Ramp Skating: The Height of Badassery

My overarching philosophy, as you well know, is that anything you can do on roller skates will make you better at roller derby. Bonnie D Stroir declared it so when I went to one of her boot camps four years ago, and I took it more to heart than any other piece of advice I’ve ever received. With this in mind, I’ve spent a lot of time practicing tricks like jumps, some figure skating stuff, side surfing, and backwards stuff. However, this year my quest for goodness at roller skates delivered me to the great sport of ramp skating.

Thanks to the magic of Facebook, I’m pretty sure every human in the known derbyverse spent a good portion of last month staring at the above video of Estro Jen in awe (my rough calculations estimated the ratio to be about 70% skills-awe, 30% skating booty-awe).

I’d seen her skate ramps before, but found myself overcome with terror at the thought of attempting it on all previous occasions. For some reason, this time it stirred something in me and I decided to spend my off season becoming the next Estro Jen.

Of course, what this actually equated to was spending my off season nervously standing at the top of a half pipe, making uneasy noises and daring myself to drop in before inevitably bailing at the last second and instead sliding down the halfpipe on my side in the fetal position.*

*dramatic retelling. It totally wasn’t that bad, but I’m in no way the next Estro like I ludicrously imagined.

“In what way does ramp skating make you better at roller derby?” you might be asking, you cynical cynic, you. Okay, so it doesn’t per se, but what it does do is help you learn how to control yourself in very nearly out of control situations, how to adapt your centre of gravity, how to manoeuvre your body on wheels in a different way, and how to not abuse your toe stops. Plus, it’s really freaking fun!

If you’re considering trying it out for the first time, I’d definitely recommend checking out an indoor skate park like Ramp Attak in Geebung. It’s a super safe space, the skating surfaces are all clean and in good repair, and the people there are, in my experience, really respectful. Still, you’re definitely going to want to take your entourage with you.

There’s a great resource for newbs on Rollergirl.ca – their Aggressive Skating 101 PDF contains a lot of info about some different stuff you can do when you first start skating, pointers on visiting a skate park, and some dos and don’ts to keep in mind. You can find the PDF here.

The first couple of times I went, my butt and coccyx got thoroughly tenderised. I just couldn’t figure out how to keep myself upright! What I realised was that I was trying to maintain good derby form – hips back, butt down – simply out of habit. In ramp skating, however, your weight needs to be much further forward – you lean forward and keep your weight further over your front trucks than your back. Little tweaks like this totally teach you how to use your skates differently, and how to keep yourself in control when your weight shifts over your skates. It also presents you with many opportunities to defend quads and poo-hoo inlines, if that’s your thing.

And so, I present to you the fruits of our off-season labour: Hanzilla brought her Go Pro camera to a few of our sessions and The Ugly Duckling edited it into a video that I think you’ll agree makes Estro look like a TOTAL GREENHORN.

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Filed under Cross training, Life, Mission accomplished, Motivation, Roller derby

Tropicarnage 2013

Photo belongs to Roaringstorm Photography

Photo belongs to Roaringstorm Photography

Remember when I talked about how great Tropicarnage Cup ’12 was? Well, sir, I have to tell you – that was because I hadn’t met Tropicarnage ’13 yet. That’s not to say that last year wasn’t wonderful, but this year I was so absurdly full of Sun State love and pride this year that I just wanted to hug and love EVERYONE! And that’s precisely what I did.

Photo belongs to FPS Images

Photo belongs to FPS Images

Going in as #1 seed we had a bye on the first day, so I spent my Saturday lying face down on the couch, immobile, watching countless hours of the Simpsons to try and distract myself. Every time I thought about the fact that we were defending our title for the third year, I felt absolutely sick to my stomach. I suppose I felt like we had something to prove – that we deserve the title of number one in the state.

Photo by Richard Tompsett

Photo by Richard Tompsett

Day two rolls around and I try half-assedly to convince myself that I’m not nervous. The truth is, I feel ready, and when I think about my team I feel like we could take on the world, but there’s still that niggling little Thing gnawing away at the back of my mind.

