Saturday 28th February 2015 was another big day for me. It was boutday and both our B team and A team would be playing as part of a double header. I was lucky enough to play on both teams on the day. But the part that made it even bigger for me? Both games were against Birmingham Blitz Dames. The league I first learnt to play roller derby with.
This was kind of like the last five years coming full circle for me. Five years ago I entered a hall in Birmingham as a nervous girl who knew how to skate, but blocking and jamming and playing a very physical and demanding full contact sport on skates? A whole other story! I started skating with Birmingham Blitz Dames, I made some great friends and learnt from some great players, things happened in my personal life which meant I left Birmingham behind me. Last year in March, I transferred to the Hellfire Harlots and have spent the last year working hard and overcoming mental and physical challenges.
Images: Martyn Boston
I made it onto both the B team and the A team – which are both privileges in their own right. In the B team, I get to skate with ladies who are progressing and flourishing as skaters and players, we get to really learn to work together and find new ways to be a better team, I also get to influence them as they influence me to be better. It is an exciting time to be part of the B team, when I look at the ladies I skate with I see so much potential and a great future for each and every one of them. I’m proud to be part of this team. In the A team, I get to skate with experienced skaters who teach me to be a smarter player, a more skilful skater and a better teammate.
Coming into the day, I was filled with both nerves and so much excitement. I’d made it through my first Harlots game at the start of the month so I wasn’t as scared this time round. I went in with confidence which I think made a big difference. Rosie was B team bench and McKitten was looking after us as LUM. Both of which had told me to believe in myself and to visualize getting through. (I think our very own Mak would have been proud!)
Images: Martyn Boston
For the B team game I was both blocking and jamming. In the first half it was pretty close with the scores until about 20 minutes in, at which point BBD took the lead and come half term we had an epic regroup. We came back fighting in the second half, coming back from being down 70 points, my jam rotation increased and I still got to block with my teammates. I was happy with my offensive and defensive blocking throughout this, drawing on what we had been learning in training. I felt my jamming could have had more hustle to it, but on the second time round watching it back it wasn’t as bad as I thought! I did pull some good manoeuvres and I did work hard to drive the middle against a very physical team, even though sometimes I did find it more effective to go around the edges on most jams. The last jam we had a 1 point lead, I was thrown on as jammer and my blocking team worked hard to contain the jammer and draw a track cut. This allowed me to take us into the lead at the last moment, Rosie sticking near the trackside ready for me to call at the right moment – I called it and for a moment had no idea what on earth was going on around me. We won. 176 NHH to 166 BBD. I couldn’t believe it. An emotional few minutes followed, our lovely Hooli had played her last B team game, had captained her last Harlots game and now she’d be leaving us for a year. She had captained us to very hard fought victory! Watching the footage back, I was so incredibly proud of all our team, each girl had blocked or jammed their hearts out and the improvement within this game alone was incredible.
Images: Martyn Boston
For the A team game, I got to block with the best of them. Many of the BBD A team were there when I first started at Blitz so to be able to skate against these and some of the BBD B team from my past was incredible. I got to block with my team as a solid team, getting my bearings again and often bridging our blockers in play, I worked to defend in flat back and braced walls and made sure if I was free to be offensive for our jammers. And we did a double win! With the score being 203 NHH to 100 BBD it was incredible!
I learned a lot throughout these two very different games which I had been writing in my training diary continuously. Whilst I am still a little down on myself about not feeling good enough / worthy of my leagues A team, I am getting better at knowing I need to trust my team to put me where they think I belong. It has boosted my confidence playing the last three bouts I have, on both B team and A team. After my first A game against Hot Wheel, my rotation did increase for the BBD A team game. I know that I have it in me to play at the standard I need to, I just need to work on bringing it out. Most of all I’m thankful to be there, I’m grateful for the chance to learn the way I am and play alongside the people I am. And I’m excited. I’m excited for the future of both the B team and A team, we have exciting things coming up and new possibilities and I will definitely be learning for a little while longer!
Also. No penalties!
Til next time little blue monsters x