Saturday, 18 December 2010

Snow and Sci-fi

Today me and a few of the girls were supposed to be bouting against the Royal Windsor Rollergirls (closed-door) while a few of the others ventured up to Newark to watch the Lincolnshire Bombers-hosted event Silent Fight and see BB Bombshell play in Team Amazon against Team Titch.

However, after a stress fuelled exchange of facebook messages we were down to 6 players and 1 ref in 2 cars, in heavy snow. It was not to be. So... no bouts til March for me. Arse.

On the upside, I met with the events manager of the Newport Centre yesterday to discuss arrangements for our debut bout on January 15th which was incredibly exciting. Tickets are now on sale:

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

There's disappointment in your eyes...

So they were supposed to be shooting lasers into my eyes tomorrow, but last Wednesday right before training the head honcho from the clinic ccalled me and said the surgeon cancelled. No reasons given, it just wasn't happening any more. I was distraught to say the least, and it was the cherry on the cake already iced in hard emotional blows and sadness. I would have been on the train home now, and then reclining in the luxurious warmth of my parent's cosy living room, giddy with the anticipation of at least 20/20 vision (if not better) unaided by cumbersome specs or incorrigible lenses trying to escape my orbits during a shoulder check. It is not to be.

Despite my initial breakdown, I am a fairly robust character (I am a derby girl, after all) and after sitting out of training and wallowing in my own sorrow for a while I started to think about rescheduling. The next day I was informed that the dates on offer were 13th or 27th of January. The former meaning I would have to give up organising our debut bout, which I will now not be able to skate in for absolutely no good reason as I won't have had surgery, but the team has already been picked. Absolutely not. I love organising it. The latter will mean that I won't have trained in the lead up to our intra-league public debut on 26th February, so won't play in that bout either.

I'm really lucky to be able to get it done and it's something I know if I don't do now I never will, but I tried so hard to organise it so that I would miss out on as little as possible and now I feel like I'm missing out on everything! FML.

Thursday, 25 November 2010


Last night we held our first ever bout! I can't quite get over the excitement of it all - both intraleague teams (more info when we debut in February!) were down on numbers and we had to cut it short by 15 minutes as our hall booking wasn't quite long enough, but it was still a bout!

I think the other team won by a handful of points and we finished on sixty-something to fifty-something. Somehow I managed not to get anywhere near as battered as I do in scrimmage, but I think I was probably the only one. It was totally different to scrimmage though, there was a totally different atmosphere and everyone was so focused. The refs (all SEVEN of them! That's like, a whole set of refs!) made calls confidently and loudly, called time-outs when there were problems and generally did an awesome job of keeping us in line. My old mucker and now the Rt. Honorable Head Ref, Chaz Tizer was very diplomatic and is going to be a derby ref to own all derby refs (yeah, even Ballistic Whistle). The NSOs were really well organised even though some of them had never even seen us train before, and head NSO Clutsy Springfield had managed to source a fantastic totally pro-looking computer scoreboard and projector for us! Also my jamming is coming along rather nicely, and I dished out some rather tasty shoulder checks.

I'm a bit sad (still, yeah I know, stop whinging) that I won't be skating in January's bout but I'm immensely excited about it now regardless. The Brawlers have a lot in store for them and I'm so lucky to be part of it.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Kitty Comes To Town

Friday saw the first of two sessions we were lucky enough to have with VRDL's Kitty DeCapitate, a friend of BB's from Oz. It didn't get off to the best start as we only had half of the hall we usually have and there had been a leak in the roof, resulting in a carpet being left underneath the leak to absorb the water. However, she did some good drills with us  including some stepping, leaping, and jumping ones we were all a bit horrified by to begin with but actually performed well in. I was expecting to be pretty wiped afterwards but as it was all so skill-based I wasn't and so was even more hyped for the next day.

