Derby Recap: Week 8 or, Derby Broads

You know what I love the very most about roller derby?

the women. the badass, hardcore, soft-hearted, ass-kickin’ women. they are lovely and real. Sure, it feels awesome to push myself beyond my “limits”, and there’s not much that feels as good as knowing like I’m finally pretty good at something. But when it comes right down to it, the friends I’ve made in the five short months I’ve been skating have been well worth any discomfort, displeasure, or disappointment. I still feel a slight squee in my heart when I think about sitting on the track half an hour after practice, still in skates, talking about makeup skills & pinup clothes. It’s making plans to hang out during the week or all seeing the bout together. My derby friends feel like my sorority sisters from HPU–girls who get where I’m coming from, and who want to go the same places.

When I watched my first bout, I remember thinking A) how awesome it was B) what a great workout it must be! and C) how amazing it must be to hang out with women that badass ALL. THE. TIME. And you know what? Even though I’m not in the league, I STILL get to hang out with badass women, every Saturday. They’re genuine and loud and sweet and helpful and intimidating and sometimes I can’t believe I’ve been lucky enough to find women like this again.

Sure, we’re not all skating at the same level. Some of us are ready for tryouts, and some of us are not. But when we’re all on the track together, we’re interested in improving ourselves, but I also get the feeling that we’re all there encouraging each other in this journey as well. Soon enough, it’ll get more competitive, I know. But at some point, the skates come off and we’re all just silly girls again, giving makeup advice in one breath and weight-lifting advice in the next. It’s how derby girls roll. (wokka wokka!)

This week was pretty awesome as far as training went. I just absolutely love when we do snake drills. I see it as a personal challenge, because they still scare me a bit. I think I’m afraid that if I can’t do them, it means I just shouldn’t be a jammer. And then I always end up having a blast, so I like to think maybe THAT’S not true either. This snake drill was all about maneuvering around other people on the track, so we had to catch the back of the line, circling around each girl before moving up to the next. I learned how to skate super-close in front of and behind a girl–yet another drill that helps move my focus off my feet and onto the track. And whenever we do these snake drills, I try to work on looking behind and around me, to build my awareness of the pack and jammers around me. I have a tendency to look at the ground in front of my skates, but when I keep my head up I do much better overall.

We also covered shoulder blocks, which I learned in bootcamp last Sunday, but the more work I can do on my blocking, the better. I can see how I’m having trouble with staying engaged with a girl, like when taking her to the rail. I get the initial shove in, but keeping her out of place and moving her where want her to go is proving a little more difficult. I think if I work on my left crossovers/stepping up, that will help with maintaining momentum, and I’d also like to work on getting lower and keeping my legs and hips filled with that “potential energy” they’re always talking about. I can do squats just fine, but it’s the holding that position that I don’t like (and therefore don’t practice). Looks like there’s some wall sits in my future.

The best part of the day, however, was when Polly asked for someone to come try to jam around her while she demonstrated elbow blocks. No one was saying anything, and I thought, why the hell not? So I jumped in there, and almost squeaked by once or twice. Of course it’s much different when you have your own blockers there to try to help you through, but I was pretty proud of myself. I wasn’t thinking about everyone watching and judging me, I was focused on how to get around Polly. I tried juking her out, but she’s a veteran. No fooling that broad 🙂 . But yeah–definitely working on my fast feet.

There are two more weeks left before the session ends, which seems impossible. I cannot believe it has gone by so fast already, and this session is two weeks longer than the last! I’ve decided that even if I don’t make it past tryouts this time, I’m still going to keep taking the classes and pushing myself. Because the money I pay for ten Saturdays of a hardcore workout is well worth it in friendships and bruises. And it’ll only help me get better. I know I still have work to do (and don’t we all, really?) but I’m still excited to be facing tryouts in a few weeks. The not-knowing is the worst part.


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