In a deja vu-inducing turn of events, we played Gold Coast first up that day. Nothing compares to the feeling of unleashing a year’s worth of preparation on your first opposition in a tournament. The teamwork, the unity, the driving out of bounds together, the setting and picking, the communication, the plays, the offense, the complete uniformity of black and yellow – it makes me feel positively giddy. When you’ve practiced a single solitary moment of a play ad nauseum for the entire season, and then you do it in a game, and it works?! There’s nothing like it! Skating shoulder to shoulder beside my teammates, bracing one another as the jammer hits – the feeling of the utter support and determination of the group totally fueled me.

Our win in the first game saw us go on to play Brisbane City Rollers, which was actually a first for me! This meant, of course, that I was completely caught off guard when I realised they were a bunch of freaking meat-axes who hit like freight trains. Far out. Sun State is decidedly not a hard hitting team, instead focusing on positional blocking and driving skaters out as a team. These days when I take a big hit, it really throws me off just because I’m just not used to it anymore.

“Stop hitting me! I’m trying to stop your jammer!”

This photo belongs to Roaringstorm Photography

Rose Ruin will destroy everyone. This photo belongs to Roaringstorm Photography

So anyway. The game that determined who we’d play in the final, the semi final between Northern Brisbane and Paradise City, did not go at all the way I thought it would. Every year to date, Sun State has played Northern Brisbane in the Tropicarnage Cup Grand Final. WELL. Let me  tell you. As Paradise City inched further and further away from Northern Brisbane, I began to realise there was a distinct chance we wouldn’t be playing NBR in the final. I couldn’t really process it – we play NBR in the final, and that’s just the natural order of things.

Needless to say, the derby gods didn’t care that I was confused, and Paradise City took the win. What a somber night that made for at Sun State HQ – I barely knew myself going into the final against people who weren’t wearing teal and black. As with the night before any huge game, I was unable to sleep and spent the entire night tossing and squeaking my inflatable mattress against the wall in Ladykiller’s living room (sorry roommates).

The morning of the final, I hitched a ride with T-Wizz and Courtizone. T pumped Yeah Yeah Yeahs through her car stereo almost loudly enough to drown out my obsessively anxious thoughts, but not quite. In all my life, I don’t think I’ve felt as nervous about anything as I did about that game. I couldn’t eat; I couldn’t think of anything but the uncertainty of defending our title against a brand new opponent. For hours, I felt sick to my stomach (though I’d say that was only 40% nerves, and about 60% the 40C/102F degree day we were enduring).

Our generous league had provided Eskys full of ice for us to cool our water bottles, but we instead filled the coolers with our jerseys and poured our ice water over the top of them, before going and sitting outside in our bras. When people imagine Australian derby, I have no doubt that’s exactly what they picture.

This photo belongs to Vicki Hendriks

This photo belongs to Vicki Hendriks

A notoriously slow-firing team, Sun State spent the first half of the game mostly trying to keep our heads above the water. By that point I was no longer nervous – all I could think about was the job I had to do, and my desperate need to protect and support my teammates. The beginning of the second half sparked that Sun State magic that sends my heart racing. We got stronger, fiercer, hungrier, more defensive.

Sun State took the win 158-95. This was one of my favourite games to date – it’s easily in the top five. The intensity, the teamwork, the brute force, and the sheer need to win made the whole weekend absolutely magic.

Photo belongs to Vicki Hendriks

Photo belongs to Vicki Hendriks

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Rollercon 2013

I made  it! Against all odds and financial common sense, I made it to Rollercon 2013. It was incredible, obviously, but it also highlighted one fairly devastating fact: I’m like, old, man.