On Saturday we had our smaller hall (but the whole of it) for 4 hours, and Kitty did blocking, multitasking and jamming drills with us. It was all really useful stuff and right at the end she gave us a really simple tip on lateral movement and asked us to give it a go for a few minutes to cool down. I think our collective ability in that area increased more in the following five minutes than it had in the last five months. We didn't scrimmage so again I didn't leave feeling physically exhausted and beaten up like I'd hoped to, but it was a great experience. Hopefully she's given some drills to the coaches to do with us in the future.

I just checked and I've only got four more training sessions and one closed-door intraleague bout (first one ever!) before I get my eyes done. Eeeeep!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Big news

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. As yesterday laid down to rest and today was only just beginning, the Tiger Bay Brawlers travel team was announced. It's an exciting time to be a Brawler and I'm so proud and excited for everyone who made it, but I was hit by what felt like the emotional equivalent of seven hip checks from Gotham Girls' Beyonslay. I've known for a while that I wouldn't be able to skate because of having laser eye surgery before Christmas and the recovery period, but I guess I hadn't really accepted the reality of it. I did try to plan the surgery around when I speculated our first bout would be, and informed the coach that I'd like to be able to skate if possible but it's all been planned at pretty short notice and so hasn't worked out for me. I'm so bummed.

No-one likes a whinger though, so I'd better chin up and tell you about the silver lining to this enormous black cumulonimbus. Firstly, as I will be spending a few days either side of Christmas doing sweet F.A. I volunteered to be on the bout organising committee, and landed myself the job of Event Organiser/Director/Manager/Whatever. It's a bit intimidating and a lot of responsibility, but I'm so into it. If I can't skate int he first TBB bout, I think organising the whole shebang comes in a close second in terms of achievement- if it all goes well.

Also, I have new wheels. I've been hankering after a slim wheel for a while now but the price of importing is ridiculous, and the choice of wheels you can buy in the UK are pretty darn expensive too. Luckily for me the lovely little skater formerly known as RockNLola (until someone else registered it on the twoevils master roster) recently went to the states and picked me up some Atom Omegas which cost me £52 for 8. So far I've only skated half a session on them and they seem pretty good.

The night before I got them I had been to a roller disco in Southampton for Peril Flynn's birthday, and got in some good practice at hopping under the guise of dancing, and I'm hoping having slim wheels will only help my agility more. Which reminds me, here's a tip: NEVER EVER SKATE WITHOUT KNEE PADS. You can't trust other people not to knock you over and as a derby girl you will only ever fall on your knees. Suffice to say that was a lesson well learned.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

WFTDA Championship Final

I'd like to post here about the events of this bout, but as it was only streamed I missed it and haven't been able to watch it. Guess I'll have to wait for the DVD :( Congratulations to the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Halloween Fundraiser

So on Saturday night we held our il--fated Halloween fundraiser. It seemed doomed form the start as first the venue could only give us from 10.30pm onwards, then it closed down. Then we got another venue, but we could only have it until half past midnight. This turned out not to be so bad, and being able to decorate beforehand was a definite bonus. We had 3 bands which were really good and everyone got their groove on, a raffle which went down a treat, and some games including one where you stuck your hand in mystery holes and guessed what was inside. It was a bit grim really. Apple bobbing was also very popular! I think in the end we managed to make around £800 to split 50/50 with the Pakistan flood appeal. Huzzah!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

And Another!

WAAAAAAAHOOOOOO!!! Tiger Bay Brawlers' first public bout will be on 15th January 2011 in our own fair city of Cardiff! Well, Penarth but it's not far away. It's so very exciting.

Sadly for me, I won't be on the travel team as I'm having laser eye surgery on 15th December and have to have a month off skating. There's no way I'd be able to get up to bout standard between now and December but I guess I'll get reading up on my NSO stuff instead!

The team are psyched for it too, but I think it's gonna hit home soon that this shit is real now, we're not just playing at it anymore and we are going to have to do it in front of people who have paid money to watch us. I'm so excited to find out who's going to be on the travel team!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Bout Date

We have our first travel team bout date! We will be playing the London Rockin' Rollers B team on 19th March at their place. This is getting very scary.

