As the Dames countdown to one of their toughest challenges yet as part of British Championships – the T3 Play-Offs on 26th September – who better to catch up with than the lady at the helm of our merry ship, Captain of the ATeam Suzette La Flamme!
Suzette has been skating for nearly 7 years and, when not on Dames duty, plays for Team West Indies as part of their world-class squad. Suze was elected to be Captain of the A Team at the start of this year.
“I was voted in as Captain in January 2015. When I found out I had been elected, I remember feeling a little bit overwhelmed; I was pleased AND scared at the prospect all at the same time!
My initial understanding of the role was that I would lead the team, decide line-ups and rosters and work closely with our coach, Rex Tangle for training. The reality is this, but also so much more! Now I am Captain my derby brain never really switches off – I see the team from a whole new angle and I definitely know my team-mates more.
When it comes to working on rosters and lines, I work with our Training Committee to decide the roster and then Rex and I work on game line-ups. We look at attendance, how groups of people have been working together at training as well as individual performance in past games. We also consider the general attitude of players. I am very aware that both the individual skater and the team need to be nurtured and developed – it’s a fine balancing act. When it comes to my individual skating, I think you have to accept that at times as captain, the team needs takes precedence. I still make the time to set my own goals, and making the training time count
We have had a very busy year with the British Championships and away games to Hamburg and Berlin. Our training has stepped up enormously to reflect this, proving beneficial in our gameplay. We’ve played 2 Top Ten ranked teams this year, which we’ve gained a lot from.
Whilst we have had some great wins as a team, our year has not been without some tough instants. It can be really hard when we lose a game, especially against a team we know we should’ve beaten. As a team we look at why we lost that particular game, and what we need to improve on and correct for the future. You really can’t dwell on it for too long, you just have to turn the situation for good in the next games.
That said, my favourite moments so far as Captain have actually come from two games we lost! Playing LRG’s Brawl Saints and Berlin in April and May respectively. We played amazingly well in both games, and although we didn’t win either, we felt victorious.
Looking ahead to the remainder of 2016 and into next year, we are currently 21st in Europe, I’d like to see us have a comfortable positioning in the top 15, totally achievable, as we have a brilliant team. My favourite part of being Captain is skating out on game day. It is always a proud feeling!
Roller derby is ever evolving, everyone from the rookies all the way up to A-team skaters are on a continual learning curve. Things may seem daunting or unachievable when you’re a newer skater, but the best advice is to set yourself small goals and work hard each and every session. If want that place on the team, and put the work in, you’ll achieve it.”
Suzette La Flamme, the Dames salute you!