Sunday, June 27, 2010

Looking forward


I have to apologize for the lack of blog action lately but after our heart-wrenching 3-point loss to the Mid Iowa Rollers on the 19th I had to put the bout out of my mind for a little while. The Old Capitol City Roller Girls had led the game from the start but losing by that little in literally the final few seconds of the final half was like a punch to the gut.

It was a bout we should have won; though we put our hearts on the track as always we made some costly mistakes. But we'd had some huge blowout wins earlier in the season, and doubtless that did not aid us in playing a team as venerable as MIR. Even in retrospect the experience is going to make us much stronger and wiser as a team. OCCRG lost nothing in defeat in coming up three points short versus a team that has been around and active for over five years. Considering we have only been around since October of 2008 (and only bouting since June of 2009), there is no question in my mind whose star is on the rise.

Even still, the loss still stung in the days afterward. It was quite fortunate that I had volunteered --along with Animal Mother and Fannysaurus Rex-- to skate with the Quad City Rollers in Lincoln, Nebraska this weekend, as it gave me something else to focus on and push towards. (I've also always vowed to skate for other teams when offered the opportunity not just to help out fellow derby sisters in need but to pick up experience playing different teams and venues.)

The Quad City Rollers lost to No Coast Derby Girls B team, the Road Warriors, but I did have quite a good time skating and observing some very peculiar jam scenarios that arose. I knew QCR was short some of their better skaters like Pink Taco and Diamond Dust so I went into the bout thinking that if I could be an asset to them, I would be satisfied.

I had some decent turns as jammer, including one 15-point tally in the last jam. But I think I had a career-best night as a blocker; keeping my eyes peeled for those Road Warrior jammers and, without tooting my own horn too much, wiping them out with some monster blocks that I think would have made Bat R Up proud. (Yes, there is footage and you'd better believe I will be linking it here once it surfaces!) And to top things off I only ended up in the penalty box once (for four minors).

But watching the Mad Maxines of Lincoln butt heads with the Omaha Roller Girls as part two of the double-header was surreal. I was mesmerized by the athleticism, cunning and sheer passion for the sport of the skaters before me. I had a fine vantage point atop the stage next to the DJs, and while everyone stood up and cheered loudly the duration of the bout, I sat quietly on the stage imbibing as much of the game play as possible. I did discern several shrewd tactics and calls that I quickly digested and filed away, synapses firing as my eyes scanned the pack repeatedly.

The Maxines were solid throughout the game but Omaha made a spectacular comeback in the second half to cut a sizable deficit to less than 30 points by the bout's end, thanks in part to some hugely salutary jams by Anna-Maniac and Ima Firestarter.

I did run into Anna-Maniac at the after-party and she told me nonchalantly, beer in hand, that she thought I had skated well.

And then I peed a little in my DerbySkinz.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pivoting for dummies

Taking no prisoners with PsycHo AnalyzeHer (left)

It's crunch time for the Old Capitol City Roller Girls, who stand at 5-1 for the season and are set to take on the powerhouse known as the Mid Iowa Rollers --currently undefeated in six bouts this season-- in undoubtedly the toughest test OCCRG has faced to date. Saturday is swiftly approaching and that equates to lengthy scrimmages, new pack drills and lots of strategizing off the track.

In Sunday's practice I was placed in the position of pivot quite a few times; far more than I usually am. It did not take me long to find out why.

Pivoting is hard.

Arguably it is the most challenging position to play, and it takes an apt player able to quickly assess the ever-changing scenarios of roller derby and convey crisp, effective instructions to her teammates.

I had always assumed the pivot's role was simple. To set an appropriate pace (fast if her jammer is in penalty the box; slow if the opposing team's jammer is in the box) and hold the inside line as the last line of defense against the other jammer. And, I suppose, that is the position at its very core.

But I'm finding out it is so much more than that. I consider myself to be a sharp and visually aware blocker, but I struggle with vocalizing during jams -- I'm much more of a 'hot hand,' physical communicator, and this does not parlay into the best pivoting abilities. While I left Sunday's practice feeling a bit frustrated with my performance on the track, I feel highly motivated to work that much harder. It's important to me to be the best asset I can possibly be to my team, and I consider that to equate to being versatile enough to switch between jammer, pivot and [regular] blocker -- essentially being placed where I am needed by the bench coaches.

