A Skate Odyssey 2015: Adventures and Lessons.

This weekend I had the absolute honour and privilege of skating with my team, the Nottingham Hellfire Harlots, in our first official WFTDA tournament in Ghent, Belgium – A Skate Odyssey (SKOD).

Continue reading “A Skate Odyssey 2015: Adventures and Lessons.”

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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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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

Out of the cast, skating like a butterfly! Post-break.

D-day came, and D-day ended. Last night, 14th October 2014, I put my skates and kit back on to skate in the hall I broke my ankle in back in July.

Wow.

Pure and simple, just wow.

Boom. Skates!
Boom. Skates!

I had a huge rush and mix of emotions, nerves, excitement, passion, determination; and love for those around me last night. I arrived bearing cake and sweets for the end of the night in case I broke down or for when I survived the session & everyone was awesome. It was a little bit of a comfort blanket focusing on the humour side of things and that cake would either be a reward or consolation prize. I said hi to people I haven’t seen in so long, it felt good to see people smiling and being happy that I was there, and that I was actually putting my kit and skates on. These people mean a fair bit to me and to have their support and see positivity really helped me in standing up and moving my butt. I had originally delayed putting my kit on and skates on, by the time I got up and started to pootle everyone was midway through warm up drills.

So why the fear and emotions? There was a fair bit of me that thought people may be disappointed or feel let down if I couldn’t skate like I did pre-break, that I would be disappointed and upset with myself. And a fair bit of me that was just excited to get back on skates. I have so much passion and determination for this sport and I want to push myself and get back to being on the squads and showing my team and captains that I am 100% worth my spot. When it came down to standing up, all that disappeared. I took a deep breath and stood. At first I felt a little bit unstable, nothing to do with my body, but my mind. Once I stood up, everything became very real. Right then, stood in our practice hall, that moment I realised that D-day was make or break for me.

And it was make.

I started moving, and I suddenly felt at ease, I felt relaxed and so liberated. I could skate. And I was skating. At first I felt a little rusty, but it all came back to me so quickly! Crossovers, t-stop, plough/plow stop, laterals, hops, jumps, stepping, forwards, backwards, transitions of various manners….. it felt like I had not really been away! And there was no pain. A slight pulling on crossovers and laterals using my left foot as an anchor/pusher which will come back to me with time, the same for any toe-stop work and derby stops, I can go through the motions however putting my power and weight through them will require me to continue increasing my strength and stability a bit more first! I did get excitable as my confidence grew and went a bit faster and tried things a bit harder to test the limits of where my ankle was at, and it was fine! No pain, no struggle, it didn’t feel much different to pre-break. Maybe not so much of a pootle in the end…. oops!

Thanks to our zeeb - ZebraHarry for this rather awesome image that I now want on a tshirt!! Thank you auto-correct for changing pootle to poodle...!
Thanks to our zeeb – ZebraHarry for this rather awesome image that I now want on a tshirt!! Thank you auto-correct for changing pootle to poodle…!

I went through most of what I could remember in minimum skills, knee taps not really a problem! Knee falls however… my brain (Brian) seemed to not be able to compute the idea of falling. I could physically do it, but Brian decided – I’d rather not. Rosie was fantastic and went through the motions with me again, she didn’t really have to spend much time looking after me either, I appreciate the support she gives me so much and I know that if I need her, she’ll help me fix the problem! But to not have to rely on Rosie on my first night back for pretty much everything else? I felt like a strong person again. I didn’t really cry either! I teared up a little on the way back from practice, no sad tears though – happiness and assurance. I felt strong, positive and pretty damn happy. Just call me the come back kid!

My Mueller ankle support was fantastic. I’m not entirely sure how it helped me exactly… there was a strong essence of keeping my ankle stable and supported, but it helped my confidence. I think without the ankle support I would have not tested myself the way I did, I probably would have held myself back. So top marks to Mueller’s XLP ankle support! Highly recommended.

Boom Tiki Boom!
Boom Tiki Boom!

So where do I go from here? The only way is up? Baby? Ok, so a little cheesy. The fact everything felt so easy and so natural is mostly down to 20 years of skating giving me pretty awesome muscle memory!! I wanted to note that down in case some skaters returning may be expecting to be as they were or are back at skating and not in a comfortable position like me, returning is different for everyone – but the main thing to remember is that you were able to this before you broke. The only thing really stopping you from returning to pre-break status is you. There are occasions where skaters cannot physically return (I’m hoping you are Zeebs and HNSO’s/NSO’s in the making!) but if you are physically able to return, then you need to have that confidence that you can be awesome.

