Week 4. Fresh meat…… your match! – By Abi Sin Ya.

This Tuesday at Fresh Meat was all about pairing up. After a whopping 22 min warm up, practising stops and fall, we went on to buddy up and try for our 25 in 5.
As I’ve been refereeing with the league for a few months, I’d had a little go at 10 in 1:35, which is the WFTDA minimum skill for referees. I didn’t succeed and it had knocked my confidence a bit. I actually felt like I was going to die when I tried it before. My pace was all wrong and I went too fast at the start. Unable to keep that pace I hit the wall early! This time around was different, with Gail coaching us and with great advice from the big girls too, I was ready to try again.
 

Freshmeat week 4

Copyright: Seaside Sirens


 
My buddy and rookie referee, Stewart was first up, he flew round managed a whopping 24 & 1/4 in 5! Pretty amazing for a first attempt. Stewart is an amazing skater though, really fluid and graceful as opposed to my clumsy and oaf like style! I was up next, nervous as hell, for some reason! Some of the big girls were on the track which I found really helped me keep my pace up. I managed the 25 laps and even done a bit of a roar to celebrate! Yay! After that we stayed with our partners for the whole session.
 
Our first real attempt at contact was so much fun. No hitting as yet but assists were the order of the day. First up inside whips, then outside, hip whips and pushes. We had so much fun. I love to skate fast and Stewart is a speed demon too! We flew round pushing and whipping off of each other. Stewart informed me the next day that he had a nice Abi shaped hand print bruise on his arm. Oooops, sorry!
 
Freshmeat week 4

Copyright: Seaside Sirens


 
Next up, still in our pairs was some wall work. We stuck together, cutting in and out across the track and glued together all the while. Next up was jammer practice, I really tried to be as energetic and jukey as I could, but man, I was running on empty by now! I honestly don’t think I’ve ever sweated so much in my life! Then it was back to partners and I’m pretty sure Stewart was over whelmed with tears of joy at this point. Not sure why he kept holding his nose though? Maybe he has allergies? Next weeks fresh meat has been cancelled as this very important lady has been siting on the same chair for 60 years or something? Her head is even on letters. So I’ll be back the week after with more meat based punnery! Laterz skaterz!
By Abi Sin Ya aged 33 & 48/52th’s
 

Week 3. Fresh meat….got grilled!

Welcome back suckers! So last week it was ten minutes in hell… This week? Suicide starts! I’m beginning to notice a theme…that theme seems to be based, mainly, around causing us poor, exhausted, hard working newbies the maximum amount of suffering! *attempts to lap up pity, notices distinct lack of pity, creates 500 metric tonnes of self pity, laps up self pity* …ahem, where was I? Ah yes, so after lying on the floor and then jumping up on the whistle to sprint the length of the sports hall, stop safely, lie down and repeat, numerous times I was feeling rather suicidal…is this where such starts get their name, I wonder? So after that Force Ten Gail let us have a nice rest and a little sleep….LIES! Of course she didn’t, she hammered us physically for the next hour and a half! We practiced more on our crossovers, really working on skating nice and low and powering off that inside leg, it feels great to get it right and it seems everyone is really getting the hang of it now.
 

Fresh Meat Week 3

Copyright: Seaside Sirens


 
Next up was lots of hopping and juking about. Really taking the weight off of our feet and jogging sideways to inside and back to the outside of the track. By this point my thighs felt like they could have actually shed tears. Thigh tears. Can you imagine?! Next we had to jog a lap on our stoppers. I fell over 2 or 3 times, but apparently thats ok because it shows I’m trying…trying to make a hole in the floor with my butt! I think my favourite part of the evening was Pairing up with blocker extraordinaire Frocky Balboa! We had to practice walling up and sticking together as we moved around the track. Trying hard not to trip her up, we juked and then cut our way around the track, sticking together all the while. Turns out my sunburnt arm was giving off more heat than the actual sun, so props to her for sticking to me and my radiator limbs!
 
