Monday, July 27, 2009

Calamities and casualties

Last Sunday's practice was an eventual one for the Old Capitol City Roller Girls. Despite missing a good chunk of the line-up due to RAGBRAI, we still ended up having not one but two girls taken away on stretchers to the hospital.

Novice Crash Carelli, ever living up to her endearing name, was skating before practice when she lost her balance and fell backwards. But instead of landing on her bottom or back, it was her cranium that loudly absorbed the brunt of impact. We knew we had a problem when she could not remember the fall or what she was doing beforehand. When asked who the current president of the United States was, she paused before tepidly answering, "Bush?"

Despite this, Crash was still eager to practice and had to be coaxed into removing her gear and skates while waiting for the paramedics to arrive. (Our resident paramedics, Ophelia Fracture and Tynamite, were two of the ladies away biking; but fortunately fresh meat Jackie was there to take control of the situation.) She did have a concussion but would be permitted to be back on skates within a week.

Maybe an hour later we were practicing hip and shoulder blocks when GladI8Her zeroed in on neophyte Tyrant Angelica. She executed the shoulder block effectively and a resulting loud pop was heard as Tyrant Angelica careened into the wall. Tyrant Angelica complained of some neck pain while the same paramedics were called back out to Mercer Park again. It was a worrisome time but a few hours later the news would come back that Tyrant's CAT scan revealed no abnormalities with her spine and she would be released later that night.

Wednesday's practice was far less eventful, and I was beginning to think we were in the clear. By yesterday, our RAGBRAI absentees had returned to swell the population back up to close to its usual numbers. Practice was wontedly grueling, as we went through our arsenal of demanding drills including but not limited to shopping carts, planks, lap-after-lap plows and several games of tags. The veterans and I were performing jams before the studious eyes of the fresh meat when Hellyna Bucket tripped over someone's skate and went down hard.

But they say bad luck comes in threes, and this was third blow to the OCCRG roster. Hellyna ended up snapping her pinky finger at the base in two different places. This injury was doubly frustrating as Hellyna had only been back on her skates for two months following long layoff that began in February, when she fell during practice and broke an ankle. No word yet on how long she will be out of commission.

So it's safe to say OCCRG has reached its quota on player injuries and teammates will be saving their pent-up agression and unbridled fury for the team's first home bout, which is tentatively slated for October.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Of cabbages and queens

Yesterday the Old Capitol City Roller Girls took time out for a fun barbecue at Happy Hollow Park in Iowa City. It was quite possibly the first time most of us (minus a few ladies preparing for RAGBRAI) got together outside of practice at someplace other than a bar, besides skate-cleaning at Helena Bucket's house (a chore in itself).

This also meant husbands, partners, friends and kiddies could partake in the fun as well. Not even unseasonably cool temperatures and overcast skies could keep away the OCCRGs, who had assembled between themselves a sumptuous feast of fancy hamburgers, chips and salsa, grilled veggies, cookies, veggie burgers, homemade guacamole, multifarious fruits and enough pineapple to satisfy yours truly.

It would be unbecoming of me at this point not to give major props to skater Dre, who began organizing the soiree late last month despite a very busy work schedule.

Happy Hollow has relatively modern playground but it was probably Atomic Bombshell's simple two-toned rope which was the biggest hit with the children, who used it for several games of tug-of-war and jump rope. Making s'mores (ingredients and below photos supplied by Left 4 Deadwards) was also popular.

"I like them black," said Atomic Bombshell's daughter Isabel. "So did my mother," I offered inappropriately.

Unidentified meat in the NightMere - Hitzy Blonde sandwich.

Everyone seemed to have a good time socializing and the general consensus is that we should not go too long without planning another get-together. Food and drinks were plentiful, spirits were high and sure enough the sun did come out within an hour of gathering.

Now if we could only get the whole team together next time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Learning curve

July has been a slow albeit productive month for the Old Capitol City Roller Girls, who have been training quite hard, as if their was a bout in the near future.

August is slated to be a far busier month. Plans to make appearances at Iowa City's Ugly's Saloon, the NAPA store and the Wellman Skating Rink
are in negotiaitons. Far more concrete is the plan to take part in a scrimmage/exhibition in Cosgrove, Iowa (about a half-hour drive west of Iowa City), to meet and greet with fans. It is set for Sunday, August 30, with the time to be determined.

On a more personal front, during water breaks at practice, I have taken to staying on the track and sprinting solo for a few minutes. I push myself as hard as my lungs and legs will allow. This is a goal I have set for myself to improve my performance during away jams. Looking back over both my bouts with the Cedar Rapids Rollergirls and the Quad City Rollers in June, I still feel I wasn't pushing myself as hard as I was capable of. I'm pretty quick now --although still nowhere near the fleetness of the untouchable Ophelia Fracture-- and I think it I put my "balls to the wall," so to speak, I'd give the opposing team less time to react; less time to guess my trajectory.

I guess my hesitation harkens to a childhood fear I had of falling. As a track and cross country runner, I was quite lazy -- I only ran as hard as I had to win, often easing up towards the end of an apparent victory. But if I happened to run against a girl of equal of greater swiftness I can remember fully extending myself, really reaching for that finish line. There was this frantic moment where I noticed, during full flight, I couldn't even feel the ground beneath my feet as I pounded the earth. This sensation made me more reluctant to push myself to an effort beyond what was needed to win.

But roller derby is a completely different sport. You need to take those chances, dive for those holes. Tenacity and perseverance may make the difference in dashing through the pack, getting that final point.

I will never stop giving my all.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Keep rolling


With our June bouts behind us and our first home bout likely to not materialize before September, you'd think July would be down time for the Old Capitol City Roller Girls.

Think again.

Coach Hitzy Blonde still has us going through our usual rigorous regimen of stamina drills and core exercises. That means endless pack exercises (think 40 consecutive laps), plenty of crunches and planks, flying basketballs (don't ask), side-stepping along gym floor lines, whips and suicide (fall) drills.

Oh, yes. The falls.

Last week Hitzy Blonde taught us a new fall. Or rather, reminded us of one that all of us veterans had already involuntarily performed -- the Barrel Roll.

A relatively simple concept: Getting knocked off balance or rammed by a skater of the opposing team, the assaulted player absorbs the hit by dropping to one knee and rolling to the side.

Yet, as we found out, there are a million ways to screw it up.

The few friends and family members of the Old Capitol City Roller Girls that came to watch practice were treated to a veritable sideshow of us all making utter fools of ourselves. My first attempt resulted in me rolling up onto my shoulder and yelping violently.

"This," I thought to myself. "This does not feel right." I looked around and witnessed my teammates attempting the barrel roll with little success. Hitzy Blonde, hearing the groans around her, demonstrated again while breaking the roll down into numbered steps.

As I dove into my sixth or seventh attempt, I overshot the distance and rolled into the next lane, nearly crashing into someone. Once the motion had ceased I looked up and found myself looking up Animal Mother's rear end, tan and plump as a honeybaked ham.

Some bruised shoulders and sore necks later, I'm still not sure what we accomplished. Maybe months or years down the road, when I am skating in a bout, a burly, unsavory Amazon will send me flying and I will come out of it unscathed, having instinctly performed the perfect barrel roll.

Or maybe not. But I'll just keep rolling with the punches.