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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Remember that time I broke my ankle?

The last few months I have been pretty much ignoring the existence of this blog, complete radio silence since my last blog announcing the break. I thought about blogging maybe 2 or 3 times? But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Now I feel up to it, let’s go back to where it began. If you haven’t read my previous blog, you can read in the previous post or I’ll do a brief catch up now – 13th July. Last scrimmage practice before my first bout as a Harlot. Warm up 4 wall drill with an active opposing jammer. I was blocking in the 4 wall. Something happened, I fell forwards then some how backwards and onto my toe stops/ankles and as I went down I heard a cracking noise. It was painful initially and I knew something didn’t quite feel right. Usual protocol was followed, checked over, skates removed, help to stand – I realised I couldn’t comfortably put weight on it… hopped over to a chair with aid and then sat there for two hours watching the rest of scrim thinking that it was just a sprain. Hours later in A+E… verdict? Broken. Backslab and then finally got a proper cast (and some pretty horrible ankle/leg manipulation..!) on the 17th July. I returned to work a week and a half later after another visit to the hospital and consultant to check that no operation was required and everything was healing and bonding in the right place (with many lifts in and out, a disabled toilet key and a desk on the ground floor until I could return to my own marketing office!) Didn’t need to see me until my cast came off.

Me. Dead center. Sat with a freshly broken ankle and my Tiki doll.
13th July. Me. Center. Sat with a freshly broken ankle and my Tiki doll.

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I think I was definitely on an incredibly positive level (or just drugs in the system) when I posted my last blog post. I have been on one hell of an emotional and physical roller coaster since July 18th. I wanted so badly to watch practices whilst I was out, keep up with drills and where the team was at, NSO on Scrimmage Sundays. It was set in my mind that I would do all the things! But when it came down to it? It was too much for me to handle. The pain of watching my league skate, partake in drills, scrimmage, along with knowing that other skaters were missing practice/scrimmage (for various reasons) when I would have given my other ankle to be on track… it broke me into pieces. I knew that physically being broken would be tough, but I don’t think I originally quite grasped how tough it would be mentally. There have been so many low points in which I thought – screw it. No-one will notice if I don’t come back, no-one will miss me on track, why am I even bothering when I know I wasn’t actually a good player/skater, I think I’ll just sell my skates. Screw it. I hit a major low, I felt alone, isolated and just overall rubbish. I reached out a few times, and it is difficult because the world doesn’t stop when you are broken which means no-one else does either, and many people have a full week of roller derby, have commitments relating to family or friends, have heavy work commitments or just generally ridiculously busy schedules. And when you reach out, you always have to remember that if you don’t see people, it’s not because they don’t care, but because they are busy and have lives, and it is incredibly tough. I have spent a lot of my broken time feeling very alone and isolated. And maybe I should have done more to see people (which in retrospect, relying on lifts is bloody hard!) but there was a large part of me that didn’t want people to stop what they were doing just to see me. I felt like a burden and I did not want to put that on anyone, especially with the large amount of negativity I was dealing with. The hardest part of this experience was the way in which I had previously looked after my body, MECFS and made sure I rested etc, simply was not possible. The physical and emotional strain of breaking my ankle made dealing with the previously under control illness, so incredibly difficult. I was drained and exhausted, physically and mentally. I had bouts of depression and in some parts let this affect relationships in my life. Thankfully everyone has been wonderfully patient and put up with all my broken and tired crap, now I’m through the other end and he is still looking at getting his skates on! I will also note that I sang/performed at two shows with my band Little Mammoth whilst sat on a rather Westlife-like bar chair! Dedication to the cause! Even though my ankle bone/fibula is now healed and I am just working on the muscle/tendon/ligament strength etc, I am still mentally/emotionally struggling. I NSO’d again last week during a friendly scrimmage with another team. And when I sat in my car post-scrim to go home, I broke down. Everything hit me. Everything was real again. It felt like as I was walking, dancing, driving and my ankle was healed, that I should be on track skating with my teammates. I felt so many emotions rushing around at that point. I managed to put myself together, start driving home, but had to pull over about 2 minutes later from just feeling sick and breaking down again. At which point a teammate pulled over and just really saved me from myself. I really owe her for sitting there with me, talking through everything with me and just being there in general. Everyone needs a Charlie! Never underestimate the power of a friendly face and positive/supportive words!! Another integral part of my Ohana has been looking after me from overseas, as well as kicking my butt when giving up was mentioned. Mika has been a big rock, even though she has not been here in person she has been there, offered me advice, supported me and otherwise just let me rant and get everything out of my system. I can only hope that I can be of as much help when she needs my support! She is coming to visit soon and I cannot wait to see her, so much excites! tumblr_n2w2iskjhv1sq9rsso1_400 A big turning point in terms of support, came in a strange form. Lanny – who had initially helped me out of the hall into the car the day I broke – was also off skates due to injury and operations, was so fantastic in offering me a support point and texting me to check in. She made me feel like I was not alone. And I still owe her a coffee date! But she added me to a group on Facebook which I am oddly proud to be a part of. The UK roller derby crips – in association with Team Metal Legs. A group of broken and fixed skaters, some with metal parts, some with non metal parts, but a group who when put together created a beautifully strong bond and had so much hope for everyone around them. These people encouraged everyone to have hope and be positive, gave them support when they felt down, or just made jokes and put a smile on your face. They also had the serious side covered, where you could reach out to people with similar breaks and get an idea of the healing process, especially as a huge part of this is not only physical healing, but the mental/emotional healing you need to do. Through this group I have found a new strength, I have found new friends, people who I have my own little link to, people who are going through the same or often worse with surgery and the likes, some who have returned to skating, some who have yet to return to skating and a few who have been waiting an awful long time. But these people? They are filled with determination and hope. And this strength, hope and resilience that all these skaters share is just inspiring. I am proud and honoured to know & be friends with these people. I went to watch some previously broken skaters skate in a bout known as Team Metal Legs (returning injured skaters to derby) versus Team Crazy Legs (skating out for invisible illness) – both teams of which I resonate with very strongly. But to stand in my plastic splint as I watched this group of talented skaters bout, I felt proud and I felt a strong sense of hope. This group of women had battled through injuries to return to play a fantastic game. I had wanted to skate for the Harlots and do them proud before, I wanted my spot on the team – after watching this I wanted it even more.

