Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Practicing with another league

Last weekend a group of us went up to Gainesville to watch and play sloshball (kickball + beer), and left with an invitation to join in on some GRR practices. Last month (or the month before?) we were invited up to one of their practices to join in on a scrimmage before their bout against Tampa and it was pretty cool. After that, two of their players, LeBrawn & Rage, came and coached part of our Saturday practice. Well anyway, at sloshball Rage let us know that the board had talked it over and said they would like to have us practice with them twice a month.

While I’m sort of embarrassed that they were talking about us at their board meeting and decided we suck enough that they want us around twice a month, I’m really excited about it. Because hey, we do suck when compared to their awesome WFTDA apprentice selves, but practicing with them twice a month is going to make us a hell of a lot better. It worked out really well though because every last Tuesday of the month our rink is booked because of a ballroom dancing class and we have a bout this weekend and need all the practice days we can get.

Because of the short notice I wasn’t able to get off early from work, so Bonesaw and I arrived about 45 minutes late when they were just finishing up land drills (kind of glad I missed them, tbh). We geared up and did a weaving forwards and backwards paceline and then this one pushing out line (everyone is on the edge of the track and each person pushes them off the track; I’m glad to say I did better than last time, but I’m still pretty bad at it). Then we sprinted as a line and the girl leading the warm ups yelled for us to tomahawk when the whistle was blown, and when the whistle blew I did a tomahawk and I didn’t fall and nothing bad happened! The fact that I’m doing tomahawks is still a surprise to me.

We did a four wall fanning type drill and then a 3vs2 type of drill where 3 girls were blocking against a jammer and a jammer assist. I was the jammer once and I sucked. I couldn’t get through even though I had one of the most badass players as my assist.

I look up to LeBrawn Maimes so much, she’s beast!

After that we did some scrimmaging! I had no idea that we would get a chance to scrimmage, but I brought my black & white scrimmage shirts just in case (I still need to put my name on the back, my number is there but I’m going to put my name on there when I get a chance). I was put on the white team because I was the only one out of our 5 girls that remembered to bring scrimmage shirts (and all of us were wearing black), and one of the girls from my team wore someone else’s shirt to be on the white team.

It took a while for me to get my head into the scrimmaging mindset, so in the beginning I was just awful. The scrimmage really showed me what I need to work on when I’m blocking (getting out of the jammer’s way, being more dynamic in the pack, not doing a job the other blockers are already doing, slowing down). The problem with our team is that the only time we can actually play like that is during bouts. We have anywhere from 6-11 people at any given practice so when we “scrimmage” we just do jam after jam of the same people and it is exhausting; sometimes the coach likes what we’re doing so we’ll have jams longer than 2 minutes and jammers are never allowed to call it off so our scrimmages are never similar to bouts at all.

GRR had enough people at practice to have two full lines on each team. I want our league to be big enough to do that! Honestly, I’d love for us to have enough people to fill a roster without having to borrow from other leagues. I remember when the season first started and I was worried I would never roster because there were so many skaters. Half the team basically up and left due to scheduling issues, burnout, and injuries. It sucks.

I’m so grateful that we have the opportunity to practice with them so we can work with players above our skill level and actually get some real scrimmaging time in. Also, they’re super forgiving about the fact that we’re not at their level and I love that. I sound really mushy about it all, but that’s because I am. I just want to hug ALL THE DERBY PEOPLE.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

And then she took my toe stops

Work has been super busy so I haven’t had a chance to write about Saturday’s practice, but it was interesting and scary as hell at the same time. We had Lethal Dose, a coach and player from another league, come down and lead us in some footwork drills. She was a very awesome coach to have and I’m glad we got to work with her.

