a Kitty comes to train.

Tuesday night we had Kitty DeCapitate from VRDL come guest coach us. She was one of the trainers that took the bootcamp I attended back in January. Kitty has been skating derby for 5 years with both the London Rollergirls and currently the Victorian Roller Derby League (but she will be moving back to London sometime soon).

As she states on her blog (Yay Roller Derby!) “I guess as a coach and skater in both of these leagues, my unique experience (and everyone has one) seems to be about making people and leagues better”.

I think it’s highly beneficial to leagues being able to have the opportunity and resources to host such highly skilled and experienced trainers. They bring with them fresh and new ideas we may not have seen before. It lets us have access to new techniques that skaters at the top of their field are using and it’s just so great to have fresh faces sharing their derby love.

We started the session with an off-skates warm up. In 6 minutes of jogging, jumping and explosive footwork I was sweating buckets! – more so than if we were doing a 10 minute surging pace line to warm up (PS: I hate pace lines!).

We then went in to drills where Kitty broke down jammer strategies of juking and jumping around your blocker. Faking them out, then being able to carve around them quickly to get in front, or if you see a blocker lining you up for a hit, set your eyes on them and basically put on your brakes to juke/ jump out of their way.

We also practiced blocking drills with walls being set up with one skater swinging out to skate reverse direction to help support their wall, but ONLY when it was safe to do so. You don’t want to be leaving yourself wide open with all that legal blocking zone down your front if a jammer breaks through the wall, so you need to think quick to transition back to face forward to block with your butt and potential draw a back block.

Lastly we ran a reactive pack drill where the key was to be able to communicate fast with your blockers and react accordingly to wall up wherever the majority of your blockers were (front of pack? – make wall at the front or vice versa).

I love the below photo with Kitty instructing the next drill and Suzz Spender spotting the camera to give a cheeky smile! Ha!

Thanks Kitty for coming out to Northside and training both the freshie session and ours. It was great to have some things broken down and some technical insight in to drills.

a happy akka at the end of training 🙂

PS: High-five to Sunny Day for being our awesome photographer for the night!!

I want Wednesday

I want to pretend I’m a caller on a commercial radio station and give a *Shout Out* to some very lovely dear Dames of mine that sent me a letter this week. A hunky-dory real-life-paper IN. THE. MAIL letter!!

So thank you! Outrajess Edi and Rumpy of the Dames of Hazard!! You are MY kind of people and made my day with handwritten letters, Dames stickers and Hi-five clips!!

Love your guts!!

TEST is a Four-letter word!

On Saturday I sat for my Green star with Northside Rollers… and by “sat” I mean skated a 2 hour – FOUR page WFTDA skills assessment TEST! Hmmm…. Pressure much!?


source: Fishnet Burnns

What other sport do you know where you are tested on your skills as much as derby skaters are? Sure, when I played basketball I tried out to get on travel teams, but it was never like this. I really hadn’t sat any kind of test like this before (not as structured or regimented) and flashbacks of self doubt and nervous bladders came flooding back (pardon the pun!) like I was fresh meat again!

I had made peace with myself that it was going to be ok if I didn’t make it through this time. I was with a new league and in my mind I still had a long way back to fitness and strength and wasn’t sure I was there yet.

I was quite a nervous wreck through the whole test (which includes – endurance, surging, timing, safe pack skating, active offence/defence, adaptive strategy and scrimmage – with various components that are being observed). After the endurance component (which I managed to get 27 in 5 which I was totally happy with!) I had a little *moment* to myself, flat on my back, catching my breath and having a little cry (I do get so emotional!!).

During scrimmage I constantly had to remind myself (and be reminded) to open my mouth and yell! I have little brain-fart moments on the track when my brain thinks what needs to be said but “forgets to communicate” this to my mouth for the words to come out. I had moments where I was yelling the completely wrong thing – instead of screaming WALL UP to my team I ended up yelling MAN UP and confusing everybody! Something that I know I need to work on.

When it was all over, it was really hard to tell how we went. I felt good at the effort I had given, but you really never know what you might have slipped up on or excelled in (even if you thought you were crap at!).

We were told results weren’t going to be posted until the next day, which was a little deflating – but off to the pub we went! Plenty of ciders later and multiple checks of the forum saw our Green Star results being posted earlier than expected (there was only 3 of us sitting for it)… and I PASSED!!

So now I will be training as a Green Star and be eligible to bout and potentially be picked for the travel team. I only have one more part of the assessment to go which is a written rules test (before I am technically allowed to bout). Another bloody test! I haven’t sat a written test since high school!!… better get to studying then!

But YAY! High-five to being Green! Totally feeling this colour!!

Oh Canada!

So a friend is counting down her days before she moves to Canada to work for a while. It got me reminiscing about my travels in Canada, and day dreaming about wanting to go back. Best. Time. Ever!

