I’m a little bit on cloud nine this week. I have post bout feels and this week I also learnt I was the lucky recipient of the Captains Award for the B team game! So many feels and I even did a happy cry!!
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.
When I wrote my last post, I was travelling back to Nottingham sat in a car, I couldn’t wait until I reached home to write. I was full of emotion and happy and on a mega derby high! When we got back, I filled my belly with lots of food and then had a bath (after letting the food go down of course!) Laying in the bath, soothing my bumps and bruises and resting my wankle, I reflected on the days events.
As I sat there, it all hit me. I was well and truly overwhelmed thinking about my day and playing for Team Metal Legs. I won’t lie, I cried. But it was a happy cry. For the first time in a very long time, I felt proud of my achievements on skates.
In the changing rooms before the game, our TML captain Rosie gave us a pep talk and she had us each go round the room and say what we wanted to do today, our own little goals. I was not too sure what I really wanted out of the day, as my first bout back post break and first real time to get stuck in as a blocker and a jammer, I mainly wanted to survive the bout. At which point a few who didn’t know it was my first time back were so lovely and were both nervous and excited for me which made me feel in good company, one who really helped me out had played in the last Team Metal Legs game, and that bout was her first bout back post break so it meant a lot to have her support and understanding! My other goals were to be able to block hard and work together with people, as well as get my confidence back up to jam. I have lost a lot of confidence and belief in myself recently with some down days and unfortunate situations, so the nerves were definitely there, at one point in the warm up I suddenly thought that I could not do it, I simply could not play, I was not good enough to be there and I was going to let everyone down…. just a maddening sickening rush of thoughts. But we went on, warmed up, skated out, got ready in first line ups. As I sat there waiting in line ups, it hit me how lucky I was to be skating alongside these ladies. Each girl was filled with so much positivity and excitement, the support was more than I could have asked for, and without Team Metal Legs that day I think I would have found it much harder to come back mentally to the game.
I started out blocking, finding my feet again, digging down and getting used to hits again. Some of the ladies had played together in the last TML bout together, some of us were new to the team, but the way in which we all found a way to skate our own way but together as a team was actually pretty damn beautiful. We were all able to talk to each other, listen to each other, do what the jammers wanted us to do, do what our bench wanted us to do, all of this whilst skating to our own individual strengths, the way in which TML came together as a team was just amazing to be a part of. Off skates for TML we had the lovely LUM Charlotte, who had stepped in last minute for us, thrown together last minute line-ups with new additions and changes as well as keeping us rowdy bunch in check throughout the game! And our surprise bench Mimey who had simply come to watch and support the team! SURPRISE BENCH! Big love to Phoenix our original bench who had sadly had to take another trip to hospital, serious love to you and I really hope that you heal up soon and we see you lovely!! Early on, Charlotte handed me the jammer panty. I was nervous about jamming, but as a team who had few specialised jammers, it was only fair that we all did some time. So I jammed. And it was incredible! I felt so comfortable and at ease, letting my instinct as a skater and jammer take over, my laterals, spins and turns were there, I even managed to push the opposing blockers – which is pretty hard when you are playing Hulls Angels A Team! I have to hand it to H.A.R.D, they have a strong blocking line-up and they really gave us everything they had with no letting up, so to be able to push three blockers along the straight (and even watch it on video!!) was something that I had been trying to build my confidence in and have in my arsenal. After my first jam, Charlotte threw me the jammer panty quite a bit more. And I have to thank her for doing that. I needed to remind myself, show myself that I could jam. The feedback from my teammates also hit me hard, the fact they supported me and gave me such positive feedback about my performance just made my heart swell. With a strong blocking team who held H.A.R.D’s jammer back and gave me some amazing offense, I was so proud to say I was part of that team! And being able to block with these blockers, help our jammers out, working on my offense and defence, making sure I was communicating and listening to my pivot and teammates to make sure we were a unit, it all helped me to really strengthen my ability and skills as a blocker. Of course there are moments I look at and wish I had done different things, been better, played a little bit smarter, I had a few learning curves but as Rosie said, it was for funsies. We played for funsies and I came out the other side with more than you could ever realise.
