Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bouts!

Last month, I played in a mixed-league bout down at Sis-Q. I signed up for the newbie bout. I figured I could be marginal in the veteran bout, or I could (I hoped) be a rock star in the newbie bout. That is more or less what happened, I'm happy to say.

I was surprised by the skill level of some of the skaters. There was a wide range, from girls who probably would have held their own in the veteran bout, to girls who I don't think would have passed minskis at Sick Town. I was on one team, and my teammate La Madadora was on the other.

I was nervous ... I didn't really know what to expect. The bench coaches sent me in as pivot for the first jam. Pivot? Oh shit. I'm not a pivot! I'm the girl who hugs the inside line and often needs to be told what to do (sometimes more than once). Except ... I was out there with a team below my skill level, and I was the one telling girls what to do. The pack was slow enough (not *slow* -- just slower than I'm used to) that I was able to see what was happening, and the jammers were inexperienced enough that it was easy to anticipate their moves.

Suddenly, I was knocking jammers around. I was hitting girls out on one side, then the other, lather, rinse, repeat. When my team had a power jam, I was the one hitting the opposing blockers out of my jammer's way every lap.

There was a moment when I was sitting on the bench waiting to go in as pivot in the next jam, and our pivot went to the box. Our coach took the pivot panty off my head, and said, "I just want you out there." I was like, me? You want ME out there? Really? It was an amazing thing to hear.

The other team voted me "Most Intimidating." My team lost (by 10 points) but that bout was a huge win for me. (La Madadora did great too! We really represented Sick Town well.)

And now ... this Saturday, Sick Town bouts Oly's b team, the Dropkick Donnas, and ... I am on the roster! Of all the bouts I thought I might get to play in, Oly was certainly not one of them. Our captains are not sure what to expect from the roster they sent us (not too many familiar names), so I and a couple of other non-S*M*A*S*H skaters are on the roster and we'll get to play if it's pretty lopsided in Sick Town's favor. Otherwise, we'll mostly (maybe totally) ride the bench. Ya know what? I'm really OK with that. There has never been a bout where Sick Town was losing or running really close on score where I've said, "Dammit, I should be out there!" I'm realistic about my own skill level. And honestly, I'm just excited to feel like part of the team. I get to skate out, I get to wear my uniform, I get to sit on the bench with my teammates. It's nothing but good.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Want My B-Team Back, B-Team Back, B-Team Back ...

Last night at practice, we did 25-in-5 in pairs, sticking together and do-si-do-ing at the apexes. It was pretty cool. I was paired with Land Tuna, a very fast skater, so as the slower person in the pair, the speed we skated was *my* fastest. We got 27 laps. I felt good about that, especially since I had not skated in two weeks.

Then afterward, while we were talking about how we all did, Pwny (team captain -- great skater and all-around sweetie pie) said, "Just to warn ya, we're going to start requiring 30 in 5 to be on SMASH rosters."

That popping sound was my bubble bursting.

My personal best is 28 laps in 5 minutes. Thirty laps in 5 minutes means 10 seconds per lap. (Twenty-five in 5 is 12 seconds per lap.) When you put it that way, it doesn't seem like such a huge difference, but it's a pretty big difference.

I don't want to be negative. But if that's the standard, I don't know if I will ever be on a SMASH (travel team) roster. And right now, that's the only team we have.

We lost the B-team (the Dis-Orderlies) because we didn't have enough skaters to support two teams. We have a great crop of intermediates and beginners right now. I guess I just have to hope, pray, and work my ass off to keep those girls involved so we can get our numbers up and bring back the B team.

Don't get me wrong: I'll also work on my speed. But 30 in 5? I just don't know.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I'm not sure if I am posting because I really have something to say, or if I'm posting because I'm embarrassed that it has been so long. Either way, here I am.

I played in a bout on Saturday. It was pretty awesome. I was a guest skater for the Sis-Q Rollerz (from Medford); we played the Coos County Rollergirls (Coos Bay). It was, hands down, the strangest bout I've ever skated in. The venue is very odd -- it's a covered basketball court at a middle school. If you count the skaters, NSOs, referees, and other staff, I'm positive there were more people *in* the bout than watching it. And it's a very good thing Charlie brought his gear, because without him, there would have been two referees (which is not enough for a bout -- three is the bare minimum).

I love the Sis-Q girls. I think they may well be the nicest derby team I've ever met (with mine being a very close second). It was fun playing with them for a change (I've bouted against them twice). I think I'm a better offensive blocker than defensive. Teamwork continues to be very challenging for me. Unfortunately, teamwork is pretty much the most important skill for a blocker. MUST. WORK. ON. TEAMWORK.

