Rookie Ramblings- Inspiration on 8 wheels

Me again, late as usual but life’s been very busy.

This weekend has seen our A team travel to Belgium to play a Skate Odessy  (SKOD) 2016. We were ranked 9th or 10th and finished 7th. The level of Derby was amazing, I was watching from the sunny hills of Devon, and our Dames seriously brought it, so much so that one of them , Violet Attack, got MVP Best Blocker of the tournament!

As a Rookie, it is AMAZING to have skaters as skilled and as passionate as the A team within arms reach and the ability to capitalise on that is very very useful.

With some skills you just can’t pick them up, no matter how hard you try. Sometimes you just need a different perspective or a different way to explain them and those skaters can provide that!

The Blitz Dames are one of the oldest and most well established teams in the UK so regardless of the A team or the WFTDA 20, we are literally overrun with amazing skater who will teach, coach, advise and when necessary drag you through your minimum skills. This is exciting and means we are completely spoilt.

Post SKOD the energy is gonna be high and the drive will be massive, Saturday brings a brit champs game so let’s hope the momentum carries through to a win.

In more personal (injury) news, ultrasound scan shows that I have damaged my AC joint and have thickening -_-

As an NHS employee I’m accessing another round of physio but it’s not all good news. The physio triageing me didn’t sound hopeful and even mentioned the dreaded surgery word!!!

Hopefully I won’t have to hang up my skates too soon! With the new rookies starting a few weeks ago I need to catch up!!!!

So much exciting stuff happening! !!!


Bones out

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Under the Helmet – Smirkcules

He’s very loud and deeply proud to be a Dame.

When not coaching either our Bomb Squad or Team Wales, Smirkcules is an Associate Producer at a video games company.  This month’s Under the Helmet sneaks a peak at what makeths this manager…

“There are a lot of similarities between being a coach and being a manager of a team of game developers; You get everyone working together towards a shared goal and ensure the right people are deployed in the right phases at the right time. Plus you get a really fun game at the end of it all if you do it right!Smirksmirk 2

“I originally began to coach roller derby after I had a hard time finding a basketball team in London to be involved with. I stumbled across a roller derby bout near where I used to live in East London, messaged the host league to see how to get involved and that was it. Over the past few years I’ve coached, played, NSO’d, announced, cheered, volunteered; basically everything but ref at games all over the place.

“Video games and roller derby have both allowed me to travel all over the world. I’ve seen a lot of places I wouldn’t normally because of the sport and my job. The video games industry is filled with people with esoteric and unusual hobbies and interests so I’ve been pretty fortunate to have a good work life balance.  The hard times are when we need to do overtime to get a game out the door and I need to stay back in the office instead of getting to training. But overall I’ve had great workplaces and colleagues who support me in my endeavours; particularly when I bought the whole office cakes and sweets to celebrate my appointment as Team Wales Head Coach.

“Coaching and being a producer both allow me to do what I love best; getting the best out of the people around me to achieve our goals and objectives. The fact I get to do this with highly motivated, creative, inspired and passionate people in both my derby and ‘real world’ careers makes me really happy.”

Posted in Meet the Dames

Diary of a Cadet

So being a Cadet is awesome, and whilst you’re not (yet) on the Bomb Squad or A Team, you do get to do some training with them and play with, or against them, in Intraleague.

To celebrate the 50th birthday of Nesstradamous we had our own intraleague games and I got to play!! This was simultaneously exciting and terrifying. Or as Scooby and I decided, we were excitifed!

I had moments when I knew I was contributing, and a lot more moments where quite frankly I was like a rabbit in the headlights (especially going up against Kitty and Penny – eek!) But what mostly happened is I learnt.


Ness calling the jam off.

Ness calling the jam off!

This gave me confidence and self-awareness for skills school the following week where we spent time working on digging in. Now being quite a small skater the odds are I will have someone a lot bigger than me trying to shove me out the way. It’s up to me to develop my core and strength and to be able to hold them. I also need this strength to be able to move them out of the way. Overall I think this was my best session to date on digging in as I was moving skaters a lot bigger than me and I was managing to dig in against them. I still have a lot of work to do on this, especially with digging in, but practise, practise, practise is what it’s about.

But nothing puts a smile on your face like Derby with the Dames!


Kings Heathens win!

