Diary of a Cadet

Last Saturday I did some drills with the A Team which took me so far out of my comfort zone I may as well have been on a different planet. It brought it home to me just how much work I need do on my skill level to even be considered for the roster for the Bomb Squad.

A lot of my posts under ‘Diary of a Rookie’ focused on passing minimum skills and progressing up to the Cadets, and everything since has focused on how much more I need to learn now I am a Cadet. You can see the theme developing here. We never stop learning.

Often it’s a combination of skills that need to be linked together and then put into place on the track. For example, laterals and hockey stops to the line and digging in. Then, once you’ve linked them all together, it’s a case of being able to produce this skill, in play, at speed.

Rather than being frustrating I’m finding the development of a new skill set good fun and a positive challenge. I have long since stopped competing with others and accept that some will pick it up quicker than me, and on occasions I will pick it up quicker than them. I do need to stop apologising for not being as precise or fast as those I’m working with as it’s how everyone learns and I’m beginning to annoy myself.

Contribution in Roller Derby comes in many forms. One of my strengths is off the track, and is the skill of ‘being organised’ and it means that I have a very full life with the Dames and I appreciate just how much behind the scenes work there is. From organising Bouts to reconciling the bank account, arranging PR, arranging training schedules, there are a lot of Dames putting in a lot of hours off the track. There are also a lot of Officials putting a lot of time in, on the track, our Refs and NSOs and who are an integral part of the league.

So I’d like to say a huge Thank You to the Dames who keep the league running smoothly. I admire you all more than Scald Eagle.

 

 

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Rookie Ramblings: Rio Grande

All is a bit quiet on the Western front in the land of Bones, but all is not lost.

I’m not gonna lie, I had a bit of a Derby Melt; when you’re not sure you’re cut out for roller derby and you never feel you’ll pass you’re mins and that generally you’re a bit pants. I was lucky in that it kinda fitted in with the fact that I had butt tonnes of uni work (not sure if I mentioned, doing a postgraduate certificate currently), moving house, planning a wedding and suffering with a stupid injury. This meant I could almost lie to myself, that I wasn’t not going because of my melt, but that I was just too tired/busy/stressed/insert other excuse. Looking back now it was really bad in all honesty and granted I’m not skating much more now but my head is in a better place.

 

I’ve been a Rookie for over a year, with an injury and some flakey episodes of refereeing. This melt was well routed in my psyche that I would never be good enough to skate with the big girls; never pass my minimum skills so never ever grow a foot and become part of the Dames unique Wall of Tall. Then I organised to meet with my Derby Momma for birthday pub lunch (which I cycled to and nearly died on the way back but that’s another story).

Now, my Derby Momma has been helping coach the Rookies whilst she has had a poorly knee and our usual Rookie coach moved away to much sunnier seaside pastures (we miss you Grumps <3). We chatted about training and she was SO ENTHUSIASTIC, like a puppy at Christmas, talking about all these new ways she had to explain things if people didn’t understand and that she had 3 ways to do everything just in case. I was amazed, I was in awe that this kickass skater wanted to help losers like me get better. And then we talked more about normal things like work and husbands and children and holidays, every time I put myself down over how rubbish I was at work or how badly the wedding planning was going she’d put me straight. She broke my funk. End of.

By the end of the meal we were organising all the things she was gonna teach on the Saturday that I needed help with. Typically Saturday morning came and I was ill, like dying ill, legitimately this time and I was heartbroken. We’ve yet to have our coaching session but thanks to my Derby Momma I had the confidence to go to a Gotham Bootcamp dissemination session ( they’re one of the American teams who are like in the top 3 in the world). There were 3 rookies there, all of us long time dedicated rookies and we did EVERYTHING the big girls did, yeah it was slower, a bit untidier and sometimes a bit eclectic but by jove we did it. I skated backwards through a line of skaters skating forwards (a paceline) if you’d asked me the day before I’d have never in a million years thought I could do something like that.

We’re lucky currently as the Olympics have just started and the talent, strength, courage and determination that all the athletes show is enough to get me in some Lycra pretending I’m Victoria Pendelton but this year has the highest % of female athletes at something like 45-49% . In every sport the Other Half and I have watched so far we’ve both said things along the lines of, “The women’s events in [insert sport] are so much more interesting”, “Wow they’re hench, I wish I was a strong/fierce as them” and so on. We are living in an age where we as women are kicking ass, reaching new heights and are generally wondrous to behold. So lets celebrate each other, my Derby Momma inspired me to be great by being excited about me.

Lets let that be a thing

Bones out rd

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NSO 101 – It’s all about timing

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Edgy! What’s with all the hardware?

 

Well I’m glad I asked myself that question so that I could tell you all about the wonder of Jam Timing.

Jam Timing is my favourite thing to do as an NSO. It’s quite unexpected really given that I am a bit of an anxious person, not a big fan of all attention being on me, generally kind of quiet. So naturally I want to stand in the middle of the track and shout and blow a whistle! My partner actually came to watch a scrim recently and said they didn’t realise I could shout that loud. Only been together nearly 12 years!

