Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bout Day, x2

Today's my first away bout - my second bout EVER - and the nerves are kicking in like crazy.  It's just a mixer bout, with nothing at stake, but I don't know if that makes the derby jitters better or worse.  I don't know anything about what to expect - I've never seen this rink before, never met the host league, don't know who's in charge, don't know how they do things.  I don't even know what I'm going to wear!

OK, that last part should be easy.  I'm driving myself to the bout, so I can pick one outfit, and just pack all my other derby clothes in the car, in case I change my mind.  I'm also packing every spare wheel I own, and have lost track of how many extra laces are crammed into my skate bag.  I have two backup mouthguards - one fitted, one new - and I'm probably going to throw all my extra pads into the car.  Just in case.  And duct tape.  There's no such thing as too much duct tape.

Yeah, I have the pre-bout jitters. But I'm also really looking forward to it.  I think I had an epiphany of sorts regarding hip checks on Wednesday night, thanks to help from my friend Sick, and memories of Bonnie D. Stroir's summer camp.  Get low, stay low, hit hard, watch my elbows.  I probably can't bout with sponges tucked under my arms, but maybe I'll drive down there with them.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Roller Derby Crafts

"Know Your Jammer" beanie from Knockdown Knits
When I started this blog, I thought I'd write a lot more about the crafts.  After all, I'm a crafty-type person, and Roller Derby just invites making things.  But I haven't been so good about doing that lately.  There are a lot of things I want to make for derby purposes, but I haven't gotten around to doing all of them.

I've been collecting ideas, though, in another place, and sharing them.  I have a Squidoo lens called "Roller Derby Crafts." If you visit it, you can see a huge - and growing - collection of craft project links that could be useful for the Roller Derby skater or fan.  It's going to grow as I find more stuff to do - or as I do more stuff, so I recommend visiting frequently!

Available at
Do you like my hat?  It's from Knockdown Knits, by Toni Carr, aka Joan of Dark of the Naptown Roller Girls.  This is a whole book of Roller Derby knitting patterns, and I love it. Since the author is a Derby Girl, she knows just what you'd want to knit for roller derby. The patterns range from really easy to a little bit complicated, and she's been careful to use yarn that should be fairly easy to find (in the U.S., anyway), and that's usually inexpensive. The "Know Your Jammer" hat (and its companion, "Know Your Pivot") is easier than it looks, because you knit it flat, and then seam it up when you're finished. It's made of bulky yarn, so you can knit one in a weekend and have it ready to wear to your next practice! Knockdown Knits is just one of the "Things To Make For Roller Derby" resources I feature on my Squidoo Site, so if I've convinced you that it's worth checking out (and it is - I love it!), come see the rest.

What's Squidoo?  It's an open, free platform that lets you create tightly focused pages - called "lenses" - to organize and share information about whatever interests you.  You can check out Squidoo here.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Twenty-Five in Five

So, we didn't make it to Iowa City.  A winter storm rolled in, and everyone was worried about making the drive.  After one friend reported a 6-hour trip to Chicago (it's normally 3 or fewer), staying in seemed the prudent thing to do.

Tonight's practice brought a surprise - skating 100 laps, in blocks of 25.  The WFTDA Minimum Skills require that you be able to skate 25 laps in 5 minutes, but up until now that's been kind of overlooked as a "don't worry about that, we haven't all tested on that anyway" sort of thing.  Now that we're an apprentice league, it's something to take seriously.  I've been wanting to see how close I could come, and the A and B teams have been doing the 100 laps at practice, but I didn't want to go there and slow them down.  So, in theory, I should have welcomed the chance to try this tonight.  But theory doesn't leave you lying on the ground panting.

The good news:  At tryouts in March, it took me 1:10 to do 5 laps.  I made my first 5 in just under a minute tonight.  The bad news:  That was the last time I was anywhere close to being on pace.  I gave up trying to skate all 25 laps and just tried to skate as fast as I could, since no one could start their next set of laps until everyone was finished with the previous set - we'd still be there if they were waiting for me.  On the last set, I averaged just over 3 laps a minute - 17.5 laps in 5 minutes.

