Working Through the HARD Times

Remember how I may have mentioned that I was sore Tuesday?  Yeah, that was due to Monday night practice that worked out butts off.  At the time I thought I couldn’t feel any worse–

That’s because I hadn’t went through Wednesday night’s practice.

Of late the practice work has stepped up.  We were told Monday night that we’re going to start working a little harder so us fresh meat can get better at what we’re doing.  And by getting better, that means we can play faster.  Given that a lot of the stuff we’ve stared doing involves scrimmaging–playing blockers against jammers–it doesn’t take a great leap of faith to see what’s happening.

Last night was a lot of cardio and line work.  I mean like a lot of line work:  there were about a dozen of us to do pull throughs and we averaged about a lap and a half for every person to wing through the whole line.  For pull throughs we went three times, so a lap and a half times twelve times three is fifty-four laps, plus we did hip checks which we did twice each for another thirty-six laps, with our at-the-start pyramid sprints adding another nineteen laps for a total of approximately one hundred and nine laps–

Before we got to scrimmage.

Oh, and we ended the night skating forty laps in a pack, so it’s a good bet we did between one hundred and forty-five to one hundred and fifty laps last night.  When you figure we likely skated about one hundred and ninety feet per laps, we covered a distance of about 5.4 miles, or 8.7 km.  Yeah, lots of skating.

Now, about this scrimmaging…

We were once again working on bridging much like we did the Wednesday before.  However, we weren’t quite as sharp as we were that night and things were a bit more disorganized as in we didn’t hit our marks the way we did that first night.  When I blocked I didn’t do as well, but that may have been due to being tied by that time.  I went down more than a few times and had people wiz by me in an eye blink.

But I was also jamming and I did a little better.  Well, I did great against the freshies.  In fact I have video.  In this case there are three freshies on the track and one veteran OG player.  So getting through wasn’t bad.  Oh, and need I mention:  there’s some swearing.  Yeah, it happens.

The Good Jamming.

 

But with the good comes the not-so-good, and a bit later I was pitted against three OGs and a freshie and the vets kinda showed me what it was like to be a jammer having to move a little over five hundred pounds of women who don’t want to move:

The Hard Jamming

 

Notice I was either knocked down or went out of bounds, or both, and came at the pack four times, huffing and puffing like crazy the whole time.  I figured I skated about three hundred and fifty feet and likely pushed the pack around for about a third of that distance.  When I stopped at the end I had nothing left:  I was getting light headed and things were going a little gray.  I didn’t think about it at the time–mostly because I was damning myself for stopping–but those claps at the end were for going back even when it was obvious I was tired.  Sometimes that’s what it’s all about–

Though when we were leaving one of the refs stopped, looked at me, and went, “Don’t quit!”  I don’t know if she meant don’t quit on the track or don’t quit what I’m doing–

Maybe I’ll just do the same for both.

Freshie 5: Still Alive

Yeah, you knew I was gonna go with this title.  And if you didn’t, you don’t know me well, do you?

Tuesday, 8 August, was my fifth Freshie practice, and there was a full house this time.  In addition to Rachel, Laura, Erica, Ashley, Jackie, me, and Coach Ida, my political protesting friend Mary decided she had to try out this derby thing after watching HARD go at it a couple of days earlier.  I think she’s hooked, but we’ll see how it plays out over time.

Unlike the practice we had the next night, we freshies worked on a lot of pace line work.  There were hip and shoulder checks, but a new drill we undertook for the first time involved two people coming up from the back , skating to the front on either side of the line, and then trying to force one or the other out once they arrived at the front.  It made for some interesting outcomes and, in one instance, comedy on my behalf.

Because of the size of the original video I had to cut this into three parts–

Pace Line 01.

 

Pace Line 02

 

Pace Line 03

 

I also took some Go Pro video of what some of this looked like from my point of view.  I thought I had more, but it turned out for about 10 minutes of pace line shooting my camera was looking more at the ceiling than the people in front of me.  So this is all you get from that.  This was shot during the last pace line video seen above.