Fresh Meat Week 3

Copyright: Seaside Sirens


 
You’d think we were nearly finished by now, but no! We did some duck running and toe stop starts, sprinting and even an assault course. Needless to say I was well and truly ‘zausted by the end but, oddly, I cannot wait until next weeks Force Ten torture instalment! I’m really noticing a team spirit developing amongst the guys and girls now too, which is awesome! It’s something I kinda missed out on, being that I started as a referee recruit on my own. Being able to develop my skills along with all the other fresh meat crew is a great opportunity and I’m massively grateful to the league for making it available to me. Love you guys! Next week… Be here or be a shape that rhymes with here. Yeah!
Abi Sin Ya aged 33 & 11/12

Week 2. Fresh meat….is murder! – by Abi Sin Ya

Arriving at skating last night, I was chuffed to see a huge amount of people had come back. In the back of my mind was the worry that cramming this much knowledge into 6 weeks might be overwhelming for some of the new guys and girls, but heck, I was wrong, the turnout was grand!
 
What you don’t expect when turning up to learn a sport, is to be told that the warm up you’re about to be subjected to is known as ten minutes in hell!
In the next chunk of the session, we sprinted, planked, squatted, sprinted, sprinted, bicycled and did I mention we sprinted?
 
Dudes, that Force Ten woman is some kind of sadist! It’s scary enough being on the receiving end of her training regime, I dread to think what it’s like to be on the wrong end of one of her hip checks!
 

Fresh Meat Course

Copyright: Snarley Davidson


 
I know now that the name ‘ten minutes in hell’ is completely inaccurate… You’d be mistaken if you’re thinking it wasn’t hellish, it was.
As our trainee referee, Ginger-Dread, pointed out, Force Ten has her very own, unique measurement of time! Her 1 minute of squats went to about 1:50! Like I said, she’s kinda a little bit evil. But we love her, she punishes us and we love her in return. I can only assume we have all developed some form of Stockholm syndrome!
 
Fresh Meat Course

Copyright: Snarley Davidson


 
Once we’d had a quick drink (of the non alcoholic variety) we went on to work on skating as a pack, I was so nervous of this before but it was great to all work together, we got used to cutting from the inside to the outside of the track and back again, working in a pace line. We also worked on our falls and stops that we learnt last week, which everyone has DOWN!
It’s only week 2 for cripes sake!
 
We all got on so well with the minimum skills required ‘T’ and plow stops that we even had a go at derby stops too.
Basically what I’m saying is, if you’re a rival team….you better watch yo’ backs, our fresh meat are, already, looking dangerous!
Meet me here next week, I’ll have more stuffs to say!
 
Kissy Love, Abi Sin Ya, aged 33 & 7/8.
 
Fresh Meat Course

Copyright: Snarley Davidson


 

Week 1. Fresh meat…. & greet! – by Abi Sin Ya

As I arrived at Garon Park on Tuesday evening, I couldn’t help but feel nervous. I’ve been training as a referee for the Sirens since the end of Feb, but I’d never been tested on my skating ability, per se. I certainly hadn’t been tested on my fitness! As soon as we kitted up and got on the floor it was obvious that we were in for a treat from Force Ten Gail and her ‘ big girl’ back up crew!

We introduced ourselves and a theme ran through our introductions, mainly that most of us had skated as kids, religiously, then given up for anything from 10 to, in my case, 20 years and had recently donned 8 wheels again…… in pursuit of bruises? Possibly! We started the session with a skate around to allow Force Ten to check out our level of ability.

Fresh Meat Class

Copyright: Jenna Tail'Ya

 

It was instantly clear that these girls (and guys) could skate! Gail was impressed and looked as excited as a kid at Christmas! We worked on derby stance with some evil thigh burning punishments, oops I meant drills! We moved on to crossovers, then on to falls and T and plow stops, the big girls were on hand to help with skating tips and hints to make us as awesome as them! We even had time for a race before our warm down skate.

The cool thing about fresh meat, or about derby in general, is the range of people and personalities it attracts. From young chicks to older guys and middle aged mums in between, anyone and everyone can join in, if they desire. We had two guys turn up to train as referees and a whole bunch of ladies thirsty to get on the track! It’s Friday now and my thighs are just recovering from the shock! Well this is me signing off, check back in next week for the next entry from my fresh meat diary!

