This Is How I Roll! P3 – Roller Derby Gear Reviews

I’ve gone and done it again. Yes – I switched skates and plates at the start of 2015!

Best. Decision. Ever.

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Credit: Nico Lightfield, Caen

Continue reading “This Is How I Roll! P3 – Roller Derby Gear Reviews”

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Seriously. Watch yourself.

Shake ya ass. High fives and points all around if you are now singing this. But seriously, watch yourself.

I have been a little quiet as of late, the last month has been an absolute blur! In previous posts, I have written about improving as a skater / derby player and how to move forwards. But today I want to focus on looking back.

Watching video footage is incredibly important if you want to improve as an individual and as a league. It can be the most excruciatingly painful yet eye opening hour of your life, it can be full of positives and negatives, but all in all you can gain so much.

Continue reading “Seriously. Watch yourself.”

SKD at SKOD! We are going to Belgium!

We are going to Belgium!

I’m ridiculously excited. The Nottingham Hellfire Harlots are going to Belgium to take part in the WFTDA tournament – A Skate Odyssey. I am excited not just for myself, but for my league. The Harlots have been working towards a big WFTDA event such as this so to be invited to play means all the hard work has finally paid off.

Continue reading “SKD at SKOD! We are going to Belgium!”

Roller derby full circle, new league, old league, BOUTDAY!

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.

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Image: Mike Choo

Continue reading “Roller derby full circle, new league, old league, BOUTDAY!”

Derby over.

So that is it. Derby is over. For 2014 anyway!!!

Last night was my last roller derby session of the year, making this week my last derby week of the year. It’s definitely been a roller coaster year!  

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At the start of 2014, I started with one league, bouted, practiced, and mid-year moved to the Nottingham Hellfire Harlots. Moving leagues was incredibly difficult, not much the move but the repercussions of the move, people choosing to exit my life or getting involved in false claims. Moving leagues was definitely for the best, for my sake, for both my mentality and for my skating career. I have grown more as a skater in the last 9 months or so than I have since I started roller derby. Whilst a lot of that is to do with the training, there has been a huge impact from the people I now find myself surrounded by.

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I have this year gained so many new friends, with many wonderful people entering my life through roller derby and the Harlots. I have a new found strength and hunger since coming back, much of which is down to having unbelievable support from these people whether in person or online. To have even one person believe in you is incredible, when there are more than one, it makes your heart grow. 

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I found my ability improving and I am starting to feel happy with the direction in which I am going. I even made squads early on, which made me feel good but made me want to work even harder. I also broke my ankle (as if my blog didn’t already plaster it over the page!). But I came back from my break and ended the year on a positive, a real derby high. I played alongside some lovely ladies/badass skaters as part of Team Metal Legs. And last night was my last roller derby practice of 2014.  

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2015 is a year filled of excitement for the Harlots, we are playing in the British Champs alongside some fantastic leagues, this is amongst other awesome plans for the new year. I have grown so much this year and I plan to continue to grow and work on my ability as a blocker and jammer and general skater.

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I’d like to do at least one good thing skating wise in 2015. Next year I want to also strive for a better derby brain and better mentality. At the moment I am very negative about myself and my performance on track. I have probably done some ok things, but I haven’t really noticed or told myself I did good. I have always focused and homed in on the negatives, making myself feel worse. I want to be more positive, I don’t want to ignore the negatives, but I don’t want to focus on them. I will keep working hard and trying to find some reward in everything I do.

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This weekend is our Christmas party, I’m both excited and sad that it has come round so quickly! I am looking forwards to kicking back, having a dance and dressing up all nice and stuff with my teamies! I may even post a photo!

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Getting back up again, physically and mentally.

3 months of healing, 3 months of fighting against your own body and mind, 3 months of emotional turmoil…. my break experience lasted 3 months. I broke on the 13 July 2014, and was back on skates on the 14 October 2014. Throughout those 3 months, I knew I wanted to return to derby and skate again, train, scrimmage, bout. Yes, there were wobbles on the darkest days of those 3 months, but as soon as I was physically able to and allowed to, I skated. I worked hard to get my body back in a position to return to skating, 3 months of lost fitness and stamina, 3 months that I had to really make up for.

I have since returned to skating as though my break never happened, yes… I am healed. But I’m still figuring things out mentally and emotionally.

Physically I feel strong and comfortable, my fitness and stamina is creeping back up and I keep pushing myself to keep going, breaking through the walls. I now know my body again and I have really learnt to trust it all over again in the last month. I have set goals and targets, small and big, in a bid to get to where I want to be. And when I get there I intend to keep pushing further and further.