It was just an amazing hour of roller derby that really did finish way too soon!
Rainbow Smite, Rosie, Skye Bruise, Bob, Mother Mercy (or Hammer, depending on where you look!), Dr Jean Knockout, Hurrikane Katrina, Shock N Awedrey, Greek Frightening, Feral Fairy, Pyscho-Sis, Charlotte & Mimey. Thank you all for believing in me when I didn’t even believe in myself, thank you for being there, thank you for the support and the love, thank you for just being you. You badasses.
So to you, my Team Metal Legs teamies, I have this to say.
You are a group of absolutely beautiful ladies, who are way too modest, who are so genuinely friendly and welcoming with wide open derby arms, who have endured and fought through the physical and mental hell that has been thrown at you, you have conquered the world to return to the sport that we love so passionately even when it doesn’t always love us. You are not only amazing people, but you are all badasses on track. You ladies inspire me. You inspired me when I saw you play for the first time as Team Metal Legs, two weeks after I got my cast off, two weeks after I didn’t think I would be able to brave skating again, the two weeks it took me to have hope. And you inspired me even more when you skated alongside me, supporting me, screaming for me. The fact I also got to do that for you too, meant the world to me, I felt like I was able to give back what you gave to me. Many of you were there for me when I was broken, you read my messages, my rants, cried with me, made me laugh, posted crazy cat photos and told me bad jokes, and when you told me that it gets better. You never lied to me, you always told me that it isn’t easy, but coming out the other side makes you a stronger person. And you were all there for me when I came back. You made my heart swell a thousand sizes on December 14th 2014. That day will stay with me for a very long time. The day I returned to bouting, the day I got my derby back, the day that it was all down to you ladies.
Team Metal Legs, I freaking love you.
Let’s do it again yes?
Today was a big deal for me. Today was my first bout back post break. I won’t lie, I was nervous and worried about letting the team down. But I was also excited and determined to block and jam to the best of my ability!
The ladies of Team Metal Legs are just fantastic, so understanding and just awesome. They were great throughout and made me feel more comfortable and relaxed. Funsies!
So I did it. Today I blocked and I jammed. I followed my gutt instinct and just let my body do what felt natural and the best way to move around track. And it was AWESOME!!
I stopped jammers, worked well with other blockers, communicated and didn’t get any penalties! I jammed my butt off, juking and pushing, I got back up anytime I found myself down, I scored points, I called it at the right times with bench assistance, and did I mention I didn’t get any penalties?!?
I went there with the aim of just having fun, getting back into skating in a bout situation, learning from other skaters and working with new skaters, generally surviving the bout. But the fact that I got so much out of it in terms of confidence in myself and my own ability, the fact I now better appreciate the ability to adapt to new skaters and situations as well as appreciating the skaters I am used to working with, it has just given me such a boost. I can still play roller derby and I can still play well!! The fact that I had fun and gained so much on a personal level was awesome, BUT we did a win too!!
So there is hope, and something that seems scary can really turn out to be a huge turning point in the way you see yourself and the things that you are capable of doing. I skated hard, I skated for me – to prove to myself that I can still do this! – and I also made new friends along the way.
I have a lot of love for Rosie today, she has consistently believed in me and my ability, and today I skated not only to make me happy, but to make her proud also. She always pushes me to be a better skater and player, she supported me throughout my break and coming back to skating post break, and she has just been an awesome beast!! Without her I probably wouldn’t have agreed to play in a TML bout, but I am bloody glad I did!!
Thank you Rosie!
And thank you Team Metal Legs! Who know a broken ankle would lead to such a positive and loving place.
So it is really going to happen. I am going to bout this year.
My last public bout was February this year. When I broke, I thought I could throw everything out the window until 2015. When I came back within three months, taking part in drills, squads, scrimmaging – bouting was the last thing on my mind! The idea of bouting again felt light years away, but – of course.. wrong!
