Rollercon and other awesome things!

Hi readers! Today I’m packing my bags for a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas, Nevada to attend Rollercon; a convention where the men and women of the roller derby world gather to train learn, glean and party.

I’m pretty excited for the opportunity and the fact that several of my teammates are coming along, it’s sure to be memorable. We will be attending on-skate and off-skate classes by some of the best derby professionals in the world! And hopefully I’ll be able to attend and/or play in a scrimmage or two!

If I can find me some free wifi, I will be contributing to http://derbygirlsblog.com/ during my Rollercon adventure so watch for me there!

**Personal Notes**

Congrats to my Dames who won against the Swift Current Redneck Betties last night. Many of our players made their dame debut and my derby wife made her debut as Team Captain! I am so proud of everyone!

I will be hitting up Medicine Hat to play in an intermediate scrimmage in mid-August! I’m super excited to play with some of western Canada’s best! They will also be hosting a co-ed scrimmage which is sure to be entertaining.

Signing off for now, dear readers. Next time I post I will likely be on Nevada time!

Here is the beginning of my Rollercon pile! 🙂

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Hockey playoffs are done for me, so I’m back

Well, my hockey team got eliminated from playoffs last night, so I guess that’s my cue to start blogging again.

The last couple weeks have been busy with watching hockey, work and dealing with derby business on and off the track. A lot has happened. I think the only way to go through it all and keep it organized is through point form.

  • Our dear Attila TheMum took a bad fall a few weeks ago and broke her wrist. We’ve had some concussions, shoulder separations, knee injuries, etc. but this was our first for-real broken bone on a teammate. It scary and it’s hard to not think about what if it had been you. We do our best to fall properly, but weird things just happen that’s out of our control.
  • The following practice I tried to jump over a skater who had fallen in front of me and I dreadfully failed. I came down hard with my right shoulder hitting the ground with all my weight behind it. A trip to the chiropractor resulted him in being concerned about swelling and popping in my shoulder and he had me off full contact.

    Myself and Bashin Bindi working on a drill as Coach Pauly looks on.

  • That Saturday was our weekend bootcamp with Coach Pauly. We partnered with the Gas City Rollers and skated at the arena in Brooks. As far as I’m concerned, Coach Pauly is the cornerstone of the world of roller derby, coaching for top teams and is now working with Edmonton’s own E-Ville league full-time. He is also the coach of the upcoming Team Canada roller derby team and wow, are we ever lucky to have him in our province. The first time I met Coach Pauly I wasn’t even benchmarked but I attended a couple of his CWRDA sessions at bootcamp in Edmonton. So I was really excited to have the opportunity to skate under his tutorage again. However, my shoulder injury kept me from any full-on contact drills so I didn’t get the full effect from the weekend like I wanted. But overall, learned A LOT! Even by just watching.
  • During Sunday’s bootcamp our dear Jesse Dahmer fell victim to a bad fall during a drill and broke her leg in two places… that’s two skaters, two broken limbs, in less than a week. Again, it’s hard not to think about this stuff.

    Sunday morning warmup at the Brooks arena. Yes, I'm wearing my winter coat... it was effin' COLD in there! Photo by Medi

  • Medi Lizious and I had a really good chat while the gals continued their drills at the bootcamp. I expressed my concern about the number of serious injuries that were happening. She assured me there were things I could do to help protect myself from broken bones… EXERCISE! The more you exercise, the faster your bone mass builds and the stronger your muscles and ligaments are to help hold your bones in place if the unfortunate were to happen.
  • Taking this advice and realizing how much I’ve been plagued by upper-body injuries, I decided to make a more conscious effort to do more weight training. So I contacted the lovely Cheetah Von Teese from the Calgary Roller Derby league for her workout regime. She is all muscle and beauty like her namesake(s) and I’m in awe of what she does on a weekly basis. Training starts in May… wish me luck with that.
  •  Back to the bootcamp; Coach Pauly lead our leagues on a round table discussion about whatever we wanted to talk about. The conversations were candid and honest and also brought out some issues that we, as a league, need to improve and/or solve before we can move on. I’m happy that our league is continuing the conversations to make us a better unit overall.
  •  With spring here, it means a move back into the Adams Ice arena for practice. But unfortunately scheduling isn’t really on our side and we can only have practices Tuesdays and Wednesdays. But my dear derby wife is still working hard to find us a more permanent home where only we dictate the hours we can skate.
  •  We are also so thrilled to have a local retailer see how cool rollerskating is, whether you derby or not, and has started to carry gear! Wheels, skates, bearings, knee pads, helmets… EVERYTHING! So if you’re passing through Lethbridge, make sure you throw some support to Steel Sass.
  • Countdown to my trip to Rollercon in Las Vegas in July is going to start soon. You’ve been warned.
  • I’m so pleased that our new fresh meat coach I.C. Nuffin is making our freshies work hard! We continue to see new faces and many returns every week. It makes me so happy to have helped create a league that so many can take part in. We’re hovering around the 40-mark for skaters with many freshies close in their skills to allow them to come to practice full-time. Thinking about league expansion is so exciting!!!!!!

