Thursday, October 29, 2009

Before-party; after-party

That's right. The Old Capitol City Roller Girls are so hardcore that there will be a tailgate before the bout (see below) in addition to the after-party at Vesta in Coralville.

I apologize for not having written in a week; I was hoping to do a lengthy pre-bout evaluation and share my thoughts on the team's --as well as my own-- progress. But as it turns out, with me being the master procrastinator that I am, I realized Monday that I had three papers due this week and a class presentation. So it's been a very sleep-deprived and stressful week for Trip. (My pre-bout anxiety has been relatively low as compared to the past, though I am unsure whether this has do to getting used to competing in front of a crowd or merely being distracted by mountains of schoolwork, as well as a WTFDA take-home test). And while I am not ailing with the flu like a lot of people these days --knock on wood-- I was pretty sore after Sunday's practice when coach Bat R Up mercilessly rammed me several times.

What else? New skates continue to progressively grow more comfortable each time I skate in them. Jello shot night at Shakespeare's was fun and a successful venture for the team. Myself, Left 4 Deadwards and Animal Mother got a whopping 45 minutes of air-time Wednesday on the University of Iowa's radio station, KRUI, to promote our team and Friday's bout. And some experienced skaters may be joining the ranks of OCCRG in the imminent future, which is pretty darn exciting.

That's all for now; I'm fairly close to slumbering but I hope to have a post-bout summary up by Saturday. Wish us luck!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blue's the standard

Left 4 Deadwards, Tynamite and Ophelia Fracture clowning around

It's been a busy past few weeks for the Old Capitol City Roller Girls who are in the midst of preparing to host their first home bout against the Quad City Rollers on the 30th. This includes a slew of activities including ordering new uniforms, securing half-time acts (this time it's the University of Iowa Step Team), setting up sound equipment, selling tickets, etc. Roller derby is very much a do-it-yourself type of sport although personally I find that aspect appealing; I prefer thing hands-on and in its own cheesy way it bonds us as a team.

OCCRG has also been making a lot of promotional appearances; this morning myself, Left 4 Deadwards, Recyclopath and Fast Bettie were on Z102.9 in Cedar Rapids to talk about the sport and our upcoming bout. Next Wednesday at 4 PM myself and a few other girls will be talking on KRUI 89.7, and just last night we had a girl from the Daily Iowan come and film the team practicing and she interviewed Killer Baker and myself. (Sound bytes and links soon to follow.)

Recylopath, Fast Bettie, Left 4 Deadwards and yours truly with Schulte & Swann on Z102.9

After two practices in my new skates since they have been stretched I think it is safe to say they will work out. There's still a ways to go before they will be fully broken in but at least I'm not leaving blood stains on the inside of my boots anymore and the skin on my foot has stopped peeling. So yes; crisis averted.

Cranium CrusHER went in for surgery this morning to plate her broken ankle (see previous posts for photos) and is expected to be out of action a minimum of three months as she works her way from a non-weight-bearing cast to a weight-bearing cast, and finally a special boot. Pollyslamma reaggravated her old knee injury. And Hitzy Blonde came down with H1N1 but is slowly recuperating and is expected to remain on the roster for the bout.

Practices can be more grueling --think four-minute jams for a total of some 45 minutes-- but there's also some fun stuff mixed in, including the ever-popular Blood and Thunder. B&T is a game where the last woman standing is the winner; everyone is using hip and shoulder blocks to take out everyone else. Terribly addictive, that.

But spirits are high and it's evident OCCRG is hungrier than ever for a win.

Bring on the 30th!

[PS-- Don't forget about $1 jello shots at Shakespeare's tomorrow night! See your favorite roller girls and enjoy drink specials.]

Friday, October 16, 2009


The saga of breaking in my new pair of Riedell 695s (aka Black Widows) continues. After skating in them for several practices with no success in even making them a little bit more comfortable, I was ready to throw in the towel. I tried the wet sock trick, rubbed them daily in neatsfoot oil and worked on bending them with my hands, all to no avail. After developing several sores (one bloody) on my feet, I was quite distraught thinking I had bought the wrong size boot and expected to lose a bit of money putting them up for resale on eBay.

