More Like It!

After a few weeks with barely enough skaters to train (three plus Carly last week) today’s attendance was much improved! Seven of us on track, plus Carly AND Gillie.

The focus this week was on switching between offence and defence. There was some endurance thrown in for good measure and a bit of a scrim at the end.

Skaters today were Si, Baker, Buckingham, Jim, Niven, Mikey and myself. Good to have Niven back on track – it’s been too long. Jim is making excellent progress. He’s solid and hits just bounce off him. Mikey is improving fast too, never afraid to get stuck in.

I got some good feedback about a few of my hits. When my hits are effective I just need to be bold enough to follow through, pass the blocker and skate away.

Great to have Gillie back with us too. It releases Carly to do her reffing duties but also gives us a second pair of eyes looking out for penalties.

The Few

I have posted previously about low attendance at training sessions. I do so again today, not because the topic is fascinating, but because that is what we have at the moment.

Last week, 3 May, we had four skaters on track, though Chris is still recovering from his back injury, so he was light contact and frequently stepping out. Yesterday was a similar tale, Baker, Bucking, Bilb and myself, with Bilb returning from injury. Once again Carly was a superstar, stepping in to deliver the session.

The session was really good, exhausting for all, as they should be. In amongst the endurance drills we worked on blocker pairs and three walls. Despite his injury Bilb worked hard and was on track for most of the session. There were some awesome hits too. Buckingham hurt his shoulder with a mistimed hit on Baker. Baker got very impressive hit to my chest that sounded much worse that it felt – it made every stop and check that I was okay.

It was also my first outing on my new plates. These are Roll Line Blasters mounted on my crappy old (2 years) Suregrip GT50s. I wasn’t sure what difference they would make, but they feel utterly different. I’ve not adjusted the trucks on them, and I guess they are as stiff as they’ll ever be. They felt much more directional, which gave me more confidence when doing cross-overs.
I also noted the lack of creaking and the accompanying flex when on my toe stops. I was also released from the nagging fear that landing hard might result in a plate breaking. Jamming was much more enjoyable!

The new plates are heavier (523g vs 429g per skate), but the difference is not discernable. I didn’t expect that it would be. In researching which plates I should get I weighed my wheels (457g per skate). The weight added by a decent plate is small in comparison.

In summary then, I’d recommend upgrading your plates if you can afford. The process of replacing them was easy – see my notes on the process.

What’s in a name?

I got involved in roller derby two years ago. Within a few months I was to play and for this I needed a number and name.

As fans of The Big Bang Theory will know, 73 is the best number, and so that decision was easy. A derby name felt easy too, I just went with my online name – sk8geek.

The day before my birthday I was out with my friend Alex. We met up for food and drink and then headed to Wharf Chambers for the screening of Whip It! (Hosted by Leeds RD). She suggested a new derby name for me – one that I instantly loved! I put it to the team and they also like it.

New tops have been ordered and I’ll now be skating as Lilley Savage¬† :-)

This is so much better than sk8geek. It meets the derby traditions of being a play on my name and sounding aggressive. I feel it also works well with my physical build, lack of beard/tattoos/piercings and penchant for decorative leggings.

Win! Nice one Alex :-)

Abducted by Aliens?

If you were to beginning to think that this is what had happened to me, then (1) thank you for noticing and (2) nothing so exciting, I’ve just been crazy busy. I still have a kitchen cupboard door full of post-it notes, each one a task to complete.

HARD vs Harlots

Rosie PeacockThe smart thing to do before leaving for a ten day holiday would have been to sort out the flat. I though made the short trip to Leeds to take photos of the games there.

The first game was my lovely Hull’s Angels against Nottingham’s Hellfire Harlots. Both Iron Giant and Claud Apart were missing from the line up. The Harlots were clearly the stronger team and controlled the game from the start. The final score of 344 to 35 reflected this.

Leeds Roller Dolls vs Checkerbroads

On the edgeWhilst I was there I had to stay for this game, and I was very pleased that I had. On paper LRD should have enjoyed a comfortable win against Manchester’s Checkbroads, but then paper doesn’t *always* translate well on to the track. The Manchester walls were very disciplined and LRD’s jammers didn’t slip through as easily as I’ve seen them do in the past. Of note was Tori Bee whose jamming skills were excellent. During the second period Leeds pulled ahead and won with 192 against 125. A very respectable score by Manchester.

I spent the evening backing up photos and preparing for my holiday.

Berlin

BuchstabenmuseumMy sister and her family live in Berlin. This would be perhaps the fourth time I’d visited, from memory the second Easter visit. I’ve twice been over in summer and taken part in Skate By Night. I wasn’t expecting great weather this trip, though I packed my in-lines just in case.

I was impressed by EasyJet (both outbound and on the return journey) and would definitely fly with them again. My children were with me, of course, and Elliot found the leg room a little tight.

