Scrim time!

Today was my first scrim with the team and it was freaking awesome!

I asked if I could scrim as the team has a ‘scrim-passed’ mark where you can technically take part in scrims (which are basically informal/friendly scrims) but you could still be told not to if the captain doesn’t think you’ll be safe.

I only skated in about 4 or 5 jams but it was still great to actually get to play with the team and try to put everything I’d learnt at practice into action. The team were all really nice to me too and yelling directions at me (so appreciated, I felt so lost a lot of the time) and Crusher was our LUM so she put me in jams even though I felt a little unsure. I was pretty nervous this morning even though I’d been looking forward to it all week but the reality of what was going to happen finally settled as I was driving there.

Our usual hall was closed (and actually locked) so we had to scramble and got to work finding a new place to skate and fortunately found one so our opponents hadn’t travelled for nothing. We all rushed there and had to get some other teammates to pick up stuff to lay a track and managed to start at almost the same time we would’ve started if we were at our original hall. The only problem was that it was way too warm. It was like an inflated dome thing so the inside was very warm and stuffy and we couldn’t open a door (we were thinking it might change the pressure of inside and then the dome would collapse…) but we all persevered and had lots of water to hand (although our haribo melted in the heat…)

We won! (Forgot to say that) although I’m not sure if the other team were just a little bit worse than us? Or if we brought our A game and kicked some serious ass. We started off with a lead and didn’t lose it throughout the scrim so we had a bit more time to try new things or to see what worked and what didn’t, it was a bit like training but way faster as I had a hard time following people and keeping track of the pack. I got a few big hits too, one involved me landing on the floor right next to a ref XD and two shiny bruises on my shins (considering wearing shin pads in the future…)

Somehow, I also got the MVP award today. I’m not sure if it’s out of pity or if they genuinely thought I deserved it? I was super surprised when they called out my name. I was crossing my arms and looking very unimpressed (we were about to have a picnic and I was hungry) until they called my name and everyone laughed (at my expression, hopefully not because they thought it was a joke) Everyone was super sweet about it too, one blocker from the other team said I was really good (pretty sure I only saw her for one jam but apparently I’d made some kind of impact?) The others said I did well and it’s definitely helped my confidence because now I’m running off a high from that and just wanna skate again!

Earlier this week it was my birthday but I’m still not completely mins passed like I’d hoped to be but I finally passed my left foot glides! I’d been trying to get them right for months. Fire saw me do them a few weeks ago and was like ‘yeah, they need work’ and I couldn’t turn corners (I literally would just keep going until I hit a wall) but somehow on Tuesday the glides just happened. I think I was just as surprised as the others but I was super happy about it. I only have 4 things to tick off now and I’ll be fully passed. I can’t wait!

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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!

 

 

 

 

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!

“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 :/

 

Fresh meat block 3 (final block)

The final block of fresh meat involved more blocking and learning more about the rules of roller derby, as the scrims are so fast that we don’t really have time to process what happened and the skaters are too busy switching roles to explain it to us (sometimes they can but that depends on how many people there are).

We did more pace line drills, but making the gap between each person smaller so you had to really focus on actually weaving around the people and not just blindly skating through. We usually had two pace lines (one for fresh meat and one for team skaters) and we also had to avoid crashing into the other pace line which was harder than we all expected. We did pace line races too (who could get through the line the fastest).

Our final fresh meat session included transitions which we hadn’t done much of before. I’m okay going one way around but going the other way is almost impossible at the moment as I end up just falling over for some reason but it’s mostly likely due to me not being balanced. We did a jump transition which I wasn’t good at on either side but again I think that’s due to my lack of balance as I can’t land on my skates very well (I recently lowered my toe stops so I’ll see how that goes with stopping as I’ve not been using them that much so far).

We had a few practice scrims too, where the team skaters would mix in with the fresh meat and guide us through strategy and how to block better (stay low, hips and shoulders together…) and a few times we got to watch the team skaters do an actual scrim and they’re so fast it’s amazing (and they also know what they’re doing too).

That’s it for fresh meat! It felt like it wasn’t that long but my house mates kept saying that it’s 12 weeks which is a long time. I think it did give me the foundations though, I still can’t do crossovers but it gave me an idea of what it’ll be like if I carried on (I’m still skating so that’s a good sign :D)