{be warned – this post is photo heavy!}

I spent 5 weeks in the Great White North back in 2008 where I spent my time half on the West Coast and then visitng the East coast on a camping trip. I thought I’d share some photos, as it’s always nice to look back on an awesome adventure!

First up was my West Coast adventure where I started in Vancouver. I took a tour that covered a trip through Whistler, looping through the Rocky Mountains visiting some amazing scenery. I experienced an epically drunken Canadian Day in Jasper, road a horse in Banff, visited the Athabasca Glacier and attended the Calgary Stampede!

I just remember how utterly stunning the landscape was. Clean, pure and beautful. That’s what really stays with me about the West Coast.


Vancouver skyline


Blackcomb Mountain – above Whistler


Little Brown Bear


Mt Robson – highest peak in the Rocky Mountains


Spirit Island – on Maligne Lake


Athabasca Glacier


Getting ready to ride it like a cowgirl in Banff


Calgary Stampede


Hanging with my posse @ the Calgary Stampede

I then headed over to the East Coast. I joined a tour that started in New York and was a camping trip taking in the Finger Lakes district before jumping the border to see Niagara Falls then on to Toronto, Algonquin, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec then we swung back in to the States, via Arcadia National Park, Maine and back to NYC.


Looking awesome in Blue @ Niagara Falls


The Toronto skyline


Canoeing in Algonquin


Canada’s Capital – Parliament House, Ottawa


Montreal


Love this photo! First try EVER of escargot! Captured the moment perfectly!


Beautiful mural in Quebec City.


View down to Quebec City


Best lobster (and cheap too!) in Maine


Last night camping!

I loved the French influence on the East Coast. Montreal and Quebec City were my highlights. Wandering the streets of Montreal, admiring the architecture, speaking bad, BAD, French and picking up some art at a random market we stumbled upon (and indulging in my first try of snails! I actually enjoyed it though!).

I met a really good friend on this trip too (Hi, Emma!) from the UK who visited me a couple of years ago and is now living in Sydney for a short spot of working for 6 months – go visit her blog HERE to hear about her Aussie adventures. We coined the phrase “The Spirit of Adventure” while she was over here – and it’s stuck… break outside your comfort zone and go experience the World!

High-five to adventure!!

derby doubt – BE GONE!

Last night at the start of training the lovely Sin Amen Whip asked how I was going and I told her I had felt off for the last couple of days. She commented that at Tuesdays training she noticed I was a little “off” and she was bang on! It was a very “it’s not you, it’s me” moment, with that god-damn derby doubt rearing its ugly head once again.


from: Emerge Already

It happens to ALL of us. Roller derby is such an emotional roller coaster ride and each of our derby journeys are so so personal that you really have to separate yourself from others and stop comparing yourself to them and stop harshly judging yourself.

I have played team sports all my life (basketball) and I’d like to think I can be a great asset of support and encouragement to whoever is on my team. But when it comes to individual goal setting and focussing on my own accomplishments, pfft, all common sense, rationale and focus tends to go AWOL at times.

I found a fantastic little blog post over on Varsity Derby League’s blog which referenced Circle City Derby Girls skater Bunnie Low-Browski and her (excuse my Oprah referencing) “Aha! Moment” post entitled Lesson Twenty-Four: No shame in my game. Seriously, go read it. A lot of you will be nodding your head in agreement as you read Bunnie’s words.

To quote Bunnie: “I wish all the time that I had a video of everyone’s first practice. Just so you know- everyone sucks at first. Even speed skaters have to learn to juke. Jam skaters have to learn some strategy. Everyone has to learn how to hit. And yes. There will always be someone better than you, but they weren’t always. They got that way the same way you will- practice, practice, and more practice. Hold your head up and know that this is a very hard sport. There is no shame in learning. With a little patience and a lot of determination you are well on your way to derby greatness.”

All of us will face some type of self-doubt through our derby journeys, IT IS inevitable. But it’s how you deal with it that will determine your overall experience with this sport.

Listening to Sin’s own derby experience of coming back from injury last year and how hard she’s been working to recover quickly was impressive. Everyone will have doubt – be it coming back from injury, seeing your team mates progress faster than you, or joining a new league and asking yourself if you’re any good at this anyway?

Last night I walked away from training on a high. I asked questions when we were doing drills, got some really useful feedback on some blocking techniques I needed to work on and skated 27 in 5 (after not doing ANY endurance since I left Adelaide!). That derby doubt had been thrown out the window and it was a nice feeling.

What do you do to combat your derby doubt when it rears its ugly head? Talk it out? Skate it out? Deal with it internally and brush it off like it’s just the normal ups and downs of derby?

I’m interested in how other people deal with this sort of thing. Comment…. and Go!