Before I broke, I was working my butt off to be better and I was not happy with my skating even at that point, now? The forced time off skating has given me a little R&R of course, but it has given me a renewed hunger and determination. I spent so much time feeling low, crying, feeling lost and alone without a purpose, but now I am out the other end? All that emotion? All that pain? I am taking everything I felt and everything I went through and I am using it. I’m using it to make me stronger, make me work harder, help me push harder and break down all the walls I hit whether mental, physical or a team of blockers. I may not be contact ready yet, but when I am? I am giving it my all. I am Tiki Terror – hear me roar!!!

you_are_awesome1 I also want to take a moment to just say thank you. Thank you to everyone who has been there at one point or other in the last three months. Thank you for listening to me rant, offering me supporting words. Or just kicking my butt when I nearly sold my skates.

You are part of the reason I skate.

Thank you ❤


So what would I say to those going through the broken or injured stages?

Here are Tiki’s tips for broken/injured derby folk!

Doctors etc. Listen to them. Simple. They know what they are talking about and have your best interest. Come on, would they really want to keep seeing you in their office about your break/injury? Cartoon_Doctor Positive attitude. A positive attitude goes a really long way. Like really. Because you will find a hole in your life where derby usually is, find a positive outlet to fill it with. Whether it is writing, crocheting (seems to a fairly popular one!), music, heck – even building all the things with Lego! Or falling in love with Netflix all over again (our group often recommends Ru Pauls Drag Race). Just find something that you can be positive about and have a little bit of passion for. It really helps to pass the time too!

Also, it is ok to be sad. I am not saying that you have to feel positive all the time, if you feel sad, then share it. You are only human and you need support, do not bottle your emotions up. You need to cry? Then cry like you’re at the Oscars. Leading me onto my next tip.

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Support. You need it. I don’t care who you are, how strong you say you are, there will come a point that you find yourself on the floor in floods of tears demanding ice-cream hating the world and ready to sell all your cherished derby goods. Everyone needs support, and a good support network can really help you get through this period. Whether it is family, friends or even an online support network, make sure you have at least one person you feel you can trust or talk to. I found my UKderbyCrips/team metal legs to be so valuable, this was a group of people I had not necessarily met before, but they helped me through so much and are now people I can’t wait to meet at bouts etc! But you need someone to listen to how you feel, talk to you when you need it, or just listen to you rant and bring you chocolate! Don’t be alone, because you are far from alone.  

Also… get a good pillow for elevating your leg/ankle if a lower limb break. A memory foam one. Or one shaped for your leg. Physical support is important!

support What about work? This is down to personal circumstances and your job requirements. I am a marketing bod with a company who were really well organised in sorting out a return to work risk assessment, putting everything in place for me coming back with a cast etc. Initially I worked from home for a week or so, then returned to the office where instead of my first floor office I sat at a desk on the ground floor with all equipment set up for me and a key to the disabled loo. Colleagues helped me get drinks etc and I knew I could ask for help if I needed it. I know and understand that I am luckier than most as many have physical jobs or less understanding employers. If you are going to return to work early with cast like myself, then ensure all steps have been taken to allow you a safe and comfortable work environment. Ensure there is a risk assessment undertaken and that your HR and staff are well aware of side effects of any medication or your actual break/injury. Also make sure that if you need it, there is a ground floor/disabled loo!!! Otherwise check your contract and if you are unable to return yet then see what the sick pay situation is etc. article-2264871-16F4750C000005DC-733_634x457 Should I diet now I’m not exercising? Diet? How about di-not. Ok, so that was a lame pun, but still, don’t do it. Your body needs all the help it can get, it is working harder than ever to protect you and heal you, make sure you keep it replenished. Now when I say to eat, I don’t mean cake. Yes, have a treat, but make sure where possible you keep eating as you did when you were skating. Dairy, carbs, protein etc. ALL THE FOODS!  eat-ALL-the-things Exercise. Do it if you can. Remember – exercise creates endorphins! (Or edolphins as I once heard a young child say…)  I don’t mean trying impactful stuff and things you obviously cannot do in a cast. But you have a core still sat there (unless you have broken ribs or anything in the torso or hip areas!) Sit-ups, Russian twists, heel touches, leg raises (yes these are still possible! Take your time though and exercise great control, if you leg twinges, then stop). If your leg (or arm or other bodily piece) does feel odd and cramps, then do stop for a moment, you have blood rushing to places it hasn’t been for a while and you are using muscles it may not be used to using. I highly recommend doing core strength exercises whilst injured in moderation to keep your muscles going, maintain some muscle mass for when you are post cast and to keep you in some sort of exercise and positivity. Broken ankle or leg? Wiggle your toes! Wiggle them lots! It keeps the blood flowing (which means less pain when you stand upright to crutch your way around, you know the pain I mean!) and it also keeps your muscles moving. I say in moderation as you need to remember that you are healing and your body does need rest. And always remember to elevate and rest! You may not have been stood up on it or swinging body parts around, but your body/injured part may feel swollen after exercise even on the ground.

