Thursday, August 27, 2009

The perils of derby

It feels like it's been a few strange weeks of practice recently.

Hitzy Blonde has brought back quite the arsenal of new tactics and drills she learned at this year's RollerCon, and she's been eager to put them into play.

Two weeks ago the focus was crocodiles and bowling. Both were taught as strategies most effective when assisted by partners.

Crocodiles are basically a duo thing; one player hits two opposing blockers in succession and then her partner moves in to deliver a second round of blows to those opposing blockers. With bowling one blocker hits two opposing blockers who are side-by-side -- basically trying to take out two people with one hit. (Kind of like bowling a strike when the ball takes out multiple pins.) And if you don't take them out with that one blow, your teammate can finish up the job by repeating the move; I liken this to bowling a spare. Caspice?

It took a lot of practice but I think I'm finally getting the hang of them. Meaning, I can perform them but not at maximum efficiency. At 125 pounds, I don't have a lot of weight to throw around so getting them just right is going to be crucial.

With the Cosgrove scrimmage (see previous posts) coming up on Sunday we have also been scrimmaging far longer in practices. To familiarize ourselves with the surface we will be skating on we --the team veterans, anyway-- held last night's practice at the Cosgrove Institute. Its 1950s gymnasium is so diminutive that the outside line or rail of our track leaves no room for error. As in, one step outside the track and you're in the bleachers or into one of the institute's brick walls.

And if that wasn't enough of an obstacle, it appears the institute's janitors religiously coat the gymnasium floor each night with a thin layer of bacon grease. Yes, it really is that slick. At practice last night we all slid around like dogs on a linoleum floor. I even went down two or three times simply from the lack of "grippiness" -- and I have the rink rash to prove it. After practice, as I sat removing my skates on the bleachers, I noticed unhelpfully that the tread from my right Fugitive wheels (opposite the pushers) had worn away completely.

Additionally, we lost two more skaters due to injuries that night. Benzo Bang, who had only recently returned to skating, re-aggravated her old knee injury. Hitzy Blonde not only sprained her ankle but suffered a "hip pointer," a type of bone/muscle bruise injury that will keep her on the sidelines for at least six weeks. This is on top of her previously torn rotator cuff (shoulder) and plantar fasciitis (heel), so she will be receiving physical therapy now for four different injuries.

With Fast Bettie dropping out and Hitzy Blonde on the shelf the revised line-up for the Cosgrove scrimmage will be:

Farmers' Daughters: Toxic Sugar, GladI8Her, Fonda Cuffs, Left 4 Deadwards, Tynamite, V-Train and Shelby Flyin.

City Slickers: Bat R Up, Ophelia Fracture, Killer Baker, Triple D. Zaster, Animal Mother, Sweet Abattoir and Quantum Bombshell.

On a more positive and personal note, I do feel like I am becoming a more useful and effective blocker during jams. Half the time I see the opposing team's jammer and can react quick enough to block her path (as opposed to letting her sail right past me, which seemed to happen 95% of the time). I'm also better at working with my fellow teammates to communicate and build walls instead of playing like a one-woman team and causing the jam to dissolve into a furious free-for-all.

It's satisfying to know I am improving but satisfying to know, too, that there is so much more room for improvement from where I am now.


  1. As long as you're having fun, keep battling. For some extra inspiration, check out this little video -- -- about one young woman who credits roller derby for saving her soul. And there are other roller derby-themed videos on the site,, as well. Hope you enjoy.

    Best --

  2. Thanks for writing, Jack. I appreciate the link and I will definitely be checking out those videos.