Sunday 14th December 2014. I make my return as a bouting skater. For that, I have Team Metal Legs to thank.
I posted about Team Metal Legs previously, these are a group of previously broken or injured skaters who have made a return to roller derby and are skating in support of those who take care of our broken and battered players. These skaters are a beacon of light to all the skaters who experience the darkest days of dealing with an injury, these skaters are living proof that there is life and derby after injury. It may not be easy, but it is more than possible.
I saw Team Metal Legs début bout in Leicester. Two weeks after I had gotten my cast off, after two weeks of learning to walk all over again, I saw hope for the future of my skating career.
In a weeks time, I will skate as part of Team Metal Legs. I get the honour of lining up on track with some amazing ladies who have endured physical and mental/emotional hardship to skate their hearts out. Of course I am nervous. This is a huge deal for me! I love jamming and blocking. I love getting stuck in and working with & learning from other talented skaters. After 20 years of skating, nearly 5 years of roller derby, enduring my first broken bone, and returning to skate another day….
I AM EXCITED!
Til next time little blue monsters xxx
I was gutted and absolutely devastated at the idea of not scrimmaging or bouting until 2015 (December for scrimmaging!). I was unable to skate at the Harlots bout on the 18th October which really sucked. It was the rematch of the rained off game I broke my ankle just before. I realize that the idea of roller derby, an indoor sport, being rained off is odd, but thanks to a rather ridiculous leak in the roof back in July it became an anomaly.
So I offered to help out my league in any way I could on the day of the bout. I got there early to help set chairs, tables, matts etc out, in all these years of playing derby I have rarely bruised my arms… 15-20 minutes of carrying matts? Carpeted matt rash on my shoulders. Doh!!
Anyway, before the bout myself and fellow returning to derby post injury skater Kay Blammity were asked if we’d like to announce. And that was a huge privilege and honor! I still stand by my NSO team, (GO TEAM GREY GO!) for the next few months as I have in the last month until I am fit and able enough to return to scrimmage. However on this particular day I had to leave them to stand by Kay Blammity’s side, as TeamCrip, announcing the two bouts of the day… and it was awesome!!!
So I had a fantastic time, it went so quickly and it was such great fun to announce with Blam. Neither of us had ever announced before and I think we actually did good on the day, even getting a shouting competition going between the team merch stalls! We handled injury well, skate outs, foul outs, penalties, communications with the refs. It was an awesome experience and I think everyone should have a chance to do something like that for their league.
At the end of the day, would I have rather been skating? I don’t think that is a question I could answer, mainly because it is an unfair question. Obviously it gutted me watching my team take to the track and not be able to be by their sides lining up, it did hurt later on post bout the more I thought about it, but I had a seriously awesome experience at the end of the day. Yes. I missed skating, I would have loved to have been skating, but to say I would rather have been skating would well and truly do an injustice to the day itself and the fun me and Blam had.
If you do want to try your hand at announcing?
There are tons of helpful guides out there and official handbooks from Official Announcer Membership folk, but some short and handy helpful tips from my experience!
Turn up. Obviously. Turn up. But turn up early. This gives you time to check the sound levels, get used to the sound system, prepare and plan ahead with any changes on the day, even help out the rest of your league and bout set up crew – even if you are just holding doors!
Use the mic. An obvious one but one that is ignored by so many. As a singer I deal with this on a general basis, but how you hold the mic can really affect sound levels and clarity. Don’t eat the mic. Don’t hold it above your lips. Talk into the mic but leave say three fingers space between your lips and the mic? And don’t be mean to the sound guy/girl! They only want to help you, and if you are nice, they will be nice in return.
Do your research! Research the teams before hand, try to get some facts or (very) short anecdotes about the team/skaters for when you may need to fill some time. Did they win something awesome? Do something awesome? Share it! Heck – we had one skater who informed us that she once hit a jammer so hard that she made her pee! We even got a laugh from the crowd about it.
