Saturday, June 20, 2009

Extracurricular activities

As of 4:15 on Friday, the Old Capitol City Roller Girls were all set for the exhibition/mock bout against the Quad City Rollers at Sturgis on the River. We met in the Fin 'n Feather parking lot and after taking a head count and discussing directions we all piled into our cars and took off. The rain was just starting to sprinkle then and soon turned into a complete downpour. But we trudged on, hoping it was a little bit drier in Davenport.

How wrong we were.

My own vehicle and another OCCRG carload did make it all the way to Davenport. However, a few of our other girls were less fortunate. They made it as far as Walcott only to see a tornado bearing down on them, and had hop off the interstate and scramble for cover in a gas station bathroom.

Back in Davenport it was pouring buckets and the conditions were treacherous: Visibility was poor, street lights were out, roads were flooded and ambulances and police cruisers whizzed by.

In the end, no one was hurt but understandably the girls stranded in Walcott decided to turn around and go home, as it was clear there was no way to proceed with the exhibition with such conditions. But those of us who did make it all the way to Davenport decided to celebrate regardless with pizza and beer --and a cherry piƱa colada for yours truly-- at Old Chicago. So the trip was not a complete bust.

Today Mother Nature was much more cooperative and the team was greeted by soaring temperatures and sunny blue skies for the Pride Parade in downtown Iowa City. Dressed for the occasion in our uniforms, skates, pads and assorted rainbow jewelry, we skated in the parade and enjoyed handing out candy to citizens and kids. The reception was overwhelmingly positive and everyone seemed to be having a good time. At the nearby Pride Festival afterwards the team set up shop with a table and merchandise. We sold a decent number of shirts and buttons and quite a few people signed up to be on our mailing list.


Stay tuned for a July schedule; OCCRG is planning to make appearances at the Wellman Skating Rink, another NAPA event and Ugly's Saloon in Iowa City.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Knowing succession

This past Saturday the Old Capitol City Roller Girls went up against the Cedar Rapids Roller Girls at the U.S. Cellular Center. Though we went down in defeat we were ultra game and fought tenaciously.

The Old Capitol City Roller Girls themselves are a bit of an underdog story. We formed in November and only made our bouting debut on June 6th. On that day we faced the Quad City Rollers, a venerable three-year-old team; on Saturday we were pitted against a team with eighteen months' experience to our seven. So it was an uphill battle before we even stepped out onto the rink, and we knew that going in. Still, I think we surpassed everyones' expectations.

Especially considering we were encumbered by a dirty head referee who called every penalty our team made but was loathe to call penalties against his own home team. It also didn't help that the scores weren't always correct, as earned points were not always being added to our score. And we were still missing key players Bat R Up (who will be returning to us from Utah next month), Benzo Bang (still out with a bum knee) and GladI8Her (sick with pneumonia).

So, all in all, not a bad effort. And perhaps more importantly, we now know our weaknesses and what to work on.

The last practice before the game was buoyed by the presence of the proficient and ever-supportive Sugar 'N Slice and Banshee of the Quad City Rollers, both of whom generously offered their assistance to the Old Capitol City Roller Girls. (Sugar 'n' Slice herself skated with our team Saturday while Banshee coached from the bench.) New drills kept everyone motivated and Sugar 'n' Splice, noticing my ardor, took the time to show me a few pointers.

"My advice is like candy," she told me nonchalantly. "Take what you like and leave what you don't. But with you it's all about harnessing that power."

On a personal note I skated more far more competently than in my debut in Davenport. I hopped back onto my feet quickly when I was knocked down --save for the time my right toe stop came flying off but that couldn't be helped-- focused on the jam instead of the crowd and held my own blocking against some much larger girls. I also got lead jammer status once, but am still a very long way from emulating MVP Ophelia Fracture.