Pace Line Go Pro.

 

Now, about that comedy…  If you watched the first pace line video you may have heard someone retching followed by a large girl in a pink tank top having to skate out of line and head for the wall.  Both those people were me.  What was happening?  I was gagging on my new mouth guard because I have a shitty, hair-trigger gag reflex and even with a bit of trimming I’m still getting that gagging feeling, though it wasn’t as bad on Wednesday night.

But Tuesday night?  Gagolicious, baby!   In case you didn’t watch that first video all the way through, here’s the highlight:

Me gagging.

 

We also worked on knee drops and plows.  I still can’t plow for shit, but I’m slowly getting better.  Knee drops, however:  I can now drop and tap either knee and keep going, though not at great speed.  Yet.  Now that I can do a Tap and Go, it’s a matter of picking up speed.

Knee Drops and Plows.

 

Because the dudes who play roller hockey–that’s the game with sticks and balls, Mary–took over half the rink at 9:30, we went over to our half side and worked on shoulder hits and trying to force people off the track.  You get a pretty good view with this video as you’re seeing it from right behind the “track”.  We were hitting just a little harder this time as we were told during Bout Review that we need to start “Getting our Grrrr on”, which is to say we need to step up our intensity a bit.

Shoulder Hits.

 

Again I had the Go Pro going, but during one of the hits the camera on my helmet mount flopped down and no one told me it was pointing at my feet.  Probably because we were too filed with derby lust to go out there and knock someone off the track!

So I only managed a little Point of View work and missed one part where Ida hit me pretty good.

Shoulder Hits Go Pro.

 

There you have it:  our latest venture into Fresh Meat territory.  Next week I think I’m gonna haul the cameras into the practice with the OGs, because we might get some good blocker/jammer practice in again.

I can only hope.

A HARD Day’s Night

Yeah, I ripped off a song title.  Sue me.

As you may have heard because I mentioned it a few times, yesterday was my first home bout with my team, the Harrisburg Area Roller Derby, aka HARD.  We were up against the Bux-Mont Roller Derby Dolls from Hatfield, PA, which is a community north of King of Prussia and about a two hour drive from us.  We’ve been looking forward to this bout for a while–okay, I’ve been looking forward to this bout, because this is my first home game, and home is where the HARD is, right?

This was also the first game we played with our sister team, the York City Derby Dames out of York, PA, which is about thirty minutes south of us.  Four members of their team came up to join in the fun:  Klutch, Ruby Wrecker, Pair O’Docs, and Devour, and when the time comes we’ll likely head south–or wherever–and do the same with them.

I arrived before 4:30 and helped with track setup, assisting in laying down the outer line for the track.  After that I was over to my little raised platform near the scoring/NSO (Non Skating Officials) tables so I could film the bout.  Yes, once more I was getting video for tonight’s bout review; yeah, I’m a hard worker; yeah, I don’t have a girlfriend.  What does that tell you?

I also took photos, so kick back and enjoy.

First, here’s a panorama of the rink:

 

The two white lines to the left are the pivot line (closest) and the jammer line (furthest).  The blue line beyond the outer white line is the outer area where the refs skate.  From my position you notice I saw the start of each jam coming right at me.  Also, yeah:  the rink looks like it hasn’t moved out of the 1970s.  Which is okay because that’s when I did most of my skating.  I know, I made a funny.

While I was waiting for things to start I went around and got photos of team members:  some getting ready for battle, some doing things like working the merchandise table, and others done with their jobs and waiting for the game to start.

Ms. Smackman

 

Tenacious T

 

Anita Blades on the left

 

Nelson Slamdela (left) and team captain Redrum Doll (right).

 

Rivers Cowgirl

 

(left to right), Wyld Kat, and Fresh Meat Laura and Resi.

 

Fresh Meat Erica (left) and Bismashual (right).

 

Devour (left), Dirty Girl Scout (right), Coach Ida Hit That with Tenacious T photobombing (center).

