Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Brand new key

For a change of pace, I find myself blogging from New Jersey where I am visiting my mother for a week. But I readily confess that I couldn't stand to be away from derby that long, so about a fortnight ago I put out a call on the Skatelog Forum asking any New Jersey and Pennsylvania-based skaters to help me locate teams in the immediate area who might graciously entertain my wish to participate in one of their practices.

Skating and practicing with different teams is a fantastic way to meet new people and learn new drills, so I was delighted when the nearby, WFTDA-leagued Philly Roller Girls were receptive to the idea. Last night I drove to the notoriously crime-ridden city of Camden, where amidst a decaying industrial district I found the small oasis of Millennium Skateworld. Inside was an old-fashioned hardwood floor and skaters of varying abilities whizzing around and warming up.

With some trepidation and a touch of anxiety, I sat down at a table and watched for a few minutes. The Philly Roller Girls are a large, decorated league comprised of three individual teams and hosts its own Warrior Cup annually. Their all-star travel team, the Liberty Belles, is currently ranked second in WFTDA's Eastern division (only behind the juggernaut known as the Gotham Girls).

I needn't have worried.

The Philly Roller Girls were a warm, goofy bunch of women who seem genuinely excited to have me. Liberty Belles member Mo Pain was my envoy for the evening, and after an extended sprint to warm up (felt pretty cool to know I was holding my own with some WTFDA jammers!) we practiced a variety of drills. This was the more humbling part of the practice; though speed is my best asset it still takes a lot of time and effort for me to make progress on skills like whirlybirds and backwards crossovers. In essence, I'm much more of a forceful skater than I am a graceful one.

The really fantastic part was that every single drill was entirely new to me. Learning and practicing new drills helps keep things fresh and interesting, and challenges your mind and body to work on new skills and concepts. When I coached practice a few weeks ago, I was able to introduce a new pivot-central drill that the team was receptive to, so I'm eager to bring back even more things with me to share with my teammates (and also a couple of bags of Utz potato chips for ref Lukan D'Otha Way, by request). I'll be doing more traveling to see friends and family later this year, so I'm keen to connect with other teams like the Derby City Rollergirls (Louisville, Kentucky) and Charlotte Roller Girls (Charlotte, North Carolina).

But even a week-long vacation makes me pine for my ragtag teammates of Iowa City. As one veteran blocker, Hitzy Blonde, returns to skating after knee surgery we lose another, Toxic Sugar, with a dislocated patella. Toxic Sugar, ironically and unfortunately, was only two days away from surgery for a preexisting chronic knee condition when she suffered the injury, though she'll be going under the knife next week. The Old Capitol City Roller Girls also has several fresh meat skaters with various ailments so here's hoping they are all making speedy recoveries while I am away.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Seeing stars

In the Old Capitol City Roller Girls' first home mixer bout, Scars 'n Stripes Forever, it was the [red] Liberty Belles who skated to victory 179-129 over the [blue] Femmes of Freedom. I was on the winning team, though the Femmes of Freedom were definitely short one or two jammers and I think that put them at a disadvantage from the outset.

Getting the finger from referee Layne Rubber

I can't complain; I got to see plenty of action as a jammer and a blocker. My jamming was decent and I had several 9 and 10-point jams. As a blocker hits just weren't connecting very well tonight so I stuck to booty-blocking the majority of the time. Or maybe things just felt less successful since I was, for once, skating against some of the more venerable blockers of OCCRG like Left 4 Deadwards and Zom B Blokr. Mexican Monster and Lady Gotcha, both of the Quad Cities and skating as Liberty Belles, were valuable players. I was also proud to see my 'derby wife' (i.e. apprentice) Gigahurtz doing some of her best skating.

Fast Bettie leads the way ahead of Chemical Spill and Toxic Sugar

Our next bout won't be until August 21st --a home bout against the Lacrosse Skating Sirens-- so it will be nice to take a bit of competitive edge off the practices. I myself will be going to visit my mother in New Jersey for the latter half of the month; though I couldn't bear to go that long without skating... so I'll be attending a practice or two with the nearby Philly Roller Girls. They're WFTDA-sanctioned so I anticipate learning a lot.

Ophelia Fracture gets an assist from Toxic Sugar

In other news I'm still hunting around for the ideal wheel for myself. I'm leaning towards the slimmer, narrowly-profiled wheels since I do find myself in the role of jammer regularly. Probably will be looking at some Atoms; maybe the [slim] Stingers, Jukes, G-Rods or Omegas. Although it's probably not as exciting to read about as it is for me to shop for them.

Left 4 Deadwards and I jockeying for position

All photos courtesy of Cathy Kovach.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Change of pace

The Old Capitol City Roller Girls, some refreshed by the long holiday weekend and others; hung over, have been practicing in earnest for Scars and Stripes Forever, our first home mixer bout that will feature some of the lovely ladies of the Quad City Rollers. For Saturday's bout --starting at 7 PM and held, as usual, at the Coralville Marriott-- promises to pack all the red, white, [black and] blue you can handle.

A mixer, for those of you who are wondering, features two or more teams where the skaters are divided up and reassigned into newly created teams. It's both challenging and refreshing for the skaters, who are pitted working side-by-side with girls they may have played against in the past but do not practice with regularly.

OCCRG is, by the way, very excited to announce that the ever-dominant and local Klinefelter Sisters will be performing as the half-time entertainment.

On the personal front, it was my turn to coach practice on Sunday, as team coach Bat R Up is away vacationing in stinky France. We did some scrimmaging and I was eager to teach the team some new drills I had found after many hours spent Googling. There was a new pivot drill in particular that centered on communication and teammate reliance that seemed to be well received by the girls on the team. Although none of this was as grueling as tonight's practice, which started with a sprint of 108 laps punctuated with twenty-second respites. (I know what you're thinking: 108 laps isn't a sprint; it's a marathon! And you would be right; a sadistic, depleting one.)

And just as food for thought I thought I'd share an interesting article from the New York Times, Phys Ed: What Science Doesn't Know About Women, debunking the myth surrounding protein and its supposed essential role in exercise recovery.

Scrimmaging with the newly-formed Farm Fresh Roller Girls of Orion, Illinois