Derby comsumption… Nom nom

I’ve played so many sports in my lifetime; some I was good at (cross country & distance running), others not so much (soccer, dodgeball). But no sport in my years has consumed me like derby has.

Today I’ve been taking shifts on my couch, icing my knee due to a hit-gone-wrong at practice last night. When one is injured, you’d think it would be normal for them to take their time to get back in the swing of things.

Not me.

The injury has left a bruise on my kneecap that makes bending very painful. Yet every couple hours today, I stood in derby stance to test the strength in my leg. I stare at my gear bag with anticipation. I’m literally twitching (yes, twitching) to get back on my skates. I feel incredibly lazy not doing my daily 3-5 km jaunts, and it’s only been one day! But still I’m being extremely vigilant in doing anything and everything possible to make my knee heal faster.

Is this what NHL players go through when they are injured? Because the anticipation for me to get back onto skates is killing me. I’m by no means a professional or an expert at derby, but I now feel for the pro athletes forced off the playing field when they live and breath their sport.

Which brings me to a related topic of how EVERY derby girl I have met so far is consumed by this sport. Is this a weird phenomenon or a coincidence? Or is it simply fact that once you derby, you either hate it and never try it again, or love it and never want to go back? I know my driving skills have greatly improved since becoming a Jammer, I can find any hole in traffic and slide right on through.

But now I’m getting way off topic and must digress…

My urgency to heal is also due to the fact I’m making my rookie debut in Medicine Hat on Saturday. If I can’t play, I will be reduced to tears for a long, long time. The next bout after that is in Regina, which I’m unable to attend, and haven’t heard of any more in the near future. So if I’m to pop my Cherri, this has got to be it!

Fingers crossed for me kids!

****

On another note, I crossed a couple of training goals… First one… Coach Maude passed me on my benchmarks! Whoop! Whoop!

Second one… I skated up (yes, up!) the coulee bike trail adjacent to the Indian Battle Park road. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds. The worst part was my lapse in judgement in trying to skate back down and almost blowing a hole in my skate. Next time I’m carrying shoes, changing out of my skates and walking down once I reach the top.

While continuing to perfect those, my next goal is to work on my starts. My speed is great, but I know I can work up to top speed a lot faster if I can power out on my toe stops.

Lookit the time! Night all!

Funny how things just suddenly ‘click’

Last night was probably the best practice ever! The funny thing is, I went into it not feeling up for it, and other girls expressed the same lethargic emotions.

The reason practice was so good? We suddenly started thinking during scrimmage.

Don’t get me wrong, we haven’t been skating around in circles like mindless freaks these last few months, but have you ever watched 5-year-olds play soccer? It’s essentially organized chaos, where everyone chases after the ball, limbs flailing and kids scoring on their own net, but still celebrating.

That’s how we kinda were, except replace ball with jammer.

But last night, something clicked.

Blockers were creating offensive holes for their jammers by taking out other blockers. Jammers were communicating for help, and getting it. Walls were being built and walls were being broken.

Holy shit… we were working as a team!

Everyone felt it. And it was great.

*********

On a personal note…

I’m seeing huge improvements in my skill during scrimmaging. Finding holes as a jammer is coming easier for me now. Cutting the track and maneuvering through those holes with help from the team seem effortless.

As a blocker, I loved playing offense by taking out other blockers to create holes for my girl to go through. And I loved playing defense by building a wall with another gal and just getting in front of the other jammer. Being in the pack is getting way more fun as I understand the strategy more and more.

Other goals I met…

I fell correctly, every time. Even when I got pulled down from behind I shifted to my side as to not wreck my tail bone. My right hand, which is STILL on the mend, came away free from further injury.

I threw a full body, LEGAL hit. This is big for me, considering a few minutes prior to that I knocked someone in the face with an elbow, which means automatic major penalty and time in the box.

My endurance has vastly improved. I’m barely winded at the end of practice, which also tells me I need to push myself harder.

Win all around! Fuck I love this sport!

Switching up my wheels…

Disclaimer: Doing some shop talk with wheel choices in this post. Wheels don’t make you a better skater, but they can help you increase your skill with more speed, agility, etc. I’m passing on what info I’ve learned from my own research and talking to others; your wheel-choice-journey may differ greatly from mine. But I hope you learn a little bit from what I went through to choose.

I just ordered 8 more babies…

My pushers, 38 mm, 88a

My hard wheels 38 mm, 93a

Going into this derby business, I never knew how much I would stress over wheels and bearings. The choices are unimaginable!

Skate wheels come in multiple combinations of shapes, sizes and hardness. Picking the right wheels depends on your skill level, the surface you skate on and what you want out of them.

After skating on my 38mm wide Radar Pure outdoor wheels for so many weeks (which are on sale right now and can be found here and I HIGHLY recommend them), switching to my 44mm wide Radar Flat-out indoor wheels was a challenge. I felt like I was tripping over my own feet, locking wheels with other skaters and even banging my own wheels together all the time. My cornering felt forced and I just felt clumsy all around.

You’d think 6mm wouldn’t make a huge difference… it does.

So the search for my new wheels began. Part of the challenge is we don’t have a permanent venue to play at and many of these wheels are manufactured with certain surfaces in mind. Right now we skate on an old wood floor and sorta-polished concrete.

Completely opposite end of spectrum. Boourns.