Kisses and hugs,
Abi Sin Ya, aged 33 & 3/4

Fresh Meat Class

Copyright: Jenna Tail'Ya

 

 

Shakes, rattle and roll! – by Ella-GNAW

There was the smell of setting lotion in the air, lashings of lipstick and poses so fierce rock and roll’s favourite model Kate Moss would be begging for tips……It could only be the Seaside Sirens’ latest team photoshoot!

And boy, was this a hotly anticipated event or what? After spending most of the afternoon making my hair look as big as the planet Jupiter, and applying then reapplying my newly purchased lipstick, we descended onto Southend’s finest seafront American diner Bobby Jo’s (which kindly allowed the Sirens full access to the restaurant floor for the entire evening). We excitedly awaited to be snapped by celebrity photographer and Siren’s object of affection, Marc de Groot who captured the spirit of the Sirens in the Summer 2011 shoot.

As Sirens poured through the doors, the staff whizzed up milkshakes resembling all the colours of the rainbow to wash down the burgers and fries we consumed, waiting to pull some of the sharpest poses seen in the Derby world!

Marc de Groot photoshoot at Bobby Jo's

Copyright Ella-GNAW


And may I just take a moment to pay homage to some of the FINEST barnets known to man. Let it be said, Siren’s take looking spectacular as seriously as we take playing fine derby. We had beehives, victory rolls, pink pigtails and a self confessed cross between Jedward and My Little Pony (Macey/DC – the fiercest hair of the night) and who better to capture the spirit of the group other than Marc!
Snarley Davidson was up first showing us all how it’s done, followed by Macey/DC! Who knew one could look so hot while gnawing on her necklace! I nervously awaited my turn, unable to shake from my head my inability to pull any look other than “Cheese” and I don’t mean, “Cheese Cake”, I just mean Cheese (think wide smile, wide eyes, eager to please 5 year old child look!) But I had nothing to worry about. With Snarley directing the girls, it would be impossible to not look good, bolstered by Bobby Jo’s authentic memorabilia in the background.

Marc de Groot photoshoot at Bobby Jo's

Copyright Ella-GNAW


The shoot was seamless and we rounded the evening up with a group shot, while taking captive the young waiter who was on hand all night to help us eat to our delight!

After the infamous Summer 2011 shoot on Southend’s very own seafront, it was clear the Bobby Jo’s Diner shoot had a lot to live up too, but Marc de Groot couldn’t have captured the spirit of the Sirens, including the most recent batch of Freshmeat graduates better. The photos will only complement last year’s shoot which featured the long-term Siren skaters!

As a recent Freshmeat graduate myself, having my photo taken as a Siren made me feel like I was fully initiated into the group and the big girls were all on hand to share their pearls of wisdom when it comes to rocking the photo shoot, rocking a scrimmage and rocking the after party at a bout!

Now who’s looking forward to the first bout of the year to see us rocking our headshots?! I AM!

November Pain – we rocked it!

Main Photo Credit:  Steve Newton

So the final bout of the year, and what a year it has been – ‘The Year of the Siren’.

Our fourth bout of the season and we decided to go out with a BANG! For the first time we decided to host an intraleague game followed by a mens’ game (or ‘Merby’ as it’s more commonly known).
A roller derby bout in November can only lend itself to the name ‘November Pain’. Much hair metal, rocking out and the Sirens dividing into ‘Guns’ and ‘Roses’.
Both teams have trained very hard over the last few months; it seems pride is still very much at stake even when you are playing your sisters. The Guns skated out to ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ armed with plastic guns and the Roses surprised unsuspecting fans by throwing sweets into the crowd (Roses of course!) to ‘Guns don’t kill people *ROSES* do’ (Thank you Dan Gleibitz).
The teams were captained by two of the Sirens’ founders ‘Mother Mercy’ (Guns) and ‘Wham Paige’ (Roses), both of whom did an upstanding job leading their ladies into battle.

