Drill and Drill Again… Again

It’s been a long day and the post I hoped to get out earlier is–well, here.  Late.  Crazy late.  And I’m typing like made ’cause I’m on a time table.  So bear with me…

I talk a lot about derby practice.  I even show you video of what I do.  But what does practice really look like?  I mean, how does it come out in the long run?  What exactly do we do when we’re in skates and geared up?

Glad you asked.

Last Wednesday I manged to get some great GoPro footage of our practice.  Not just a few things here and there, but damn near the whole thing.  And I thought that rather than give long explanations of what’s going on, I figured, “Why not show what I go through?”

So this is what you’re getting.  Basically, this is all the practice–save for the cardio warm up, which was 40 laps and about 12 minutes of fast skating–that I experience, as seen through my eyes. You’re also going to hear what I hear and pick up on some of the instruction that’s given to help me improve.  You also get to hear some of the shit we talk back and forth between us, which can be somewhat amusing.

Let’s begin.

Part of this you’re already seen.  This is a long drill where we weaved up through a pack, then weaved back, then shot up the outside to return to the front.  Like I said, it’s long, but then so are all these videos.  This, like a lot of the things we do, is a timing drill:

 

You’ve also seen a little of this:  the blocker/jammer pace line where one person blocks the way through the pack so the jammer (your partner) can get through.  This is where I fell and someone tripped over me, but that was as shortened version of this drill.  Here is the full one, and it’s–you guessed it–long:

 

Here we get into our blocker/jammer drills, going two-on-one and three-on-one against a jammer.  This is where I’m told on several occasions about things I’m doing wrong and how to correct them.  The guy giving the instruction is a ref, Ted Nuisance, and he’s really, really good at what he does.  A lot of stuff happens fast–you’ll see:

 

This is an extension of the three-on-one drills, with us adding a pivot, who is on the same side as the jammer.  The idea here is for the pivot to move blockers out of the way and help the jammer get through the pack.  That’s why you’ll sometimes see a person with a stripped pantie on their helmet moving people aside.

 

 

This was something that Bi and I got into with Mary–she’s in the white helmet–explaining how bridging works and how to use it to run a jammer way back away from the pack.  She wasn’t present the day we practiced bridging, so this was her chance to learn.

 

There you have it: quick, dirty, to the point.  Don’t have to read much, just put on the video and watch me go crazy.

Or maybe you’ll feel like joining me…

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Freshie 9: Number Nine, Number Nine

Yeah, had to get that Beatles reference in that for the title, doncha know?

Last Tuesday was my freshie practice and something of a special day.  Why is it a special day?  I tell you in the intro:

 

Now, you’ve seen push drills before, but this one I liked because I was really moving along well the whole time.  I started getting a little back soreness at the end but it’s not that bad that I can’t finish what I do.  While I’m not quite able to keep up with the OG, I like getting the speed on here.

 

The 27/5 keeps coming up from me a lot and there’s reasons for that: it’s like the Golden Fleece of the Derby World: once you do it you never have to worry about it again.  Ida wanted Sam and me to skate our and while I was feeling a bit tired from the previous night’s practice, when the coach tells you to do something, you make it happen.

It was not, however, my finest hour.  I start out okay and even managed to do half-ass crossovers around the track as I skate the diamond–and I was hitting it almost perfectly.  It’s just that on Lap 3, as I go into Turn 3, I lose it big time.  From what the video shows it looks like my leg buckled because I wasn’t maintaining a good form, and I just did a baseball slide into Turn 4.  From the time I started to fall to the time I’m back on my skates is ten seconds and I figure the fall screwed by time by thirty to forty seconds.  However, my time of 6:18 was good enough for almost 22 laps, which is what I’ve skated before, so I figure without the fall I’d have made 24 laps.  Closer and closer every time.

Sam was up after me and as you can see, she has great form.  She also skated a 5:25, so when she builds up her speed a bit and gets her form right, she’s gonna beat a 27/5 like it was committing a crime.  It’s all each of us want to do.