It was lovely to see my sister, Thomas and their children in their home environment. They visit England, but spending time with the children there was wonderful. They are so funny. Calisto is into electronics, as am I, so we had lots of interesting conversations. Summer came out with some hilarious dry lines Рand eight year old who owns a Sarcasm Ball (rather like the Magic 8 Ball) is going to go far.  Sol is rather grown up and lived on his X-Box. Tom was funny and polite.

Many of the evenings were spent playing card games. Super Mario across six DSs was also popular and playing GTA V and getting “wasted” was also great fun. We visited museums and landmarks, as you do, though we’d been to some before.

On the skate front I made it out onto the square a little, though I did hit debris whilst going backwards, which stopped my skate and landed my on my left butt cheek. It hurt a little but I carried on. Since then a huge bruise (NSFW) developed and bending on that side has been painful. This didn’t stop me skating further though. One day we went to Tempelhof (ex-airport). Thomas, Tom and Calisto cycled there, I skated, skated 10km whilst there and then skated back. Later in the week I got up early and skated about 20km in a little over three hours. An easy pace – most enjoyable.

Every time I visit Berlin I fall in love with it a little more. This trip was no different; I need to come up with a plan to move out there. Friday I was suffering post holiday blues an spent the day moping around the flat.

Berlin photos on Flickr

Reffing Cherry

Since attending the LRD Referee Boot Camp back in March I’ve been keen to practice what I’d learnt. The HARD Easterish Scrim provided an ideal opportunity and that filled my Saturday. I was pleased to spot some track cuts, though I was too slow to call them – other refs calling them ahead of me. There’s a lot of concentration required – I’d rather be on track – it’s easier!

Many thanks HARD for the practice, especially Beat Monkey for his guidance and Miley Si Rush for lending me his zebra top (and letting me keep it for the time being).

Two Years

Today is my second Derbyversary!

It seems that one doesn’t have a party for such things, but any derby events around now surely count.

Yesterday evening was the first “party”, Banditas training. It wasn’t as well attended as some have been, so the scrim didn’t really work and was quickly replaced by drills and endurance. Of note, Miffy Mayhem’s speed and jamming are excellent. Dislo-Kate-Her’s hits and blocking are hard! Gremlin is cool, we played Creepy Blocker and paired up during endurance :-)

Tomorrow’s “party2 is over in Leeds. Hull’s Angels are playing Hellfire Harlots and Leeds RD and playing Manchester. I’ll be there with my camera, possibly for both games, but I should really be packing for…

… today is also my last day at work before the Easter holiday. I have my kids for two weeks, we fly to Berlin on Sunday to spend much of that time with my sister and her family. Berlin is flat – ideal for skating. I skate in-lines there, so a bit of a break from derby, but still wheels on feet and definitely a party!

HAPPY!

Grinning

Training

This week’s training session was a little different. We had Sue Perman, who used to play for Brusing Banditas, as a guest coach. The session was all about footwork. We started with Creepy Blocker, given as a tool to annoy and distract the opposition from their task of blocking your jammer. I don’t recall the numerous other drills, but they included loads of transition work, 180 jumps to a stop, on both sides, backwards acceleration, track transitions, techniques for making holes in walls, and techniques for bunching the wall up. We did backwards running on toe stops, pushing, endurance drills and a neat 180-to-shoulder block. Melon Collie got a mention as being really good at this :-)

We finished with queen of the track. I decided to go after Jim, and got taken out by Baker whilst doing so and he went on to win.

A very full sessions that left us with loads to practice. Thank you Sue!

Aire Force 1 Scrim

For some time I’ve been trying to set up a friendly scrim with AF1. This was all unofficial, me chatting to Bakin Bad and Oblivious Prime every time I bumped into them at derby/skating events. Following their game over in Liverpool Feral got in touch and we bashed out a proposal to make it happen.

Yesterday after training we headed over to Futsal where the AF1 guys were also training. They can field a full team, we played short. On track from the Dead were Buckingham, Baker, Lloyd, Matt, Niven, Si and myself. We had Jason Slays Them from Inhuman League and Dis Droid from Oldham as guests, bringing our team to nine.

I was a little nervous before the scrim. I have a (perhaps irrational) fear of injuring my back again. Once we were all warming up around the track the nerves passed. Half six and first whistle, I was on track as a blocker, and it was fine. The hits were hard, in some cases very (thank you Chris, sorry, I don’t know your derby name) but clean. I didn’t see Bakin, apparently his partner is expecting a child soon, so he’s off skates – hope all goes well with that sir!

