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Random stuff from the Bronster... especially good to read if you happen to like me.

Monday, March 04, 2013

My First Year In Roller Derby

 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 speaking.
I got married the next day, and some of my new Derby friends were in attendance (and some of the last to leave!).

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 Beach!

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 that floor.
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.



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