I haven’t written in a long time because I’ve been in a funk, as far as skating goes. Things were going well for a while. I actually got to play in my first bout (!!!) which was exhilarating. It was awesome to feel like a part of a win, even though I only played in one jam and was made a spectacular goat (when the other team controls the pack by trapping an opposing player–me). But I did it and it was awesome.
That same day, before the bout, I was running up the stairs in my hours in a frenzy, trying to make sure I was ready, when I felt a tweak in my calf. Nothing serious. It was the same pain I felt at Rollercon when I skated too many hours at a time for too many days in a row. The limp threw off my back and my other knee, so I decided I needed a break. I figured I’d rest it and it would get better, as it had before. I’ve been resting it for a month now and it’s getting worse.
Finally, I decided I needed more help. I got a referral to physical therapy, which I started last week. I get anxious about going into doctors with vague symptoms that come and go, but I’m a really good patient in that I’m able to show exactly which motions cause me pain. The PT discovered (which I already knew, but had forgotten) that I have loose ligaments, causing my joints to be a little more flexible than they should be. I found this out when I was 22 and had to have surgery on my shoulder which was dislocating by itself whenever I relaxed it. Of course, I haven’t had any problems since then, so I forgot. I’m not exactly sure what that means for my calf, other than learning that when I stretch, my joints are so flexible that it’s hard to stretch out the muscle well enough. Time for some foam roller work, rolling on a tennis ball, and some deep tissue massage.
This week, it was feeling pretty darn awesome. After spending almost four days in bed with a miserable cold, I walked around town without a trace of a limp. Wow, I’m better! Right? Maybe I was imagining my pain all along? I was almost back to my car and I felt a sharp “pop!” and shooting pain in my calf. I limped back to my car and am now icing it.
I’m really whiny about this. It’s not a major injury, nothing broken, nothing that won’t get better with time and PT, but it sucks to not be able to skate (or walk reliably). I feel like I’m missing out on important training and experience. I go to practice when I can just to sit on the bench, but it’s lonely. I get jealous that my husband is doing boot camp this year and I’m not (for now). I miss being a part of a pack. I miss that “I think I got it!” feeling that comes with learning a new skill. I miss my friends because I’ve been so sulky that I haven’t been very social.
I just have to remember that it’s temporary and that while it will take some work to get my fitness back, I’ve done it before and I can do it again.
After 6 months of skating with the Derby Justice League, cheap skate night at the rink, and on the bike paths, I finally got to tryout for the league and I passed!
I’m now officially a “prospect” on the league, which means I can now participate in practices and trainings. I still plan to keep reffing if time will allow, as I love my DJL crew. Between practice, DJL, and the upcoming Bettie Fit off-skates workouts (oh yeah, and work) my schedule will be packed! I’ll have to see how this works out. I already know that my work schedule won’t let me do all of it all the time, but I can at least do some of it most of the time.
The first day included the minimum skills that I already knew I could do, plus some I hadn’t done before, specifically hockey stops and power slides. I did better than I thought at some things and not as well as I know I could have on other things. But that’s how it goes, right? I did get some good feedback on my plow stops and also my hip bumps. That was good to hear because I had so little experience with contact prior to about a month ago.
The scrimmage was a challenge. My main goal was to skate safe and not be a hazard to other people. Based on the fact that I wasn’t pulled out part way through, I think I succeeded at that. I tried to look around, stay with someone, help my jammer, block their jammer…OMG. There is sooooo much happening at once. I need a few more sets of eyeballs. I also realized how two minutes can feel so long when you’re skating in a jam, yet so short when you’re trying to catch your breath after the last one.
Overall, lots to improve on but I’m proud of myself. I did something new even though it was scary. I took feedback and tried to use it. I got knocked around and kept getting up. I was told by a pretty heavy hitter that I don’t go down easily (at least not in the first half). I’m proud that I fed and hydrated myself well enough to get through the weekend without any issues (no headaches and minimal dizziness). I’m also happy that with all the knocking around, I only have a few bruises and soreness–no sharp pain anywhere, no limping.
Mostly I’m proud that I kept working on being a better skater and learning the game when I could have shrugged and walked away in January when I got sick. Or maybe I couldn’t. I tend to be stubborn when I put my mind to something.
Now comes the good part where I get to attend practices and learn how to do better!
Mid season try-outs are this weekend. Today is part one, minimum skills and drills. Tomorrow, scrimmage.
Nerves. My brain is my biggest enemy in this. It tries to over-think things. It chops down my confidence.
