Crazy Season

Today it feels as though the roller derby season is starting in earnest; I send this post from the train on my way over to Hull via Leeds. HARD B are playing York Mixsters in a closed game.

Last Saturday I was in Halifax with the Bruising Banditas covering their game against Liverpool Roller Birds and Sheffield Steel Rollergirls against Furness Firecrackers. These games were among the first to be played as part of the newly formed British Championship. This is the largest interleague tournament in Europe consisting of both women’s and men’s teams. I’m quite pleased to be involved as a photographer and pleased that the organisers don’t seem to have imposed any restrictions on us.

Bruising Banditas vs Liverpool Roller Birds

I’ve seen the Banditas play many times, they are a strong team, but I knew nothing of Liverpool. The first few jams saw the Banditas take the lead and it seemed like a familiar pattern. Then in the seventh jam the Birds came back and drew level, scoring over twenty points in a single jam. From then on the game changed and Liverpool showed themselves to be the stronger team. They took the lead and once that lead was comfortable they were able to push it. The Liverpool walls were effective, wearing out the Banditas jammers. By the second half Faye Tality, traditionally a blocker, was being played as a jammer. The game was played in good spirits and I don’t think penalties were an issue. Liverpool Roller Birds won 259 to 131.

Sheffield Steel vs Furness Firecrackers

This game was only ever going to end in a win for the Firecrackers. They took the lead from the start and extended it throughout the game. I found the game quite difficult to photograph. The packs seemed to stay quite close to one another and so the referees were in front of me. I managed though and continue to spend my free evenings working through the resulting photos. I didn’t realise, though I spoke about it with two people on the day, that this was Sheffield’s A team. I think I’ve only seen the Crucibelles play in the past. I did recognise She-RARR (obviously) and Toulouse Le Threat though. Again, played in really good spirits. Toulouse’s “we are not worthy” worship of Weeble was funny, though I felt that she was a little embarrassed by it. Just one foul out that I’m aware of, one of the Firecrackers. Final score 270 to 54 to Furness.

Training

There were nine of us on track (plus coach and referee). We were pleased to be joined by Miffy Mayhem from the Banditas (they don’t train on the day following games). Miffy was keen to get back on track, annoyed by the loss on Saturday. I spoke to her after the gameon Saturday. They’d been practising three walls but she felt that their flat walls were then not as effective as they needed to be. Richie also joined us again – that’s three weeks in a row.

The drills were good, though I felt it look me a little longer than it should have to get my derby head on and block effectively. We try to scrim every week, an important part of the session, though obviously with small numbers on each side. This is fine though, it was another good session with all working well throughout.

The Works

Monday was the monthly “wheels on feet” event at The Works in Leeds. Good to see some familiar faces. I can’t stay I pushed myself, I hardly fell, didn’t drop in and didn’t grind anything. Soon I hope. I did chat to a few people and hopefully made steps towards setting up a game with one of the local teams fairly soon. A big thank you to Ashleigh for continuing to arrange this event. It’s well attended and improves skate skills – I always encourage Skateful Dead to come along.

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Monday

So tomorrow is Monday. We’ll get to work and colleagues will ask if we’ve had a good weekend. I hope you’ll all be able to say “yes” with a big smile on your face.

I’ve had an ace weekend! Friday night and Saturday was PS4 and the Lego Movie with my son. Today was Skateful Dead practice and it was one of the best sessions we’ve had in a while.

The last two weeks have been a combination of low attendance and frustration. Today was a tonic. Coach Gillie was back, Carly was reffing and there were nine of us on track. Most of the session was blocker work. Chris brought some drills with him so we started with those, developing them over the next two and a half hours. Of course, for blocking drills you need jammers. Lawrence and I jammed for much of the session, and I did okay. Loads of good work from everyone. Richie was back with us for the second week – he puts in some solid hits. Or newest skater Jim did some excellent work too. I got called for cutting a few times – thanks Carly – important to know about these in training.

A break towards the end for endurance – yeah! Then a recap on some drills that we’ve been working on over the past few weeks. Queen of the track to finish off.

Buzzing! :-)

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Frustration

I found training this weekend particularly frustrating.

Coach Gillie couldn’t make it due to a (non-derby related) injury, but she took the time share the weeks plan with a few of us. Much of the session was reinforcement of the drills we covered last week. (Though it was fresh for many as, you may recall, there were only four of us last week.)

Attendance was better this week, eight skating plus Carly our ref. She was also wearing Gillie’s coaching hat; plenty for her to do. I also noted that everyone managed to find either a black or white top or even both!

I found that I quickly got cross with myself. When I was blocking our walls felt scrappy and the jammer got though too easily. Yet when jamming I seemed to get stuck behind the wall. I often managed to scatter a few from the wall, but we have a few players who are very quick and they recycled and stopped me. I was trying not to be cross, at least not to be outwardly cross, but I failed it seems. Lawrence picked up on it and asked what was up – he’s a love.

I was pleased later in the day when our captain posted a few “You Should be Watching More Roller Derby” clips to our Facebook group. Perhaps he also felt that the walls needed to be better?

This evening I found time to watch more derby and read Mutch Mayhem’s WFTDA profile which has made be feel inspired again. I just need to figure out how to sleep now!

 

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four

Last Sunday was our first training session of the new year. It was quiet. Very quiet. There were only 4 of us skating, and Gillie our coach.

Sometimes low attendance sessions can be odd, but this one was great. We did loads of work on blocking, with both forward and backward walls. I found that my backward blocking wasn’t horrendously bad. We also managed to fit in endurance. Given so few of us we all worked pretty much non-stop for the full two and a half hours. Two rounds of “queen of the track” just about finished us all off, and I managed to win the second round!

I tried to do 27 in 5 anti-derby direction at the end, but only managed 24.

A tip of the hat to Phil, Simon and Matt for their hard work and Gillie for adapting your plans so effectively. I’m hoping tomorrow’s (today’s) practice will be better attended.

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Targets

Here are my targets* for 2015

  • To work harder on my physical fitness in order to improve at roller derby
  • To use both film and digital cameras for frequently to widen the scope of my photography
  • To improve my programming skills, in particular the use of tests, Groovy and Grails

Okay, that’s the summary, you can stop reading now, below I just expand these.

Fitness (Roller Derby)

I’ve set six month targets here, so by the end of June I’d like to be able to achieve the following.

  • Ten single leg squats on either leg
  • 40 press ups in two minutes
  • Run 10k in 45 minutes

Photography

The only time I find to use my DSLR is when photographing Roller Derby. I barely use my X100 or my film cameras. Aims here are for the year.

  • Use a camera at least once a fortnight for subjects other than roller derby
  • Use my film cameras often enough to develop a film every two months

Programming (Work/Android)

I program at work but also at home on Android apps. Improving my skills in Groovy and Grails will naturally happen, but I’d like to accelerate that progress. We test all of the time at work, but I don’t use coded tests for my Android apps. From this then.

  • In the next six months, to be asked to present a topic to the team
  • In the next six months, introduce written tests for my Android apps

* There are many opinions on making new year resolutions. I consider it a useful marker against which to measure progress.

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