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Mentally and emotionally? I am not really finding any middle ground just yet, more or less highs and lows. When I came back, I had so much determination and motivation and passion, and it showed as another skater friend commented on my determination. It made me feel happy and strong knowing that my want to be better and work harder showed in a positive light. At first when I returned, I was a little cautious. I think that was a completely natural way to feel post break, but it wasn’t really caution in the sense that what if I get injured again, it was caution in the way that I did not know how my mind would react to situations. What would happen when I got back in a pack, when I fell, when I took a hit? Things I would come to learn to deal with as and when they happened. The main positive about my break was that I had no muscle damage, bones heal stronger and quickly, whilst muscles can be a waiting game – so I knew physically, I was fine. Physio Jen would not have let me return if she had not thought it safe too, and with her track record working on other skaters in my league I fully trust her judgement. And I’m glad I did!

I knew coming back would be difficult, I didn’t lie to myself about it and I was not naive about the process, in fact I surprised even myself at how quickly I was able to pick it all back up and jump into scrimmages and drills again. Of course there have been moments where my wankle (bad broken ankle side, most commonly known in the UK-Derby-Crips world as a wankle!) has been moved in certain angles, that before I would not have thought about, that I have suddenly thought more about and over-concerned myself with the new feel to it. I find myself thinking that this feels weird, but then I wonder how it actually felt before I broke? I never paid attention to it before? I think it is similar to the way I process and tend to over think things, for instance in training I am always thinking how to improve what I’m doing, what I need to do to get a move right, how to correct something I did wrong, being over critical even when I do something good…. then in scrimmage? I just play, I am relaxed and at home and I just do everything that our TC have been working on with us in training sessions just so naturally.

I find when I play that during a bout or scrim, I am focused and fairly centered. But post bout or scrim? I fall really hard. I immediately start to put myself down and look at everything I did wrong or could have done better. I generally tend to brush off anything positive people have to say about me and act like it’s just people being nice and trying to cheer you up. I know at the end of the day that this isn’t true. The women I skate with are very honest and genuine people who won’t turn around and sugar coat things, but they also won’t turn around and just straight up tell you that you did bad. Mentally, I have never felt as though I am good enough, I am thankful every day I get to train at the level I do with the people I do.

Since returning, the biggest mental block I have dealt with has been an odd one. The feeling of not being good enough and being unwanted. Part of me feels like now I have been damaged, I’m not the same and I’m not good enough or wanted now, even though I’m actually ok and any damage has actually made me better after the experience. I feel like I have a lot to prove. Before my break, I was working hard and aiming to skate alongside some of the top members of our league, I had just had a taste of what it might be like and that the opportunity may have arose to do so!  I was also at a point where I was not happy with my skating, not happy with my ability as a blocker and as a jammer. Coming back I had a fire in my belly. But I still had a large sense of self doubt and self confidence. I know I have rebuilding to do, and I am working hard to do that. I guess I’m more or less saying it is ok to not be ok. I keep beating myself up about the way I feel, making myself feel more babied than I probably am being. I know people are looking out for me and have best intentions at heart, I think I sometimes take it to hear too much and feel like maybe something is wrong with me.

Be careful what you think!
Be careful what you think!

I am going to continue to work hard physically, but I think I need to begin to balance that out more. I need to pick out something good I did, something that helped the other blockers on track or helped my jammer get through. Even things like saving my point or keeping my communication strong on track. I don’t want to ignore any negatives, but I don’t want to focus on them either. And more often than not, you wake up the next day and think, why? Why did I beat myself up so much over that, because it was no-where near as bad as you thought at the time. I’m lucky to be part of a league where I am surrounded by genuinely fantastic ladies and fantastic skaters who I get to learn from and skate with every week. These women push me to be a better skater, motivated to skate & play harder and stronger. And I intend to continue to do so. I am also lucky that I can call these women my friends. Friends who tell me to keep my chin up, give me that hug, grab my padded pants, laugh over tiny pots of jelly, give you positivity and confidence, and just generally help remind you that you are not alone. These women are there on track with me, they are there off track for me, they are women I will fight tooth and nail to be there for in return.  These are my bad asses.

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I don’t this particular blog post has too much of a direction in what I am trying to say, this is more of a mental blurt? I think if I had to say that this came with a message, that the message is this….

It is ok not to be ok, you are only human, filled with emotions and thoughts that some days we cannot even begin to understand. There are days you feel amazing, and there are days that you have the horrific urge just to cry with no warning or reason. You are not alone. No matter what happens, you must always try to love yourself, the world is a mean enough place without you being mean to yourself.

Love yourself
Love yourself

Til next time little blue monsters xx

Why breaking my ankle was a good thing

Yes. You read that right. And no. I’m not saying go break a bone!