Pictures courtesy of Annie Ingram

Posted in Meet the Dames, Q&A Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Diary of a Cadet

So I passed my skating skills (just need my 27 in 5 now) and moved up into the heady world of the Cadets! Swiftly followed by managing to (probably) breaking my own rib with my elbow… I am that clumsy!
This has meant a lot of hanging around the side lines staring wistfully at the Bomb Squad training and trying to copy their drills surreptitiously in my trainers whilst plastering a smile on my face (as I am pleased to see everyone) and hoping it covers the raw look of envy that is trying to take over my features.
I think the worst training session was when the Bomb Squad were doing their 27 in 5 laps. I need to pass this before I become eligible for a lot of things, and to see them all achieve this whilst I stood, holding my side whenever I coughed, was so frustrating I could have cried. This wasn’t helped by the fact I had a chest infection (as well as the broken rib – go me!) and had learnt very swiftly that jumping jacks are not possible without severe pain.
However the worst passed after a month and whilst I was careful about contact and scrimming I did manage a full training session and Wow! Did I feel great afterwards!
After moving up from the Rookies to the Cadets it had dawned on me how much I didn’t know about drills, strategy, and everything else that makes a good Derby player. Skating skills are such a tiny part of being able to actually play Derby that by achieving these I have realised just how much I don’t actually know – and how little I can do.
Far from being demoralised by this I feel as though I have a long winding road ahead of me with extensive skills to learn and I’m really excited about it. I like learning new things, and I’m so far out of my comfort zone at the moment each session that I get through give me a huge sense of achievement. I may not have nailed the drills but I know what I need to work on, and each session gives me new determination and more self confidence that I can do this.
Having not done laps for four months (due to a combination of illness and injury) I am now back up to hitting 24 in 5 which means I only need to improve each lap time by 1.39 seconds to hit 27 in 5 (yes, I used a calculator) and this doesn’t seem that far away. The support from everyone is fantastic and their determination for me to do this mirrors my own.
Being out of my comfort zone is on one hand terrifying and on the other hand exhilarating and I can’t wait to see where the next few months take me.

Rogue Red

Posted in Info, Meet the Dames Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Diary of an Adolescent Zebra – Brain vs. Brain

I had been planning on writing this blog post about my weekend. I’ve had 3 days of reffing in a row, and I’ve had a very different experience at each event.

However, what I want to talk about is mental toughness. When I took up reffing, I expected the hardest thing to be understanding the never-ending rules of roller derby and applying them to the game. Granted, this is indeed very challenging and I will always be getting to grips with it. But that is not what I find the hardest about reffing. My biggest challenge is mental toughness. As a human being I lack self-confidence, and this affects my ability to referee – I am permanently worried that I’m being noticed for the wrong reasons.

If I call a penalty, this doesn’t affect just me. It affects the people on track. It affects the person who has to leave the track. In a game, a referee’s actions will be scrutinised by the skaters on track, the people at the bench, other officials and also the audience. As a referee, you hear comments from most of these parties on a regular basis. You might be OPRing and as you pass by the bench you hear the team making comments about calls. The bench coach might be shouting at you. You might be jammer reffing and when you call a penalty on a jammer, they might react badly. When you *don’t* call a penalty on a jammer, the opposing blockers might react badly. In every single game, you will make decisions that other people will not like.

Every. Single. Game.

It has taken me a long time to make peace with that fact and for my skin to thicken. I like to please people, but that’s not what refereeing is about. Refereeing is about safety and fairness, and you will never keep everyone happy because roller derby is a competitive sport. My brain is tough on me for this.

Depending on the mood I’m in on the day, I might care more or I might care less about what other people think. What I try to remember is that a person who gets angry at my decision will only be angry momentarily, and then will move straight back to the game. They’re not thinking about me as a person – just that one action at that one moment in time. Maybe they’ll be stewing for the 30 seconds that they serve the penalty, but then they get back on with the game. In reality, my biggest critic is myself.

When I was a brand new referee there were times when I came away from scrims in tears because I was so frustrated by my performance and how my actions impacted upon others. In actual fact, if I’d spoken to anyone playing in the game I’d have been told that no one noticed me for the wrong reasons and actually I wasn’t the world’s worst ref. It was all in my head. I’ve had games where I’m so frustrated at myself for not being perfect – or even for calling a penalty that I know to be a good call but then getting a bad reaction from a skater – that I’ve been unable to focus on the game in front of me. These situations happen less frequently the more I ref, but I do still have days when I struggle.

I’ve written this post because I was struggling at Brit Champs on Saturday. The rest of the crew was very experienced, and my feelings of inadequacy were overwhelming.

So here’s what I say to myself, and what I want to say to any other young zebras: You are not perfect. You will make mistakes. You will miss things. You will make decisions that upset people. You will be at the receiving end of skaters’ anger. But all of this is the same at whatever your level. ALL refs make mistakes, miss things, make decisions that no matter how correct will be hugely unpopular. That’s part of the role. The only person out there making things personal is yourself. So take a deep breath, remind yourself that no one is expecting you to be flawless, you are doing the best that you can and that is enough. That is appreciated. Just get on with enjoying yourself.

At the end of Brit Champs on Saturday, the head referee came over and congratulated me on the decisions that I had made. So, go figure.


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