Playing against skaters from your own team means you know them well, you know their strengths and their weaknesses. But, they know yours. This wasn’t going to be a straight forward game for either team. Each team had perfected their strategies but after a few jams the Roses took the lead. After an unfortunate fall, The Beckoning was left with a leg and ankle injury which left her out for the rest of the game (thankfully healing nicely now!). With both teams having a ‘touch of the naughties’, blockers being sent to the box, allowed for some high scoring power jams but the Roses just managed to keep in front. The Guns kept fighting, with some killer blocking and an outstanding apex jump from Rae Pest (MVP).
It may have been her first bout since her broken ankle earlier in the year but Mother mercy showed the Roses she was very much a threat not to be taken lightly. The Roses continued to fight on with some hard hits from Frocky Balboa (Most feared blocker) and bout-virgin Dr TerrorBrAwLL., complimented by the swift jamming skills of Killer Bite (Penalty Queen) and Tiny Temper. The game was wrapped up with a 176-96 win to the Roses. Massive thanks to Demi-Lition (MVP) and her Kent girls Ann I Hilate, Faery Quad Mother, Marty McSuperfly and the Norfolk Brawd’s own Yours Truly for being honorary Sirens for the day and amazing as always.

Photo Credit: Steve Newton

Re-united once more, after a quick shower and a trip to the bar, the Sirens took their seats in the crowd and settled down for the first merby bout in Essex, Southern Discomfort Vs Lincolnshire Rolling Thunder. What a game! Blink and you’ll miss it, the boys play a high speed game and throw hits like their lives depend on it. The tough but agile skaters appeared to fly around the track, hoping and jumping through the pack. The boys put on a display for the crowd and they loved it. The final score was 186-80 to Southern Discomfort. This was the first game for LRT playing as a team all together and I think we have something very exciting to look forward in the future from both of these teams.

As always the day ended in usual Siren after party style, with much fun and beer to be had.
Massive thanks to all of our volunteers, NSOs and Refs – the bouts couldn’t go ahead without you!! Also, congratulations to Phoneix in Flames for her announcing debut. You did a brilliant job and worked very well with our very own Dan Gliebitz, resident announcer (AFTDA certified don’t-cha-know!). All in all, Guns or Roses, it was the Sirens who won in the end, putting on another successful and entertaining day of derby. What a way to end the season, watch this space for next year!

PS. Congratulations to the freshmeat for doing so well in your minimum skills the following day. Turning up for testing the day after the bout before was a tough test in itself! You all did great, looking forward to skating with you very, very soon! Hell x

Oh Canadaaaaaa!

I was in Canada yesterday, impressive eh?  Better than being at work to say the very least.  Chances are if you’re reading our lovely site then you probably know why – but indulge me…

Last weekend (December 1st – 4th)  saw the very first Roller Derby World Cup; teams from thirteen countries travelled to Toronto for a full-on four day tournament to be able to say they were the best in the whole wide world.  The lucky thirteen were: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, Sweden & the USA.  Sounds pretty awesome huh?  Well I thought so, and I wasn’t alone either – 1,500 tickets were sold to spectators and three of those tickets went to me, the rather splendid Dame Fear Her Limbs and marvellous chum of SSRG – our mate Steph.

Not being people to miss out on the opportunity for a bit of sightseeing (drinking) we decided to head out a bit early and spent a week in Toronto’s tourist centre before the skating started.  We hit the shops, the zoo, went on a brewery tour (big favourite with all three of us), zipped up the CN Tower and popped over to the super impressive Niagara Falls – but mainly we ate, and when we stopped eating we drank.  Sometimes we drank while we ate – y’know, just to mix it up a bit… [Just as a side note, Canadians have yet to fully embrace cider. If you know me then you know I’m somewhat of an authority on the appley-stuff, so imagine my surprise that the tramp-endorsed Strongbow is often your only option & held in incredibly high esteem.]

Canadian food. Photo Credit: Steph Barry.

We took a short break from the eating & drinking to move from our Downtown Hostel over to the Crowne Plaza Hotel that was nearer the skate venue.  The Plaza was also playing host to the vast majority of the teams skating in the World Cup, which made for some excellent skater spotting – Steph & The Dame were introduced to Iron Maven (“y’know from Whip It & those Nike adverts”) & I kept getting confused between the Swedes & the Finns and the Argentineans & the Brazilians.

The skating started on the Thursday in order to establish the seeding system.  The top three seeds would get a bye from some of the elimination rounds – which meant they couldn’t meet each other until the semi final.  Essentially if England wanted to avoid the USA until the final stages of the competition they would need to win all of their games with the largest points difference possible; cue a 199-64 victory over the All-Ireland team, followed by racking up 273 points compared to Argentina’s 31.  The Vordermans among you will already know this gave England a 377 point differential.