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Example…. lots of exercise programs you can take bits and pieces out of, realistically and safely decide what you can and can’t do!

  Physio. Physio. Physio. Ask for it. Demand it. You pay tax for the NHS, you should get your physio. I didn’t sadly but I did see the worth and value in eventually going to a session with a private physio which was well worth the money!! One of the best decisions I made. If you somehow don’t get physio, make sure you Google. I’ve attached some ankle break rehab exercises here so you can see what I ended up doing and how I strengthened and stretched my ankle post cast! Also – use a clipboard on a cushion and make a home-made wobble board! (Thank you Rosie and PhysioJen!)

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Sports insurance. If you didn’t have it before? Get it. I was meant to get it the weekend I broke my ankle. Idiot. But do it! Totally worth it.  images Staying involved. You wouldn’t be playing or refereeing if you didn’t love what you do. (And if you don’t, then continue what you are doing, as you were.) Just because you can’t skate doesn’t mean you can’t go to practice. Stay involved. Watch your team at practices, keep up to date on drills, be involved as Bench or LUM, NSO at scrimmages and help out at bouts on the merch table/cake stall/NSO etc.Remember – your team needs you! Note: This is an odd point and I would say take it or leave it. There is a psychological note with this point, and you need to look after your mental/emotional health as well as your physical health. I was determined to go, but I found it soul crushing. If you find yourself in the same boat as me, then please do not push yourself to go. You will find that you are only doing more damage to yourself psychologically and you run the risk of ruining your love and passion for derby. If you find this is you, then the best solution is to keep in touch with your league, get the girls round for a film night at yours, get a lift and meet up for coffee and cake, keep in touch and talk to people. Something I should have done more of, if you are like me than you may feel like a burden, but you are not, people will want to help you and be there for you, but sometimes you do need to ask – I hate asking – but you need to do it.

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  Put yourself first & know your limits. When you break or sustain an injury it is devastating. Well and truly devastating, it can seem like the end of the world (and derby career). It is fine to say that you are going to return, that you want to get back on skates, in fact it is more than fine, you need to remember that in the back of your mind, hold onto that desire and motivation and aim to come back better and stronger than before. BUT…. you need to take time and heal first. Do not, whatever you do, jeopardise being able to come back and skate again by doing too much too soon or rushing back to skating and causing further damage. You and your health is the most important thing, yes coming back to roller derby would be amazeballs, but first you need to be healthy and safe. It may even be worth paying to see a private physio like I did, or go see your doctor when you feel you are at the point of returning, just to have some form of validation that you are making the right decision and be cleared to skate. Do not go back all guns blazing. It would be badass to return, start scrimming, jamming, blocking, but it is not realistic or safe. You need to get comfortable on your feet and in your skates first. I do not intend to scrim or do serious contact for at least a month. Maybe make another appointment with a physio/doctor or your training committee/TCs to look at where you are, you can evaluate your progress and together make an informed decision on the next steps. Most leagues have a return to skating policy and procedure so make sure you follow this if so! Your league wants the best for you, they want to see you make a safe return and get you back on track when you are at your strongest and able to play your butt off. The last thing your league and teammates want is for you to be out for longer. Know your limits and do not push. There is a very big and very noticeable difference between good pain and bad pain. Listen to your body and if you need to, stop. No-one will judge you, no-one will think any different of you if you stop. Take a breather, have a drink, a little stretch, then when you feel safe enough start skating and moving around again. Whether you broke a bone or injured muscle/tendon/ligaments, things will pull, everything under your skin will be working like an elastic band getting the flexion and stretch and generally just the ability to work properly.

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kab3on.deviantart.com

Plan ahead and channel your emotions. So you are dealing with or have dealt with an injury. Whether bone or muscles, you still endure the same emotions and similar pathways on your return. Previously in this blog I wrote about setting goals, this can still be applied to where you are right now. I have big goals that I want to reach, to get there I have to reach all my little goals. These little goals started with things like:

  • Being able to take the dog for a walk around the block.
  • Going up stairs like a normal person (not on your bum or walking sideways like a crab. Yes. That stuff happens.)
  • Putting my skates on and sitting in them.