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In my last post, I wrote about whether I’d be able to return to skating. Whether I would be able to do full contact? Would I just find solace in the world of Zebra? Would I be forever Team Grey? And at this point in time, the answers to all the above is still unknown. I hope it will be that I do get back on skates, continue to hunger for a spot on the team and play alongside my brilliant league mates. I am full of so much determination to skate again, scrim again, bout again. I want this. So what about returning to skate? The hospital refused to give me physio. I heard the immortal words from my consultant when the cast came off and she gave me the news on how long it would be until I could skate again and the refusal of physio…. “It’s only a sport!” Commence the floods of tears. Again. When I look back, I know how lucky I was to be given 6 weeks until I could try to skate. At the time it seemed like the kiss of death to my derby life. I was to immediately weight bear, with a plastic splint for two weeks, then without for the final four weeks. 10492103_10154573336810451_2017277595079408259_n I Googled alot in a bid to find some sort of physio help, thankfully there is quite a bit of ankle rehab information out there and it is all essentially the same. So I started working on my own physio. Whilst I’d been in a cast, I had been trying to work on my core strength (which sometimes caused my leg to respond in the general fashion of “What. The. Hell. Are. You. Doing.”

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In the last week of September, everything seemed a lot closer. The six weeks until I was allowed to skate was flying by and everything was so much more real. I spoke to my teammate who had undergone operations on her knees, returned from injury and still kicked much butt on track – Rosie has an incredible wealth of derby knowledge and experience, is a force to be reckoned with on the track and has gone through serious derby injury and returned to skate at a high level. She is also a fantastic person which has made having her there as a form of support just incredible! She had spoken highly of her physio who had managed to guide her and work with her on her return and so she passed me her number and I went to see the mystical derby physio Jen! This was probably one of the best decisions I have made. Jen was so understanding and with the knowledge of what derby demands of you physically that she had gained from working with Rosie amongst others meant the advice she gave was ideal and I felt comfortable and safe with the exercises she was giving me and where to go from there. I will be seeing Jen again at the end of October to see where I am at and what the next steps are! The key things from my physio trip was that Jen told me I would definitely be allowed to return to skating this week and that for my own sake & my body, I needed to. My body is protecting my ankle, even though it is healed, it is protecting it from stretching/moving where it needs to go. By strapping on my skates, my body will relax and allow me to continue improving. Under her advice, I purchased a soft Mueller ankle support (£18 clearance sale from SportsDirect – bargain!) which will softly support my ankle in the initial stages and help with my confidence whilst starting back at skating, and I will build up to a neoprene support, then eventually… no support!

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I have been NSO-ing and supporting Team Grey. I won’t be able to scrimmage for a month or so yet, so I will continue to honor and support Team Grey! This allows me to catch up with NSO’s, continue to be involved with the league and keep an eye on what the team is doing so I am prepared for returning to full contact.

Far right. Team Grey. Dorky pose.
Far right. Team Grey. Dorky pose.