Here comes the science part:

The job of the Jam Timer is, surprisingly, to time the jams – but there’s more! So first of all the Jam Timer signals the start of the game with a rolling whistle, then calls FIVE SECONDS to prepare the skaters and officials for the start of the first jam, and at the start of every jam thereafter. Then they are timing the jam. The jam can be a maximum of two minutes long so if the clock runs to two minutes without it being called off by a jammer the Jam Timer calls it off with three sets of four whistles and resets the clock to time 30 seconds between jams. The Jam Timer also times team time outs to one minute and signals that a time out is either a team time out, an official time out (where officials request a time out of indeterminate length to amend something or query something with each other), or an Official Review.

One of the most important things that a Jam Timer has to do is keep track of the 30 minute period clock, which stops for time outs and official reviews. The clock then restarts at the start of the jam and does not time the seconds between the end of the timeout and the start of the jam. Therefore if a time out is called within the last 30 seconds of a game the clock can be stopped and restarted and another jam can be squeezed in before the clock runs out. If there are less than 30 seconds on the clock and a time out is not called then the period will end before a new jam can start. And a jam can run past the end of the period clock as long as it starts within the 30 minutes. So, if there are 31  seconds on the clock a jam can happen and there are 29 seconds on the clock it can’t. At a game you might see the Jam Timer and Score Board Operator signalling to each other and the time on the scoreboard changing so that it matches the Jam Timer’s stopwatch. It’s a delicate task in a fast and furious environment!

That’s a detailed but hopefully not boring account of what Jam Timers do for you. And, AND(!) sometimes they are empowered to call specific penalties, which is exciting! I have been empowered but not had the opportunity to use my penalty calling rights as of yet. Good skaters. Well behaved, non-game-delaying skaters. *nods approvingly*

See you in a few weeks folks!

Posted in Meet the Dames Tagged with: , ,

Diary of a Cadet

So because of Life, the Universe and Everything I went back to training on Saturday after 5 weeks off. It was great to see my Dames again and I had no qualms whatsoever about putting my skates on and jumping on track, having not given a thought to the fact my fitness and skill level would have dropped. Because of the way we train on a Saturday I was doing footwork and wall skills where our coach mixed up skill levels, so there were Cadets, Bomb Squad and A Team members training together. As a Cadet this means I have the opportunity to learn from better Derby players during the drills and the more advanced Dames have to adjust their game and strategy to integrate the less experienced into the wall to create the strongest opposition.

Working with more advanced Derby skaters is fantastic to see where you need to focus your additional skill training. At the moment I have just picked two to focus on and improve; smaller and quicker transitions to get into a better position, for example going from being braced to then re-forming and bracing, and my laterals. My laterals are poor on my right side but on my left they are shocking.

I imagine it could be quite demoralising to participate in drills with those who are so much better but it is actually a really positive experience. Advice is freely given and time is taken to go over a skill to correct footwork etc so as a Cadet you come away from training with the Big Girls with not only the determination to improve, but with ideas and tips on how to do this.

So thanks to all for Saturday but especially to;

 

Ginja Ninja and her advice on laterals

Violet Attack for correcting me not to use my toe stops in a wall and for explaining why

Sleazy Rider for her positive comments when I did something well

 

And as for the fitness level? that was possibly the most exhausting session ever!!

 

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Under The Helmet – Scooby Lu

Fresh from Fresh Meat, Scooby Lu has just graduated into the Blitz Dames ‘Cadet’ programme.  As a Cadet, she is learning how to transfer all those minimum skills into maximum impact on track!

“Life changed for me back in 2014 when I was made redundant from my 9 to 5 job. Using my redundancy package, I packed a bag and headed to South America to volunteer at Cusco Animal Protection Dog Rescue in Peru. I had the most amazing time working with the dogs and locScooby and dogsals; it really made me think about what job I wanted to do when I returned home.  As I continued to travel, I decided working with animals was where I wanted to end up.

“Back in the UK I got myself a temporary job working for a funeral company which, whilst extremely rewarding, was equally draining emotionally.   So, with my heart still set on working with animals, I decided the best way forward was to start my own business.  Just over a year ago Adventurous Tails was born.  Now I happily spend my days working for myself; walking dogs and looking after animals whilst their owners go away on holiday.  It’s certainly not a bad way to earn a living and I love seeing their faces when I show up – they’re never in a bad mood and keep me smiling!

“Happy in my career, I began to look for something else and that’s when I found Roller Derby.  It gives me the chance to push aside some of the stresses that come with self employment and I enjoy that it challenges me both physically and emotionally. The league have all been so lovely and supportive of my Derby journey so far.  I also enjoy catching up with them when were not wearing helmets too – as you can imagine I don’t get much in the wscooby skateay of conversation from the dogs!  My friends and family all love to hear about how it’s going and the progress I am making, although I think my partner may of fallen asleep on some of my tales about training when I get back late from practice. I think turning up to the fresh meat session is among one of the best things I’ve done.”

Posted in Meet the Dames