 

After that skating to a back seat to rules.  Registered Curse, a ref who lives nearby and comes over to help now and then, stopped by to go over some of the rules of derby.  We first start out leaning about the pack: what makes one, what doesn’t, and how you can find your zone of engagement.  This is important because it lets you know when and where you can score and hit people.  It also lets you know why, when you go to a bout, refs are yelling, “No Pack” and “Pack is Here”.  This is why.

You’ll need to listen closely: I didn’t mic Curse and we have to deal with open spaces and background sounds.  But you can hear her.

 

Part Two of Registered Curse’s Rules of Derby involved going over where you can hit another place and what parts of your body you can use to hit.  She also goes over what constitutes a cut track and how to get a misconduct call made again you, which I help out with from off-camera.  We had to deal with a lot of background sounds here as the men’s roller hockey was on the track and they were being supper loud with their slap shots.

 

Lastly we go off-skates and Curse shows us the ins and outs of block, starting off with something I’m bad at doing–as she points out–the clockwise block.  She also shows a stop block and tells out the quickest ways of getting kicked the hell off the track, which does happen from time to time.

 

There you go: nine freshie practices, nine different things going on each time.  The next one, next Tuesday, is my tenth, which means I’ll have twenty weeks of freshie practice under my belt.

It won’t be long before six months done is here–

Drill and Drill Again

In the parlance of a time gone by, I am burning the candle at both ends.  As of last night I’d attended five practices in six nights and last night I felt it all:  no energy, no strength, no nothing.  I made it through the evening, but only by doing simple stuff I need to develop for certification.  No shame there: it happens.

One of the reasons for feeling this way has to do with the practices I attended on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights.  Video is coming for Tuesday night, but today you get a real good first person look at my Monday night practice, because I had the GoPro fired up and sitting pretty on the helmet.

Let me take you though an evening…

First up is cardio.  I edited this video as cardio lasted 12 minutes.  What we did was this–  First, it was skate 5 laps, then stop and do 5 push ups, then follow that with 5 squats.  And when you finished the squats, repeat the whole sequence until the 12 minutes were up.  For the record I did 21 laps, 20 push ups, 20 squats, all of which you get to see from my point of view, including the floor going up and down as I do push ups.

 

This is the longest of the videos here because this was one of two pace lines I did that night.  It runs long because we skated about 30 laps, or just a little more than a mile.  Since we did two of these that means we skated two miles, and when you add in the cardio laps the total comes closer to 2.75 miles.  I think with all the skating we were pretty close to three miles on Monday night.

 

You’ll see me get knocked out of line at least once: that’s because I took a good hit and was sent flying.  It happens to a couple of other people, too, and it’s one of the reasons I was sore on Tuesday and unable to go to work.  That and the videos that follow this one.

You’ll also hear a lot of calling out and talking, because that’s how we’re supposed to be when we’re in a bout: shouting out instructions to our teammates.  While skating and pushing.  And while you have a mouth guard in place.  Yeah, easy as pie.

 

This was the only video that survived the line spin/apex jump part of the drill.  Unfortunately I can’t see if I’m recording or now, so I have to hope I have the camera in record mode.  The only thing that survived was this spin where I go between the outside line and a cone and spin around the moment I reach the cone.  Later I actually managed to cancel out the spin and skate away backwards, but not in this video.  I also didn’t show an apex jump, which involves jumping over the inside line in order to get away from blockers on the inside line.  Maybe next time.

 

Now we come to the blocking and jamming.  This video shows an example of how this drill should go, as I was standing on the inside of the track watching this go down.  What my teammates do when they come back towards me is known as bridging and designed to keep people in contact with the pack while, at the same time, forcing the jammer to run way back from where they were knocked out and return to the track. (In the rules the jammer has to return to the track behind the player who knocked her out.  If that player is forty feet away, they have to skate back in the out-of-bounds area forty feet before reentering the track.  Otherwise the jammer gets a cut track penalty and spends 30 seconds in the penalty box.)