We started out doing 180° turns by making your legs wide and stepping. I noticed that I could do it 100% fine when I was going right but I couldn’t turn left (I’m not an ambi-turner!). We then moved onto a back spin move where you would slide one foot from center in a semi-circle while the other foot was on the two front wheels and pivoted the turn so you were facing the other direction. I could do it just fine if I was going right, but going left was a disaster and every time LD looked at me I was messing up on my left side. She told me to try it one more time and if I didn’t get it right then she was going to take my toe stops, which I guess were messing me up. I didn’t do it and she removed my toe stops for me and said I could have them back at the end of practice.

And then I fell like 800 times.

New bruise for my troubles

Not having toe stops is bad for me. I go up on my toe stops a lot, and when that happens when you’re not wearing them you straight up bellyflop. After falling over and over again trying to do a backspin we moved on to hopping 180°. I was just fine with that, but still very bad at doing it on my left side (I eventually got it down, but it took a while).

Then came some cone work. We weaved, lateral hopped, galloped, hockey stopped, and a few other things. There were some other things worked in there, but my mind sucks because it happened several days ago. Last night before practice I put my toe stops in and it was so, so nice.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The bruises have faded, but the pain remains

Three weeks ago today I had a couple of crummy falls at practice. The first time I fell I landed really hard on my skate (or the other girl’s skate, I’m not really sure) and I ended up with extreme tailbone pain. At first it was just pain on the impact, pain that my skate had tried to go up my bum. I tried to skate it off a little and then I took a short break where I just stretched and didn’t sit down because the pain sucked. The rest of practice was pretty craptastic because I was distracted and scared by the other fall. That distraction caused me to fall super hard on my side resulting in the beauty that was Claudia

Well, Claudia has faded completely now, but my tailbone is still giving me problems. The first day after the fall I could barely move or get out of bed and sitting was an absolute nightmare. That weekend I still went to practice and the Rock vs Rap scrimmage (even though several people told me I should probably not skate in it) and I continued to go to practice and our home bout the next weekend and all that good stuff. But yet, the pain remains. Any time I sit down or get up I’m in pain (although it’s considerably lessened since it happened). I told myself that I would go to the doctor if it was still horrible after a week, but it has gotten a lot better than it was before. I also looked into tailbone injuries and saw that the only thing a doctor can actually do is take an x-ray to confirm it is broken and then write a prescription for pain pills and stool softeners (which is very understandable because for the first 5 days it hurt to even fart!). I’m 99% sure mine is just bruised, so I should not be complaining.

But yeah, three weeks ago I landed on a skate and my butt still hurts. I’m not saying derby injuries are all that glamorous, but I know for a fact that I have one of the least glamorous injuries ever.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Helping the new meat!

So yesterday’s practice was interesting. Earlier in the day I had gone home because I was sick and ended up sleeping the entire day away. I wanted to go because I thought that once I got there I would want to say, “Screw this cold!” and skate anyway. Instead I decided to watch the brand new fresh meat do the land drills (because it is hilarious to see people in pain) and then I helped them put on the gear from our donated gear bag. I eventually got sick of not being on skates so I put mine on (I had loaned out all of my gear, so I was gearless) and went to go help a girl on the wall (she eventually came off of the wall by the end of practice!).

The vets saw me on skates so called me over to watch what they were doing so I skated in the center of the track with our ref and tried to see what it was like to be a ref. Clearly you have to be super observant, and my brain is just not trained as a ref. I was just seeing where there were holes in the walls and what the girls needed to do. I have skater brain rather than ref brain, I think. When they were taking a break Looney, who was coaching fresh meat, asked me if I would come over and work on the basic stuff with the super new fresh meat while she went over more advanced stuff with our soon-to-be- testing fresh meat.

I have learned that I am not a good teacher by any stretch of the imagination. We skated in a circle for a while working on scooter pushes and attempting crossovers, and then moved to a bit of sticky skating. The biggest problem I had was that my fresh meat just kept going off to the edge of the wall because they hurt. What? You can’t just quit in the middle of the drill! But yeah, they just took a minute at the wall and got back to it, so I figured I would let them since it was their first practice and they were all hurting even though they’d only been on skates for an hour. Plus, they’ll never have another coach as forgiving as I am. Everyone else can be the slave driver.