Sick Town is taking a sort of break right now, which boils down to: practices are happening, but not quite as many; attendance is not being tracked; and everyone in the bout pool has to re-pass minimum skills when we start back up next month. Sigh. Last time I had to re-pass minskis (which was in January), I got pretty freaked out about it. I'm trying not to do that this time. I know I'm not the best skater. Hell, I know I'm in the bottom 10 percent, for the bout pool. That's why I freaked last time. I'm confident about most of my skills -- at least, confident that they are good enough to pass minskis. Even my crossover, when I really concentrate, is passable. But damn, I need to get to the point where I can skate without even thinking about it. And after nearly three years, I feel like I ought to be there by now.

I learn mental skills really easily. Languages, rules, math ... these things come to me naturally. Physical skills -- especially gross motor skills like dancing, skating, and things of that nature -- come to me slowly and with a ton of effort. If it's possible to be physically retarded, I guess I am. (I am not using the R word in an insulting way. I hope no one takes it that way. I mean it in its most literal sense.)

Well, I'm doing what I can. I'm going to practice (not quite as much as I could, but way more than some people who are much better skaters than I, and so can afford to take time off). I'm skating outdoors. I'm going to the Y (I have discovered cardio kickboxing ... which I love).

I would like to dedicate my next year of derby to getting to the point where the skating is as natural as walking. I'm pretty sure that's the most basic thing that skaters like Bones and Brick have over me. (There's a lot more too. But I think that's at the heart of it.)

I'm going to try to keep up with this blog more, too. Writing all of this stuff down helped. I feel like my mental toilet has been flushed. :-)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rollercon 2011

I have such a love-hate relationship with Rollercon. There was a lot more love than hate this year, though. Overall, everything was much better organized this year. There was a lot less waiting in line for classes -- in fact, the only time I had to wait in line was when they had run out of tickets but still had some spaces in the class I wanted, and even that was only for 45 minutes. Otherwise, it was show up early, get a ticket, and then go have fun until class time. Great job, Rollercon!

We got into Vegas three hours later than we expected to, because our flight was delayed. Baggage claim at the Las Vegas airport took more than an hour (WTF, Vegas?) so by the time we got to the Riviera, it was about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. We went to the pub for drinks (for some reason, the Riviera has a British pub) and then to bed.

Tuesday was an easy day -- grocery shopping, early bird registration, and lounging by the pool.

Wednesday was the first day of Rollercon. I got downstairs at 9 a.m. and went to line up for my first class. I was there for maybe a couple of minutes when Rex Havoc (awesome ECRG blocker and Rollercon volunteer) walked up and handed me a ticket, and said I didn't have to wait in line. Since I remembered what last year was like (long lines, and then maybe you got your class and maybe you didn't), I was pretty gobsmacked.

First class was "Feet Don't Fail Me Now," taught by Jack Hammer (coach of the Lake Tahoe derby league). It was *great* -- it was the most active class I took all week, and I got to do a lot of cool footwork stuff.

In the afternoon, I skated in my first challenge bout: Robot Chicken vs. Family Guy. I was on Robot Chicken.  We were probably going to lose, judging by the score and by the fact that the Family Guy team just had better teamwork than we did; but then the floor started falling apart and the refs called the bout after about 15 minutes (of a 30-minute bout). The floor was sheets of plywood laid on top of carpet, with Skate Court (interlocking plastic flooring designed for skating) laid on top of that. The plywood sheets started drifting apart, and it was definitely not safe to skate on.

After that, I got in line for my second class of the day: Blocking Combinations with Iron Maiven (of the L.A. Derby Dolls; she was portrayed by Eve Bell in the movie "Whip It," and she also had a small role as one of the Manson Sisters). She was really cool and definitely knows her stuff. This class was a little less intense than the other one, but I still learned a lot. There were a lot of STDD and Cherry City girls in the class, which was cool. Edie Disorder said my booty blocking isn't as bad as I think it is. Yay!

Thursday ... God, what the hell did I do on Thursday? I had my second challenge bout, Medium Rare vs. Leafy Greens. I was on Medium Rare; we lost, and again, I think it was due to superior teamwork by the Greens. The bout was in the morning. I tried to take a class, Ninja Blocking, in the afternoon, but my back was hurting and skating was making it worse. D'oh. I did sit and take notes on the rest of the class, though. Thursday night we walked to the Bellagio and saw the fountain. It was pretty cool. The Strip was just as grody as last year, though it's pretty good for people-watching.

Friday, I was feeling overwhelmed by the social aspects of Rollercon (people everywhere) and I wanted to get away from the Riviera (which is kind of a low-end casino and was starting to depress me a bit) and the Strip. My friend Rayda came and picked me up, and we wandered around some non-Strip Vegas. The highlight, other than meeting Rayda in person and hanging out with her, was this little frozen custard stand called Luv It that is apparently a Vegas institution. The almond chip ice cream was *fantastic*. Next year I am dragging everyone there at least once.