You have psychological and physical challenges ahead of you and you have to remind yourself that this isn’t easy. Things are tough when returning, your body lets you do things your mind won’t and vice versa. But if you sit down, set goals and plan ahead you will find things so much easier. It’s a lot like when you take your first few steps after a broken ankle, every step is a step closer to where you want to be.

pegfitzpatrick.com
pegfitzpatrick.com

Now I am back on skates, I am setting goals, I know where I want to be, I know how I will get there. I know what I’m going to do.

So to those of you who are broken, whether at the start of your journey or you have come out of cast or maybe even returning soon, I have one question to ask you.

What are you going to do when you come back?

Be awesome littlebluemonsters – til next time! x

Minimum skills and updates. Pt 2.

Finished part 2 of minimum skills last night, including 27 in 5!

Feeling positive, whilst I know I need to work on the finer parts of hip and shoulder checks (stronger positional blocker than a hitting blocker which I need to work on!) and that my hip makes it difficult with slow stepping, I feel I did well! And I managed to hit 28.5 laps which to say I haven’t undertaken 27 for a while and that I have let my endurance/stamina/strength fitness slip… I think is still really good! Partnered with a positive supporting skater throughout this experience which has really helped so big thanks to Mika! One of the best things so far about joining the Harlots has been the genuine amount of support and positivity I have been given! Godamn awesome people.

Not sure on rules test yet but I still keep going on the RDTOM app from time to time just to keep reminding myself and my brain!

Otherwise… Dresses. Screw dresses. After winning and paying for a dress on eBay for a very low price, I got a message the next day to say she had forgotten that she’d listed this on eBay and had sold elsewhere. ARGJDNFIENTKHMH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WHY!!! Why is it so difficult!? I have received one which is just really not as described and will be going charity shop. Won one which is now not mine. With work, general life and house renovations I don’t get time to go to decent physical stores. Also I am an odd sizing which sucks. Not to mention the anxiety I experience going places like shops on my own.. last time I ran out (well walked very quickly) of TK MAXX in fear.

So … That is all so far! Woke up this morning feeling a bit unwell and slept like poop so today will be spent mainly on the sofa with the dogs (walk later if weather improves as Oakley is scared of the rain) possibly watching LRG Anarchy streaming!

Til next time BlueMonsters x

Two decades on skates!

(Let’s just ignore the fact I posted before saying 10 years. It turns out I can’t actually count…..)

Yes!

20 years!

In 1994 I first began my skating journey. It seems crazy to think about it being 20 years – two whole godamn decades!

In the last 20 years, I have trained and grown as

  • A figure skater
  • An ice hockey player
  • Roller hockey player
  • Roller derby skater

That seems manic. Time on ice, time on roller rinks, time on sports courts. Time on blades, time on in lines, time on quads.

It also seems manic when you think about how, although the principle is the same, there is still a fine art to the abilities learned, grown and refined in each of these skate-based sports. Differing weight distributions depending on the surface or skate type and the fluidity of movements or strength and finesse required.

To think at one point I was prancing around on the ice, in lycra dresses, performing solo and group routines, competing against other very talented skaters. Then at another point spending time with strong ladies and men having enjoyed ice-hockey for years suddenly learning to play the game from the teams standpoint, hitting a puck around, scoring angles and defence plays – heck even pulling the goalie for the last few minutes to freak the hell out of the opposing team confused me for months when playing! Then to adapt the skills learnt playing on ice to briefly playing on in-line skates. The sudden difference in effort used in pushes, crossovers and ability to dig in with hockey stops! Then the move to roller derby – the sudden change and difference in being on quads rather than inline blades/skates. Again the same principles yet so different!

Sometimes I look at this and contemplate why I am still not at a place where I feel happy with my skating ability.

Other times? I realise that I have been on one hell of a crazy ride.

I still own hockey skates. I probably still have my figure skates somewhere in my parents loft! I have seen my old lycra dresses somewhere at my parents. I have a file of rosettes and shelf of trophies from figure skating. I still have my Nottingham Ladies ice hockey jacket which to this day I wear with pride! (And also as it is so comfy and so warm and toasty!)

I have come quite a way. From that first day my parents put me on skates at the local ice-rink and sent me off to lessons, to learn how to skate and then gradually grow into this (not-so) graceful ice-dancer. Then somehow move into contact sports, team sports.

