My first year in Roller Derby –
Rainbow Smite 25 MRD's Furies, Manchester.
I turned up to Sporting Edge, Openshaw
a week late than the Zero to Hero's starting date due to being in a
show the week it started (my alter ego is as a comedy improvisor,
which means I perform up and down the country, and sometimes these
shows get in the way of my skating).
I went to an MRD Free Skate, met with
Bethan Coomber and Yak Effive. Bethan was there to catch Yak and I
up as we'd both missed week one. I was just excited to be back on
skates again, I've always loved skating as a child and still had my
skates from a show I was in a few years earlier where we did a
Starlight Express section. I learned how to fall and what kit I
needed and got some lovely comments from who I was later to discover
was future team mate Abby Dasher.
My first ever laps score was 21.
February was spent learning, and
learning hard and quick. I passed all my practical minimum skills
pretty quickly, but that dreaded rules test kept biting me! I'd not
done an exam since I was 16! (benefit of working in 'the arts') so I
kept messing up.
It wasn't until half way through
February that I finally found out what Roller Derby actually was.
The week Tori Bee said “next week you will need your mouth guards”
I thought I'd better do some research into what I was letting myself
in for... I got myself to YouTube... and nearly had a heart attack.
I'd come into this completely blind, I just wanted to skate and this
seemed like the only potential outlet for it. Watching this footage
suddenly made me realise what this journey was going to be. Weirdest
thing though... I felt ready.
I had to pick a name though, and quick.
This was also lost on me at the time and I thought I'd just go for
something easy and simple... For a short time, I was The Edge number
25 (24 was my preferred number as it's the number I perform in, but
that was taken by my 'not wife' Rachel 'Skatanico' Hodson).
Also I bought my own skates this month
and my laps immediately climbed over the 25 mark! It really does
make a difference ;)
This month MRD's first Ladies B Team
formed, The Phoenix Furies, and I was honoured to be part of their
first roster! The month was spent working together as a team, and
for me, basically getting my head around Default Strategy! I really
have to DO things over and over for them to sink in... it took a
while. Our coaches were amazing, very patient and knew exactly how
far to push us. We were getting there.
Our first bout was on the horizon,
there were two things in the way of me taking part, 1) the dreaded
rules test (I was on try number 3 at this stage) and 2) my wedding.
I was determined to do this bout no matter what. I swotted up good
and proper and managed to get my rules done with a week to spare
(which is good as I'd not even scrimmaged at this point). My first
and only scrimmage before the bout was pretty epic, being floored by
Pyscho-Sis and managing to get straight back up made me feel pretty
bad ass ;)
So with that out of the way the next
thing. I was getting a lot of advice, mostly from people saying “are
you mad?! It's your wedding THE NEXT DAY what if something
happens... etc etc... “, but I'm pretty fearless/stupid about these
things so I put it to the back of my mind and went to play with my
team. My husband to be wasn't allowed at the bout as we'd made a
deal not to see each other for a few days before the wedding, and the
only bruise I got on the day, weirdly enough, was on my ring finger!
The bout against the Preston Roller
Girls was amazing, looking at the footage now though, we were so
green (and we were playing in black!) but we learned lots, and bonded
well. None of us minded that we lost, it was a close bout and we
were just so happy to have our cherry popped, metaphorically
I got married the next day, and some of
my new Derby friends were in attendance (and some of the last to
The bout taught us a lot. The drills
were getting harder, the endurance was tougher, and the pay off was
amazing. The Furies were heading for bout number two, I was heading
for my honeymoon. I was sad to know that Furies bout number two
would be without me, but also excited that our team was gelling so
well and we were getting, dare I say it, much better!
June – July
Most of June and July was taken up by
my epic honeymoon, but even while in Australia and America I kept up
the skating, burning myself horribly in the Californian sun at Venice
Back off my honeymoon and trying to get
back into skating was tough. I'd eaten really badly for 6 weeks, and
hadn't skated as much as I wanted to while away. I felt it, I felt
it hard. In the couple of months I was away it felt like I'd missed
EVERYTHING. There were new teammates who I didn't know, I felt like
people had 'overtaken' me, or at the very least, that I'd floundered
behind. My first scrimmage back was painful to say the least, I was
exhausted so easily, and my jamming (which I was working on hard
before I went away) was shocking. All I had done to this point was
concentrate on jamming. There wasn't a whole lot I knew about
blocking. This was about to change.
