I must have the worst timing in roller derby. It's approaching that time of year that leagues are starting to wind down for the year but I of course have appeared to gotten over my injury problems for the year and am now ready to kick on, typical! This past month I've been riding a wave of momentum and you know what I'm actually enjoying this feeling for once. In the past whenever things have started going ok I've told myself that it's only a matter of time before things go back to being crap again. Negativity and I went hand in hand. It's taken me a long time to get to this point but I've finally got to the stage where I'm a bit more relaxed, fearless and just happy at training and I think it's reflected in the way I've been at training recently. I've fought to get to this place so I may as well appreciate it :)
Thunda ran our training session on Sunday and it involved tackling some more advanced skills like backwards skating/blocking EEEK! If you're going to be thrown out of your comfort zone you may as well go all out so I partnered up with Cherry and boy she didn't disappoint! I think now that I've been able to come up against the likes of Cherry and Jilla a few times now and also backing myself a little I don't automatically think they're going to put me on my arse. Cherry made me work so hard when she backwards blocked me, it was taking all my strength to try and force her backwards but it was a lot of fun and I was feeling more confident doing it.
When it came to me backwards blocking her it was a different story. Since I haven't done much work dishing out the backwards block I still shit myself when I attempt it mainly due to the fear that I'll be sent flying on my arse when I get charged at. There were a few times where I thought my heart was going to come flying out of my chest but Cherry was bloody awesome with her help. She was showing me the best way to counteract the skater depending on which way they came in and that helped a lot. I still need to work on putting just enough pressure on my toe stops to slow the skater down because I put too much pressure on them and end up stopping which is all sorts of wrong. After watching Jilla doing her best moonwalk impersonation when she alternates on her toe stops while she's backwards blocking I often practise just rolling backwards and getting used to using alternate toe stops. It's these little things that will help get me backwards blocking properly one day.
We were working on backwards skating and Cherry was giving me a lot of help on how to navigate the track with correct form. My right leg doesn't move as freely as my left one but it got to the stage where I wasn't 'freaking out' in my mind that I was skating backwards I was just doing it, that's the first time that's ever happened to me. I'm happy that I'll get to work with Cherry on a regular basis on the weekends at Skatel because I know that'll help me even more. Exciting times ahead!
If all that wasn't amazing enough I ended up having my first scrimmage since I first injured my knee back in April. EXCITEMENT!!! Both sides didn't have enough players so we were all playing a lot of back to back jams. Welcome back to scrimmage haha Even putting on my scrimmage shirt and arm bands was ridiculously exciting, it's funny how even the smallest things can mean so much after so much time away. Considering how long I was out from scrimmaging my only focus was to listen to my team mates and just do the basics right, no need to try and be a hero. I picked up a couple of majors that night which left me feeling like I let my team mates down.
It's funny there was a lot of close pack work but I wasn't in near constant fear of wheel clips and massive stacks which usually plagues my mind when I scrimmage. At one stage I even balanced on one foot to avoid flying over the top of a skater who had fallen. I was lucky enough to have some awesome team mates on my team it calmed me down and things went pretty smooth. After such a long time out I ended up being surprised by some of my team mates on the opposition, guys like Kate and Betty have improved so much with their positional blocking, they gave me a torrid time stopping me from getting through the pack.
I put my hand up to jam in one of the last jams. I lined up against Sharni. I must admit I love jamming because it provides a whole set of new challenges than what blocking does. I'm not good at it but it's something I'd love to keep working on so that I can become a better all round player. My guys were fucking awesome they kept repelling back Sharni which left me to worry about making my own way past the opposing blockers. If anything I could do with being a little more agressive on the track, not to the point that I'm reckless but I might find some more opportunities appear on the track. I bided my time trying to find the gaps to get through and somehow I did enough to get lead jammer!!!! I had a quick celebration and kept pushing on. It was more the same, perfect blocking from my guys and biding my time and somehow getting through. By this stage I was knackered, I've got so much respect for jammers blocking feels a lot easier haha. When I came back around again I played smart. I'm not an agile skater but one thing I have gained from all the time I've been off injured is all the bouts I've gotten to watch which has allowed me to pick up certain traits skaters have. I saw Apple on the inside line, I know she can be caught out on the inside line by leaving a gap plus she stands pretty tall so I made my way for the gap she left on the inside line, got lower just before she went to block me and counteracted her block which sent her tumbling and allowed me to pick up another 5 points for my side!!! The jam went for the full 2 minutes, my guys stopped Sharni on her initial pass and I picked up 10 points for my side. That's the most I've ever scored in a jam. That whole scrimmage and not just that jam felt like I was finally having a win with derby. You couldn't wipe the smile off my face :D
It's not just me that's currently having good fortune with derby. My mate Cass has finally done it. She's been selected to be in her first ever derby bout!! I was over the fucking moon for her when she messaged me about it. It's funny that the same week I wrote this article for Roller Derby AU Cass got the news she'd been waiting for. Both of us have taken the path of most resistance to get to bouting level and no one deserved this more than her. We bonded and became good friend's as we've both struggled to get to bouting level so it's no surprise that I'd do everything in my power to get to her first bout and be her biggest fan on the sidelines. Unfortunately the bout this Saturday against Port Macquarie is a closed door bout so no spectators so I got my thinking cap on to see how I could get around this when it hit me. I messaged Port Macquarie and asked them if they wanted Roller Derby AU to do a bout write up. Guess who is going to Port Macquarie to do the bout write up :D Derby can be an absolute gobshite sometimes but sometimes awesome things like this happen that it gives you that extra boost to keep trying and push on with your own goals. Derby sometimes you go alright :)