I know how to skate, I’ve passed my skills test twice. As far as scrimmaging, well I just have to remind myself that I’m only expected to do what I know. I need to skate safe, keep my wits about me, and strategy will follow. What need to do is let my intuition take over and let my brain take the back seat. Or better yet, tie it up and throw it in the trunk. My brain is an annoying back seat driver.
My bearings are clean, my body is hydrated, and I’m well slept. Here we go!
Last week was RollerCon, five days of roller derby bouts, on and off-skates training, fun, and debauchery. It was held in Las Vegas which is probably the last place I would choose to go to on vacation, but likely the most appropriate place to house several thousand derby girls (and guys) without getting kicked out of the venue.
It. Was. Awesome.
I admit, I was star struck by some world-class skaters doing amazing things on the track. I was star struck attending the classes with those very same skaters. I took rookie classes, but each class challenged me to try things just beyond my comfort zone, especially considering that the surface we were skating on was horrible (sport court on carpet…ugh).
But what I loved most from the classes was that the instructors seemed to have the same message at the end: Everyone starts out as a beginner, everyone gets frustrated, no one was born on skates. And even more importantly, don’t become a douche bag when you do develop some skills. Be nice to the new kids because we have all been the new kid. Feeling like the new kid, it was really inspiring.
Before I went to RollerCon, I set a goal for myself to participate in the open scrimmages they hold every night. Since I haven’t been scrimmaging with the Betties (just reffing), I wanted the chance to bust my scrimmage cherry before team try-outs in a couple of weeks. The “be nice to the new kid” message from my first day of classes inspired me to do this the first night. The idea of open scrimmage is that people of all skill levels line up and participate in jams with the four other people they are in line with. No teams, no pressure, no judgement. Supposedly it starts out with more rookie players and becomes more advanced as the night goes on. Maybe that’s true later in the week, but apparently not so much on the first night.
I was scared, but once I had my gear on, there was no turning back. I lined up along with everyone else. Soon I realized that these were not rookie skaters. I was lined up with a bunch of all-star skaters from all over the world. I told the people to the left and the right of me “I’m new, I’ve never scrimmaged before” and was met with surprised looks. “Never at rollercon?” “No, never at anywhere.” I know the game, I know how to skate, I just haven’t done it before. I got a few worried looks and was told “wow, you’re brave.”
My first jam I was told to hold the inside line. I did. And that’s about all I did. I don’t remember much of it, but I kept up with the pack. DEER IN HEADLIGHTS. My husband caught it all on video but I don’t want to watch it because I know I’ll be critical of myself instead of just being proud of going out there.
The second jam was better. This time I was able to keep my head. I got knocked down, got up, and caught up with the pack. This was not a slow pack! I was instructed to stay up front with the pivot, so that’s what I did. At one point, I found myself alone at the back of the pack and was able to get myself back up front with the pivot. Although I would have liked to be more aggressive with blocking, my hips did make contact with the jammer once and I stalled her for at least a second.
There are plenty of things I could mention that I did wrong, but I’m not going to because I’m super proud of myself for getting out there, getting back up after being knocked down, looking around me, and most of all, being able to keep thinking about where I want to be. It’s still a big leap to be able to apply what I know to what I do, but I can’t get there unless I try it.
The rest of the week continued with more skating, pool parties, classes, and amazing bouts. Pacing myself to be able to skate for 4-5 hours a day plus party into the wee hours was a challenge, but considering how much skating I did and how little sleep I got, I’d say I did pretty well.
Team try outs are in less than two weeks. Part of me is really nervous and the other part of me is ready to just put myself out there and do my best. My brain is my biggest enemy, so the more I’m able to let the nerves go and just skate, the better I’ll do.
Well I haven’t updated in a long time. When I wrote my last blog, I was supposed to referee my first bout as an outside pack ref. We got rained out and there was no bout. Rain in June? Doesn’t happen. I was told it hadn’t rained on that day for the past 30 years or so. I was disappointed, mostly because that was our last home bout for a while. There will be other chances and I plan to take them.
One of the reasons why this was our last home bout for some time is because our track is only available when the showgrounds don’t have other things going on, like carnivals and horse shows. Apparently summer is a busy time for carnivals and horse shows, so we’re on “blackout” pretty much through the month of July. We need a home, preferably one with more roof and less horses.
At any rate, that’s not keeping me from skating. RollerCon is in 3 weeks! Five days in Vegas, packed with skills trainings, bouts, scrimmages, and parties! Vegas is a city that doesn’t hold much attraction to me (particularly in the summer) unless it is jam packed full of roller derby. Because I haven’t been practicing with the team since late January (referee practice isn’t quite the same), I re-did my minimum skills assessment yesterday to show that I have the basic skills necessary to skate safely in the trainings and maybe even the open scrimmages.