Check for changes. On the day, check for any changes to the stalls, to the program, any skaters missing/added, lineup changes etc. The last thing you want is to make yourself look daft talking about a skater who isn’t playing or advertise a stall that hasn’t turned up/miss a stall that was a late addition.
Skate outs. Make friends with the DJ, check the skate out songs are sorted, set up in the right order etc. Check names/numbers of skaters and if you are unsure on the pronunciation of a name or number – check! Derby girls sometimes choose names that are a little too smart and require pronouncing in a certain way for it to work, you got to make it work!
Silence is golden. You do not need to talk all the time. Yes – keep the crowd informed! But the bout is about the skaters, not you. And the last thing the crowd wants is to hear you go on and on and on and on.
Explain, gently. The majority of the crowd are seasoned derby goers. But there are always groups of people who are new to the sport, derby virgins. Talk about the skaters and the rules as they happen, you won’t be able to catch all the penalties as that would be both impossible and just downright ridiculous to listen to. But jammer penalties are prime time to explain a penalty. You don’t have to discuss in depth how WFTDA words that rule and the implications, keep it short, sweet and simple. But not too simple, you don’t want to be a douche and alienate your audience! Also – try not to be excited ALL THE TIME. You need to show varying emotions for the crowd to react to, not just loud and shouty and excited all the time! A note on top of that is to avoid in jokes, it is good to note in mixed bouts that two skaters going head to head may be from the same league but if you make a joke that is a inner circle kind of thing, you will lose everyone.
Knowledge is key! You need to know the game. You need to know it inside and out. Watch other announcers. You are going to announce to a live crowd with a live game in which you have to be quick and correct as you get one chance to talk about each moment. Your knowledge of the game needs to be top! You cannot catch everything and you do not need to. Make sure that the bits that are picked up on are important to the game and use your knowledge and experience to do so! Penalties, star passes and official reviews are just three of the reasons why you need to know your stuff and be able to explain it!
Foresight. Don’t use it! Foresight is usually a good thing, however when it comes to announcing derby, you need to keep it all in. Don’t warn in advance that the jammer is approaching or where they are on track. Don’t talk about blocker offense/defense before it takes place. And above all – do not call penalties before the referees! Foul outs? Wait until you have the word from your head referee and pass this information on to the crowd. Reviews? As I just noted!
Referee relationship. A positive relationship and understanding between yourself and the head referee is crucial. Check with them if they have a certain way of doing things, it is important when it comes to moments such as official reviews – this way you will know what the referee expects and you get the best communication possible between the officiating crew, you and the crowd.
Announcer attitude. As an announcer there are two key things to remember. First and most importantly, you are there to do a job. So by all means, have fun and entertain and support all the teams and skaters, but remain a sense of professionalism. If you are linked to a league and people know you are, it is also an impression that you give of your league. You are a representative! On that note, the second key thing. DO NOT be biased. You are there to announce the entire bout, for both teams involved, if you are linked to a league or not – make sure you hold an unbiased view of the event. Get the audience on your side, get the audience on each teams side and support everyone there! Linking to this, do not belittle, insult or say negative things about a skater regardless of their actions on the track (and most importantly any animosity or friendship off track).
You are an announcing team! Most of the time you will be an announcing team of two. Make sure you have a positive relationship and work together! Two announcers allows one to focus in on the play-by-play whilst the other can add “colour” to it. Don’t speak over each other! Looking at each other helps and watching body language to see if you are about to talk or are finishing what you are saying. Use each others names to bring the other announcer into what you are saying to help break it up. If you have a disagreement or don’t get on, leave it at the door. As with skating, it doesn’t come on the track and it shouldn’t come on the mic – thankfully me and Blam get on, but not everyone is as lucky as us two! We even met the night before to go through stuff and have a cuppa! (Thanks Blam!)
