The big day! My first A Team Hellfire Harlots bout!

Sunday 1st February 2015. The day I finally got to represent my league.

This date will stay with me! This day I hit one of my goals in roller derby, I represented my league. This has been a long time coming, I came so close last year then lost hope with my broken ankle, and then decided to get my big girl pants on and get on with it! I came back to skating with a new found determination and desire. I decided to work my butt off throughout 2015.

Since entering the new year, I have been determined to give every moment everything I have. Whenever I have felt tired or I have felt like my muscles were going to give up, I hit harder and I skated harder. I am genuinely very lucky to skate with the group of women I do, so much experience and knowledge, different skating styles, and 100% supportive. So to be able to skate alongside them on track? An absolutely pleasure and honour!

I had worked hard enough to be deemed playable for the A Team. I cried my derby butt off when I found out, I won’t lie, I cried for a variety of reasons. At first shock and happiness, then I slipped and had a negative moment of disbelief, worry that I would let them down and completely unsure of the reasons why I had a spot. Then back to being ecstatically happy and proud and feeling like all the hard work, sweat and tears had resulted in something positive.

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Credit: Shirlaine Forrest

My debut as a Harlot, my very first Hellfire game, was to be on the A team. I felt a mixture of pressure and excitement, the pressure to not mess up along with the feeling that I was ready to take on the world!! Add to that it being the first game of British Champs for the Harlots… just wow. I felt a little more at ease with it also being my teammate El’s first game as a Harlot too, she is a good friend so to share the experience with her as well as my friends/teammates was a bonus.

Our captain and vice were fantastic. They talked both myself and El through bouting on the team, rotation and focuses, really helped us to feel more prepared for everything that was coming our way. The level of support is incredible and I know that we are very lucky to have this in our league.

Sunday soon rolled around. I had spent Saturday calming my nerves and mentally preparing, packing my bag, making sure I had food sorted, just trying to keep a good balance between excitement and nerves. The ever fierce McKitten picked me up and calmed my initial nerves on the way to the bus pick up point, talking me through her experience and becoming part of A team, generally putting my mind at ease. We jumped on the bus and headed off to Manchester. The bus ride was generally relaxed, making sure I took the time to stretch my ankle out and do some physio and warm up, did some “bus yoga” with the badass that is Bettie-mal. Bettie also spent some time with me before we reached the venue which made me feel comfortable and part of the team, she told me about her bouting experience and reminded me to enjoy it and have fun as well as play hard, then the conversation ended up with general laughs and chitchat as we pulled up to Manchester Academy.

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I can now officially say that I have played at Manchester Academy – boom! May not have been singing on the stage, but still!

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The floor was like treacle, I ended up changing to my highest duro wheel as when I first skated around, I could feel my skate sticking to the floor and my ankle threatening to go over the edge… not good! Changed up to 93a and got myself used to the floor, skated around the track with others and prepped for the warm up. The skate out was a scary moment, no going back after this! It was fun and I got to bring up the end with Wren!

I was on a low rotation for the game, as it was my first game ever as a Harlot they wanted to break me in gently and avoid throwing me in at the deep end. I didn’t expect much play, but when I was on I was determined to make it count. I wanted to watch and learn from my teammates, and watching from the bench is the best seat in the house! I get go watch, learn and hear the feedback from each jam. I also get to positively support my team upon their return to the bench. My first jam was a blur, a messy, horrible blur. But once that was out of the way I felt so much better and gelled with the team on and off track. Come the second half, it was a very close game so my low rotation was understandably lowered further. I would rather the team win by not playing me, than lose because they did play me.

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Credit: Roller Derby on Film

I won’t lie. I had an emotional wobble. This day had been a long time coming. The hardest part of the day was the point in which my brain seized the chance to bully me into thinking that the reason I wasn’t being played was because I wasn’t good enough. I felt this overwhelming tide of emotions where I had a complete emotional brainfart, I am lucky to have had Hooli and Janey on hand to tell me how normal and natural it was to feel that way. They had similar experiences on their initial Harlot games, it wasn’t because I wasn’t good enough, more because the critical nature of this bout. I knew that, I was fine with that, I felt proud enough just to be rostered for the game, so why the hell did my brain want to mess with me?! I got over these feelings with kind words and support from Hooli, El & Janey, it meant a lot that even with their own feelings and game play to focus on that they supported me. I got my big girl pants on and went back to putting my all into supporting the team and tried to show positivity to those coming off track and give them my support 110%.

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Even though I was disappointed in myself, I was proud that I had overcome my slight wobble and held my head up. I felt like I had done some good things when I was on and I wanted to remind myself of this and put these things in my training diary. I also noted down the not so good, I don’t want to focus on the negative things but I also don’t want to ignore these things. I want to accept that they happened and move on, whether it is simply putting it behind me or finding a way to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

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Credit: Roller Derby on Film

I took a lot from the day. I had gained experience on track, off track and as a person. I now have a whole new level of appreciation of my friends and teammates both on and off the track. I also took away a level of uncertainty over my ability and worth as a skater/player. I have always freaked out and thought the worst of events, myself and my performance. I have a tendency to immediately shut myself down. As I picked myself up after the game and journey home, I did some serious reflection. I did some ok things, and I wanted to try to focus on them. I am hoping that everything I did will be positive for my future as a Harlot, I have come into 2015 sessions working hard and giving it everything I have got. Our next bout is the 28th February, at home against Birmingham Blitz A and B teams so I am hoping to work even harder this month for my spot on teams!

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Yay we did a win! (Back row, next to our LUM!)

So from the bout… things that really stay in my mind as being not so good:

  • Opp blocker wrapped her leg around my ankle resulting in me tripping our own jammer 😦
  • Need to increase my awareness of our own jammer to help with more offense and generally keeping out her way!
  • Had slight butthurt. Need to not have butthurt as completely understandable things.
  • Bullied myself about my own ability. Sort this out!!

To finish on a positive note, some of the things I did good! 🙂

  • Hit out and recycled opp jammer
  • Used butt bongos to contain opp jammer (really chuffed with this one!)
  • Stuck with and listened to my team
  • Communicated to my team on whereabouts of the jammer and to keep going
  • Bridged my blockers in – doing something helpful!
  • Held the inside line and got around any offense on the inside line to hold opp jammer

Also. We did a win against Hot Wheel Roller Derby!

Until next time little blue monsters x

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2 Replies to “The big day! My first A Team Hellfire Harlots bout!”

  1. Gah! Totally didn’t realise you were there! Am such an idiot sometimes! I was cheering on the Harlots before the MRD bout and was so happy to see you win. Glad you had a good 1st bout with them too 🙂

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