So in a nutshell, that’s what’s been going on. Lots more is going on in my head in regards to my own development and how I’m fitting in with the league, but I’ll save that for another day.

Derby love to you all!!!!

GUEST POST: Roller derby from a testosterone POV

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Dear readers: By popular demand, may I present my first guest blogger Jeremessiah. (Pictured left, with one of our other LRDG refs, Hugh Johnson.) I asked Jeremessiah to give his point of view of the testosterone side of roller derby… It’s true! Dudes are welcome!

Not only does he know his derby, he has the best t-shirt collection in the world. Make sure you say hi when you see him at our next game or after-party.

To find out more about joining our league, as a ref or skater, email iwanttoderby@yahoo.ca, or get in touch with your local league for more info!

Like many people, my first memories of roller derby are of the 80’s TV show “Rollergames.” I used to watch the hell out of that show when I was kid, staying up late and everything. Alligator pit, the wall of death, a figure-8 track?! If you’ve never seen this, get on it.

Then I figured the derby disappeared until, like most people, they made a movie about modern derby and put some cute girls in it. When I watched that movie, I saw the coach and thought to myself, “That guy’s got it made.” The only guy on a team full of derby girls? The stuff of dreams. Too bad they don’t have roller derby teams everywhere….

What’s that? They DO have roller derby teams everywhere and as a matter of fact there’s one starting in Lethbridge and they need refs? Fantastic. So through a stroke of luck I ran into Medi Lizious and she told me I had to come check it out.

I came to watch a couple practices and I was hooked, what a good time! Roller skating is fun; people just have fun on roller skates plain and simple. I bought myself a pair and came to find out I was a lot better at roller skating than I ever expected to be. Derby girls are notoriously (and sometimes forcefully) friendly; getting to know everyone was easy and no one hesitates to help a new skater out in any way they can.

For me, skating with the Dames has had a lot of benefits but my main goals when joining was to get some exercise and to do it some way that would allow me to socialize and meet people.

Mission accomplished.

The physical aspect of derby suits anyone who is just starting to get more active or for those who are looking for an advanced challenge. There’s no previous experience or talent required because everyone looks like Bambi on ice the first time they strap on skates. You’ll be surprised how fast you pick it up. It’s as challenging as you choose to make it and there’s always tons of encouragement from your derbymates.

My derby friends are the most fun group of people I’ve ever met. With such a wide variety of people from a variety of backgrounds coming together for a team sport, you can’t help but enjoy these people both on the flat track or on the dance floor. Roller derby brings out the best people and brings the best out of people. Hula hoop making, skate cleaning, sparkle shopping, trips to roller discos and out-of-town games… you name it, there’s always something to get in on (and yes you can opt out of sparkle shopping).

As a referee, it’s been an extra challenge to me because there’s a lot to learn about derby. And it’s confusing. And it happens quickly. And sometimes derby girls get right sideways on you if they think you made a bad call.

But everyone is learning together and the game starts to slow down for you and you get more instinctive with your whistle. Anyone with a desire to learn something new can get involved, there’s many different roles for a ref to play in a scrimmage or a bout and you can quickly learn one job and get practised at that.

All in all, roller derby is the best idea I’ve ever had. I highly recommend it to everyone.

Thanks for reading, Jeremessiah

Ways to find roller derby practice/bout space

Last night the Lethbridge College Student’s Association invited the Lethbridge College Roller Derby Club, which I’m also a member of ;-), to come hang out on skates during their Band Wars contest at the barn.