I got bored with just going in circles, so Looney suggested I set up some cones so they could try one foot glides. Out of our five brand new freshies, three of them could already do it (and do it well!) on both feet. For those three, I had them move on to t-stops while one worked on one foot glides and the other worked on just skating and staying up. The girl that was on the wall in the beginning eventually fell (forward) and then couldn’t get up by herself. She’s going to have to learn pretty quick once it comes time for their falls and everything like that. Last week at practice we did laps where we started on our stomachs and backs and then had to spring up and sprint. She’s got a long way to go if I had to use both of my hands and a lot of force to get her up off the floor. I really hope that she sticks with it because out of our 5 freshies she was the only one ready with all of her gear.

At the end we had a mandatory league meeting (which was the only reason I went to practice in the first place), so practice was cut a bit short. I imagine the freshies are going to appreciate the shortened practices today and Thursday (the rink isn’t available for our full practice time so we can only be in there for an hour), but next week? They’re in for some pain and I don’t have to be the one to give it to them! I’m actually pretty excited about a few of them because two of the better skaters are guys that want to be refs, and we could seriously use some more refs! Right now we have two, so if we had two more that would be awesome!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

OCRD vs South Florida

On Monday we got some homework from our coach, “Homework assignment Vets! I want you to write down a list of pros and cons about the bout for me. What are your thoughts about yourself, the refs, your team, and the coaching. This gives me a chance to hear your stories without using our practice time to do so.”

I was going to do a full write-up on the bout, but I think my homework really says a lot about the bout without me having to do a new post. Below is an edited version of what I sent to our coach.

  • Good communication in the pack
  • Pack aware of jammer location, informing others of upcoming jammer
  • On the knee starts were awesome, I enjoyed that they got us moving faster and we didn’t have any super slow and drawn out starts
  • Very few out of play issues on our side as compared to the last two bouts
  • Played as a team rather than individuals

  • Too many penalties
  • Too many mistakes made near the end, possibly due to tiredness? (still skating short, one day our team will have enough people to have a full roster and it will be awesome!)
  • Umm…we didn’t win?

    Thoughts on myself:
  • Way too much falling, could be due to bad stance, no balance, unpreparedness for hits?
  • Majorly need to improve: balance, stance, endurance, hits (especially hip checks), quick feet, lateral movement, general skating skills, breaking up walls, getting up faster, and rejoining the pack quickly
  • Need to be more aware of the other jammer’s location when I am jamming
  • Need to fight more when trying to get out of the pack, I don’t believe I pushed the wall as hard as I could have; I would like to be a more aggressive jammer
  • I’m proud that I got lead jammer twice, and I want to work hard to make sure that I get lead jammer and points more often when jamming; I seriously need to improve my speed and endurance for this to happen

    Thoughts on refs:
  • Made very fair calls on my majors (not counting my first major, because I have absolutely no idea what it was, so I have no idea if it was fair) – their calls made me realize that I straddle the line without even realizing I’m doing it, so I need to make a concentrated effort to stay on the damn track so I don’t get more track cuts in the future
  • Did not like how the refs were slow to call off the jams, especially when the jammers had to signal for an entire half of the track.

    Thoughts on team:
  • As a team, we didn’t use our learned skills in the bout (stepping into a hit, turning and hitting, putting our chest into the blockers, gut hits); I want to make an effort to try to use them more during our scrimmages at practice so they can possibly become second nature
  • Bench was more supportive than at the last bout
  • In my opinion, everyone’s level of playing and spirits were more elevated

We lost 212 to 160, but the score was within 10 points for a majority of the bout. We tried our hardest and can only get better!

BoneSaw and I hitting each other during the warm-up
photo by UnSENCERed photography

Clearly I found something interesting on the ground
photo by UnSENCERed photography