Monday, 25 October 2010

GRG ref bootcamp and scrimmage

This weekend a few of the Glasgow Rollergirls came down with their ref Doc Skatan to host a referee bootcamp for us, then scrimmage with us on the Sunday with a few of the Bristol Harbour Harlots thrown in too. I've no idea how it was, because I wasn't there. SULK. I met GRG when six Brawlers travelled to Glasgow to film an episode of the quiz show Eggheads (yes, really) and they were great so I'm sure everyone had a really rad time. The episode of Eggheads will be airing next year at some point.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Random Publicity

As part of another seemingly derby-filled weekend which featured a 3 hour committee meeting on Friday night and the usual 3 hours training on Sunday, five of us met up in town on Saturday to have pics taken for this newspaper article. The reason we were involved is not strikingly obvious I agree, but our team rep works in a shop in one of the arcades and bagged us some free publicity (althhough we weren't actually mentioned at all, even in the photo caption in the print version which read "The girls from The Roller Derby Team launch and hand out the new arcades leaflet." and then listed our mispelled names. "The Roller Derby Team"? Oh well).

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Shop & Shoot

Today was a good day. TBB's lovely Peril Flynn took me to the parcel depot a whopping 10 miles away to pick up my delivery all the way from The Bruised Boutique over the pond. They're a derby run store and answered all of my emails really quickly. Highly recommended if you can't get what you want UKside. I bought limited edition leopard print Smith Scabs and I am enraptured with them. They are pure furry protective joy and now I will be able to throw myself on the floor as much as I want without fear of nasty bruises on my knees and impending mobility problems. I also upgraded my nasty Anarchy elbow pads to some nice open Pro-tec ones and invested in a decent skate tool with a fancy bearings press and axle rethreader- not that I can see myself needing to rethread my axles in the forseeable future but hey, it's orange. I also happened upon the cutest ever piece of luggage yesterday on my search for a new skate bag, and knew on the spot I had to own it. It's a wheeled case in this fabric:

Then after a swift costume change we lugged our kit with us on the 30 minute walk into Cardiff city centre and skated around the bustling Saturday shoppers in the High Street Arcade and St Mary Street for some shots for local newspaper the South Wales Echo. It was an interesting experience but no-one fell over and we got some team publicity!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Battle Royale

This event was the most fun I've had without wheels on for a long time. We got the Brawler Bus at 12 and so arrived in plenty of time for doors at 4.30pm- more than enought ime to have a wander round the merch stands where one could find everything from shoes to cupcakes, Krispy Kreme doughnuts to skate apparel. I got myself some lovely new Roces wristguards for a very reasonable price! And maybe even enough time for a sneaky visit to the bar...

The bout started off with the All-Stars taking the lead but LRG's London Brawling soon took it back and won the bout by a considerable margin. No-one one let this dampen their spirits though and if anything I'm hoping it will mean the All-Stars train more together over the coming year and give LRG more of a challenge. We were all damn proud of TBB's own #666 BB Bombshell who blocked her socks off and a star jamming performance was given by London Rockin' Rollers' #101 Jack Attack.

Photo: LoKill Hero

At the end of the bout I managed to catch up with old-but-new friend over from Eye Candy For Magpies who recently entered the world of derby through LRG's rec league, it was the first time we'd seen each other in person for a few years and since we've both become derby-obsessed bloggers!

The next natural step in our day was the after-party where we got to have right old knees-up with the biggest and dare I say finest mix of rollergirls we have so far encountered as a team. The less said about the karaoke the better.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

The Lock-Up

Top of my wish list but saddeningly unattainable at the moment are a set of Heartless wheels- probably a mix of Chasers and another wheel. Heartless wheels are all narrow profile (38mm as opposed to the traditional wider 44mm profile), and having tried some narrow wheels recently I am even more desperate for these. They gave me much more manoeuvrability and agility and made transitions seem that little bit more attainable (I'm slow on getting to grips with this particular technique).