I have met so many wonderful people through skating in the last 20 years. I have had so many experiences. Experienced a variety of emotions. At times felt like I wasn’t good enough, times I felt I could take on the world, and other times I just stopped and asked myself what the hell was I doing.

Even though I have spent 20 years skating, I am still learning. Finding new and different ways to skate, new moves, new styles. Meeting wonderful people who inspire me as a person and skater, learning from them and using their experience to make me better. I have reached a point in my life where I can really look back at what I have achieved in the last 20 years. But I know that I still have a way to go.

Even after 20 years of skating experience, my laterals to the left? Like a hot knife through butter. To the right? A little less refined. Yes. I had the hip operated on. But it is about learning again, building strength and having the finesse to finish it off. I had my operation in 2006, and it essentially put me back to square one with anything involving my right hand side, though it is still – somehow – my stronger leg? But it has been learning with baby steps as any new skater would, how to lateral right again, how to distribute that weight, the strength you use to push, the way in which you turn sections of your body.

To the fresh meat skaters, to the vet skaters, heck – to the referees and others involved in skating (which ever style you skate or sport you work hard in) – wherever you are on your journey. Take a moment to look back at how far you have come. You don’t need to be at my 20 years, you may have been skating longer, or are still working things out in your early days, weeks, months, even year. But look at it and be proud. Every move you mastered, no matter how easy or hard, big or small… even simply standing up on skates – that is one thing you could not do before. Work through the frustration, the upset, annoyance and the obligatory swear words. Don’t let that one bad day, the move you didn’t make or the fall you took that night ever stop you. Get upset, cry it out, but do not let it stop you – get back up, try again. Keep falling, keep going wrong, keep trying. One day you will get it. Do not hate yourself for not being where you want to be, take the time, don’t over think anything and just breathe. Most importantly breathe. Steady yourself and compose yourself before you move that foot, relax and allow skating to just be part of you. One day you will reach a point you no longer think about what you are doing, skating will become a natural thing, it may not seem like it now, but one day you will be looking back wondering why you worried so much. And that moment, the point in which everything clicks and falls into place? It doesn’t always happen as soon as you think, it sort of just creeps up on you. It could click early on, it could come to after months or years of work. But work hard and believe in yourself. In the last 20 years, I have experienced emotions where I felt like giving it all up, but I have worked too hard to throw it away. The ability to skate. The joy of skating. One key piece of wisdom I would pass on to you today? Enjoy it. Relish it. It sucks but one day, your body won’t let you do the things you want to. So yes, work hard! But make sure you experience the joy it brings you. The smile you get when after weeks of trying you finally master that transition. The warmth you feel when you help others who are learning and see them progress. The strength you feel when you overcome your fears. Enjoy those moments, they are fleeting moments but do not let them pass you by.

One day you will be where I am. You will be standing, looking back, figuring out where you want to go. If you look around you, you will notice you are surrounded by wonderful (or in some cases not-so wonderful) people – one day they were you. One day they didn’t know how to skate. But today they may be skaters who you look up to, sometimes envy and hate that it all seems to be so easy for them. Once upon time, it wasn’t easy. Yes, some people find it easier than others but it does not mean that they personally didn’t find it a personal struggle. Do not ever once think that you are alone, do not hate yourself or envy others because of ability, we all skate the same path no matter how many different ways it takes us to get there. We have all learnt, struggled and overcome all the challenges we faced. And when you reach this point, take a moment to look at the people around you. Heck look around at them now! Offer help and support in a positive sense or even ask for help and support. I like to think a majority of people on skates are kind-hearted and will remember when they were struggling and still learning, sometimes you may hit a wall and experience rejection, but do not let that deter you.

You are constantly learning. And will continue to learn. Even when you feel as though you have reached your peak – climb it. At the other side of a hill, there is a mountain waiting to be conquered. No matter how hard it seems, just go for it.

 

Damn I’m gushy today.

WFTDA 4/1 Ruleset

So at the start of the week WFTDA let the Derbyverse know that the ruleset was changing.

Now. I am very much Garth from Waynes World. I do not like change. Change makes me feel uncomfortable. And the rules have come at a point when I had just gotten used to the rules we already have been playing with through 2013 (compared to the 2009/2010 rule set I originally learned). When you feel most confident, things have a fine tuned habit of changing.

BUT – I will give credit where it is due. I do like the new rules.