Then I go up, as jammer, against a block.  Most of what I do is push them down the track before going out, but afterwords Mary, Panzer, Smack (the women from left to right), and I discuss what happened and discuss a little of what to do and what not to do–like, don’t grab an arm, because it can lead to a penalty and other things…

 

And here are those “other things”… this is what my arm looks like after the Wednesday night practice, showing what happens when you grab:

Kisses like this, someone should have bought me dinner. #HARD #DerbyGirl #DerbyKisses

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Lastly I went out and jammed again three experienced players, aka the OG.  As you see they spend time knocking me out and forcing me to come at them again, but eventually the drill is called and we go back to let another group try.  While inside my coach Blade comes over to talk about what I’m doing.  She told me Wednesday night she thinks I’ll eventually take over her position on the team, being the one who is big and has the power to hold a block and jam through one if necessary.  Considering she’s retiring at the end of this season, she probably believes I’ll do this next season, and really, I hope that happens…

 

Now you know why I’m tired and sore.  And tomorrow you get to watch me crash and burn…

Freshie 8: Pretty Great

It’s been a week, which means it’s time to talk about the last freshie practice, which was Tuesday, 19 September, 2017.  And as you’re gonna see, we had a whole lot happening.

First off, it’s not video time without me having something to say at the start:

 

Now, this skate around.  About the only reason I include this here is because we had a lot of people show up last Tuesday night. This is due to old and new freshies being together for the first time since recruitment night.  So suddenly your practice goes from sparse to looking like you’re working out in the middle of a bout.

 

Then comes the pyramid sprints.  My partner, Sarah, and I just happened to set up where you can clearly see us while we work together.  Sarah is one of the freshest of freshies, and I’m helping keep track of laps and stuff.  I’m getting better getting up speed and keeping it, so give me a few more weeks and I should start burning up the track.

 

At this point we start doing backwards skating.  Let me remind everyone that four months ago I had never skated backward, so I consider it an accomplishment to be able to do this now, if only for a short time. I’m also getting to where I can skate backwards and talk to someone to give them instruction, which is a great thing.

 

Ida decided to run a few 27/5s that night, and Ashly was one of those picked–maybe it has something to do with Blade saying the night before she’d tell Ida to put Ashly on the track.  Jackie was picked to fill out the other side of the track, so while Ida timed Ashly, I set up behind her and timed Jackie.

Both women actually did pretty well.  I’m not sure about Ashly’s exact numbers, but Jackie managed 24 laps in just a fraction of a second over five minutes and did 27 laps in 5:38.  Take away the few stumbles they both had and 27/5s are in their sights.

 

The other two 27/5s were performed by the freshest of freshies, so I’m not certain of their names.  Let’s just say that the woman I’m timing on the right side of the screen did one of the ugliest skates I’ve ever witnessed, and yet she did 24 laps in 5 minutes as well.  As Ida and I told her–and you can hear it near the end of this video–when she gets her form down she’s gonna kill her 27/5.

 

After that we did some side-to-side work, along with people coming up and talking into the camera, because that’s what we do from time to time.

 

And lastly we have the Scary Monster.  I’ll just let Ida explain:

 

There we are: more freshies, more fun.  And more work.  We’re always working.

Always.

On the Turning Back: Let’s Get Comfortable

Well, isn’t this a welcome sight!  In that I’m actually posting an excerpt from the novel today.  Part of that reason is that I just finished up nearly five hundred words, so I have enough in the book bank to post for the next few days before heading into the next scene.  And since I’ll likely post other stuff this week as well–I have video footage from last Tuesday’s freshie practice I need to edit–there’s a pretty good chance it’ll take me most of this week to get out the first scene of Chapter Eighteen.

From where I’m sitting it looks kinda pretty.

