Friday, March 18, 2011

Left 4 Deadwards as Twinkletoes.

Jr High track - "chicken legs," not CRZY LEGS.

So they say hard work pays off. Practice makes perfect. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. You can do anything you put your mind to… They all kind of sound like bullshit phrases that hang on a wall in a high school gym teacher’s office. At that age, I hated school but did love to play sports. I was the girl who sweated in gym class and wanted to play football with the boys. I played softball and basketball and even tried track for awhile and was pretty decent all around. I had the competitive edge that pushed me just enough to try, but not enough passion to try, try again.

At a certain point I was no longer the tall third grader who could rebound or the long legged first baseman who could reach for the ball. My peers started to surpass me and get better and I didn’t care enough to work any harder. By the time I graduated, I had quit the sports I played almost all my life.

Last Saturday I felt what it was like to really excel at what I do. I’ve been playing roller derby for over two years now and I’m feeling myself improve; the things I had been practicing over and over were starting to come natural. And it’s not just me. On the track I saw cohesion and smart derby from our team. Nothing has really changed about the way we train; we’ve just gotten better at the things we’ve been practicing, together. The best thing any team can do, is practice with each other often, and our emphasis on attendance is definitely paying off.

Swiss MisFit's debut bout.
Photo by Patrick Bloom
We began our second full bouting season with a strong victory against the Quad City Rollers, 191 to 83. It was kind of nice to be playing a familiar face in our season opener since we’re playing a lot of new teams this year.  We started the bout strong by controlling the pack with solid walls and lead jammer status, to hold QCR scoreless until about the sixth jam. As a team, our goal going into this bout was better communication and focus, and to work together. In roller derby, offense and defense is played at the same time, so you have to be ready to switch tactics quickly and fluidly depending on which jammer is in the pack. These tactics change immensely when one of the jammers is not even on the track. With our jammer in the box, we sped it up, and with theirs off the track we trapped a skater to slow it to a near standstill.

Emily Sherman Photography
One of my own personal jammer goals was to work harder at taking the inside, instead of defaulting to the outside. The inside line is often the most heavily guarded so a jammer may be tempted to just take the outside, but that is most tantalizing for heavy hitters. To counteract that, I like to employ the move taught by Suzy Hotrod as “DON’T FUCKING TOUCH ME!”

In normal skating posture, I am low and my hitting zones are forward. The blocker will lock onto this and make a cut out to hit. This is when I suddenly straighten up and go the other direction. Their committed momentum takes them flying off the track as I am slipping through the inside. I managed to use DFTM *3* times in a row against an admittedly beautiful waterfall by the QCR pack, thus Your Mom renaming me “Twinkletoes”

I also focused on my GOGOGO skills. As a jammer, I have two minutes or less to get around as many times as I can to score points. When DFTM fails and I do get knocked out or down, those few seconds of recovery time really count. I can’t waste time waiting for the pack or a blocker to move forward so I can re-enter behind them. If I can get back in play as quick as possible, they are often still recovering from the block they just gave, giving me time to speed around them before they can re-adjust their stance.
Sneaking through the inside to try and snag some points on the fourth whistle.
Cathy Kovach Photography

Looking back now, the bout was such a blur. I remember some of these small accomplishments but as a whole I couldn’t tell you how well I did. Now that we’re an apprentice league we have to keep in-depth stats like the WFTDA teams do. It is insane. I can tell you that I jammed 11 times and only blocked in 3. I scored 55 points and got lead jammer 7 times. I sat in the box for one major backblock (which I remember doing specifically, oops) and 3 minors: cutting the track, out of bounds blocking, and out of bounds skating.  Then there are fifty other columns that I don’t understand, but my love for lists finds this all very helpful. All these numbers are made possible by the WONDERFUL volunteers who help run the bout. All the people you see holding timers or clipboards are non-skating officials (NSOs) and are invaluable to each of our bouts.
We also had an army of fresh meat to
help at the bout.
Emily Sherman Photography

Coming out of that bout I feel very confident and excited looking into the next two weekends. Saturday we play one of the Mad Rollin’ Dolls' home teams, the Unholy Rollers. They are current league champions and have some skaters who play actual WFTDA bouts; it’s daunting to the say the least. I’ve made myself OK with the fact that we might lose, but it will be worth it for the great experience of playing a team that has been around much longer than we have. Despite all that, I feel we are going to surprise them and possibly squeak out a victory?

The following weekend, we head to Des Moines to play the Dames to further our so called "rivalry". I watched their season opener last month, and they are looking pretty strong. MOAB is laying out some killer hits and Cosmo is really pushing it as a jammer. There is of course the always popular Stella Italiana, but we will also be bringing the infamous Kraken. I’m hoping the bout will be more than all the hype, because I’m ready for some hardcore, intense, bad ass roller derby this season, so everybody better BRING IT! 

1 comment:

  1. I got a chance to see Stella bout with the Oly Rollers in WA. She's quick on her feet, but still new to derby. I think you can pull it out!!