So tomorrow is D-Day for me. Tomorrow I will be putting my skates back on properly and having a pootle around the hall. I did a small living room pootle on Friday night to test that my support fitted under my boot ok, and to overcome any initial nerves, and I did a thousand times better than I thought I would! T stop, plow/plough stop, crossover….!! I am really hoping more than ever that 20 years of skating will mean that my muscle memory totally has my back! I know it will be tough, both physically and mentally, I need to get back my strength, my stability and above all my confidence. I have come out the other side of a broken ankle, and I have come out fighting. I will continue to fight and I hope I continue to have amazeballs support around me!

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Friday 10th October 2104. First time I pootled since my ankle break.

Today I am full of determination and hunger. I want to return to skating, I want to get my place back on the squads, I want to finally claim my spot on the team. I am determined to push hard, do everything in my power and prove myself as a skater and as a Harlot. At the end of the day, I will do this. I will not rush this, I want to be safe, I want to be as strong as I can be, have my strength and stability back in my ankle. And then I will work my butt off and get where I want to be.

My ankle break timeline.

13th July: I broke my ankle (fibula)

17th July: Got a proper cast

28th August: Cast was removed

14th October: Back on skates 

Officially Offical!

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I can officially say that as of last night I am an actual, official, proper, bonafide member of the Hellfire Harlots roller derby league!

This makes me squee with so much happiness and excitement!

Now to continue working hard, keep learning and keep building myself as a person and a skater – not to mention being able to call the lovely ladies around me my league and friends!

I am now happy at my derby home. My roller derby Ohana. 

Things may sometimes distract me from all the happy parts of my life, but I just remind myself to just keep swimming (and also get friendpunches from people when I’m being ridiculously hyper-critical or I let things outside of derby get to me too much!)

So… I am Tiki Terror, #626, part of the Nottinghamshire based roller derby league – The Hellfire Harlots.

Feels good to say that out loud.
Now to the big wide world! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!

SQUEE!!
 

Til next time Blue Monsters x

Little Mammoth – my musical family!

 

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My band! My guys! My own musical family!

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 o Vocals: Me!
 o Guitar: Mark
 o Bass: Alex
 o Drums: Sam

 These guys are straight up awesome. We formed in early 2013, started doing covers then wrote some pretty cool tracks!

We are a four piece rock band, with a hint of blues and soul thrown in for good measure. Huge array of influences between us and I think that is what makes us fun and a little bit different.

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We get around and play where we can, we have been lucky to play with some amazing bands, at some awesome venues through some kickass people. We have been lucky to be involved in Noize Level Critical radio show also!

I guess there isn’t a huge amount to really say about the band at the moment bar who we are, what we do and where we can be found!

Also. Gig dates.

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New beginnings on 8 wheels…

The last three months have been hard. And I have experienced many emotions and situations I never thought I would and hoped would never happen. At the same time the last three months have been a blessing in disguise.

Last night myself, my derby wife Kara and our bestest Jevo said our final goodbyes to Mansfield Misfits. After weeks of turmoil and headaches, days of crying and feeling sick, a decision which was not made lightly – one to take a leap of faith and put our own happiness, health and progress first. It has been difficult leaving the league as skaters, but hopefully we will not leave them as friends.

Today begins a new adventure. Today we take our first steps into training with the rather kick ass league that is the Nottingham Hellfire Harlots.

I am so nervous, I feel sick, I have fears of not being good enough, I am a slight mental wreck. However with Kara and Jevo by my side, I feel confident and supported. We are in this together and that is such a reassuring thing to know.

Training with the NHH as a league is sure to be a new experience filled with tough challenges and positive influences. The rather wonderful McKitten has become a bit of a derbymama in a way, she has been positive and understanding since day 1 of the movements between MM and NHH, she has reassured and put our minds at ease and just made us feel genuinely welcome. And the transfer process we have experienced so far, easy and positive to go through thanks to May, who has answered any questions, been understanding throughout and again just lovely and welcoming. Whilst we know it won’t always be easy, we have been given such a lovely welcome and experience – and we have yet to even step foot into practice!

We look forwards to the challenges they will throw our way, the push to train hard, hurt good and overall just skate and be happy! Tonight we will get our first taste of our new adventure, meet some new faces and catch up with those we were introduced to previously.

I have no idea what the next chapter of our derby experience holds, but with Kara and Jevo, and the support of new additions to our derby family, bring on the highs and bring on the lows – I may or may not be ready for them, but I know I will sure as hell get through them.

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A male derby player is born : “The Tankerbell Story”

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!

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Dom. AKA: Tankerbell. #74

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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.
No.
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!

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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!