At my first Rollercon in 2010, I had barely been skating even a year, and I didn’t know anything, and I was overwhelmed 90% of the time, and I couldn’t do anything being taught in any of the classes, but I got in there. This year, I spent day two bed-ridden after getting really sick – that was my first red flag. But moreover, I just couldn’t bring myself to enter the gauntlet of the Hunger Games-style class entry system. It was like anarchy trying to get into the queue at doors open, and I just didn’t see the sense in spending my holiday in America hanging outside a conference room, and getting worked up, and being Katnissed in the face by a skater who wanted the spot just a little bit more than me.

So this year, I skated in two challenge games (Taurus vs Scorpio, and USA vs Australia – against such powerhouses at Krissy Krash and Death By Chocolate. We were actually in the lead for a substantial amount of the game!), skulked around various Sephora stores, blew my entire gear budget within 30 minutes of arriving, and watched Seinfeld while eating Whole Foods snacks with my friend’s fiance in our hotel room . I still managed to get in Advanced Apex Jumping with Juke Boxx, something about Putting Your Butt On People with Quadzilla, and a class on hitting people out of bounds with ChefXecutioner, and to be honest, I had a freaking amazing time.

Inexplicably, this is the only photo in existence of me at Rollercon this year. It was taken after we descended upon Victoria’s Secret and found out we’d all been wearing the wrong bra size for 13 years:

Rollercon 2013?

I still think that as far as training camps go, Blood and Thunder has been my favourite yet. I literally spent all day for four days on skates, learning, or off skates, talking to coaches. It was incredible. I guess I need to remind myself that Rollercon is more than a training camp – it’s more like part training camp, part derby shopping fiesta, part tournament, part afterparty.

The best part for me (and no doubt for all Aussies…okay, I’m just going to speak on behalf of our entire country) is getting to see the crème de la crème of derby being played. We just don’t have derby at that level yet, and it blows my little antipodean mind getting to see games like Team Antik vs Team Riedell, Team Sexy vs Chupacabras Peligroso, and the highlight – Vagine Regime vs Caulksuckers. Those giant vagina chants have bored themselves into my hippocampus for LIFE.

Vagine Regime vs Caulksuckers

Go look at the whole gallery – it’s amazing!

Other highlights included: visiting with my derby wife and long-distance heterosexual life partner, having dinner Death and Company in New York and ordering their Derby Girl cocktail which turned out to be the worst thing I’d ever put in my mouth, hitting up the new pinball arcade in Lafayette, bike rides, lots of breweries, geocaching, stocking up at Forever 21, and remembering why I love America and Indiana and my friends so much.

I think my favourite part, though, was a complete stranger approaching me and saying, “Hey, Blockodile Dundee! I love your blog!” WHAT?!

Obligatory, yet thoughtful photo dump to come when I figure out how to hook my new phone up to my computer!

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In Praise Of A Bloody Good Warm Up

This photo belongs to the amazing Roller Derby Fotos. Seriously, he's great. Check out his site!

This photo belongs to the amazing Roller Derby Fotos. Seriously, he’s great. Check out his site!

Hands up who here is guilty of phoning in their warm ups? I can guiltily recall years of “warming up” by means of doing about five laps of the track and then lazily rolling around on the ground in some demented stretching attempt. Earlier this year, my team attended an information session with personal trainer and ex-speed and figure skater, Krysia Child of DASH Spot On Fitness. Krysia deduced that we, as derby skaters, train as often as serious athletes, yet we don’t treat ourselves that way. She stressed the importance of “pre-hab” and injury prevention, a pivotal point of which includes actually warming up effectively. She said that in her skating days, she would spend about half an hour warming up, and that she consistently performed better when she pushed herself almost to the point of exhaustion in her warm up. It occurred to me that the five minutes I spent pretending to warm up probably didn’t cut the mustard.

So why do we even need to warm up? Is it really that important? The short answer is, “You’re goddamn right it is, and this hematoma on my ass from when I tried to block without warming up first is the proof.”