Injury. Injury is a difficult one as you don’t necessarily know the full extent. First off remind the crowd not to take photographs, retaining the dignity of the skater is crucial, and photos of injured people is just an awful idea. I had a photo taken of me, sat on a chair with a broken ankle with my league around me 2 hours after I had broken it. It didn’t so much bother me as it was a scrimmage, I thought it was a sprain so on and so forth, however those incidents can haunt a skater and the last thing they want is to see a photo of those moments or others to be reminded of it also. This is another moment where you can talk to reduce the panic and worry for the skater, however do not over do it, you do not want to be talking and just filling the space because you feel like you have to. Wait for communication from the referees or medics for sharing information. When the skater gets up or is removed from track, make sure the crowd gives her/him a clap and cheer of support. It is soothing and if it is a serious injury will help the skater take their mind off the injury a little.
Blowouts. These suck and can mean you can fall into the pit of talking too much about one team. Luckily we did not deal with this on the day, but it was something that we prepared for on the off chance! Try not to focus so much on the score, but instead the game played, more often than not a score can sometimes not reflect the level of game play on that day. Make sure the crowd is behind both teams, especially towards the end, remind them that these girls/guys have skated their butts off today and that now is the last chance to really cheer them on and support them.
5 skaters on a team, not 1! Do not always talk about the jammer. Generally they are the more prominent when announcing as most of the crowd is focused on them, but remind everyone that jammers cannot score points or stop the other team from scoring without their blockers. Talk about the teamwork, great offensive or defensive plays and share the love for the skaters on track on the day.
Crowd communication and interaction. Crowd communication is good, great even! But you don’t want to over do it and you don’t want to bore them either. Make sure your communication is clear, project and don’t talk too quickly (something I have been guilty of on stage! Spoke at a sufficient speed this time thankfully!). Share information from the track but don’t bombard them, they do want to watch the game too remember! Use the moments between jams to remind them about the stalls, the merchandise, raffles and competitions, remember as a league you need the support of vendors and sponsors as well as the support from cake and merch sales. You can get the crowd shouting in support of the team they support! If it is a mixed bout you are pretty much guaranteed to have support from various leagues so if you can, find out what leagues they are from and give them a shout out! Share the derby love! Have a shout of between the league supporters if it is team X versus team Y.
Above all, make it fun. We play derby out of passion and love for the sport and because we enjoy it. People come to watch and support us because they enjoy it. The best thing you can do is share that love, excitement and enjoyment.
Post bout brings a mixture of emotions. General relief that it’s over, feeling proud of everyone on both teams, kicking your own mental butt for something you felt was stupid, and general togetherness with your own and the opposing league – after all… We are derby sisters remember!
We all experience a wide range of emotions throughout and post bout. But how do you handle them? You can let them weigh on you or just ignore them and pretend it’s nothing.
But how do you move on and better yourselves for the future? Hard and possibly painfully honest constructive criticism. Be proud of all you achieved that day, but be honest with yourself. Talk about all the things everyone observed from both on and off the track. Any video footage? Watch it all, every painstaking moment and make notes on things that go wrong and things that are good. Go through all these notes with the group and footage along with it. Find it hard to say in front of people? Make anonymous notes and submit them to be read out by a designated person with the footage to help further explain what went wrong, why and how it can be avoided or counteracted in the future. Try not to be too personal, if someone got in your way, don’t make personal comments or digs, just point out pack/jammer awareness.
The road to improvement is a long and difficult one, and you must be brutally honest with yourself and others. You must be constructive. But if you lie to yourself and your league, you are doing more damage than good.
For example, whilst my first jam was a 14-0 for me, I have already noted down any areas for improvement (ideally not have a cold on boutday… it appeared to delay my focus slightly ) but to work harder on my jam line sprint as a basic example. We lost 118 to 173, but for a while in the first half were leading! Carried on skating and scoring points whilst letting my blockers so their thing. Maybe in the future I may be allowed to show my triple threat prowess on track! To the future and improvement!
So… there are only two sleeps left between today and Saturday.
What is so important about Saturday you may ask? Well.. Saturday happens to be a pretty awesome day.. infact this Saturday I will be playing my first bout with the Mansfield Misfits. Oh yes… awesome stuff.
Though while this is an awesome thing, I am also cacking my derby panties.