OCCRG's resident tourbillon, Ophelia Fracture

Monday, June 8, 2009

A newfound hunger/ Outperformance

When I worked with racehorses in Kentucky, we had several maidens (horses who were yet to win a race) in our care. Most of them had never started in a race and were what you would call "green." To make the transition to racehorses much smoother myself and other co-workers did a lot of what we called schooling.

We took them to the paddock, or saddling area, in between races to let them see the crowds up close. We trained them in the mornings to break quickly from the starting gate. Sometimes we shipped them to the track weeks ahead of time to let them get a feel for the surface and acclimated to their new surroundings.

And sometimes --some may argue most of the time-- they run mediocrely in their debuts despite all the preparation. They might become stressed and act out against their handlers, spook at shadows or try to jump the tire tracks left on the racetrack from the drag used to smooth the surface. They may stumble coming out of the gate, become overeager and fight their rider, or maybe the light bulb simply doesn't come on until the end of the race.

But with the experience of one race under their belt, horses tend run much more professionally in their second start. It's a popular betting angle to play the horse who ran greenly in his debut but has, more confidently, put in good workouts since for its next outing.

Sweet Abattoir, Animal Mother and Toxic Sugar representing OCCRG

What does this have to do with roller derby? Perhaps very little but I think it illustrates my experience skating in Saturday's bout versus the Quad City Rollers. I was, to put it lightly, quite green. As a jammer I was tardy at the start, gawked at the crowd when I should have been pushing myself for all I was worth and seemed dazed when knocked down by members of the opposing team.

No, my performance wasn't disasterous but it was far from my best. But while I might I have gotten down on myself for it in the past, instead I felt a burning desire to push myself harder. I feel so much more hungry now to get back out on the track and prove that I can do better. That there is still room for improvement now that I have my first bout under my belt. I now really know and have experienced what it all entails: Traveling to the venue, skating on a new surface, playing against strangers in front of a large crowd.

But enough about me. How about those Old Capitol City Roller Girls, who in their very first bout pushed the Quad City Rollers to a narrow 135-132 win? We gave them all they could handle and then some, despite having first-timers like myself and Shell Be Flying on the roster and missing some of our marquee names (namely Bat R Up and the injured Benzo Bang) from the line-up. A personal best was getting lead jammer status during one of the jams, though undoubtedly the real stars of the night were GladI8Her and Ophelia "Grand Slam" Fracture who blitzed past the Quad City girls like they were standing still.

Left 4 Deadwards is lead jammer! (As designated by the affable Howie Swerve.)

It was a huge effort from a tremendous team who only came into existence last November against a team that has been around for over three years. I couldn't be prouder to be a part of the Old Capitol City Roller Girls, who continue to turn heads and earn respect and new fans wherever they skate.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Promoting and spotlighting

Today a few of the Old Capitol City Roller Girls --namely Fonda Cuffs, Animal Mother, Left 4 Deadwards, Tynamite and yours truly-- made their public debut at NAPA's tool sale on Highway 1. It was a resounding success on all fronts.

With buckets in hand, we introduced ourselves to employees and visitors alike, described our team background and answered various questions ranging from "Where do you skate?" to "Do you girls do private parties?"

The reception was decidedly positive and I think we've secured a number of new fans both young and old. Cruising around the store and in the parking lot in our skates, derby garb and pads we drew a lot of attention and even a few honks from the highway. In the process we raised a princely sum of money for the team and even secured a new sponsor in NAPA. And yes, they fed us brautwursts too.

If you weren't in attendance, you surely missed a good time. The roller girls posed for a slew of photos (definitely keepers!) and handed out fliers, and Tynamite even drove a forklift!

But don't worry, this was but one of several appearances the Old Capitol City Roller Girls will make this month in addition to their scheduled bouts (see schedule in May 17th post).

If you are interested in having the Old Capitol City Roller Girls appear at your own shindig, drop us a line!

Greeting a young fan

Fonda Cuffs shows her wild side

Sweetening up the day for NAPA employees

You know you want some of that