The venue is fantastic and I admit I had visions of inter-league scrimmages complete with disco lighting and live bands playing as our DJ as I circled around the facility.

What it lacks in size; we’d only be able to fit the track and maybe 2-3 rows of suicide seating, is made up in atmosphere. With a raised stage and concert lighting built in, the facility is ready for a variety of events. The floors are industrial tile with, what it felt like, a wooden sub-floor, giving an excellent balance of spring and grip under my wheels. The venue is licensed, lots of parking and directly across from 2 college residences.

It felt like the perfect storm.

For roller derby leagues, all over the world, space is a constant struggle.

For some, the space is available and willing, but to rent it for 2 practices a week for a month, costs more than a month’s rent of a residential apartment. It creates a league with high dues and a necessity to fund raise often just to stay ahead.

For others, they have a facility, but it’s within close quarters to walls or pillars that make full-speed-contact pileups look similar to boarding in hockey.

For more, the facility of choice has floors that are so rough that wheels wear down quickly and you don’t dare skate bare-legged or wear your favorite tights. Or they are so smooth, injuries happen due to sliding out and careening off the track.

Even with established leagues, it’s a struggle. Leagues with multiple teams in large centres, compete with all other sports organizations for time. There simply aren’t enough indoor facilities as it is for hockey, soccer, basketball, ringette, etc.

Most recently, the Gas City Rollers in Medicine Hat lost their practice facility due to the roof collapsing.

So if you’re a league searching for space, what can you do? Here’s some things we’ve done to try and secure venues. Some worked, some didn’t, but if it helps you find a space permanently… Fantastic!!!

Call everyone!!!

Churches, halls, community centres, rodeo grounds, schools, surrounding communities… Any space that looks big enough to fit a track, call them. Inquire that you’re interested in viewing the space to rent for your group.

Our experience has shown if you identify what you’ll be using the space for right off the start, it’s tough to get past that initial phone call. But if they ask, don’t lie. However stating that you’re a ‘women’s sport group’ isn’t lying either. 😉 The key here is to get in the front door and woo the keyholders of the building with your charm.

Anticipate partnerships…

If you’re lucky enough to find the perfect space with perfect floors and get a meeting to view the space, do some research on the group who owns the building beforehand.

Are they non-profit? What other events are held there? Think of ways ahead of time to sweeten the deal for them if they are hesitant about renting to your group. Perhaps they are always in need of volunteers for their own events and your league could offer time in exchange for reduced rent. If the building is older, perhaps you could create a work-bee committee to contribute time to maintaining and improving the building monthly (painting trim, minor repairs, etc) Or create a sponsorship agreement where their name will be tied to every public event you hold. The possibilities are endless if you’re willing to do some negotiation.

Write A Kick Ass Proposal…

If you have a league member who works in the non-profit, public relations or media industry, grab them now and harness their writing skills or find a member who just loves to write! Coming to a meeting with a written proposal in-hand that talks about who you are, your goals and objectives and your reach (eg appearances, what charitable organizations you support, media attention) show that you are a serious league. Also include an outline of what you can offer in return as extras (from previous point) and don’t forget to state what you will do, as a league, if damage to the facility were to happen.

Research leagues in similar-sized cities and make sure to share in your proposal what kind of spaces they have and who’s providing them. This will show roller derby is all around and to hopefully create a desire for the keyholder to ‘keep up’ with the other communities.

Most importantly, put a face to your league. Include photos with your proposal. Show derby moms skating with their kids, show how you participated in the local parade or rally, show photos of other leagues in their pretty spaces (get permission!). Let’s be honest, there is a conception of what derby girls are within the establishment. Show that your on-track personas don’t reflect negative behaviours when you are here to train.

Writing a good proposal will take time. Do it right and you will only have to do minor updates for each venue. Bonus marks if you can get reference letters from former space providers stating you paid rent on time and were good renters.

Once you find the space, respect the space…

This is an obvious one, of course. But some keyholders may give you space on a trial basis and will be watching carefully for any excuse to take it away from you. Don’t let them. Go above and beyond. Work as a team to make sure garbage and gear is cleared out before vacating. Same goes for the parking lot.