Warming up serves a few purposes. First and most importantly, it prevents us from injuring ourselves. Cold muscles don’t absorb shock and impact as well as warm ones, and lord knows there’s plenty of shock (physical or otherwise) in derby. It prepares your heart and circulatory system for the increased demands you’re about to slaughter them with, helps improve your range of movement and helps fire up your nerve-to-muscle pathways. Additionally, warming up helps us mentally prepare. It gives us a chance to switch on to derby, to get our awareness happening, and to start focusing on what we’re about to do.

An oft-heard complaint from derby girls in discussing warm ups is, “I don’t want to get too tired from warming up too much.” I’ve heard this from multiple skaters on multiple teams, and have totally been guilty of it myself. We have convinced ourselves that we have an absolutely finite amount of energy which we must preserve for the game, and so are terrified of getting out of breath or tired legs, and wasting our precious game energy in warm ups. This is simply not true (and to be honest, if the 5+ hours we spend training every week aren’t preparing us to be functional for more than the 30 minutes we spend on the track, there’s something very wrong).

What made me wake up to myself was in fact a series of flukes that showed me how much my body was capable of. I realised this year that I needed to HTFU if I had any chance of claiming a place on the Sun State charter team once we started playing for rankings. In an effort to make the most of my time (and in the spirit of HTFUing) I decided I’d have to suck it up and head to CrossFit before Sun State training. The first time I backed up trainings, I was wary of getting exhausted and doing dumb things like falling unnecessarily, but told myself I’d just have to deal with it. So I finished my WOD, lay down on the floor and died for a couple of minutes, then headed to the rink and geared up. Surprisingly, I had one of my best trainings ever – I was incredibly alert, my body did exactly what I told it to (often a feat in itself), and I was successful in a lot of the drills. It felt amazing!

A few weeks later, a bunch of us headed down to Byron Bay to attend a day-long boot camp with Juke Boxx and Ballistic Whistle (more on this to come!). After five hours of skating, blocking, jamming, jumping and falling, we were well and truly pooped. And wouldn’t you know it, we had to haul ass back to Brisbane for scrimmage that same afternoon! I mentally prepared myself for an hour of falling, sucking, and being owned, because sometimes I’m just awful like that. But it was as if, after skating for five hours already, I had reached some warp drive, other dimension of warmed up-ness and awareness, and instead had one of the best scrimmages of my life. It seemed that Krysia was really onto something when she talked about warming up to the point of near exhaustion.

So what makes a good warm up? I’d wager that it’s a really personal thing, with a lot of trial and error, to figure out exactly what you need to do in order to perform your best. In her WFTDA Featured Skater interview, Smarty Pants said, “I like to warm up my slow twitch muscles first and then move to my fast twitch muscles. It’s a must that I get to block before the game. I also warm up my footwork and stopping throughout the process.” That level of understanding of how your body works and what will ensure success is truly enviable, but Smarty has obviously had a lot of time to perfect it, having just reached her tenth anniversary in derby. By that token, what works for me might not work for you, but I have established a pretty solid routine that I think is well-rounded and effective, so if you’re feeling a bit lost in your warms ups, you might find this helpful. I totally don’t get in this kind of warm up before every training – or at all, if I’m running late and am willing to pay for it later – but it’s an absolute must before games, and scrimmages (if you can manage).

The most well-rounded warm up is done both off skates and on, and has several components to ensure it covers all the necessary stuff that needs to get switched on.

Off skates:

1.     Getting your heart rate up and your body warm.
This is when we start to get our blood pumping and warm our muscles up. It’s important that we do this kind of warm up before jumping into stretching or anything more strenuous. However, you don’t want to dive in headfirst and do a 100 metre sprint straight off the bat. Ease yourself into it – perhaps start with a light jog or some gentle skipping/jump rope to get your heart rate up a bit. Once you’re a bit warmer, you can start doing things like sprints, jumping jacks, skipping, mountain climbers, squats and pushups – anything that will flush your muscles with lots of fresh, oxygenated blood and get you to break a bit of a sweat.