Another reason they seem that little bit more alluring is that during pack drills I am constantly getting tripped up when my wheels lock with other people's. I am not a foot-flailer (I don't think) and I sticky skate as much as possible but it seems nigh on impossible to avoid eventually ending up in some sort of wheel embrace with a packmate. And it is driving me up the wall.

On a lighter not, while trawling the net for anything bemoaning wheel locking, I found this matrix which may be interesting:

Monday, 27 September 2010

Top Tip

When you have just washed your hair after training, don't go out while it's still wet and walk across town in the rain then sit in a cold cinema theatre for two hours, then walk home again. I have been in bed for more or less three days and have missed Sunday training. Hmmph.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Derby Helper

Came across this derby blog recently, it's funny and well written so have a butcher's hook. And try not to run screaming from the post aptly entitled "ZOMGWTF".

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Wednesday Training

Last night was pretty general skills orientated stuff- falls, stops, wide laterals etc. But we finished with a drill to end all drills- it was brutal. I will share it with you forthwith...

Two teams, one a pack of blockers, one a queue of jammers/assists. Both rolling round the track at pace.

Round 1
Jammers go through the pack one at a time, blockers lateral across the track and weave constantly to positionally block and encourage hopping and leaping from the jammer.

Round 2
Jammer goes through with an assist who can positionally and contact block the pack blockers, in order to make a path for the jammer.

Maybe in writing this sounds fine, but bearing in mind the number of girls there are on your average team, if half of that total number is blocking in one pack at the same time, it becomes pretty hardcore. Obviously the teams swap over so we were all destroyed by the end. It seems our blocking is pretty damn good, there were inpenetrable walls and hip checks galore. It was extremely mentally and physically demanding drill but was such great practice and experience I didn't want it to end!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Training with the Bristol Harbour Harlots

On Sunday I had to attend a mandatory rules session for failing the rules test. Loads of people turned up who didn't have to and our coach just talked through the rules. On the whole I think everyone knows thier shit, it's just a lot to learn all at once without any practical application. The first time we were rules-tested every single team member failed and coach was piiii-iiiissed! But before you start scrimmaging and get some context it just doesn't sink in. Even now I am having trouble translating what I've learnt on paper to practical application on the track. Also, we're all getting so many minors I'm sure half of them must be going unnoticed!

After the rules nerd-out we all piled into cars and got on the road to Bristol to train with the Harbour Harlots. The team is roughly the same size as ours and started around the same time. They are coached by Wonton Destruction ½ doz, originally from the Pirate City Rollers in NZ, so have a lot in common with our team, although Wonton was not previously a coach as our Aussie coach was. They are also hoping to start bouting in December so fingers crossed for some healthy and geographically convenient competition!

The session wasn't too hard going, although the entire warm-up was clockwise round the track. I think it is really important to train clockwise some of the time, not only to avoid some sort of freakishly lopsided physique but to maintain core stability and improve balance. We don't do nearly enough of this and so it was pretty scary for me and I only managed one crossover in sprint laps!

After that we did some static and some rolling basic blocking drills, just getting used to contact and focussing on effective target zones. Unfortunately for TBB's two attending assistant coaches Judge Redd and Hell Neenio, the car from Cardiff ferrying the coach and team founder/co-organiser of the session and a couple of other girls had got completely lost and didn't make it until the end of the session! So Redd and Neenio had to take the blocking session not having had much experience themselves. They did a damn good job having been put on the spot!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

All the jobs that nobody thinks about

Being on the committee for my league is teaching me hard and fast lessons about how to deal with people. You would think that general life experience, work and social interaction would have been enough to prepare me for this, let alone joining a team of girls who want to push each other over and shove each other off a track at speed. Let me tell you, it was not.