At the start of this week I was excited, kinda like the way I get around Christmas. We had a good scrimmage practice on Sunday night, I felt good about jamming in my newly broken in boots, figured out what I need to focus on/avoid and noticed how my team are looking – confident! But Tuesday… Tuesday I started to panic. For some reason, something in my mind clicked and sent me into partial meltdown mode on Tuesday night.
I have never really been nervous before, not like this. Some people have asked about being nervous when I go on stage…. like skating, singing is natural for me and I have been doing it long enough to know I can just get up on stage and enjoy myself. In a way singing and derby has close links, when I get up on stage I’m not just Holly, I am this confident kickass person who take’s no crap and is there to have a good time – and for derby it is the same. I am not just normal Holly, I am Hollycidal Violation, I may not be an entirely different person but my derby name and persona allows me to let go and be who I am on track. Yes. I have been skating long enough for it to be natural and second nature, but the pressure is different. It may be because it is my first bout with MM. That we have people coming to watch, especially MamaCidal… it means so much that these people are coming to see me play for the first time, MamaCidal has seen me figure skate but this is so so different. I was good at figure skating, but I really took to derby with such ease and confidence and I genuinely feel like this I something I am actually kinda good at.
So this notion of nerves is a strange and new one for me. I did not realise how quickly excitement could so easily turn into nerves. So now I am trying to control my emotions, not supress or disregard, but control them. I spent a while looking advice online on getting to a positive mental state and found some positive results from Rollerderby Athlete amongst others – who highly recommend acknowledging when you are not in control, relaxing and then refocusing that energy. And I feel this to be positive and worthwhile advice. Though sometimes you cannot always be in control, as seen by our lovely Walnut Whip getting excited and nervous about a friendly scrimmage with a local team and ending up with a neverending nosebleed. Good memories! But a prime example of a confident skater pysching herself out.
Now the reality has hit me, I have gone from being excited about lining up on that jam line to suddenly feeling the pressure of being on that jam line. I have no serious worries or disbelief in my ability on track and as a jammer, I do feel confident. Although there is that annoying little voice in the back of my head that does point out the possibility of failure. But if anything happens, I must remember to get my head in the current jam, have specific jamnesia for the negatives in the previous bout.
Another piece of advice I will be taking is surrounding the organisation and stress side of things. I aim to be packed Friday evening. Saturday morning I hope to recheck my derby gear, make sure I have spares/backup bits of kit, make sure I have my overnight bag, eat breakfast, mentally prepare, fuss the dog (as it will be impossible to avoid the dog), pack the cheese/pasta I make Friday night along with other snacks and make sure I have extra water! Then go pick up the wife and make our way to Barnsley. Get there early and meet in the carpark for some team chillout and whatnot.
As it currently stands my feelings are as follows:
- Skate hard and skate clean
- Enjoy myself and learn from the experience
- Be proud of myself and my derby wife for how we did
- Be proud of my team for simply getting to our first bout
- Watch some awesome mens derby
- Eat cake
- Get drunk
- Win the afterparty
Sound good? Bagofnerves.
A serious problem.
I bought more wheels. Things that happened today mean I now own the entire Suregrip Fugitive Mid range.
However it is also sad as I recently found out when trying to purchase my final mixer set, that Suregrip are no longer going to produce the Suregrip Fugitive mids (fugi mids), they are however using the “Rollouts” as a replacement. Pretty similar however ever so slightly different in size. And it is sad they are changing the wheels, I’m sure it’s with good reason and maybe they have improved them, however I have the Fugi mids and I like them. I admit I would love a set of Radar Diamonds…. but sadly the fugi mids are much more in my price range – especially as there were few mid/slim wheels available at the point I bought.