 

I said I was gonna try and write yesterday, but… I lied.  I had way too much going on with getting a merch table set up for our afternoon event, then heading thirty miles down to York to watch our sister team, the York City Derby Dames, come from behind and win the bout–though one of their players, Awe Shux, suffered a pretty bad concussion and was wearing sunglasses at the after party because the light we hurting her head.  We were told she’s off skates for the week and maybe longer.

Speaking of the after party I was in sort of a good mood…

See, Jackie, having a drink by myself.

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That drink in my hand is the only one I had, a gin and tonic that was cheap and easy to come by.  Given that I had thirty miles to drive to get back to Harrisburg, I didn’t want to get too boozed up before hitting I-83.  Oh, and Jackie is one of my freshie teammates.  She was at a friend’s birthday party, where she assured some of us she was gonna get hammered.

But enough about me–how about my kids?

Now we get into the testing phase of Kerry’s Day of Girl Power, because since the Gift changed her to how she is now, she’s supposed to be able to change herself back at some point–at least that’s what everyone is telling her.  I mean, it worked the other six times, it should work this time, too, right?  This means breakfast is over and it’s time to see if Kerry can get some control over her life…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

It took a bit longer than just after breakfast to set up the first transition test. Isis needed to come in with one of her people to set up the raised dais that Kerry would used not only for the test, but for the three dimensional modeling that would come later. And once the dais was in place, Isis needed Kerry to stand upon it so she could set up the Spy Eyes and adjust them so they could perform the modeling requested by The Foundation.

Due to these delays it was nearly ten-thirty before Coraline was able to proceed with the first transition test. She had Kerry go behind a three-sided privacy screen and change out of her night clothes and into a hospital gown she’d wear for both the test and medical scan/pelvic examination. When she came out with Annie at her side Mathilde had left with Isis, leaving Deanne, Jessica, and Erywin behind with Coraline to witness the test.

Kerry looked uncomfortable in the gown, which seemed to hang on her smaller frame. She frowned as she approached Coraline. “This thing is like a sack on me.”

“It has to be bigger so it’ll fit if the transition test is successful and you turn back into a boy.” She gave Kerry a slight grin. “You wouldn’t want to burst out of that if that happened, would you?”

The frown turned into a grimace. “Nope.”

“Then it has to be a little large—okay?” As soon as Kerry finished nodding Coraline turned to the transformation instructor. “Jess, you wanted to speak with her?”

“Certainly.” The Mistress of Transformation knelt next to Kerry, bringing herself down to the girl’s eye level. “You remember what we discussed as far as this voluntary transition is concerned?”

Kerry nodded slowly. “It’s just like doing any other transformation magic: visualize the effect and expend willpower to make it work.” She looked up as she sighed. “And don’t try to expend energy.”

“Correct. Just like when we worked on your Mimic Gift last year.” Jessica turn to face the other women. “Anything you’d like to add before I turn this over to the good doctor?”
Erywin glanced over to her right at Deanna. “I don’t have anything to add.”

Deanna shook her head. “Neither do I.”

Jessica stood and placed her hand on Kerry’s back. “Then I’ll turn you over to Coraline.”

 

Everything’s pretty simple at this point.  Kerry’s dressed for the test and people are there to make her feel comfortable and able to get through this transition test.  It makes sense that Jessica would offer a few words of wisdom before handing Kerry back to Coraline–and one other:

 

“Thank you.” She waved Annie and Kerry forward. “Both you, come here.” While Coraline wanted to address Kerry, she knew having Annie by her side offered her comfort and at the moment that was exactly what Kerry needed. “Okay, this is how we’re going to proceed. Kerry, I’ll have you step up on the dais while the rest of us remain over in front of you, so you can see us. I will direct you to transition, but I don’t want you to do anything until I give you the go-ahead. You can do all the visualizing you want, but I don’t want you to take any action on the activation of your Gift until I say so. Got it?”