I jammed once in the first period, failing to get through the pack. Then before I knew it the period was over. We swapped ends and considered the need to balance the teams. We were all happy to carry on with just nine and did so. The second period seemed to pass faster than the first. Again I jammed just once and got stuck again, though whilst I was there did a cheeky hit on the other jammer when he came around to the back of the back. Knocked him out of bounds and ran him back a little. I didn’t gain anything from it other than the satisfaction that my situational awareness was reasonable. Then with much assistance from my blockers I did make it through the wall. The final score was something like Aire Force 1 around 120 to about 90 for us.

More important than the score was the spirit of the game, which was excellent. I didn’t get any penalties and I think most on our team were cutting the track – not helped by the multitude of markings on the floor. The AF1 blokes seem to be a thoroughly nice bunch, I look forward to playing them in future. Thank you guys, well played!

I’ve got some fresh skills to work on from training and targets to work towards from the scrim. An excellent day of derby!

Comfort Zone

Skateful Dead

In previous posts I have pondered the metric used to measure training sessions. One that I don’t think I’ve considered is getting taken out of one’s comfort zone.

Gillie was back last week and brought with her some jammer assist drills. They were a mix of traditional assists and a few “out of bounds” assists. It was these that I particularly enjoyed.

Let me explain what I mean by “out of bounds” for the reader who’s life has yet to be consumed by roller derby. A roller derby track is an oval, with inner and outer boundaries. (These are marked with tape, and in proper games a rope beneath the tape to provide a tactile “edge”.) Skaters must keep their skates within these boundaries when playing. They can however jump out of bounds so long as they land back within bounds. This sounds impossible, but consider the inside of the turns – with enough speed and height it is possible to jump a section of the inner apex.

We’ve practised apex jumps, but this week we were practising assisted jumps. These are where the jammer uses a blocker on their team as a fulcrum whilst they jump out of bounds, typically transition 180 degrees and land back in bounds. The aim is to bypass the opposition blockers.

There were many things here that I wasn’t sure about. One, I don’t really like jumping – I like my wheels to stay on the ground. Two, when transitioning I like to lead with my right foot. It’s a bad habit that I’m working to correct, but non-the-less it’s there. And three, some of our players are quite big and heavy and I’m not, how was that going to work if they are using me for the assist? But there we were, with this concept before us and no excuse to not try it!

The assists typically take place over the inside of the track and consequently the assisted skater will be leading with their left leg. We started with assisted apex jumps and after a few attempts I was landing in bounds – toe stops for the win. Then on the straights with the “pegassist” style assist. I started of being assisted, which was fine. I again landed on toe stops and then spun around and away. Then I had a go at assisting and to my surprise I didn’t just fall over when fellow skaters swung around me!

A great session thank you Gillie!

Banditas

Thursday evening I was again at practice with the Bruising Banditas.

We started with an excellent drill that they called “creepy blocker”. Neither Buckingham nor myself were familiar with it, and when demonstrated I think it’s fair to say that we both considered that it looked pretty straight forward. Working in pairs the aim is to maintain contact and prevent the other person from getting ahead of you on track. It quickly became apparent that it is not only quite difficult but also tiring! Definitely a drill that we’ll be taking away, though I wonder if men will go for hits?

After a mix of other drills we did an endurance drill. This is one I was familiar with, we’ve used it at our sessions. It’s a minute sprint, 30 second coast then transition and sprint anti-derby direction for a minute. Rinse, repeat. We tagged on the coffin drill for three minutes at the end. From this I found that Sonic Ruth is so speedy – passed me in both directions!

We finished with Queen of the Track. Lesson here was that Dislo-Kate-Her hits hard and can absorb hits too!

Thank you again Banditas!

Miscellaneous

  • I quit the gym. I’m struggling to find time to get there and every time I do I aggravate the injury to my left foot. I wanted to suspend membership, but that wasn’t an option, so cancellation it was.
  • Monday I went for a run. 4.85km in 24m23s. This was the first of this season, so I’m pleased with the pace. It did make my foot hurt to following day. I really need to rest it. Skating is fine, it’s the repeated impacts that trigger it.
  • I got new wheels for my in-line skates, ready for Berlin.

 

Working Title

An odd week.

Training

Buckingham was missing, not feeling well, which is very unusual. Chris was back on skates, but with an exclusion zone to protect his back. There were seven of us on track, in no particular order, Niven, Matt (Thompson!), Tony, Baker, Jim, Simon and me. Gillie and Phil were off sick too, leaving Carly to work her magic with the session.

Monday we announced that Buckingham is our new team captain. Very pleased with this result. I’d earlier said I’d put myself forward for the role – at the time Bucky was not sure that he’d be standing. Chris has done a good job over the past year.

Monday was also gym night and by Tuesday morning it became apparent that I’d dinged my left foot again. I thought I’d figured out which exercise was causing it and I’ve avoided it since. It seems I was wrong. I therefore avoided the gym for the rest of the week. With the days getting longer and this recurring niggling injury I’m tempted to suspend gym membership.