For instance… 30 second penalties – FREE THE JAMMERS!
Also. Flopping/diving. Thank. You. – I have seen alot of this and I cannot explain how much it makes me just want to explode! We play a hard hitting contact sport, we are not footballers.

Yes. I admit I do like the rules, I am not Queen of the Rulebook, but I do know them and appreciate them. I am a player who strongly believes in playing clean, I would rather lose by playing fair, than win by cheating my butt off.

So when new rules were announced, my mind combusted like a Spinal Tap drummer. I admit. I had not read the new ruleset at this point. So I hopped onto WFTDA and got my head around most of them. Thankfully alot of it is just clarification with the addition of a sensible penalty for flopping/diving and the reduction to 30 second penalties (WOOOOOO!) The new rule set also covers:

  • multi-player blocksClarification:impenetrable walls to be penalized when/if challenged physically by an oposing skater
  • OOB skatingClarification: You may legally exit: avoid spills, debris, downed skaters/result of being hit/through a hit or a missed hit/injury/equipment malfunction/pick up covers if P or J/legal reason ie penalty,jam end, etc/failed apex jump or similar/out of play to return to play if not cutting track/during any of the four jam end whistles/due to loss of balance/intential straddling on the grounds you do not fully exit the track/cutting OOB infield to return behind avoiding the NSOs/shoved by another teammate. This is illegal: Repetitive or obvious cutting lap distance short/crawling from out to infield/crawling from in to outfield/skating OOB to maintain or increase speed/exiting through your own will which are not legal/avoiding a block – hey scaredy cat…
  • cutting track – Clarification: No cut call if: only if only briefly in bounds, unintentional, only made with one skate (not two) and immediately removed in an attempt to stay OOB and return behind skaters who held relative position
  • star passesChange: Both pivot/jammer must be upright, inbounds, and hand to hand pass to be legal. (No throwing, dropping etc) Jammer cover must be on to score points – but – does not have to don cover before leaving engagement zone. Grab panty and run dammit.
  • false startsChange: No more dangerous turn and skate clockwise a lap idiocy. Sense! Now: yield. Yield to those skaters around you, stop all forward motion. Now carry on. Didn’t do this? Failure to yield penalty.
  • direction of gameplayChange to stop block contact, only a stopblock if downs a skater/causes to lose relative position
  • failure to reformClarification: Rear skaters move your butts, foremost skaters stop/slow but no need to skate clockwise
  • jammer do-si-doChange: Solutions for two (silly) problems. Leaving too early, either by error of the jammer or NSO. Where jammer A leaves too early before jammer B arrives, naughty jammer A, jammer A must return and serve the remainder of the original penalty along with the time jammer B served in the box . Where jammer A leaves NSO instruction, no additional penatly for jammer A but can be reviewed. No full clarification. Jammers. Behave. NSOs. SillyBillys – but we love and need you!
  • illegal reentry – Clarification : If return to track from the box/equipment malfuncation/other which is classed as a cut in normal gameplay – do not pass go, do not collect £200 and get your seat in the sin bin.
  • no pack scoring passesClarification: if the jammer is already ahead of all blockers on a no pack, scoring pass is over.
  • penalty box communication Change/clarification?: Medical staff are allowed to talk to you in the penalty box. But only for medical reasons. No SWAT team super secret agent shizz ok??
  • major penaltiesChange: No more minors, so why keep majors? Just penalties now. Stop getting them!
  • official reviewsChange: Still garaunteed one official review each period. However – if you win your first official review of the period…. you get another! Sort of like gambling?
  • Flopping/diving Addition: Hey. You. You play roller derby. NOT football (or soccer for you guys/gals over the pond!). Stop with the namby pamby flopping/diving to make the referee think that skater backblocked or downed you illegally. Man up princess or get your butt to the box.
  • 30 second penalties Change: Awesome. Firstly. Avoid penalties. Ok? Secondly if you do happen to get a penalty, it will only be for 30 seconds. So take a deep breath, cheer and dance, but this is going to be a game changer, it will hurt power jams and make the game a little more interesting – it will also up the level of derby you are playing whether you realise or not! Work harder and be stronger folks. Oh. And free the jammers!

So…. that is pretty much my understanding of the rules from the WFTDA change summary and any other interpretation such as RDJunkies Tumblr. Obviously interpret the rules how you can in whatever way they make sense to you. I would highly recommend reading the WFTDA page over and over to get the official terms into your brains, but also RD Junkies lists the changes in GIF format over HERE which I think are fantastic examples.

In the wise words of RDTOM :

Turn left and learn the rules!