim yesterday) and her husband skates for Bristol. Her two sons skate too and the older one is freaking amazing. Saw him jumping/twirling/gliding around like some kind of ice skater. I didn’t ask why she transferred to Bath but she might have moved closer so that makes sense, plus if her husband skates for Bristol then Bath is closer if their training times are similar (why she hasn’t joined Bristol is beyond me…) She also has the same name as me! It was really funny when we introduced ourselves and I was like ‘I’m also…’ but if we use derby names then it’ll be fine.
I’m not feeling as frustrated lately, going to the roller discos and skating for fun might be a part of that because I can just do what I want without a trainer telling me what to do. It makes me remember that I love skating now and roller discos are helping to settle the itch of not skating much at training.
Testing is in just over a week so I have to work my butt off to get some stuff passed so I can finally scrim!
I’m currently at 78% passed and I’m still frustrated at how close to being scrim passed I am but so far. I’m two ‘boxes’ away from being scrim passed (1 maybe if I actually did pass my backwards laps? I’m sure I did but not sure if I had 2 testers so it won’t count and I’ll have to do it again…) I really wanted to be scrim passed by yesterday as the past week has been more testing focused and I wanted to be able to join in with scrimming next Wednesday. I highly doubt they’ll let me test the last 2 boxes to become scrim passed as yesterday they said I was 3 off but the trainer was like nope, you’re sitting out of this scrim
I have off-handedly mentioned this to a few others at how frustrated I’m getting and bless them, they’ve all been so nice to me even though I’ve been such a whiner the past week. They’re the ones who said that I can pass certain things (laps in 13 seconds…) and have been yelling at me to keep going so that I actually do pass it but it’s still annoying. It’s as if the main team skaters don’t care (I know they do, the team is very, very small right now and they’re all really nice people) but it seems like they’re focused on team skaters, which they should be but the next British Champs game isn’t until April so maybe you wanna get some more skaters passed? Just a thought so we don’t only have 9 skaters for our next game…unless they want to lose? (Not saying that they will but if you only have 9 skaters and your opponents have 14…guess who’s gonna be tired at the end of the match?)
I might try going to a drop in skater session in the next few weeks just to see if they can help me with some stuff and the more time I spend skating the better.
I don’t know if I want to move leagues or if I’m being unreasonable and incredibly childish about everything…but I’m not as happy about roller derby as I used to be. I still want to go to practice every week, when I’m at work on training days I’m usually itching to leave and put my skates on and go but…I don’t know if I enjoy it as much as I used to. Is that something that comes with getting better but hitting a plateau? Up until now I’ve been improving on most things, if not everything but now that I’m stalling a little…it sucks. It sucks so much. We have a care committee as part of the league who you can talk to about things and I know she is super nice (she’s off skates at the moment but she’s one of the best jammers we have) and when she’s been at practice she’s usually the one who throws me in the deep end (‘you can totally do scrim drills but not scrimming’ is her favourite phrase to say to me). Maybe I just need to throw myself into it a bit more and work harder off skates to get stuff done, and get things tested in the 15 minutes every Wednesday before training starts (due to people being late), go to more roller discos and free skates, do a bootcamp or two…
I don’t want to give up, that’s not going to happen as I want to be skills passed by my birthday this year but…do I want to stay with my league? Do I want to go somewhere else? Will I just move from here completely and start again? One of my housemates is moving back to Belfast because he’s quite far from home and I think he has some family things going on too and it’s made me think a lot about me moving back to my hometown too…even if it means leaving my (fairly) good job and my league…
To top it off, I was going to go to a roller disco today but it’s been cancelled and I’m too sore to go to the gym so I’ve literally done nothing today when I wanted to do some more off skates things to get my double knee taps down 😦
Tonight was the last practice before the team’s game on Saturday and most of the skaters who will be skating were there so practice was heavily focused on strategy for Saturday etc. Crusher and I did some stuff at the side on our own for a bit whilst they were doing a drill and then we joined them again for a different drill but it felt like I was just stalling or coasting through this session.
We did a HIIT cool down but that felt like the part where I’d worked the most, despite jamming during one of the scrim drills I didn’t feel as engaged as I have been. I know it’s not the trainer’s fault, or the team’s but if they do this before every game then the new pre mins aren’t going to like it and I wouldn’t blame them. Maybe when there are more it’ll be different because they can do their own thing in a small group but Crusher said she can’t wait for fresh meat to start so that we’ll have that 1 hour a week to really hone in our basics (grapevine for me…crossovers for her…). Hopefully I’ll be scrim passed soon so that I can join in with scrims (although it seems a little scary!) and keep developing as a player.
Next week’s training should be better but we shall see!