Our third bout (second with me playing)
was zooming up, I just managed to get in on my 3 A's (Attitude,
Ability and Attendance) and I was excited to bout again, it had been
an age. Since the last bout I'd learned a lot more about strategy
and technique, but my endurance was still suffering. Also since the
last bout, a name change! The Edge just wasn't cutting it, and
during a photo shoot the ever present Abby Dasher piped up that due
to my colourful exterior I should look at a play on 'Rainbow Brite'
for a name. Rainbow Smite was born, and she's never looked back.
So, we were all set to play the Furness
Firecrackers. I was an 'emergancy' jammer, and was really hoping to
be called upon. My blocking was still at the baby stage, I'd still
spent most of my time concentrating on jamming. The bout was
intense, it was hard work, and I was not at all impressed with my
blocking, I just didn't seem to understand what was going on most of
the time, and I was not called on to jam. Oh... and we won :D
Finally a win for the Furies, we were ecstatic.
I was pretty disappointed. It took me
a long time to look at the footage. But when I did it helped me to
realise what I could do better (I can't recommend shooting your bouts
enough! So much happens in the heat of the moment that you forget
later... think about it ;) ). It seemed blocking was my future, so
when I went along to take part in a Mixed bout in Liverpool at the
end of the month, I threw myself into that (my team won).
October saw a Captain change for the
Furies, Mah-Rollin left us to join the Checkerbroads and Bootay
Treatment stepped up as new Captain! It saw a change for me too.
Most of the previous year I'd been only focussing on jamming, I was
sad about how my path was changing, but once I embraced it I decided
I was going to be the best blocker I could be! And I really started
getting into it! I used my jammer head to figure out where the
jammer would like/need me to be. I got my head around c shaped walls
and various other drills and really started to feel where I was
needed on the track.
By this stage I really started to feel
like I was getting back into it. I was getting my confidence back.
Things were finally starting to stick, I really felt like I'd got my
head around how this game worked. I was getting on so much better
with my teammates and it really started to feel like we were getting
close to 'group mind'. The only downside with this month was that my
rehearsal schedule was taking up so much of my time, so I was worried
I was missing out on lots.
TWO BOUTS! So excited to be playing
two bouts this month! The first was against the Evolution Roller
Girls, and it really felt like we'd hit our stride! Everything
seemed to work, our walls were great, we felt like we were on fire.
We headed to Dublin the following week, and that was a slightly
different story. However, it was a good learning experience on how
to keep cool and stick to what you know... although personally their
floor terrified me, I was convinced I was going to hurt myself on
December rounded off with a fantastic
bootcamp (the first I'd been to) at Rainy City in Oldham. It was a
boot camp for Jammers. I wanted to see if there was anything more I
could learn, yes I'd not let go of this idea yet... in the scrimmage
I won a certificate! For Best Blocker ;)
January, second training session back.
I was so excited to get cracking on year two of my derby life, I
really felt like I was back, like I'd figured it all out and was
ready to really go for it. It was just coming up on my 1 year in
Derby, a few of us were celebrating it as we had started at the same
time. Then it happened. I consider my honeymoon my first set
back... this was my second (and please, my last!).
During practice, while scrimmaging, I
fell. I fell badly. There was a noise I will NEVER forget, and a
lot of peoples facial expressions that are etched on my brain
forever. I was to find out later in hospital that I'd broken my
ankle in three places, AND dislocated it. I knew when starting this
sport something would happen to me, and I knew it would be my ankles,
but in all honesty, I thought maybe a bad sprain... not this. At the
time of writing I am one operation down (another to go) and 6 weeks
in plaster. This has been the hardest part of my derby life (if not
just my 'actual' life), Watching people do what I can't, that my
body is against me at the moment.
I've been to a few practices, a couple
of scrimmages, and a couple of bouts. I enjoy them when I'm there,
but going home, no sorry- being driven home by someone because I wont
be able to drive again for months – is when it kicks in. Don't get
me wrong, my derby family have been amazing, but it's hard to fit in
when you can't do the one thing that brings you all together.
I am hoping to be skating again by the
end of the summer, so fingers x'd for me. Til then I will be
supporting MRD in any way I can, and trying not to get TOO jealous.