Friday night was the Black and Blue Ball, which is not my kind of party (my kind of party involves a small group of friends, board games, pizza and a bottle of wine). It was hot as hell, and outdoors by the pool, and hella crowded once it got going. I didn't last too long. Everyone (including the Rollercon website) says you have to wear black or blue, but I don't think anyone actually gave a shit, and I know at least one person who wore tan. (shrug)

Saturday morning was my final challenge bout: Green Horns vs. Fresh Meat. There were four Sick Town girls on my team (Green Horns): me, Flash, Tuna and F.U. Bones was our coach. Early on, we were down by maybe 20 points, but after that we started doing a lot better, shutting down their jammers and getting ours through, and we ended up winning by something like 15-20 points (I don't remember the exact score). Bones said we did a good job of listening to her and doing what she told us to do, which is awesome. There was one jam where all four Sick Town girls went out as blockers, with a girl from another league as jammer. We rocked it! It was really cool being out there with my teammates.

Saturday was also my final class: Baby Got Back, with Quadzilla. For the non-derby people reading this, Quadzilla is a rock star of the derby world. In his words, he has been skating since he was an embryo, and it shows. He's just freaking effortless (well, I mean, he obviously makes a lot of effort. He *looks* effortless). I saw him in a challenge bout, and he was jamming, and two of his blockers were in the box. The two blockers he had, weren't all that effective. Didn't matter. Quadzilla just cut through the pack like a hot knife through butter.

The class was booty blocking, and using your butt and back to block. That's awesome, because those are skills I definitely need to work on. We did some cool drills, a lot of which I actually remember.

Saturday night was the Bay Area Derby vs. Mile High Club bout, which we watched from a skybox. That was kind of cool, though thanks to the position of the boxes and of the track, we couldn't see the near apex at all so we kind of missed a lot of the bout. But what the hell. I was surprised that Bay Area (a nationally-ranked team) didn't have better teamwork than they did. (Mind you, they could totally wipe the floor with me.) After that was the derby wedding, which is kind of silly but fun. Boxxx and Bones got married, and all of us Dis-Orderlies (me, Tuna, Flash, D Train and Chelle) wore our jerseys and booty shorts and were their bridesmaids.

And then Sunday morning we caught a shuttle at 5:20 a.m., flew out at 8 a.m., and were home by 11:30 a.m. I'm glad I went to Rollercon, but I'm also glad to have it in my rear-view mirror. I'll probably go next year.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

That wasn't so bad ...

So yesterday was the big scary team tryouts evaluation that had me all chaotic and twirly all week. And it ... wasn't that awful, really. I hope I can take a lesson from that, and not freak completely out next time.

I don't know how I did -- I don't know when they will send out scores, but I can't imagine it would be this soon. I know I didn't totally tank it. In the speed trials, I was the slowest -- but not by a ridiculous margin. I was pretty close behind the next fastest girl. I got through the weaving pace line, I managed to keep up with the two-lap-lead pace line for more skaters than I usually do, and when I fell on my ass -- hard -- during a hitting drill, after taking a moment to get my breath back I rejoined the drill. So that's all good. Not good enough to be put on the SMASH Unit, but (in my opinion) good enough to show that I deserved to pass minimum skills.

I had some duh moments too, like when I was in a three-person blocking drill with Pus as jammer, and I was totally in Pus' way, and I *GOT OUT OF HER WAY*. Why? Why did I do that? Honestly, I think I know. But it's no less dumb. I was on the line (which, if you are on the inside line as a blocker, you are not supposed to give that line up for ANYTHING). I thought I was keeping my co-blockers from hitting Pus out, and if I got out of their way, they could hit her out. (I was not managing to hit her out obviously. This is NOT a criticism of anyone else, OK?) So I politely step out of the way, and Pus zips past me on the inside line, and my co-blockers somehow manage not to smack me upside the head for being a dumbass.

Lesson: never, never, never give up the damn line. And if you are in the jammer's way, STAY IN HER WAY!

OK, but there was something awesome too. We were doing jumping and cone weaving. The cones were set at the edges of the track. I did fine weaving them, though now I need to work on being able to do it faster. I did fine on the one-footed jump (I think) -- probably not pretty, but I jumped it. There were there obstacles set up to jump two-footed over: Pwny's gear bag (which is probably about 10 inches high and 10 inches wide, maybe 2 feet long), two 6-inch plastic cones, and a low plastic cone (maybe 2 inches tall, tops).