Pay the rent on time and report damage immediately. Always watch what your gear is doing to the floors and make adjustments as necessary. Also make a point of asking the keyholders to notify you immediately if there are any problems so you can rectify the situation quickly. Follow up on any special sponsorship or partnership agreements. If you fail on that, you risk negative feedback within the community.

Not only will the attention to detail save you from eviction, but will continue to show your league as one to be taken seriously.

Finally, get into local politics…

I know…. BLAH. But your city/town council are the ones who decide the use of current and future community centres. I’m not saying attend every council meeting, but be aware of the meetings, when they take place and what’s going to be discussed. Meeting agendas can be found on municipal websites and from there you can decide if you need to attend. Look for terms like capital improvement, recreation & culture, parks. Watch/read the news and see if the city is set to expand any of their recreational buildings and are looking for public input. That’s when you need to jump in and get involved.

Find someone on council who favours youth activities, sports or non-profits and ask to sit with them to discuss your concerns about lack of space for your league. While individually they may not be able to do much for you, they now know your challenges and will hopefully keep you informed of any leads that may come up.

Partnering with other groups looking for a similar space is also a great way to get more to notice your cause… Your local skateboard association, wheelchair basketball, ball hockey, lacrosse groups all have the same challenges. Approach council as a unified group and they will notice you more.

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So those are just some ideas we’ve tried. It’s a tough road seeking out the perfect space, but once you find it, it will be soooooo worth it. To the Gas City crew, best of luck to you in finding a replacement for your lost space. To other leagues who have found a permanent home, I’d love to hear your success story!!!!

As for the ‘perfect storm’ venue we have in front of us, it would be fantastic if they welcomed us back to put on an event-on-wheels; or even just to practice since we are homeless from our current space until February. Guess I should get on tweaking that proposal!

Dear readers, it’s game day!

Good morning everyone!!!!

For those who follow me on Twitter already know today is the big day!

I have a lot to do, including figuring out my boutfit, pitching in to help my derby wife move and hit up the Exhibition around 3 for some free skate time.

I was very frustrated to find out last night that the new sets of wheels I bought, don’t work for me in our bout venue. I was sliding out all over the place so it looks like I’ll be switching to my outdoor wheels for this game.

I have no problem with my outdoor wheels, they just aren’t as narrow and pretty as the new ones I bought. The search for my perfect indoor wheel continues…

See you all tonight!!!!!!

A list… reasons why you should watch a derby bout in Lethbridge

Whenever I get a chance to talk about derby with the lovely Lethbridge locals, I always get asked, “Where do you play?” Then I always have to answer, “Well, we haven’t played a game locally yet, but some practices are open to the public, blah blah blah.”

Now, I can give them a date!

Lethbians! Mark your calendar! Saturday, October 23!

Details of the event are still being finalized, so stay tuned. But in the mean time, I would like to pay homage to my fellow blogger and cyber-friend The Active Stick with a list on why you should come.

  • It’s going to be zombie themed. (Our team name is DEATHbridge. Kind of a no-brainer… mmmmm brains)
  • There’s beer.
  • You can bring your kids AND drink beer. (Please have a safe ride home)
  • You can bring your grandma AND drink beer. (Have your grandma drive you home)
  • Since it’s the week before Halloween, there’s a good chance the weather will be crap. So you may as well spend your Saturday night indoors watching girls bash the crap out of each other.
  • You get to watch the Deathbridge Derby Dames play together as a team for the first time EVER! (We’re most excited about that)
  • You can drink more beer at the after party.
  • The likelihood of derby girls showing off bruises on their thighs at the after party is mid to high.
  • You can become our biggest fan. (Then you can come watch us play in Medicine Hat on Nov. 27. More fans = more derby!)

So you’ll come, yes?

Reasons you should become a derby ref

If you’re the tiniest bit curious about derby, read this. Because we want you. More importantly, we need you! I was initially going to do a top ten list, but there are more than 10 reasons to become a derby ref. Read on, and find out why YOU need to become a derby ref!

Shiny, black and badass

Thanks once again to Susan Knight from Visual Musings in Medicine Hat for allowing me to use some of her pics. Click on an image to make it larger.

There’s nothing else to do in Lethbridge…

For a nominal monthly fee you are guaranteed something to do two nights a week.

Life’s better on quads…

Sure, some refs wear inline skates. But why would you when you can wear a pair of these babies?