2. Dynamic stretching.
For many, the concept of stretching (or even the concept of warming up) evokes images of static stretching – ie “stretch and hold”. However, studies have in fact found static stretching to have a negative impact on sports performance and power output. One study investigated the athlete’s ability in the areas of sprinting, jumping, strength and endurance with and without static stretching beforehand, and it was found to decrease performance in every instance. As such, it’s best to save the static stretching until after training – because we do still want to stretch out our muscles and improve our flexibility; just not at the cost of our athletic performance.

Dynamic stretching is a method of stretching that encourages our bodies to reach their full range of movement through gentle functional movements. Things like leg and arm swings, twists and kicks all get your body moving to its full potential:

Getting our body moving in its full range is important to prevent injury and pulled muscles, and this type of stretching gets our fast- and intermediate-twitch muscles – the ones most frequently used in derby – ready to party.

On skates

3. Get your body moving as it would in derby
This is it – go time! This portion of your warm up should take no more than a few minutes, but it needs to be at absolutely 100% intensity. What should you do, you ask? My personal favourite to start with is “SPRINT”/“PLOW”, which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s fun to do in a group to sharpen up your vocal chords/yelling makers, because one person says sprint/plow and everyone else hollers it back to them. So take a few laps to sprint, then plow, then sprint, then plow.

Crossover run to the inside line, bend down and touch it. Crossover run to the outside line, bend down and touch it. Do that a few times.

Do some slaloms back and forward across the track to open up your hips.

Sail out to the outside line, then turn around and slam the brakes on – in a nice low derby stance – as if you’ve just knocked someone out of bounds and stopped yourself inside.

Practice all your stops – hockey stop, power slide, turnaround toe stop, plow.

Grab a buddy and give each other five big, whopping hits each.

Reach your arms up as high as you can, then crouch down, and reach up again, a few times.

And finish with the perennial favourite – five hot laps. GO, GO, GO!

4. Get your brain thinking as it would in derby.
This is going to be a longer, lower impact part of your warm up. It will probably also be a more team-oriented part, so you will need to make sure your whole team is across what you want to get out of your warm up and how you want to do it, but here are my suggestions.

Pack up and practice calling where the “jammer” is as she moves across the track behind you. Then practice blocking each member of your pack for one lap each – this is called “The Impossible Jam”. Do some work as a wall; do some one on one blocking. Run through your plays. Practice bridging and reforming. Practice hitting each other out of bounds and running back. Practice every scenario you think might arise in the game, for at least a couple of minutes each.

As you can see, this is a lot to cover in your warm up, and it’s kind of tempting to fob it off and figure that the five laps you do before they blow the whistle is enough to get you warm. But I promise you that once you see just how differently you play when every part of your body and mind is adequately switched on, you’ll be a stalwart convert. How do you feel about warm ups? Do you have any awesome warm ups the rest of us should know about?!

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Homemade Coconut Milk

cocomilkHomemade coconut milk: It’s crazy easy, crazy cheap, and crazy good.

I’ve been trying to kick dairy for years. How pitiful is that? God help me if I ever had to quit a real addiction; I can’t even stop drinking milk. Dairy has been blamed for lots of things, including skin problems and tummy health, both of which have long been issues for me. 

And so, I’ve declared dairy off limits more times than I can count. The thing is that I can’t conceive of a life without coffee and tea and smoothies and porridge – if not milk, then I need something! So I’ll march to the store and stock up on soy milk before realising it tastes like a wet, dirty sock, and then relapse back to drinking dairy. Then I’ll go and buy alm0nd milk – I like almonds, how bad could it be? Back to dairy. Rice milk. Dairy. Oat milk. Dairy.

Seriously, how can these things present themselves as milk in good consciousness? They’re nothing but vaguely milk-coloured abominations, and they know it as well as I do.