Banditas

Thursday was Bandita’s training. I’m loving the opportunity to skate twice a week and scrim too. (Skateful Dead had a period last year where we practised twice weekly, but numbers where often low, so no scrimmage.) Men and women play differently, but I’ve found that I come away from the Bandita’s sessions with more injuries then I do the Dead. Week one left me with a rather fine bruise on my left arm. This week it was something like a blood blister on my arm, a wheel shaped bruise/swelling on my left shin and a bruise to my right knee. Bruising Bandita’s is an accurate name! :-)

Airco

During the week news also broke that the numerous teams that use the Airco Arena in Hull are to be evicted! They have been told that they have a month to get out. This not only affects Hull’s Angels but lots of other teams too. This is very disappointing news.

It seems that the needs of one team are being put above those of several others. Not only that, those teams that are being kicked out have been given ridiculously short notice. The facilities at the Airco Arena are excellent – one of a kind in East Yorkshire apparently. Hull High Flyers Trampoline Gymnastics Club have a record number of qualifiers for National Championships and have hosted an international championship. The high ceilings at Airco are a feature that they need. Other sports affected include basketball, wrestling, netball, hockey, gymnastics, powerchair football and roller derby (three team).

These teams are working hard to persuade Hull AFC to change their mind. If you want to show your support then please like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and, most important, sign the petition.

The Airco website boasts “The facilities at the Sports Arena are second to none and provide opportunities and a top class venue for local teams and clubs across a wide range of sports.” I guess they’ll be changing this to “The facilities at the Sports Arena are second to none, but if you don’t play football then you’re out of luck”.

Stripes

I first considered refereeing roller derby 14 months ago, when injury left me feeling that I couldn’t/shouldn’t/wouldn’t play again. Leeds Roller Dolls Referee/NSO Boot Camp presented an excellent opportunity to revisit this.

The boot camp was held at Futsal, Leeds and ran from 10am to 5pm, though I arrived crazy early – trains. There were probably around 20 of us doing a mix of Ref/NSO, from various leagues – Teeside and Spa Town are two that I’m aware of. There was a mix of experience/abilities too. Some hadn’t passed mins. Some had reffed. I had been revising rules/hand signals/verbal cues – so I felt better that I wouldn’t be completely out of my depth.

The first part covered expectations of officials, both NSOs and Refs, before splitting into two tracks. Major Lee Strict covered the ref track while Stat continued with the NSOs. The theory stuff ran up to 1pm followed by 30 minutes for lunch, then it was on with the wheels!

I was pleased that X-Con Vic was there to help – friendly face. Time passed really quickly and before I knew it skaters were starting to arrive for the co-ed. Shit! (Hello Andy, Jupe and the AF1 guys.)

I started in an Outside Pack Ref position and settled in to it quite quickly, with Swiss Roll there to guide us. I saw and called a cut track. Yeah! After a while we switched positions and I had a go at Inside Pack Ref. Less easy. I did OPR a second time and then had a go at Jam Ref. That was just crazy. On the first jam, by turn 3 I’d skated into the track – watching the jammer, not my feet – oops! It got easier, but still so much to remember! The most challenging task is remembering which of the opposing players the jammer has passed on a scoring pass. Throw in staying inside the track, avoiding others, pointing at lead, communicating the score, checking that the score has been recorded and watching for penalties – head explodes!

The day was well prepared and pitched at a good level. The focus was very much on giving NSO/Refs an opportunity to practise. Thank you to those taking part in the co-ed scrim for your patience whilst situations were explained to us/crews were swapped over. There was no dickish behaviour from any of the players, which I’m sure we all appreciated. All players should experience the game from a referee perspective!

I have taken the time this morning to pull together an NSO/Ref CV – it seems I’ve NSOd five times to date. I’ll be sorting out a stripy top and looking to get some experience outside/inside the track :-)

Looking forward to the next one LRD!

 

 

Banditas!

A very quick post as I should be sleeping, but I can’t – derby high buzzing through me!

The Bruising Banditas invited Skateful Dead to train with them, and that’s what a few of us did this evening. It was ace!

The best thing was having enough people to scrimmage, which we did for almost an hour at the end of the session. I found Bob invaluable on track for telling me what to do – thank you. I got a good hit on Foo – oops, sorry! Two visits to the penalty box, one of which was as the jammer – damn!

Before that we practised blocking. A wall style that we’ve be working on at our sessions, but done a little differently. One of the great things about training with others is that you see different drills and techniques. Thank you Bob!

We’ve been invited back next week, which is handy – I went down the calendar for the rest of the month and wrote “Banditas” on every Thursday :-)

A massive thank you to you all for letting us play. I am aware that co-ed doesn’t suit everyone, for various reasons, and so I feel privileged to be given the opportunity. Thank you.

Now to see if that sleep thing works :-)