 

Preparing to pace line practice.

 

Take off practice.

 

Preparing for introductions.

 

I shot a lot of video for the game, but I’m not releasing it as we do bout review tonight and I’m keeping it on the low.  And I filmed our introduction because this is how it happens at nearly every game:

 

We didn’t win:  we actually lost by a great deal.  And we lost Redrum Doll for the next month:  she went down during the game with what appeared to be a sprain but it turned out she had torn ligaments in her ankle from a month before, something I learned today.  But by next game we should have a new place on the roster and another coming back, and Red should be ready for our next home game in October.

Even so, she managed to get Best Blocker for our side, with Klutch getting Best Jammer, while Poptart was Best Blocker and Julia Bullya Best Jammer for Bux-Mont.  And even though we lost, we had a good time as did the other team.

Best Blockers and Jammers as picked by the other teams.

 

Both teams together.

There you have it:  how I spent my Sunday afternoon and evening–and early morning, because as I started as I didn’t finish getting all the pictures and video up to my computer and the Internet until almost one in the morning.  But hey:  that’s how I am–

As you can see, I’m pretty green at this. 🙂

Let’s Get Rambling, Ramblers!

And I’m good at rambling.  Just watch!

 

It’s About the Bout

This has been an interesting week at the rink as my team, HARD, aka The Girls in Green, get ready for a home bout this Sunday on the 6th of August.  Though I’ve attended two bouts, this will be my first at home and freshie attendance is expected.  Needless to say I’m a bit excited because, well, home is where the team’s at, right?

It also means the team has been practicing extra hard this week.  Part of the reason is we are playing at home, another is that we want to win.  We’re also working with members from the York City Derby Dames, the team in York, PA, that has become a sister team, allowing their people to play with us and us to play with them.  (One reason for this is to allow for a deeper roster, which comes in handy when you’re playing against teams that have like 15 active players.)

And our teams are working out hard ’cause during Monday night’s practice we lost our resident mermaid, Ariel Wildfire, to a broken ankle that happened when she went down wrong after a hit.  Yes, kids:  you can get seriously hurt even during practice.  She was back using a kneeling scooter on Wednesday night and will be at the game as an observer.

As for my injury…  after sitting out through nearly all of last week my foot is better.  Maybe not one hundred percent, but close enough that I’m back to skating and walking to work.  Now I know that if I’m hurt like that, don’t try to come back on it right away:  take a week off and let it heal.

Since I could practice I managed to get plenty of video with my Go Pro, so you can see some of this stuff happening up close.  Let’s me start off with Monday night…

Scalloping is when you use one foot to alter your trajectory quick, usually to the right or left while you’re going forward.  Normally it’s used to get in front of someone fast, which is what we were working on in this first video.  Needless to say I didn’t do it right, so Ida shows me what I did wrong so I can do it right.

 

I’m getting much better at weaving now that I’m fairly used to my skates.  I’m not quite whipping down the markers, but I’m a lot better than I was when I was back on rentals.

 

A 180 Transition Block is a simple thing:  when someone comes up from behind, you spin around one hundred and eighty degrees and put a shoulder into them to slow them up.  Jackie and I worked together, trading blocker and jammer positions in the next two videos:

 

 

And lastly–I Finally got the chance to do some pyramid blocking.  You have two people shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, forming a wall, and a third person holding on to you both, letting you know which way to move because the jammer is trying to get around you.  As you can see we’re both doing well:

 

And just like that it’s Wednesday night!  Ida was working that night so Gracehopper, the latest freshie to move up to the “adult’s table”, as I call scrimmaging with the vets and playing in bouts, was asked to work with us.  She had us doing a little weaving and plowing and stuff like that, but we really worked hard on blocking.  And first up was single jammer block, which is a bit like scallop blocking, only we didn’t have to get in front, we only had to make contact with the jammer and push her out of bounds–which is why we’re working on a short stretch of made-up track.  Grace was moving fast when I was working with her, which meant I had to keep up with her.  And I did.