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I guess the better way to word it is that breaking my ankle turned out to be a good thing. By that, I mean that I personally took a lot of positives out of the experience.

For one, I took a step back from derby. For me this step back wasn’t good in the way that I missed everyone, missed practice, missed skating, but that it pulled me away from it all and made me take a good hard look at everything in perspective. It made me want everything so much more.

Yes. I couldn’t walk and lost most of my independence. Yes. It sucked big time. BUT… It took me to a place where I found a new fighting spirit. Firstly, I appreciated being able to walk and do simple things again, I took great satisfaction and enjoyment in being able to do all the small things. But secondly, I worked my ass off.

To get back to skating, I went to physio, was given exercises, and I worked hard. I had so much determination to be able to walk again, go up stairs normally, and skate again. Mentally I grew stronger as my body dealt with the physical side of things. I am lucky to have league mates who are not only friends, but inspire and drive me to do better, be better. And to be happy.

The first time I was able to walk normally upstairs, not on my bum, not facing sideways, but facing forwards bending each body part every way I was meant to, I realised that the harder I worked and the more I trusted my body, the quicker and better everything would come back to me.

I was determined to be able to skate the day the doctor said I could. Nearly three months to the day (broke 13 July – skated 14 October) I skated. I listened to my physio and trusted her to do what was best for my body. The hardest thing was for me to learn to trust my own body again. Know that when I put weight over my wankle I would be fine. Hard work had so far gotten me up the stairs, had walked the dog, had gotten me through gigs. And hard work would get me through skating.

I even carried on my physio exercises right up to the point I physically put my skates on that first time. To the point I did my first drill based practice. And when I scrimmaged for the first time.

Hard work has gotten me this far. But behind hard work has been determination and motivation.

When I broke, I had been lucky enough to have been deemed suitable for the A squad and B squad. A fantastic place to be, I was going to skate hard to show my team that I was worth the chance. The week before my first Harlots bout, I broke my fibula. Having come so close to representing my league hit me hard, but it also started a fire. I was so close to doing what I wanted. And it was taken away from me. Ripped away leaving me with little hope.

I was angry, upset, depressed. Then I accepted everything. There was nothing I could do to change the situation. But I could do something about coming back. Other skaters had come back from worse. From the moment I realised how far I had come since breaking and how close I was to being able to skate again, I had a huge fire in my belly. I had a hunger and determination to get back to where I was before I broke. Then to surpass that and be better. Be able to work with my team as well as stand on my own two as a blocker and jammer. If I can solidify my own ability on these roles, I can better support my teammates on the track. And if I can work better with my teammates, the better I can support my team.

I have scrimmaged. I am gradually getting back to where I was step by step. Back in training. Back in squads. I have worked so incredibly hard to get back to this point. And I am not about to stop here.

I continue to set goals. I continue to strive to be better. I am doing ok at the moment, but I know deep down that I can do better. And I will.

Watch this space little blue monsters!

Til next time xx

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Return to skating and scrimmaging post break

So I have documented so far how I have found things and how my body has coped.

This last week, I returned to drills and scrimmage.

Friday night was my second practice actually being involved in drills. We were working through min skills requirements with our intermediate group and people were able to request what we could work on. The words came up from another skater – 27 in 5! … I’m sorry… what..!?!

To return to skating post break as early as I could have done then look at achieving this, I was a little overwhelmed and unsure how it would go. But.. no pain, no aching, nothing! And I was about 2m off hitting 28 in 5! This was a huge confidence boost, I wasn’t expecting my ankle to hold out to consistent skating at speed and power, but it just shook off everything. I was slightly knackered out initially, my fitness is lacking since my break so I have another goal to work to, getting my fitness level back up!

Then we moved onto hitting drills, it was difficult to feel like I was able to knock the other skaters around not knowing how they would deal with it as I hadn’t been around this group much. But I worked with them, helped them with their hitting and supported them, and some of them told me to hit harder and I did. I’ve never been a skater who could hit well, I have always relied on getting my butt in peoples way. But to work on hitting helped my confidence with my ankle also!

Today… I scrimmed! My first scrimmage back post break. And I did well! I was a little rocky, over thinking and maybe protecting myself a little too much in the first half – but then I got upset, had a cry and manned up. The second half I think went much better!! The first jam, I got a little too excitable and false started jumping through the pack before realising, owning up, returning to back of the pack in a yielding way and trying to get over laughing stitch. Idiot!

But I survived, didn’t break, I fell over, I was fine, did hits, took hits, jammed and blocked. It was a little emotional. But I am feeling on top of the world right now! I am lucky to skate with some fantastic ladies  who are supportive both on and off track.

First scrim post break
First scrim post break