But in a last-ditch effort to make them work I called Ivanna S. Spankin of Sin City Skates and had a long conversation. Ivanna herself skates in the 695s and is actually quite fond of them, though she cautioned me that it took her some three months to break them in "the old fashioned way" (i.e. skating in them practice after practice). She encouraged me to find a cobbler who would stretch them over a period of several days.

So Tuesday afternoon I paid a local shoe repairman $4.50 to stretch them. I just got them back today.

And what a world of difference!

I don't actually have to fight to put my foot in the boots. My toes have enough room to lay flat instead of being scrunched up. The 695s just may work out after all, but the big test will be Sunday's three-hour practice.

In other news, the Old Capitol City Roller Girls are quite excited that the Minnesota Roller Girls will be traveling to Iowa City next month to coach a practice! MNRG is made up a very venerable and reputable group of women and they should bring a wealth of information and strategy to OCCRG. I can hardly wait myself.


Finally, here is the x-ray of Cranium CrusHER's ankle from Wednesday night. She ended up with a broken fibula which will require surgery. In the process of breaking her ankle she also tore a ligament on the other side of her foot, rendering it unstable and necessitating the plating of the fibula.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Broken ankle; dream intact


It's not every day I can post photos of this magnitude on the Old Capitol City Roller Girls. Pictured above is Cranium CrusHER's ankle, now a mangled mess after she broke it during a jam at last night's practice. It has yet to be determined whether CrushHer will need surgery (as opposed to just a cast), but she will be out of action for at least six weeks. CrusHER writes:

I think I tried not to fall and so my ankle bent sideways and snapped the bone... when I move my leg I can feel the bones moving.

Never fear, however: Cranium CrusHER has every intention of returning to skate with OCCRG when she is fully healed as she added,

[Husband] Steve just said to me, "I think you need to find a different sport." And I laid there with a smirk on my face and thought "whateva! I will heal and there will be a rematch!!!

Rest up, CrusHER! We'll be counting the days 'til you're back skating with us.

I also took a skate to the head last night myself (and have the bump to prove it), but of course that pales in comparison to CrusHER's real derby injury.

Practice was otherwise a productive one, as it was our first go-round on the concrete floor of the Exhibition Hall at the Coralville Marriott, where our October 30th bout will take place. Personally, I love it. It's a fast surface that lends itself well to speed without being tiring or siphoning off too much energy; super smooth but not so slick that you can't get a hold of it when cornering.

I've really enjoyed the last two practices as we've taken a break from some of the drills and focused more on jamming. It's been a valuable outlet for the stress or negative emotions I'm carrying when I come to practice. The whistle blows, you skate hard, the endorphins kick in. I enjoy the excitement and camaraderie from my teammates, especially Fonda Cuffs who usually responds to someone falling from a well-executed body check with an enthusiastic, "Yeah! Yeah! YEEAAH!"

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Feel the burn

The theme for this month's bout on the 30th, in keeping with the spirit of the season, is Monsters' Brawl! (Although as I write this, watching the snow fall outside my window; I wonder if a Christmas-y theme might be more appropriate. Oh, to be an Iowan.)


If you absolutely cannot contain your excitement for the bout (which will be held at the Coralville Marriott), you can get your OCCRG fix a week earlier at Shakespeare's Pub & Grill in Iowa City. We will be serving $1 jello shots starting at 8 into the wee hours of the morning.

Also, In my previous post I reviewed the new roller derby-centered movie Whip It. Since then it was revealed that four of our very own Old Capitol City Roller Girls were interviewed for their take on the movie for the RedBox blog! Definitely worth a read.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Whip It: an imperfect child

Friday night the Old Capitol City Roller Girls went to see Drew Barrymore's Whip It in a local theater.

Yours truly gives it a rating of: ★★★

Whip It
is a valiant but stunted directorial debut by Barrymore, who also stars in the film as Smashley Simpson, alongside Ellen Page of Juno fame.

Page plays Bliss Cavendar, a 17-year-old who is pushed into beauty pageant competitions by an overbearing mother (Marcia Gay Harden). Accompanied by her best friend Pash (Alia Shawkat), Bliss attends a roller derby bout featuring the Hurl Scouts on a whim. She is soon hooked and joins the Hurl Scouts roster. While she knows little about the sport she seems to impress everyone with her speed.