 

Now back to the pyramid blocking.  It was a little different than when we did it on Monday night because rather than just block and be done if the jammer was either forced off the track or managed to get around you, Grace made the rule that once we engaged, it was up to the jammer to push the blockers to the end of the track.  You got that right:  one person had to push three people about thirty feet down a laid out straightaway and not stop until we were at the end.  And if the jammer went out of bounds?  They came back on where they went out and got back to pushing.

So these first two are with me being in the wall:

 

 

And here I’m the jammer coming up on the blockers, which means it’s pushing time!

 

And lastly I’m the brace in the pyramid, so I’m calling the directions for which way the jammer is going.

 

Here I am doing something I haven’t done before:  I’m skating backwards.  It’s only taken about forty years, and I’m only going about twenty feet, but I’m getting there.  It’s all about putting the moves together.

 

Lastly we were working on crossovers and while I don’t have that move down pat, I decided to see if I could turn on a bit of speed and see how it felt.  While I didn’t go as fast as the vets, I was skating outside the track and close to the wall at a good clip, doing a lap maybe every twenty-five seconds.  When I realized I hadn’t filmed this, I went back out for a couple of laps, only stopping after a couple of laps due to a cramp in my back.  But while I was out there doing this I finally felt as if I was getting into some kind of grove.  Now to work on the form and build up the endurance and see how this looks when I’m inside the track.

 

Eighteen practices in, but the reality is I was not doing much in two due to injury and I’ve missed three others for the same reason, as well as missing three others when I saw my daughter graduate.  Still, in sixteen practices, thirty-two hours of work, I’ve gotten this far, and in the next thirty-two hours of practice I expect to be much better than this.  Which means when I get to the end of September I had better look back at this video and think, “Yeah, I was really starting to get better then–”

Let’s hope I exceed my expectations.

Freshie 4: In the Round

With this title I feel a little like Yes back in the day when they performed on the rotating stage.  Though I can’t image they moved as fast as me.

Our last Fresh Meat practice, 25 July, 2017, was a bit light.  Ashley headed south to see her brother graduate from the Marines.  Rachel was out with tonsillitis, Jackie was also sick, and Rachel Rey and Tara were out with family issues.  Emily was MIA and Gwen, we learned yesterday, is moving to Pittsburgh and hopes to join a team out there, which leaves us with the possibility that one day some of us will have the opportunity to knock her on her ass during a game.

And Grace?  Last night was mandatory practice getting the team ready for our bout on 6 Aug, and as I remarked last night, she’s moved up to the “adult table” and scrimmaged with the vets.  It’s sad to see her go, but eventually we’ll all do the same.

As for the four of us there with Coach Ida–Erica, Laura, Resi, and me–Resi and I were off-skates as we were The Walking Wounded:  she with a sprained ankle and me with the bad foot.  That meant Erica and Laura got all the workout, which they totally deserve as they are tough fresh, so they can take it.

It also allowed me to film from the inside of the track, which means I got to spin around as I followed the ladies.  It was good practice in case I’m ever allowed to do this, but that’s something I doubt will ever happen.

First up, then, is seeing if I can even do this.  That means I track them ’round and around the track as they do cardio:

 

After that they got into single blocking, which consisted of them throwing shoulder blocks at each other.  There was blocking, there was laughing, there was swearing.  Pretty much how all our practices go.

 

Then it was time for double blocking with Ida helping out.  This is what happens when you have two blockers trying to stop a jammer and you do your best to wall her up.  Depending on penalties a team can find themselves in this position and when it happens, you better be ready to hold that jammer until your people start streaming out of the penalty seats.

 

And lastly 180 toe stops, where one spins around and goes up on their toes to stop.  Most of this video, however, is everyone waiting for me to find Ida’s whistle, which I couldn’t find because it was attached to the outside of her bag.  Duh.  There’s also a bit of hilarity here as we were getting a little punchy by then…

 

One last thing before I go:  last night I was still off skates, so I spent the time watching the team scrimmage as they got ready for the upcoming bout.  My depression, being what it is, started to get the better of me, and I found myself crying for a bit as I wondered if I was ever going to get as good as the rest of the women on the team.  I can’t let depression get the better of me as its done in the past as that’s caused me to give up on projects before.

