Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hit Me Baby One More Time

I am just back from our Saturday morning practice - so recently that I'm still breathing a little heavy.  And I must say, today's practice was really a huge surprise for me.

I've missed several practices recently due to my knee problems, so I've really been feeling out of the loop, and way behind the pack.  I went on the track today expecting to lag behind, skip the drills that were beyond me, and generally feel a little frustrated with myself.  Yeah, I'm not good at cutting myself slack sometimes.

Instead, as I rolled onto the track for warm ups, I was amazed to feel myself stronger and steadier than ever.  Faster, too.  My confidence, which my knee issues had really done a number on, started to return.  It was wonderful.

After stretches, we started drills.  And what did we start with?  The dreaded shoulder check.  Now, I haven't been involved in any hitting drills yet.  We were just doing positional blocking when I began my latest streak of missed practices, and the few that I managed to attend, I had to skip the hitting drills for my knees' sake.  But I decided to participate this time.  If I didn't learn to hit, I'd never be a real roller derby girl.  And you know what?  It was fun!

And I mean really fun.  The first few times I felt kind of tentative, but I got the hang of it and started hitting harder!  It's a really great feeling when you slam up against another girl and feel them give way.  I even managed to knock someone down who is really much more skilled than I, and it felt wonderful!  (And I got knocked down myself, but that's just part of the game.)

After that, we did some scrimmaging.  That's another thing that I've been having to bow out of recently, even when I can be on skates at all, but of course, this time I had to go for it.  And I'll be truthful, a lot of time I was straggling along at the tail of the pack, scrambling to keep up, and doing little more than playing sentry, to tell the stronger girls when the opposing jammer was coming their way.  But it was still a blast.

I really have come a long, long way since last September when I first joined the team, the freshest of all fresh meat, with no skating experience, barely able to shuffle my way around the track, and falling on my rear.  I still have a long way to go before I'm ready to bout, but today's practice gave me hope that I will get there in the end, and be an asset to my team.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Roller Derby is such a pain in the... knees?

There's a practice going on tonight, right now, as I write, and this does not make me happy.

Why is this?  When I was a young, indestructible thing, I used to play volleyball a lot.  We played in a gym that had a very hard, tile floor.  My knees made the better aquaintance of that floor over, and over, and over, and over again.  No knee pads for me - I was proud of my pain tolerance and saw protective gear as a good way to wimp out.

Fast forward about fifteen years, and here I am, 30 something, and wanting to be a roller derby girl in the worst way.  I've got the skates.  I've got the drive.  I've got the protective gear (and my 19 year old self is shaking her head in disgust.)  And I've got a pair of traitor knees that have stored up every bit of pain from every time they slammed into that tile floor, and are punishing me with it now.  If I only knew the secret of time travel, I'd be heading back to those long-ago days and giving myself an earful!  But unfortunately, I do not know the secret of time travel, so instead I am sitting at home while my teammates practice, doing web searches for the best way to care for a pair of seriously abused knees.

It really makes me feel distressingly adult and responsible, but I must say to all those young things who think that you can get away with not taking care of yourself properly - yeah, you're going to be soooo pissed at yourself someday!  If you're going to be held back a couple decades down the road because of something you did when you were young, at least make sure it is something that you will still believe is worth it, not just playing tough and dumb!

Luckily, I still have enough pain-free days (or at least low-pain days) to get a significant amount of practice in.  I'm certainly not going to let the folly of my youth stop me from fulfilling this dream.  I guarantee you I'll be back on the track next practice!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Freshmeat Infernal Combustion's Stat

Another awesome practice today. Seems like I'm improving so quickly my mind can't keep up with it. Where is that timid girl stumbling around on her wheels? And who is this rough, tough roller derby girl who's taken her place? I'm feeling a little disorientated, but I like it! I got a slightly bloody lip while doing some scrimmage, and I don't know how I did it. I am quite pathetically proud of it!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Roller Derby: Bringing World Peace, One Household at a Time

Derby probably isn't going to give us world peace, but it has brought a little piece to my household. Let me back up and explain.

This past summer Monadnock Roller Derby (MRD) opened its doors to men and children ages 9 and up. My daughter, Autumn (she's 13–I state this so you know what I'm going through), immediately joined the girls team.

OK, ya got me. Join might be too strong of a word. Being forced might be the more appropriate statement. And no, there was no peace. But in my defense, my daughter is perfect for derby. She's stubborn, quick, agile and VERY competitive. 

As I was saying, Autumn joined the team. At first she thought of it as a way to (once again) one up mom. She quickly learned she was going to have to work hard to beat mom. Which was my goal along—working hard that is, not beating mom. I'm working even harder on her not beating mom. I know it's only a matter of time before she leaves me in the dust.

In the last month I've noticed some things. She's less quick to bite my head off. We have conversations! And I've noticed her spending more time in my company.

The upside to all this, is now when she pisses me off at home, I give her a check or three at practice and send her sprawling. The downside, she gives me a check or five and sends me sprawling.

So while derby isn't the answer to world peace, it may be the answer to peace in your home. Hubbies welcome, too.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Talk'n Derby

Talk’n Derby is our way of getting the word out. Our rollergirls are going to share the experience—from our freshmeat’s first day on the track to skate tips. If it’s derby related, we’ll blog about it. Hopefully along the way we’ll convince you that roller derby is for you. You will skate. You will smack that girl right on her ass. And you will enjoy it.

Where's the Ball?

Listen up fans and freshmeat, 'cause I'm only going to say this once.

There is no ball in derby.

Roller derby is a full contact sport played on an oval track. The bout (game) consists of two periods, each 30 minutes long. Each period is made up of jams (as many as will fit in a period). Jams are a maximum of two minutes long (but can be less) with a 30 second interval between jams. The lead jammer can call off a jam at any time.

The pack lines up on the track at the first start line with the two pivots in front. The jammers line up about 20 feet behind the pack on the jammer line. A single whistle blows to start the pack. A few seconds later a double whistle blow starts the jammers. The jammers sprint to catch up with the pack.

Now it starts to get interesting. The jammer comes up on the back of the pack and attempts to make it through the pack. The jammer is assisted by her own team members, while the opposing team blockers do everything legal (and sometimes not so legal) to keep the jammer from getting through.

The first jammer to make it through without incurring penalties takes on the status of lead jammer and can call off the jam at anytime. If no jammers make it through cleanly, there is no lead jammer, and the jam will last for two minutes.

Once the jammer is through the pack, she sprint around the track and catch up to the back of the pack—referred to as lapping the pack. This time (and every following lap for the jam) she will score one point for every opposing player's hip she passes. If she also laps the other jammer she gets a grand slam—5 points.

The jam ends with four whistles either when the two minutes are up or the lead jammer calls off the jam. If the jammer's lucky, she's survived to skate again. If not, well enough said.

Check out this video (Hammer City Roller Girls) to get an idea of how to play derby.