We're fortunate to have some very efficacious pivots on our team -- Toxic Sugar, Hitzy Blonde and Animal Mother, to name a few. I certainly have more respect for those women having had more time to play the position myself.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Of perils and compound fractures

On Wednesday night, Coach Bat R Up had us gather 'round at the start of practice. Before briefing us on our first drill of the night she addressed the status of our roster for our June 19th away bout versus the Mid Iowa Rollers in Des Moines. Of course, regulars Hitzy Blonde (bum knee) and Furyis Jorge (broken fibula) were still out of commission. But Bat R Up broke the news that additionally Tramah Queen (broken rib and torn posterior cruciate ligament), scheduled to make her bouting debut, was in no shape to skate. Finally, Holm Wrecker had also bowed out because of some sort of late and cryptic engagement.

This meant we had officially used up all of our alternates as replacements for the aforementioned skaters. Bat R Up, her voice tinged with caution, warned us that if another rostered skater were injured we would be forced to skate short. We listened and digested this, and then promptly began our first drill.

A few short minutes and one powerful block later, Shelby Flyin literally went flying into an alcove of the armory and smashed up her hand severely. It was enough to result in a compound fracture of one of her fingers, a gruesome exposition of bone and ligament.

The tell-all x-ray

In the aftermath, it was revealed Ima Golddiggah would be popping her bout cherry with OCCRG in Des Moines. Aggressive and tenacious, she will be a valuable and well-received addition to the team. And finally Fast Bettie will be returning to the roster after a three-month absence.

As for poor Shelby Flyin, she's slated to have surgery early this week to repair the cartilage casing around the joint. She'll be on the sidelines for a while but is in good spirits and plans to be trackside to cheer on her team.

On a lighter note, I've swapped out wheels again. My tried-and-true Sugar Hybrids have served me well since October, especially when cornering on the slick polished concrete floor of the Coralville Marriott. But I'd been considering a switch to a faster wheel for some time, particularly since I jam regularly. And after spending several hours pouring over wheel innumerable wheel reviews without a clear standout, I was frustrated enough to give up for the time being.

But one of the boyfriends of one of our fresh meat skaters offered me some new wheels to skate in on a trial basis. The Sure-Grip Optics are relatively new but inexpensive. I was skeptical of them being all that grippy without any nubs but I was able to corner well when using them for the first time during the Fullmetal Derby bout. I've settled on using them as pushers with my G-Rods. Stay posted to read when I reach escape velocity.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Well-oiled machine

In case you've been living under a rock or perhaps in a hollow tree, you should be aware of the fact that the Old Capitol City Roller Girls won their fifth straight bout this past Saturday at the Coralville Marriott. Facing off against the the Stateline Derby Divas of Beloit, Wisconsin, OCCRG notched a blowout victory with a staggering final tally of 303-69.

The Fullmetal Derby-themed bout featured the debut of new OCCRG skaters Holm Wrecker and Gigahurtz as veteran skaters Hitzy Blonde and Killer Baker remained laid up with knee and ankle injuries. And I'm proud to report that they both skated like pros and even took respective turns jamming. In fact, there was a slew of veteran blockers making rarely witnessed appearances on the jam line including Toxic Sugar, Benzo Bang, Fannysaurus and Animal Mother.

Overall it was a strategically played game by OCCRG, won with near-impermeable walls, pace manipulation and self-sufficient jammers. Highlights included an obscene 37-point jam by Ophelia Fracture and the passing of the star by Benzo Bang to Left 4 Deadwards, who pushed OCCRG over the 300 mark for the first time ever.

Here are some photos from the bout taken by the talented Emily Sherman:

Animal Mother moves in for the kill

Solid walling by Toxic Sugar, Old Yeller and Gigahurtz

Shelby Flyin was one of many lead jammers for OCCRG

Fannysaurus tackles a Stateline jammer

Yours truly skimming the inside line with some help from teammates

Bat R Up terrorizing a Stateline jammer

Next up: OCCRG heads on the road again for their first anticipated match-up with the Mid-Iowa Rollers in Des Moines on the 19th.