Late afternoon on Friday the seeding was announced – number one seed was Team USA – not really a big surprise, their bouts had ended 377-8 against New Zealand & 435-1 against Scotland (massive love to Wild Oates of Scotland for the best reaction on scoring a point that I have ever seen, at that point in time I can genuinely say that all of Team Scotland were happier about that point than the USA were about their mighty impressive 435) this gave the US a 803 point differential (as well as setting everyone else’s expectations for the rest of the weekend).

Second seed was Team Canada – their two wins (against France & Sweden) had earned them a differential of 397 – twenty points more than England. Those twenty lovely, sparkly points were more than enough to secure the third seed spot – for the fact fans amongst you fourth place was taken by Australia with a 233 point differential. So that was that, a quick bit of mental arithmetic meant that we knew that the next England game would be against France, and if we won that we’d be up against Canada in the semi final, and if we beat Canada there’d be a USA v England final.

Once the seeds had been decided there was a “Parade of Nations” – which saw each team sing their national anthem, England did us proud by belting out Jerusalem complete with actions.  The real star of the show was Team New Zealand however who finished up by performing the Hakka which to be honest was strangely emotional (and completely awesome).

New Zealand Hakka - Click to watch on YouTube

The elimination bouts began on Friday evening and continued through until the semi finals on Sunday.  The standard of the skating was incredibly high across all the teams, if you look at the scores alone some of the bouts seem very one sided, and of course in some cases they were. That doesn’t mean that each team didn’t fight hard to prove their worth, personally I think that a team that doesn’t give up whilst on the receiving end of a drubbing can be just as impressive as a twenty five point jam.

As predicted England beat France (383-14 cheered on by Army Winehouse – Team England fans in Winehouse fancy dress) and met Canada in the semi final. I genuinely didn’t know what to expect, my only frames of reference were the two times that teams from the London Rollergirls had played against Montreal Roller Derby – they’d each won a game each so it was impossible to tell.  Also Team England and Team Canada were by no means made up by skaters exclusively from LRG & Montreal so it was shaping up to be an incredibly exciting game before anyone stepped on the track.

The Canada game was my favourite of the whole weekend; it was hard fought on both sides with Canada taking the win with a score of 161 to England’s 90.

England’s next stop was Australia in the bout to decide third place. Going home without a medal clearly wasn’t an option for England – but Australia were not giving up without a fight; after a pretty tense first half England found their stride and finished up their last game 203-85 – taking third place convincingly.

It’s worth mentioning that it’s not just the skaters that fought for England – the three coaches: Ballistic Wistle, Barry Fight & Rollin Stoner worked just as hard as any skater on the track managing, coaching and line-up managing the third best team in the world, and the best in Europe, doesn’t just happen by accident, the amount of work that had been put in was evident from the first game back on day one. – Another group that should be singled out for praise are the referees & non skating officials – 38 games were played over the four days of the tournament on two different tracks.  The days were long, the tracks were noisy and super hot and yet the quality of the refereeing was excellent.  Naturally there were some calls that I didn’t agree with (and judging by Ballistic Wistle’s reactions he had something to say about a few of them) but that’s the nature of the sport – of any sport really…

The final was between Canada & the USA.  Although Canada clearly had the crowd on their side it wasn’t enough to beat the experience of the US who had dominated the competition from the start and won 336 – 33 (that score’s not to be sniffed at – Canada scored more points against the US than all the other teams put together). Don’t be mistaken for thinking that the epic scores from the US ruined things for the spectators, or the teams they were playing against – you try telling that to the NZ skater who, at the after party, was enthusiastically telling me how she’d managed to knock Sexy Slaydie over – they’d been beaten 377-8 but she couldn’t be happier about it – Slaydie was also pretty impressed with the bruise she’d picked up at the hands of the Kiwi’s.