In America, I found this stuff called So Delicious Coconut Milk, at which point it occurred to me that basically all my life’s problems were pretty much solved, and everything would be okay. After coming back to Australia, though, I realised nothing remotely like So Delicious existed. After searching high and low, I found something at an obnoxious organic store which certainly thought it was coconut milk, but which cost $6.95 a litre and tasted like car wash runoff. However, that organic store also sold something called a nut milk bag. Although I’m livid that it took me two years to figure out, I now know how to make my own unadulterated coconut milk that tastes amazing, and costs less than $1 a litre.

coconut

What you will need:

1 litre of water

1 cup of straight up shredded or desiccated coconut. I got the natural stuff from Flannery’s with no added sugar or anything.

A blender

A big jug/bowl of some sort

A nut milk bag (or muslin cloth, or Chux cleaning wipe) 

A 1-litre bottle

Add a litre of water and a cup of coconut to your blender. Whizz them on high for about a minute, let it sit for about five minutes, then whizz it again.

Place your nut milk bag inside your jug/bowl, with the top of the bag folded over the jugs edge, then pour your coconut mixture in.

jug

Bring the top of the bag together and carefully lift the whole thing out of the liquid. Then, wring the everloving hell out of the pulp in the bag. Wring, and squeeze, and squish, until no more liquid comes out.

Delicious, creamy, fresh coconut milk on left; sad, spent shredded coconut husks on right

Delicious, creamy, fresh coconut milk on left; sad, spent shredded coconut husks on right

Et voila! You have made coconut milk! If you have mad skillz or are generally a badass, you can pour it freehand into your vessel of choice, or you might like to use a funnel. I choose funnel because I’m hopeless at almost everything.

It’s amazing because there are no weird chemicals or added sugar, and it tastes exactly, 100% like coconut. You can use it for everything – tea, coffee, smoothies, baking, cereal, hot chocolates. If you’re wise, you’ll make two litres at a time so you don’t have to make it daily like I did for the first week. Or maybe you’ll have some semblance of self control and won’t go through it with such rapidity. But who has time for that?

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Show and Tell: Eternal Absence & Book Update Edition

 

Off Ya Glutes Everyday People

Off Ya Glutes Everyday People

 

Hello, friends!

Contrary to what you may think, I haven’t abandoned ship. Oh, no! I’ve been incredibly busy WRITING A BOOK!

The first draft of The Fresh Meat Companion is nearing completion, and with luck – I mean, with lots of hours of work and minimal sleep – it’ll be finished by July. I’m so excited! It covers all aspects of derby – gear, practice, league relations, playing the game, cross training, and everything in between. It’s packed with so much learnin’ goodness, and I’m honestly quite jealous that it didn’t exist back when I was a freshie. I remember ravenously reading and watching anything I could get my hands on, and still feeling quite overwhelmed. So if you’re thinking about derby, you’ve just started, or even if you’ve been skating for awhile but still feel like you have more to learn, I think you’ll find it really interesting!

As for the rest of my time, I must say a big, fat thank you to everyone who voted for my photo on facebook. Because of your sheer awesomeness, I am now one of the faces of my CrossFit gym, Off Ya Glutes! I got to be a part of a really cool photo shoot – see my strategically-placed SSRG tank top and derby leg strength squat above! – and won a free membership! Though it could never rival my voracious derby compulsion, I am completely obsessed with CrossFit right now – particularly the CrossFit Games. They remind me so much of the WFTDA Playoffs (except for, you know, the derby) and make me want to be amazing like Julie Foucher. She’s a 24 year old med student who placed second in the CrossFit Games last year, and I basically want to be her. Or at the very least, a mediocre facsimile. Check out the last heat at the 2012 Regionals, where she set a world record (it’s like, twenty minutes long, but I just couldn’t stop watching the whole time):

Other noteworthy links include: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s unexpectedly motivational fitness blogs, RDA’s Prehab post, and John Green‘s video of him making dinner with his three year old kid. As you know, I adore John’s work as an author, and his work as a YouTuber is really getting him up there in my list of Best People Ever. Trust me:

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Filed under Books, Cross training, Life, Links, Motivation

A Derby Weekend for the Books

Allow me to set the scene. It is the last weekend of the season – EVERYTHING has been leading up until this point. A culmination of a year of training, and running, and burpees, and spinach, and oats, and Gatorade, and fake Gatorade for when you’re too poor to buy the real kind, and winning bouts, and losing bouts, and almost dislocating your jaw – this is what it was for!