Whip It is charming, funny and poignant in its own coming-of-age way. But there are inaccuracies in abundance and experienced roller derby skaters (or refs, fans, etc.) will take issue with.

Whip It
hardly delves into the grueling practices roller derby dames endure in their quest to be number 1. Despite not having skated in years, Bliss seems to turn into a star player overnight with little effort on her part.

The fighting. There are plenty of illegal maneuvers and abominable behaviors in the film, including deliberate tripping, punching and the like. I found this personally disappointing as I think all teams following the Women's Flat Track Derby Association rules would concur that we have worked very hard to be considered a legitimate sport; not like your mom or dad's roller derby from the 70s where girls socked each other around just to get reactions from the crowd.

The do-it-yourself-ness of roller derby in general is never really addressed. Roller derby is a sport run by its players, save for the few existing professional teams. The vast majority of teams, like OCCRG, don't have private coaches or managers. There's a lot of hard work involved keeping teams afloat by securing sponsorships, planning fundraisers and creating and posting fliers around town.

What did Whip It get right? The camaraderie, for one. Roller derby girls stick together and bond tightly. These are the women you see several hours a week, sweating and toiling together. There really exists a desire to see everyone on the team succeed and excel, whether they are an experienced veteran or veritable "fresh meat." Many ladies join for the exercise and contact and stay for the friendships.

I also give the film props for not being completely predictable, both in the areas of competition and [a budding] romance. Marcia Gay Harden was very much at home in her role of controlling wife and mother, but was very unbelievable as a postal worker (minor quibble). Though the majority of the cast was enjoyable the real scene stealer was the aforementioned Alia Shawkat, playing Bliss' friend Pash. Action sequences were a bit anti-climatic but it's worth noting all of the actresses did their own skating/stunts.

But all in all, Whip It manages to be endearing without overly cheesy -- a difficult task given the cliched follow-your-dreams (heart) message embodied within it. Trip recommends it.

And just for fun:
Showing no mercy to fresh meat Tyrant Angelica (left)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Even keel

While most of the roller derby eagerly awaits Friday's release of the Drew Barrymore-directed Whip It, I thought I'd tackle another facet off the sport: The expenses.

It was inspired by an Associated Press article Women make sacrifices for roller derby, published last month.

The article chiefly focused on Kelly Clocks'em, formerly of the Carolina Rollergirls. Kelly Clocks'em -- real name Abbey Dethlefs -- who had to hang up her skates after three years of roller derby due to the recession, which saw her lose two jobs in the past year.

"The economy is tougher," Miss Dethlefs, 28, said after skating in last week's Wicked Wheels of the East tournament, her last derby event for the foreseeable future. "I mean, it put me out of business."

The loss of employment has left Dethlefs without health insurance --a must for serious skaters-- and money for other side expenses of derby.

"It's gas. It's baby sitters. It's equipment," said Amy Callner, spokeswoman for Baltimore's Charm City Rollergirls. "It's all these things."

Even as a piddly college student, I would venture to say I am fortunate enough to have not had my personal finances impede my skating. I'm still covered under my father's health insurance and have money to put towards team dues and equipment (including new skates, bearings and wheels), as I am employed part-time and lack some of the other expenses my teammates have (i.e. children, babysitters, physical therapy bills, etc.). Yes, derby can be viewed as a costly hobby, though I take issue with the claim that: costs skaters hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year for the privilege of knocking each other around on the track.

Thousands of dollars seems a little extreme to me and I'm not quite sure where the Associated Press gathered their data from. I pay a few hundred in team dues every year but outside of equipment upgrades I don't find the cost of participating to be that staggering -- particularly as a former young girl who nearly drove her parents into the poorhouse with her expensive equestrian hobbies. In fact, I don't consider derby to be any more expensive than any other competitive sport, such as rugby or tennis.

Additionally, there are ways to cut costs. The Old Capitol City Roller Girls will be moving their practices to a newer, less-expensive facility in the community later this fall to defray rental costs. Teammates carpool when traveling to 'away' bouts and sometimes to and from practices to save on gas. We even keep a few hand-me-down skates for new skaters to use.

The bottom line is that in this economy, hobbies are going to be cut back or scrapped altogether. But I think roller derby is affordable for a number of people and I'd hate to think such an article would scare off any potential recruits before they even know what the sport is about.