I push myself way too hard at times.  I know it’s all a process, that it takes time to train yourself to do things.  That happened with writing and it’s gonna happen here.  I need to just let my body get used to things in their own time and not push it too hard, least I screw up royally.  Like with this injury:  if I’d gone completely off-skates for two weeks after it happened I’d have practiced well this whole week.  Lesson learned here.

And lesson learned that believing you aren’t good enough to reach the top isn’t the same as not reaching the top.

Sometimes it takes a while longer for us to walk the same path.

Freshie 3: Off Skates Edition

Sorry if you came here expecting to see how Kerry was going to handle the approaching Lisa on the last lap of the last race of Samhain, but you’re gonna have to wait until tomorrow to see that, ’cause I’m goin’ roller derby on your butts.  That’s because I’ve been sitting on this footage for just over a week and I need to talk about what went down because–well, that’s how I am, yeah?

This was my third freshie practice, 11 July, 2017, and right off the bat you’ll notice something different in this intro:

 

The foot is bothering me a little still:  Monday I would manage about five to ten laps before I had to skate to the side and shake off the pain, and after taking a good fall and feeling some stabbing pain shoot up my leg, I sat out the last twenty minutes of practice.  But I’ll be back tonight.

Panzer–she of the broken wrist–was coaching as our usual freshie coach, Ida, was off celebrating an anniversary.  Present were Rachel, Laura, Ashley, Erica, and Gwen, and while I didn’t do a lot besides stand on the side of the track and film, I did manage to help out at the end.  You’ll see.

First up is something I wanted to do for a while.  With the GoPro camera in hand I set it atop Laura’s helmet and let her film what it’s like to skate in a pack and do things like weave in and out while doing pull throughs and bumps.  At times it gets a little shaky because it’s hard to keep one’s head still, particularly when you’re going around and ’round in circles.  So, if you were curious about what it’s like for us to do this, now you get an idea.

 

Because I had my camera on the side of the rink filming as well, here’s how that all looked from the outside.  Because this was a long video, it was necessary to cut it in two:

 

After removing the GoPro from Laura’s helmet I strapped it to my own head and filmed as the freshie went around the track practicing bumping each other.  We can’t use our hands to push people away, which means we use our shoulders and hips for that.  I tried to follow the pack as they did this:

 

And the camera on the side of the rink caught the same action:

 

While everyone began working on their own things, I decided to talk a little about skating the diamond, which is something you learn to do whenever you’re on the track, particularly if you’re doing your 27/5.

 

Now comes blocking and jamming.  This is pretty much the game right here:  three blockers–and a pivot–working to keep a single jammer–the person who scores points–from getting through.  The three blockers here are going into a tripod, because it’s like three legs, right?  The idea for the jammer is to get a hip and/or shoulder in between a couple of blockers and break up the tripod, while the blocker’s job is to prevent that and keep that jammer from getting past the jam.  It’s a lot of fun and a lot of work, and the blockers require communications with each other at all times, ’cause the moment that jammer moves to their left or right, you want everyone in the tripod to know.

I should point out that I’ve missed three of these blocker/jammer practices.  I won’t miss a fourth.

 

And lastly…  it was time to practice plowing and a great way to do that is to be pushed and pulled and let the plowing person set up resistance for the person doing the pulling/pushing.  Since there were an odd number of freshies in the rink, I offered to work with Gwen, since I didn’t need to be on skates to push or plow.  I took it slow as I didn’t want to cause her to put up too much resistance, but by the end she said her thighs were burning, which is something that has happened to all of us.

 

We are learning more and more with every practice, and of late we’ve done more practice with the vets our on Monday/Wednesday night practices so we can do more advanced things.  We are approaching some interesting times–

I do hope I can keep up.