My obsession with Suregrip Fugitive mids started when I spoke with a friend. TurboPete of Southern Discomfort and had a wealth of knowledge. So I bugged him for help and advice and thankfully he helped me out instead of telling me to do one. Turbo happened to be playing the Big O tournament in the land of derbygoodness and so we arranged for him to bring me back some wheels, under his advice and guidance we agreed that the Fugi mids would be ideal for my skating style and ability. I got them, I loved them. However I had chosen the 90a duro which did not feel quite so helpful where I could do with less grip…
So late last year I ordered a full set of 96a and a half set of 93a. I realised my mistake more recently in ordering the 93a, generally the idea with pushers is to have atleast a 4 duro difference for the mix to be effective.
Now, I don’t want to rock the boat with the whole pusher/anti pusher debates. I do feel that pushers/mixed durometer can be felt working. I do however feel a skater should be more than competent skating on a full set of wheels. This is my reasoning for having the full sets I do, and the half sets I do.
- Grippy floor = full set of 96a
- Slippy floor = full set of 90a
- Also a half set (4) of 93a
I have felt a little bit of sliding on my 90a as of recent since coming back from the Christmas break and I do feel as though our floor has been cleaned within an inch of it’s life to have lost a little grip. So today I chose to order a half set of 87a bearing in mind the state of some of the floors in the UK I figured it is best to err on the side of caution and have a sticky wheel available to mix with a harder wheel to avoid losing speed as a jammer – I have experienced a problem in which sometimes I push too hard coming up to corners thanks to my figure skating background so having just a small bit of stickygrippy really can help when leaning into a corner.
So now I am able to mix:
- 96a/90a mix
- 93a/87a mix
So welcome to the family my half set of 87a purple Suregrip Fugitive Mids! I hope these will arrive before Thursday as I would like time to be able to bed them in as Saturday… wait for it…..
Yes…. Saturday 15th will see me playing my first bout with Mansfield Misfits. We will be playing against Barnsley Blackhearts and will also be joined by the Inhuman League and Lincolnshire Rolling Thunder for a mens roller derby bout! I am sure I will write a bit more about this at some point this week!
Oh and my Suregrip Isis boots? Doing well! I went to Rollerworld Derby with my derby wife and our lovely Jevo for a free skate and lovey derby night out. I was taken out by a small child who decided to just stop infront of me with no warning or looking behind him whatsoever. Ninjasmallpeople. Cut up my knee which sucks as it is my prefered fall knee. But on the plus side, no blisters! Working with Compeed plasters, two pairs of socks and the power of unicorns!!
So in my last post about my derby wife, I mentioned one of our friends – Tankerbell. Now this is one of those names you should really avoid underestimating! Tankerbell came into our lives minus his derby name, his derbybaby eyes so wide and curious, still much to learn in his journey through the derbyverse. Now I will not get into the debate over mens derby vs womens derby/should men be allowed to play etc… not right now. Infact right now, I want to share his story. I asked whether he would be up for writing something about his experience and the start of his derby journey – especially as Tankerbell did not join a mens team initially, he has seen behind the veil that is womens roller derby from day one!
Dom. AKA: Tankerbell. #74
I have been asked to write about my derby experience… where do I start?
In The Pub
I was out having a quiet pint one night in the local biker bar, when a woman with bright purple hair covered in tattoos came bouncing up to me, and said “ ’ello, you look like you want to play roller derby!” I was more interested in my pint to be honest as I didn’t have a clue what she was on about.
This continued for the next 6 months, same drill when I saw her.
One night I finally asked what it was all about? Being a large lad (18st) and doing weights and martial arts I thought you got to be having me on! Mucking around on roller skates! I’m nearly 40!
So when a few more pints had been dispatched I said “Every so often you got to do something out side of your comfort zone…………..go on then I’ll give it a go” I resigned myself.
Next week I bought some skates and went down.
The Renegade Rebels
I turned up and what looked like half my local came in, it was all rock chicks! Awesome I thought!
So I got padded up (I never needed this much protection for full contact fighting!) strapped on my skates and flew, my feet went to shoulder height and I fell like a lead balloon. So glad I did all that martial arts training! All the break falls I had done came in handy that night, I can tell you. I spent most of my first lesson air born; the girls were laughing so much they couldn’t skate at all! I’m so glad it wasn’t filmed as it was more ridiculous than any slapstick film you have seen. After 2 hours of “flying” and with tears from laughter still in their eyes the girls bid me good night and I went off for a good soak. I was hooked.