Rollercon, Bootcamps and travel bouts…

Need an excuse to go to Vegas? Or Edmonton? Or Regina? You have one now. You’ll be invited to Vegas next July to party with thousands of other derby girls and refs… and learn stuff too. Plus there are Bootcamp training weekends where North America’s best skaters, refs and coaches will school you on all that is derby. Plus invitational scrimmages where you can play with some of Canada’s best skaters.

Speedskater Charles Hamelin has never complained about his thighs... GlobalTVBC Photo

Who needs a gym?

You get to train twice a week with us. Nothing motivates you more than gals in short shorts screaming at you to skate faster. And you WILL sweat, after we introduce you to the meat grinder.

Weight loss/gain…

If you’re a big guy or gal, you will drop at least 20 lbs. If you’re a little guy or gal, you will gain it all in muscle… In your ass and thighs.

Fisti Fetish and Mister Fister. Susan Knight photo.

You get to pick a derby name…

Creating your on-track persona is super fun!

You can design your ref outfit…

As long as it’s black and white and stripey, you’re good to go. Refs can customize a cute outfit! Or, if you’re a dude, you can make it badass. So go ahead and really create your alter ego.

You get to be in the spotlight…

Being on the track during a bout with the crowd cheering does the adrenaline and ego good.

You get to watch girls in fishnets skate around…

The Jester and Fatal Fantasy. Susan Knight photo

Let’s be honest, if the only reason you’re signing up to is to get yourself off, go to the Top Hat. But if you can appreciate the athleticism it takes for this sport, come on over.

You get to boss girls around…

Whether you were a know-it-all bitch as a kid on the playground or a shy-guy who never came out from behind your Atari, derby girls will look to you for knowledge, guidance and advice on how to improve their game. And you get to tell them what to do. If you’re already brimming with ego, you can come too, but we’ll knock you on your ass if you get out of line.

Melting pot of awesomeness…

Refs doing a pre-game safety check. Susan Knight photo

Roller derby is for big girls, little girls, jock girls, girls who have never played a team sport, girls with tattoos, girls without tattoos, girls who are gay, straight or bi, career girls, unemployed girls, students, mothers, grandmothers and aunts. Wherever you come from, you will be accepted. Check your intolerances at the door and hang with some pretty amazing people!

After-practice parties, after-bout parties, clean-your-bearings parties, theme parties…

Your social life will increase by ten-fold if you want it to. So will your resistance to alcohol. And we karaoke too!

AND THE NUMBER ONE REASON!!!

Refs look great in a pack! Susan Knight photo

We need you…

In a bout there is a head ref, 2 jammer refs and at least 2 more skating with the pack. Plus there are non-skating positions like jam timers, penalty trackers and scorekeepers. The refs and support crew are part of the team and essential to every league!

Got all that?
Now let’s squash the negative nellies…

“But I don’t know anything about roller derby, Cherri.”

Refs get in on the action sometimes! Susan Knight Photo

None of us knew much about derby either. You’ll be expected to study the rules outside of practice, but we’ll help you learn the rules through drills and scrimmaging!

“But I don’t know how to skate, Cherri.”
If you can stand on quads, we’ll teach you how to move in them.

“But I don’t own skates, Cherri.”
We have a growing collection of roller skates and safety gear we can loan out to you during practice. But we won’t turn you away if you show up in inlines and a bike helmet and want to skate with us. Mandatory safety gear: knee pads, wrist guards, elbow pads, helmet.

“But I don’t have time, Cherri.”

Ref have fun! (But not as much fun as derby girls) Susan Knight photo

It’s true; you have to be committed if you want to ref. Right now we practice twice a week, 2 hours per, and many of us skate an additional 4-6 hours per week to stay conditioned. But if you’re looking for a new activity to throw yourself into, this is it. And I guarantee you, it’s addictive. Our girls are dedicated and will give it their all at practice. We won’t let you down.

“I not sure about reffing, Cherri, but becoming a derby girl sounds pretty fun.”
Great! We want you as well!!! Get in touch!

So there you have it! We want YOU! (Yes, you!) If you’re interested, feel free to reply to this blog or find me on Facebook (Cherri Blaster) and I’ll point you in the right direction to get you started. Or check out our Facebook page… search Deathbridge Derby Dames. You won’t regret it! PROMISE!