On slick surfaces you need softer wheels so you don’t slide out around corners. On wood surfaces, you need a harder wheel to make up for the soft floor. (But trust me, wood floors aren’t soft when you whack your tailbone on it.)

I’m also considered a smaller skater, so I need to be careful to choose a wheel that is soft enough to allow me to dig into the floor when I need it. Choosing a too-hard-of-wheel will cause me to slide out in all sorts of different directions.

So after chatting back and forth with Lisa from Rollergirl, I decided to try a combo of 2 sticky wheels and 2 hard wheels per skate to work with both surfaces.

My white wheels will be riding on the left side of each skate. When I push, that’s the side I push from and also use to do various stops, so that’s where I’m going to let the softer wheels ride first to try them out.

My purple wheels will be riding on the right side of each skate. These are going to be the hardest wheels I’ve skated on to date. I’m really curious how they are going to perform and if I’m going to feel every bump on the track as a result. It will also make doing anti-derby (skating in the opposite direction) a little more interesting at practice.

The range of hardness for skate wheels is large. Also called the durometer and measured on an A-Scale, lower numbers mean softer wheels, higher numbers are harder. Here’s where my choices lie, and for reference, I’m >120lbs…

>86a
86a
88a – PUSHERS
90a
92a
93a – SPEEDYS
96a
<96a

So my combo is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.

I’m nervous these won’t be sticky enough to hold me to the track, but I guess I’ll have to wait until they are appropriately broken in before deciding for sure.

I’m going to continue switching out my bearings between my wheels instead of buying another set for these. But when I DO decide to get another pair of bearings, I’m going to be hitting up my local skate shop on 5th Street to get those. (They have taught me lots about purchasing and taking care of bearings. If anyone is in the market for a set, I recommend going to talk to them.)

P.S. The best part? As I was writing this post, I got notification my order has already been shipped!!! I love rollergirl.ca!!!! Happy birthday to me!!!!

Practice space acquired!

How fucking excited am I?

Today myself and Nixxi Knox went down to City Hall to secure our practice space for Friday practices!

Yes, it costs over $500 a month, but it’s glossy, it’s smooth and way safer. The other good news is the facilities manager is considering and looking into painting permanent track lines for us. (Cross your fingers)

The REALLY good news is we can now put the call out for new members! So, if you or anyone you know have roller skates and gear, or know someone who’d like to come watch, here’s the details!

Open Practice!
Friday, June 4, Adams Ice Centre
6:30 p.m.

Skaters:
Bring $5, roller skates, knee and elbow pads, wrist guards, mouth guard, helmet and your ability to sign a waiver. Don’t know how to skate? We’ll help!

Watchers:
Bring a non-perishable food item to come see what we’re up to! Want to be used as a pylon? That could be arranged for a team donation, but remember we like to hit pylons 😉

Everyone is welcome!!!! Come on out!!!!

Isn’t our space pretty? Can’t wait to try it!!!!

We want the funk!

Anyone watch Glee?

It’s sort of my guilty pleasure right now. I will forgo all work and play and make time for this show. In fact this week I brushed off a deadline job, just to watch it, causing me to stay up until 4 a.m. to finish the project on time.

Insane? Maybe a little.

Anyway, this week’s episode was about getting into a funk. The Glee Club was letting their main competition for regionals get into their head. They had to find their own ways to bring themselves out of that funk, which, in the end, was essentially beating down the opposing team in the same way they brought them down, by getting into their heads.

I have a point, I promise.

The injury monster has gotten into my head. And I’ve been trying hard to push him out because it put me in a weird funk.

As a result, I missed morning skate this morning.

But I’ve now come to the realization that it’s okay to be injured. It’s okay to take some time off to heal. Derby is a big part of my life right now and taking 3 days, 1 week, 5 weeks off isn’t going to change that. I shouldn’t feel guilty about taking that time off because playing injured isn’t going to help anybody on my team.

Today, I feel ridiculously rested and ready to get back on 8 wheels.

But you know what got me fired up most? This, which made me realize the injury funk wasn’t the only thing that had me hostage…

THIS IS ROLLER DERBY – trailer #1 from THIS IS ROLLER DERBY the movie on Vimeo.

(My apologies for it not embedding. Vimeo is giving me grief.)

And you know what line got me the most fired up? This line…

“It’s fun. You get to pretend you’re somebody else. You get to dress up. And you get to beat the shit out of your friends.”

You get to beat the shit out of your friends!

I’m not a violent gal. Girls on our team are snowboarders, former rugby players or have punched other people in faces out of anger. I’m not like that… I’m a lover, not a fighter 😉 BUT does that diminish my ability to play derby?

No way. Because this is how I’m looking at it now.

Derby is a job. It’s my job to hit girls. It’s my job to take hits. And all the other gals on my team, that’s their job too. I’m pretty sure something in my head was holding me back and I didn’t want to hurt my new friends. Fuck that shit. If I don’t do my job, I lose my job, or get benched, plain and simple.

Time to go 100% badass.

*******

This week we had some gals pull out of the team. They just couldn’t make the commitment for practice, mixed in with everything else in their lives. It really made me sad and also question my own dedication. But I’m in it now to skate for those gals too. Sapph Ic Slammer, Devil’s Viagara… I’ll miss you like crazy! Best of luck and see you on 8 wheels soon!!!!

And for your viewing pleasure… a little bit of Glee Marky Mark love…