463844_516868334998593_1458360450_o

Photo belongs to Roller Derby Fotos

Oh, and then there was this: 

616427_514179165267510_1300175811_o

Photo belongs to Roller Derby Fotos

Then this:

mebonnie

Dude, look how muscly her shoulders are.

In the space of three days! What the what?! It was a huge weekend and I was beyond exhausted by the end of it. But it was that wonderful, contented exhaustion where you get home and drag yourself through the front door, sit down in the shower for forty minutes and kind of clean yourself, then snuggle into your bed, smiling as you fall asleep.

*   *   *

The Sun State Roller Girls grand final was on the Saturday night. My team, Defiants, went into the grand final game in the number one spot, having lost only two out of our seven games. Still, we had lost our last game  – to the team who we would end up playing in the grand final game. Drama! I don’t remember a lot of the game (I rarely do) but I do know that we were down for most of the game. It was insanely close, with several lead changes, but the Riots were on top a lot of the time. I do remember getting lead in the first jam,  and calling it at 4-0. Boy, that’s a good feeling to start a game with!

I also remember being really tired, seriously freaking out on the bench, my asthma being really bad, and eating a lot of Skittles. Oh, and when I skated off the track at half time, Suzy Hotrod and Quadzilla were playing basketball at the hoops next to the track. Doesn’t that sound just like some weird dream you’d have? Then somehow we won the bout by a totally nominal amount (I think it had something to do with Courtizone being tiny and fast, and that we greased her up before the game) and they gave us a big trophy! And I cried, because that’s what I do.

Image belongs to Roller Derby Fotos

Look at our little big league!

*   *   *

So then comes Sunday. Did you hear about Roller Derby Xtreme? They brought Gotham Girls and LA Derby Dolls down here and built a banked track for this game series tour (which is why Gotham and LA were out our grand final – that’s totally not something that normally happens).

Anyway, we bought tickets to RDX as soon as they became available, before we even knew that three of our team mates would be playing in the game! RDX held a bootcamp before the series of games began, and several Sun Staters were invited to participate. At the bootcamp they chose two people to play in LADD jerseys, and two to play for Gotham. Isn’t that the coolest thing you’ve ever heard?! So we went along, stoked to not only see a banked track game for the first time, but to also to cheer our faces off for our friends! 

The place looked a small bit cooler than our community sports complex, I will admit that.

The place looked a small bit cooler than our community sports complex, I will admit that.

It really didn’t occur to me that banked track might be harder to follow than flat track, but for at least 80% of the time, I was lost. It occurred to me that this must be how punters feel coming to one of our games! Man, it must suck to be them. I’m kidding; it was still pretty cool to watch, but I just felt like I couldn’t get into it the same way I would a regular flat track game. The shorty short short jams, the serving penalties AFTER the jam is over, the lead jammer thing – it was all so foreign!

Still, I loved getting to see my first ever banked track game. We are so involved in WFTDA play that it’s easy to forget about the myriad other forms roller derby takes, all of which are awesome.

*   *   *

68007_10151141313703144_1390532726_n (1)

Well, Sunday comes around – The Big Three! You can read more about it here, but essentially Gotham contacted us to arrange a game while they were in town for RDX. As we are a WFTDA apprentice league, we had to play a game against a WFTDA member league to fulfil our apprenticeship requirements. As you can probably imagine, WFTDA member leagues are pretty hard to come by in these parts – so far, Victorian Roller Derby are the only member league in the whole country. VRDL actually flew up to Brisbane for the day – who would turn down the opportunity to play Gotham?! – so we held a triple header, including the first WFTDA-sanctioned game ever played in Australia!

 

*   *   *

What an epic end to a thoroughly epic season. And you have permission to slap me for using the word “epic”, but I think this may be one of the rare occasions that actually warrants its use.

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