I went through several times and jumped -- credibly -- over the low cone. Shankee was doing the same thing. Finally, we were in line, and we looked at each other and I said, "We can jump that gear bag." And Shankee said, "I know. Let's do it." The next time through, we both jumped over the gear bag. It probably wasn't pretty -- I know mine wasn't. Pus said I didn't completely clear the bag. The second time I jumped it, I did, though I still didn't keep my feet together as I went over. So, I'm sure I didn't get the full three points for that one, but I jumped the fucking bag!

Overall, I feel like I worked my ass off, I did some things well and I showed that I need to work on other things, I certainly did not qualify for SMASH, but I did show that I deserve to be where I am. So, I feel good.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

More testing? Whimper.

I don't get test anxiety, at least not for school-type tests. Math tests, SATs, essay tests ... I'm fine with all of that stuff.

Roller derby tests, on the other hand, freak me right out. I'm not a natural athlete; I've never tried out for a team. I guess the closest thing (that I've done before) to minimum skills testing, or the team tryouts that popped up this week, would be theater auditions. And those always freaked me out too.

I think what really gets to me is the idea that I'm going to be judged on a snapshot of performance. That, and I simply don't have the kind of confidence in my physical skills that I have in my mental ability. I know I'm smart. But in derby, I feel like a special ed kid.

Anyway, tonight at scrimmage Brick was taking notes on how we all did. She was looking for offensive and defensive blocks, communication, and I don't know what all else (she said, but I don't remember). All I can say is that I skated my ass off tonight, and I did my best. I tried really hard to listen and to pay attention to what was going on around me. I did get in some good defensive blocks, but (and here's what freaks me out about this) who can say if anyone was watching when I did them.

Ugh. I need to just put this out of my mind. It's not like I'm trying to get put on the A team (the SMASH Unit). I'm not at that level. I know it, and so does everyone else. I just want to be a Dis-Orderly.

There's more testing on Saturday. I'll be glad when it's done. I don't mean to be negative. This stuff just stresses me out.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

FIRST BOUT!

I need to update this blog more often!

Anyway, y'all, last night was the Sick Town Dis-Orderlies' debut bout, against the Sis-Q Rollerz (from Medford, OR). I have to give a shout out to the Sis-Q girls -- they did great, they had wonderful attitudes, and it was a blast playing them.

I went into the bout thinking I was probably not going to get much playing time. I was determined to have a good attitude no matter what, because I just do *not* want to be that girl who sits around with a face like a smacked ass when she doesn't get what she wants, ya know?

I was nervous all day. Hanging out with my teammates helped, but I was still pretty wound up. The first few jams, I didn't skate. I peeked at the lineup sheet and saw that I was supposed to go in for the fourth jam. OK, if I got to skate every fourth jam, that would've been more than I had hoped for -- that would be great!

Well, when it was time for me to go in, I didn't get to go, because one of our blockers was in the penalty box (when that happens, you skate short a blocker until she comes out of the box). D'oh. Brick (bench coach) told CosMo (lineup caller) to work me into the next one. Cool.

Whoops. CosMo thought Brick meant Shankee, so she worked Shankee into the next lineup instead of me. D'oh! At that point, I was glad I had resolved to have a good attitude no matter what. I didn't get frustrated; I figured it would all work out.

Maybe good attitude was good karma, because by then, it was clear that we were doing really well (the score was pretty lopsided in our favor, throughout. The Sis-Q girls are excellent skaters and hitters, but they are a new team and they aren't quite there yet with the strategy and teamwork. Neither am I, so please, don't anyone think I am dissing them.) So anyway, from that point on, I was in practically every other jam. I have no idea how many jams I skated -- but it was a lot.

Another good attitude step for me: I got a major for low block, and I went to the box politely. I didn't even give the refs a dirty look. :-)

Anyway ... I skated my ass off and did some reasonably good blocking. And then we got to the second-to-last jam. Bones said if there was another jam, I should be the jammer. I said, "OK." I thought, "Holy shit, really?"

There was another jam. Eep. I went in as jammer, against Blitz, a very fast girl from Sis-Q (who also happens to be more than 20 years younger than I!). I had great blockers; I'm not sure who they were so I won't say any names, but they did a great job of shutting down the other jammer and helping me slip through the pack like buttah. I got lead jammer!! I made my scoring pass, got four points, and then called that mother OFF, because great blockers or no, Blitz was way faster than I. So ... I sort of ended the bout!

When I came off the track, my teammates surrounded me in a sort of group hug. It was ... I don't know how to describe it. It was amazing. I don't want to get all vaggy, but I seriously love these ladies.

Skating in a bout is something I seriously thought I was never going to get to do. Roller derby, and specifically Sick Town, has been so wonderful for me. I'm doing stuff I never would have thought I could do. I'm part of a freaking TEAM.

I *love* my team.