Having to borrow your pads was a new experience for me, as some weeks you could smell it come in the room when you were down the other end of the sports hall. I found the only way to get rid of the smell was go fast! The wind is your friend! Its only when you stand still will the smell woft back up to your nostrils, with a scent that can only be described as Satan’s jock strap! It didn’t take me long to get a full kit.
It was with the Misfits I learnt most my basic skills. It was then I thought I could swim in a bigger pond….
The Mansfield Misfits
After several months of training with the Rebels I was offered the chance to go and “scrim” with the Misfits, great I thought! Chance to put all those hard earnt skills to the test. They were a bigger team than the Rebels and would be good fun. I went down with the lady (Walnut Whip) who started the same time as me with the Misfits, as she had gone down before to the Misfits and it was nice to have a familiar face there.
So I was all kitted up, ready to get my butt handed to me.
They had a guest coach in for the night, it was artistic skating. Oh joy… I looked at Walnut who burst out laughing, “Just go with it!” she said……
Arabesques and all sorts they tried to get me to do, I looked like a buffalo on skates. I found all the girls really nice and helpful, giving me hints and tips, as I was massively out classed by all their skating abilities. I was asked if I would like to come back and have a go again, without the artful bits I hasten to add. And I spent a good few months training with the lovely ladies of the misfits.
Not only did it make a big jump on my skills, having pack work and scrims to do. I learnt about team work. Having done martial arts and the gym for years it’s all solo things, competing against yourself to become better.
From the Misfits I saw true team work, they all went out and partied together, looked out for each other all the time, and the one bit that drove it home was when they were doing 100 laps as an endurance drill. Most finished around the same time but 1 was left skating on, not giving up, determined to finish as she wasn’t as fast as the rest. One Misfit shouted up “How many left?”, “20” came the reply, and as one (me included) we all got up, without a word being said, and we all got on track as we wouldn’t leave one of the team to skate alone, and we all went round to finish the remaining laps with her.
It was a truly humbling moment for me to see that kind of kinship and bond between a team.
The Super Smash Brollers
There were local games going on, and the local boys’ team were playing on a double header, so a few Misfits and I went to watch them. The first thing I noticed was the boy’s game was sooooo different to the girls. The girls use tight walls and tactics always using their backs to slow the jammers. The boys would stop a train with their faces!
It was like a rugby scrum on wheels, they kept turning round and skating backwards and going chest to chest with a speeding jammer, and they moved the pack so much faster than I was used to!
That’s it I said, I need to do that! After the bout the Brollers announced they were doing a fresh meat intake, I was straight up and after joining in!
I was still training with the Misfits and doing fresh meat with the Brollers at this point. I saw the Broller fresh meat becoming better, some over took me as they took to it like ducks to water. It was ace to see. I knew if I wanted to play in a bout one day I would have to join up with them, but I still loved scrimming with the Misfits. A couple of months later the Misfits announced they were closing doors to non-members, so I couldn’t skate any more with them. To prove how awesome they are, I still get asked to their social do’s. and they’re still my favourite girls team! They have gone on leaps and bounds, and have their first bout soon! So proud of them!
Now I’m trying to remember all they taught me and all the new stuff I have learnt from the Brollers.
The lads play a much harder game, its faster, more manic, but you got to love it!
I’m hoping to go in for my first bout soon as well! Can’t wait!
Spread the derby love!
As Tankerbell wrote, we still have such a good bond with him and we are all very proud of how hard he has worked and how far he has come! We are keeping our fingers crossed for a date when we get to go see him play his very first bout with the Brollers, we will make awesome signs and be there to kick his butt/cheer him on. Who knows – when he has survived his first bout, maybe he might be up for writing again to update you on how he finds the experience! The Tankerbell Story : The Return?
Thank you Tankerbell!