Last time I assessed, I was super nervous. I wanted to vomit. I couldn’t sleep the night before. I was struggling with the “I suck” comments in my head. This time around was completely different, at least inside my head. First of all, the assessments were only for the purpose of skating at RollerCon. But more importantly, I went into it knowing I can do it and not sweating the parts that I didn’t do perfectly. The contact skills (hits, blocks, etc.) were what I had the least experience with (not something refs practice on each other so much) but I felt comfortable enough on my skates that I could at least give it a good effort. I fell, I got back up.
I passed. But what I’m really proud of isn’t passing the assessments, but going into it with confidence, having fun, and coming out of it feeling good about myself. Confidence is the skill that’s been hardest for me to build. It will also be the skill I need most for mid-season try outs next month. Particularly if I make the team, Idon’t need those “I suck” comments to be holding me back.
The Brawlin’ Betties’ next bout is this weekend and, provided I don’t self destruct before then, I’m going to be an Outside Pack Ref! That’s right. Me. In a bout. With skates on. I’ve been reffing the practice scrimmages, practicing calling penalties in my car, in front of the computer or in the parking lot, and I’ve got my stripes. I’m having serious self-confidence issues but hey, what else is new?
Yeah, DopaMean Jean and I will be the freshest baby zebras out there. For those who haven’t been to a bout there are 7 skating refs. 4-5 refs skate on the inside of the track, while 2-3 skate on the outside. I’ll be on the outside, which puts me right in between the skaters and the audience. I’ve heard rumors that this is the position with the most potential for huge crashes, but I’ve also seen some big spills on the inside of the track, as well as when people are just standing still. I’m slightly worried about landing in the audience but hey, that’s why they sit up front, right?
I’ve gotten better at seeing penalties, not all of them, but some. The part I’m struggling with is calling them out and using derby sign language to signal to the inside refs and NSO’s. Between now and Saturday I’ll be spending a lot of time here http://www.rosecityrollers.com/media/video/ I’ve found that they have really nice quality videos and I can actually see the numbers on the skaters shirts and call penalties before the (annoying) announcers comment on them. I’ve also tried watching videos on http://derbynewsnetwork.com/ but the image quality isn’t all that great on my computer.
The forecast for Saturday is predicting a chance of showers. Because we have an outside track, rain spells demise. So if you happen to see mother nature over the next few days, please put in a good word for the Betties and ask her to spare us the crappy weather.
P.S. Sometimes I wonder why, as shy as I am, I keep putting myself in situations that are so far outside my comfort zone. Yet I keep wanting it and I keep doing it.
Well obviously I haven’t been keeping up with this blog as much as I would like. Between working, kids, marriage, working some more, ref practice, and a weekly trip to the rink, I feel like I’ve barely had time to breathe. Even my fun is exhausting at this point. I need a day of nothing, and I predict that Monday will be that day. Absolutely nothing planned. And that nothing just may include a beach skate or a run. See how long my nothing lasts?
I meant to blog about the Betties’ most recent bout, but it kind of came and went in a blur. The Betties won 242-48. Pretty brutal. I worked the electronic scoreboard for the first half and trained someone to take over for the second half so that I could take some photos. It was SO MUCH FUN taking photos! Sports photography is definitely a (blurry) challenge, but a fun one.
The last photo is me with some girls from the Derby Justice League. I’m the blonde in front.
The following weekend was Battle for the Coast, a two-day tournament between 10 teams. I got to see my first men’s bout, which was pretty awesome to watch. The men’s bout seemed like such a different kind of game. The pack was fast, the jammers were fast, there was lots of jumping and sliding, and did I mention it was fast? In comparison, the Bay Area Derby Girls who took first place in the tournament, seemed to win with amazing defense rather than balls-to-the wall jamming. More strategy, less brute force. That’s the way I saw it anyway.
Currently we’re preparing for the next Betties bout on June 4th against Central California Area Derby Atomic Assault. The most exciting part for me is that I have a chance of making my referee debut as an Ouside Pack Ref. I’m studying my rules, practicing calling out penalties by my self while driving to work, and spent about an hour today working on my tomahawk stops. I feel pretty in control of my skating but working on my confidence to blow my whistle loudly and call penalties. I have to admit that I’m nervous about making a bad call or having a collision that sends me out into the crowd. I’d LOVE to be out there at the bout, but I also know the referee list hasn’t been finalized yet, so things could change. Fingers crossed!