I imagine that in more established leagues this may be easier as the boundaries are already set, but in an emerging league where people don't have much experience of how a committee (social, sporting or otherwise) operates and how to run one effectively it's no mean feat. At the moment, meetings are unstructured and unchaired and thus unproductive, which is frustrating to say the least. Sometimes this makes it difficult to get your voice heard, and you have to be prepared that sometimes you won't get your point across, and sometimes you will, but your opinion will be wrong. As a rather headstrong and opinionated individual (although intimidated by the situation) this has been a troublesome learning curve for me. I have had to learn a few lessons, namely that a) if you've said your piece and no-one agrees, at least you tried; b) the opinions of others may not be your choice or preference but you can't always have your own way, and c) bite your tongue. These are all things that I should know already, but perhaps have never really had to exercise until now.

As well as the committee (who may or may not be skaters themselves) which will usually deal with things like finance (sponsorship/payments/funding etc), attendance, merchandise, training times/locations, team direction etc, there is a whole group of other people involved who are just as important, and without them the league would not exist. These people are the referees and NSO (non-skating officials).

The job of a referee is pretty self explanatory, and a team must have at least three of these on skate and up to seven total. Usually at a bout, referees will come from both teams. In addition to the refs, there are a whole host of NSO roles such as bench managers, penalty box timers, penalty trackers, points trackers, jam timers and although not really NSOs, it's good to have comperes/commentators. These are the people we need most at the moment and it seems to be impossible to get them! Any girls not skating on the day will be able to fill these roles but in an intra-league bout there won't be enough. Without committed refs and NSOs a bout can't happen, so efforts to convince anyone and everyone to get involved need to be exhaustive!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Battle Royale

I'm so excited about this event for so many reasons! But first, a brief explanation: The London Rollergirls (LRG) are the longest established derby league in the UK and the first to gain WFTDA membership outside the US. They are incredible as you would expect, and miles ahead of most other leagues in the UK. Because of this, the idea was conceived to form an all-star team from other UK teams to try and rival LRG's skill and give them a bout wherein they didn't inevitably wipe the floor with the opponent. The UK All-Stars were born from league nominations, and will be taking on LRG at this event hosted by the Windsor Rollergirls!

Why I am so excited, in no particular order:
1. Tiger Bay Brawlers' coach #666 BB Bombshell (formerly VRDL, Australia) was successful in tryouts! So obviously we're all off to cheer her on (especially as it will be her first bout since she left Oz)

2. My friend Holly will be coming to visit that weekend and will be dragged along to see what it is that occupies so much of my thought

3. A reunion with a fellow derby rookie who shares a love of derby and blogging! Check her blog here

This can't get any better!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Holler!! Have some bulleted lists...

Recently we've been undergoing testing for basic skills, as per the WFTDA minimum skills guidelines. We were tested on our skating skill, fitness and the rules. I failed. Last night at training I found out my weak spots:
  • crossovers - although I thought I had crossovers down, I'm not pushing off my inside foot enough. Coach explained that I push off my outside foot, bring the inside one round and then just bring the outside one round again to push off, so now I need to practice exaggerated movements off my inside foot. This feels a bit scary now but shouldn't take long to perfect.
  • falls - here is a word of advice to anyone starting out in derby: invest in decent knee pads as soon as you decide you're committed to derby. I hurt my knee on my first fall due to my awful cheap pads and because of that, executed the rest extremely poorly. Bad choice!
  • rules - I know my shit. I know I do. But for some reason when we did the test I got a bit muddled up on some questions and didn't read others properly. As punishment for being so blase about the whole affair, I get to go to a mandatory rules night where we watch footage and nerd out on the rules. if this was any other sport I'd be guutted, but it's derby! So I'm psyyyyyched for it!!
Luckily this wasn't official testing, just basic skill testing to make sure we're competent enough to start contact drills. I'm gutted I failed as the other girls have now started contact (sulk). Seriously can't wait to get in there!!

Other notable points from training yesterday...
  • Dropping your shoulder when performing small slaloms or lateral movements really helps and gives you extra momentum
  • I drew at queen of the track with our coach! This is a game where you all skate round the track, and are off as soon as you fall, commit a major penalty illegal procedure or get blocked off the track. As I haven't passed min. skills yet, I was only able to positionally block/be positionally blocked, so I was damned happy with that result.