“I got it.” Kerry offered a weak smile. “I mean, it’s pretty simple, yeah?”

Coraline smiled back. “It sure is.” She looked at Annie. “I’m sure you have a couple of things to say, so I’ll let you say them.” She joined the other women standing five meters away.

 

After all the advice coming her way, Coraline is smart enough to know the best thing to do is allow Annie to have the last word, because if anyone is gonna calm Kerry down and get her in the right frame of mind, it’s her.

So what does she say?

It’s a good bet you’ll find out tomorrow…

From the Other Side Now

30 May, 2017, was the day I went and did something crazy.  That was the day I decided to show up at a roller rink and attend the Harrisburg Area Roller Derby Recruitment Night.  At the time I didn’t know what would happen: in fact, I contacted a friend who was already a member of the team and told them I was worried I’d show up and make a complete fool of myself, and the likelihood was great I’d never be able to keep up with the rest of the team.  My friend’s comment was, “Come on out anyway. If you don’t like it, don’t come back.”

That was three and a half months ago.  And I’m still there, though I shouldn’t be.  I mean, look at this crazy bitch in hand-me-down gear:

So… Guess who tried out for roller derby? #Crazy #SkateOrDie

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Who expected me to last this long?

That was then, this is now–or I should say, last night.  Because 12 September we held our third, and likely last, Recruitment Night of 2017.  We’ve been advertising this one for about a month, so the word was out we were looking for people.  And I was looking forward to the evening as well, because…

Well, this would be my first Recruitment Night where I could greet the new freshies.

I won’t say I wasn’t a big worried.  The fear was there that only a couple of people would come out and make our team’s endeavors seem wasted.  But that faded quickly once I saw there were four women waiting for Ariel to show up and begin her presentation and more filtered in soon after she arrived.  In all either thirteen or fourteen women showed, with one of them bringing her two children along as she couldn’t get a sitter for them.

With gear ready to go and seven of us–myself included–ready to help out the freshest of the Fresh Meat, the new recruits were let out ready to gear up and get to skating.  I was given the task of helping one woman get skates, get her gear on, and help out where I could.

We did simple things like skating around the rink, something I could barely do my first night.  The woman with me was a good skater because she’d had a lot of experience on roller blades, so she picked up on quads fast.  I had to remind her a few times not to drag her foot to come to a stop because it was a good way to twist your foot and break your ankle–which is exactly how Arial broke hers.  We did plows and meatballs–or knee drops as I know them.  We even did T stops, and while I was explaining to my freshie why she shouldn’t drag the inner wheels of her back skate to stop, I spun around and skated backwards for about thirty feet while talking.  It wasn’t until later that I realized what I’d done…

We finally got a pace line together and nineteen of us skated around weaving in and out between the other skaters.  We had a few people fall, but that’s to be expected.  We stopped, let them get up, and got them back into line.  It took a while and one new recruit needed help from Ida getting through the pack, but all skaters made it through the line once.

After that we sat for some stretches–

And to let everyone process what they did last night.
Photo taken by Kiley Van Kirk.

 

And then we got everyone together for a group photo.  (If you’re looking for me, I’m on the outside left in the back.)

Every good get together deserves a group picture.
Photo taken by Laura Mowery.

 

Oh yeah, and after we finished we went out and had a couple of beers to celebrate the newest members of the HARD family.  It’s likely they won’t all stay:  of the ten or so women who showed up for my Recruitment Night, Jackie and I are the only ones who remain, so the possibility exists we could lose seventy-five to eighty percent of this group in the next few months.  But for those who remain and push to make themselves derby certified, they’ll realize how hard, difficult, and mind-bending this sport can be.  They’ll also realize just how much fun it as well and they’ll find when the next Recruitment Night rolls around, they’ll be the ones ready to help the newest of our Fresh Meat, just as I did–

We had an extremely good recruitment night tonight. #HARD #DerbyGirls

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Though I doubt they’ll break out the green wig as I did.