We're supposed to start testing in the few weeks.  That 17.5 laps was skating clockwise, when I couldn't really manage crossovers, so I think proper technique will bring me up to 20 laps fairly easily.  That means just 5 more laps to squeeze in.  Why do I think that's going to be a lot harder than it sounds?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Long Time, No Post

Every one of my blogs has been neglected since forever.  It's time for some long overdue reform.

So, six months since my last post.  Six months of skating, of injury, of encouragement and discouragement, of frustration and thrill.  Lots of practice, a trip to watch WFTDA regionals, and a first sort-of bout.  Wondering if I should quit, and wondering how I ever lived without this.

If I start in July and try to catch up, I'll never get to now - I can't even remember what some of the half-started posts were supposed to be.  So I'll start now and work back in the slow times, and see where that takes me.

Tonight was a practice, part drill, part scrimmage - our first scrimmage since our Christmas/New Year's break.  The drill part started out awful - for some reason, members of the training committee have fallen in love with running as an off-skates warm-up, and I hate running.  Hate it with the fire of a thousand suns, with the chill of the deepest levels of Hell.  My speed and endurance are poor - the weakest in the league - to begin with.  But running - running makes everything worse.  After just a few strides my calves seize in pain, pain which lingers for the rest of the evening, and comes back to haunt me the next day.  I can't concentrate on anything else because I can almost hear my legs - and then my feet - screaming at me to stop.  Tonight was a little better than previous practices because I found a helpful article on running injuries, and spent much of the day following its advice about stretching to avoid them.  However, I also spent much of the day dreading the promised warm-up, so a practice that I'd been looking forward to began to loom over me as ominous as a court appearance once I saw the "bring tennis shoes" notice.

Of course, things one dreads are rarely as bad as expected, and that was the case tonight.  I managed to alternate brief periods of running with walking - perhaps managing 30 seconds at a stretch sometimes - and it didn't hurt too much afterwards.  The rest of the practice was a pleasure, as I partnered with one of my favorite skaters, and got to reinforce some skills from the Triple Threat Roller Derby Boot Camp I attended a couple weeks ago.  These boot camps are great, because skills that seemed like flashy tricks just months ago - quick transitions, or sideways skating - are becoming staples for everyone in the league as skaters bring back things they've learned.  Or, at least, as some skaters bring back things they've learned, but that's a different sort of post.

Tonight's scrimmage was great fun, although I can't tell if I'm improving or not.  I realized after the fact that I sort of drew a penalty at one point, when I tripped over a skater that I probably should have been able to dodge if I'd worked harder at it and been faster on my feet.  She went to the penalty box for it - so in a real bout, it would probably have been good for me to flop, but it seems sort of unethical.  Then again, I'm supposed to play within the rules - and as long as it doesn't look like I'm deliberately falling, it's OK.  I think.

Anyway, I think I tend to overthink things.  The scrimmaging was fun - and once it was over, they decided that one of our refs needed to jump in and jam, because he's been practicing with a men's derby league that's forming in Peoria.  This guy is fast, and incredible agile - but it turns out he falls pretty easily.  It also turned out that, with Team Zebra down one man (and already short-handed), a fast-paced jam can get pretty furious pretty quickly.  It was loads of fun, but I'm pretty sure we all would have wound up in the penalty box if there had been enough refs left to watch.  I still use my hands far too much, and really need to work on that - I can't just tap opposing blockers on the shoulder to try to gently move them out of my way.

I'm so excited about having the guys at practice, and the formation of a local men's league.  I think it will really raise the level of our game.  I'm happy that 21st-century roller derby started as a women's sport, and I love the feminist aspects of it.  I'm very happy that it hasn't taken on the "let's giggle at the silly men and suggest they couldn't do this because they have penises" aspect that so many female-dominant activity groups have.  But, having seen men's derby, I think having the guys around will keep us on our toes.  Practicing with them helps me overcome nervousness.  In one jam today, I - and I think all of us - were intellectually defeated the moment the other team's jammer took the track.  She's the best skater in the league, and we just knew she was going to get around us.  I was stuck in an outside position with a large swath of track to guard, and there was no question that she was going to own me - but I was so sure of that I might as well have sat down and let her skate circles around me.  I hope doing some practice against guys twice my size will help me be less afraid of my league mates.

Saturday should be my chance.  There's a co-ed open scrimmage in Iowa City, and a handful of us are planning to go.  I can't wait!