The isolation of ‘no pack’ derby

I played in scrimmages two weekends in a row and both were very different. Granted, the one last weekend was an intermediate scrimmage (Stettler) and this weekend’s was an advanced (Medicine Hat) so there was bound to be some obvious variances.

Teams are resorting to no pack strategy more often in regular play, but happens most when they are on a power jam, really behind in points or if they are having trouble during a (full-strength) jam. (This is old news and is covered extensively here  and here) While splitting the pack (forcing the refs to call ‘no pack’ and all blockers must disengage and reform, allowing jammers to pass through relatively untouched) is kinda-sorta-maybe allowed, it’s really manipulating the rules to make it easy as possible to score points with as little contact as possible. It feels like getting a goat to slow a pack seems like a distant past; old strategy.

No pack derby is driving me crazy. I love it; I hate it. I love it when I’m jamming and my team executes it perfectly and I cruise through the pack untouched. What jammer wouldn’t love that? I hate it as a spectator and I hate it as a player in general because you’re watching two walls of 4 on 1 until the ref calls the no pack. It requires little skating skill. WFTDA skater Juke Boxx even made a plea about it at this year’s Rollercon.  But it’s easy for teams of all levels to resort to, so I understand why it’s so palatable.

The WFTDA is releasing revisions to the rules this fall. While they have confirmed they will be eliminating minor penalties from the WFTDA rule set, there hasn’t been any kind of confirmation if they will be making changes to help eliminate no pack scenerio (that I can find).

This summer I made a promise to myself to play as much derby as possible and take in as many experiences as I can. In fact, I’m planning on playing 3 weekends out of the four in August. However I’m frustrated that my perception of the negative experiences I’m having are outweighing the positive. The ownness is on me to decide whether to cut my losses and stay home or surge ahead and break down the negatives, which is probably something every athlete goes through multiple times regardless of their sport. Equally frustrating is the sense of seclusion I’m feeling right now. Everyone is having a great time filled with awesome-fun-loving-derby-times and I’m just sort of hovering on the edge. I’m not sure what’s needed to make derby fun again.

Pulling myself from jamming has seemed to help, which I did in my game in Medicine Hat this weekend and I jammed less than I normally do in Stettler. No pack derby, while effective in strategy, makes a jammer fend for herself most the time. I’m tired of it. Maybe some will say I have a bad attitude for saying that and I need to put on my big girl panties and suck it up for the sake of the team. But playing as a blocker has been much more enjoyable as the sense of isolation I was feeling as a jammer is non-existent. Lately when I’ve been handed the star, I dread it. Not a good headspace to be in when your team is counting on you to score. My sights are set on a change in direction, I’m just not sure where yet.

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