Sunday, October 24, 2010

Adapt and Overcome

Last summer we played Cedar Rapids in our second bout ever. Last night we played them again in our second to last bout of this season. Boy, have we come a long way.

The last few weeks all we have talked is strategy, strategy, strategy. The Minnesota Rollergirls taught us a lot at their bootcamp, and BatR, Animal and I are trying our best to relay all that information to our fellow skaters. It came in handy last night when we were faced with issues in pack speed. (I believe there were some kittens and perhaps a basket out there…) I know we all know what to do in most situations now, but I feel like it was not all coming together as tightly as it should have. We seemed to have been successful on multiple levels, but we struggled to keep consistent control of the pack. 
Holding a solid red wall, Glad only has one obstacle. Pics by Joyful Pain
One reason we may have been having a hard time was that the Cell Center floor was stickier than we had anticipated. You see, by practicing on the slickest floor ever, anything else is like glue in comparison. We often play the Quad Cities who have a similar floor to us, and the Mid Iowa Rollers also play on a cement floor so we had not run into it too often this season, besides the Dame’s altered floor. It reminded me to practice what I preach, and be prepared for all situations when it comes to derby. I do not have a variety of wheels in my possession yet, but luckily Glad gave me some harder wheels after I was not feeling too hot in warm ups.

I could hop like a fricken grasshopper around the track, but stopping was another story. On a slick floor my skating style is a very forgiving, sliding-juke kind of jamming, but last night I had to be able to change directions quickly since I could not slam on the brakes as I would have liked. My other option was just to out-skate their blockers, which either worked super well or not at all. I think the floor was great for Ophelia Fracture who has a very quick-step skating style, and was a good boost to Glad’s already high speeds as she returned to the track after a four month hiatus.
Sneakin' through on the inside.
The first half we started strong, building walls and playing smart, and immediately shot into a huge lead. Cedar Rapids worked like wrecking balls, and they knew exactly when their jammer was coming up to create blocking distractions. Our jammers pulled through first, more often than not though, and we kept control with strategic lead jamming. We played pretty clean and stayed out the box while CR often had one or two in. At the half we had the lead, 107 to 39.

In the locker room it was nothing but excitement. It felt amazing to be doing this well, and for those of us who were around last summer, it was just a huge sigh of relief to see how much we have improved in a year.

In the second half, we knew that Cedar Rapids was going to come back kicking and screaming and we had to keep it cool and not let it get us riled up. At first it did not seem like much had changed, but then CR kept starting slow off the line. Now we were faced with exactly the same situation we had yelled at the computer for while watching the regionals a month ago. I did not feel it was really helping CR that much, since they were just wasting time their jammer could be scoring, but it did give them control of the pack from the start. We struggled with this at first, shooting off the line and then having to regain position quickly before the jammers came flying through, losing our focus. Their blockers held a solid three wall which our jammers had to move quickly to get around. Our blockers were often at the front which caught their jammer, but then we would let her push us out of play and we had to let her go.

This went on for a few jams, and then we decided to become the wrecking balls. We would try to pick off their blockers on the line so that they were disrupted when the jammers came through and we could help ours get around. All this chaos led to a full CR penalty box a time or two and a few games of musical jammers. Roller derby is such a fluid sport, and you have to constantly keep check of what nine other girls are doing at all times. If you turn your head to the outside to look for the jammer, you might have Mary Jane Mustang from the inside taking you out. While you are keeping an eye on the pack and what is happening with the blockers, AJ Renegade might be sneaking through on the line. Animal went to the box, now we have to skate with three, what do we do? Their jammer is in the box, how do we get our jammer through as many times as possible for her power jam? There are lots and lots of thoughts to process all at once and make quick decisions on how to react.

I think last night was a testament on how our understanding of the game is improving immensely, but practice makes perfect. We have to tighten some things up since we’ll have to play WFTDA sanctioned bouts next season, because you know, we are a WFTDA Apprentice league now… 

1 comment:

  1. Saw the footwork at the bout -- every now and then I'd see you or Ophelia Fracture dart around a CR woman, and I couldn't even figure out how feet could have moved to make it happen!

    Our party (ten or so with a couple posterboards near the OCCRG's seats) had a blast. Congrats & great blog.