Scrim passed!!!

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!

 

 

 

 

Roll on…foam?

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 ūüôā

 

Apparently I’m in charge?

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!

78%

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 ūüė¶

Stalling

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!

“Normal” practice, week 2

Training was cancelled yesterday due to the hall being used for something else so I could only make¬†today’s training session this week.

My team has a British Champs game on the 11th Feb, so a lot of time was spent on walls + reforming and starts/strategies with the skaters who are rostered going in one group so they could practise playing/blocking together before the game.

For some reason, I’m a little…sad? Bitter? Annoyed? Frustrated? about practice today. We tried a drill where the wall had 10 seconds to do offence/defence and then we’d reset and start again. It got a little messy as everyone was moving quickly and I fell over a few times – the skater taking the session also sort of injured herself and everyone freaked out a little since she’s playing in the game and is one of the better blockers that we have. We then took some time out to calm down and reset but I don’t know if that worked well or not because when they moved to scrims it was better and less crazy but still a little crazy? Maybe less due to having more than 10 seconds and scrimming like usual.

I think the main reason I’m a little annoyed is that I couldn’t join in with the scrims. I’m not scrim passed (but am close) so I ended up being a jammer ref and also jam timer (which I had just about enough hands for omg). My other fellow pre mins (Crusher) watched from the middle and I think talked rules/strategy with the skaters who were sitting out? I for some reason was a little keen with my willingness to do everything and whilst I did enjoy being the jam ref, I also kinda wanted to watch so I could compare it to the all the games I’ve been watching on Youtube (thank you WFTDA for putting them all there).

Throughout the entire session it felt a little like Crusher and I were sort of being ignored so that the team skaters could practise. Which is fine. They have a game and I get that it’s important and I probably should’ve asked if I could go into the corner and do some skills on my own but I didn’t. I guess I got too used to being split into pre mins and team skaters but now that there are only 2 of us it’s not quite as important (I know it probably is but it didn’t feel that way today). It almost makes me wonder if I should go to training next Wednesday when I know that they’ll probably do the same thing again. I could be doing something else, or I could leave early when they scrim (although that’s not really in the spirit of things) but I don’t know if the team skaters always realise what they’re doing.

There was one drill with 3 jammers and we rotated for 2 minutes each but had the same blockers (who had to do 6 minutes) so Crusher, Fire and me all said we’d jam. I don’t know if it was just me but it felt like they weren’t really watching us/paying attention that much. To be fair, the 4 blockers in the wall did say I did well afterwards and gave me some tips but I don’t know if anyone else saw me (or maybe it was because I jammed last and everyone was bored, who knows?) but it’s not inspiring or encouraging at all. I guess I felt like the trainer should’ve said¬†something (even if she was timing too but I was jam timer and a sort of jam ref so…) but any feedback would’ve been great – even ‘you’re bad at x, y and z and need to do a, b and c’ would’ve been better than a blank face.

The league isn’t very big right now and in my opinion they need all the skaters they can pass/find. Sure, train for the game but don’t forget that if skaters like me get annoyed/fed up (I realise I’m whining because I do really enjoy going to practice with my team and they’re all lovely) and if it goes too far…I could always find another league, whether they have the same problem or not, who knows? I just know that we don’t have a great retention rate of skaters at the moment but that might change as older skaters leave and newer ones come in to change the rules and shake up the league a little bit.

We (hopefully) will have a fresh meat intake starting soon and I think that’ll help me a little because I can really practise the basics (grapevines, anyone?) and get them ticked off so I can be scrim passed and join in with full contact scrims. When they finish fresh meat it’ll mean more pre mins too so training will have to alter accordingly – at one point last year we had more pre mins turning up to training than team skaters if that says anything about the league. I think they know that they sometimes forget about that kind of thing, but if they never get new skaters and retain them…then the league will go down.

Hopefully next week I won’t feel so whiny but I guess that depends on me and what happens at training :/

 

Skills, skills, 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!