Getting friendly with the locals. Photo Credit: Steph Barry

Talking of the afterparty – I wish I could tell you more, but I really can’t go into too much detail – this is a family friendly website.  But know this, my evening began by seeing Suzie Hotrod (Team USA) leg wrestle and ended with a lift back to the hotel from (uber skater) Quadzilla followed by the police being called to the hotel bar (a hundred or so derby girls & boys are quite loud) which resulted in Bonnie D. Stroir having to tell everyone to go to bed.  Other abridged highlights include a team England/Finland human pyramid and Rogue Runner (Team England) and her Dolly Rockit league mates teaching me a whole lot of punching games that have left me with bruises in places I don’t think I’d want to show my nearest or dearest.

So now it’s nearly 15:00 on Wednesday, I’ve not really had much sleep since Monday, I’m covered in bruises in unmentionable places ,I’ve spent all of my money on overpriced Strongbow and I must have put on at least three stone.

That, my friends, is how you watch a World Cup…

Macey/DC – For those about to block, we salute you!

Y’know that roller skating phase that everyone had when they were a kid?  Well I never had that.  To be honest the first time I put a pair of skates on was in January this year.  And that fact is all I can currently think of. – Why?  Because in 30 seconds I’m about to skate out in my first ever bout…

I joined the Seaside Siren Rollergirls in January 2011, and after completing the 17 week Freshmeat Course (minus one week for a trip to Germany for the Eurovision Song Contest – another story for another time, but take it from me, until you’ve danced to Jedward with Louis Walsh, you haven’t lived) – and now, on September 10th, I – Laura Jones…or should that be Macey/DC…am a Rollergirl.  Mental.  Absolutely mental.

In my first 30 years on the planet I’d successfully managed to dodge any kind of sporting endeavour, given the choice I’d always pick books over bruises, but with my 30th birthday came the desire to get myself a bit more fit, shift a bit of chub and acquire some form of hobby.  So I did what an increasing amount of women my age are doing.

I joined a netball team.

Bear with me though, there’s a point to this. – Promise.  Netball helped with my fitness, general communication skills, agility, endurance and ability to work as part of a team – and I loved it (still do as it happens).  Last year a few of the girls in my team started playing roller derby, one thing lead to another and I joined too.

To say that the idea of learning a whole new sport from scratch in seventeen weeks intimidated me would be an understatement; I’d never played a contact sport before – let alone one on roller skates.  The Sirens were, however, incredibly welcoming – and the girls that were starting the Freshmeat course with me all looked terrified too, and so it began…

I found a lot of the training difficult.  It seems that I’m inherently far more academic than I am practical.  My brain knew what I needed to be doing “it’s just physics, innit” but getting my legs to what I told them?, That just wasn’t happening.  So I practiced.  Everywhere.  And I looked like a massive idiot. I’d hip check vending machines when my food got stuck, I’d cross-over walking round corners, if I was on the Tube I’d deliberately not hold on so I could work on my balance – and when I got good at that I’d do it on one leg (and then I fell on a Nun – A NUN – so I stopped doing that).  I wore my skates at home when I was pootling about in my flat, I cleaned my teeth while doing squats, I stopped drinking alcohol quite so much (not altogether though, I’m not completely mental).

I watched everything I could on the internet about skating form, technique and bout tactics.  I became the biggest Derby-bore you can possibly imagine.

I tell you something though, it worked.  On August 10th the teams for Pier & Loathing, the Seaside Siren Rollergirls third public bout was announced, and there on the list, was my name.  I’d been selected to play for SSRG’s Heartless Beaches against the Kent Rollergirls.

There was a month in between the teams being announced and the bout – but it might as well have been five minutes.  Time flew – as it does when you’re having fun (and also are pretty much bricking it constantly).  We knew nothing about Kent as this was their first public bout – so all we could do was concentrate on ourselves.  As the day of the bout got nearer I started to worry about ridiculous things: what if I fell over during the skate out?  What if no one came?  What if someone hit me so hard I actually died?  As it turns out I wasn’t the only one thinking this way, two days before the bout the ‘Beaches had a bit of a bonding session where we were all tasked with writing our biggest fears down (anonymously).  I can’t tell you some (most) of them as they weren’t all family friendly, but what I can tell you is that it made me feel 100% better about the whole thing.

Copyright MRM Photography

And, on bout day, as I started skating around the track to warm up, I knew that I shouldn’t be worrying, that I do this for fun and that as soon as it’s over I’d want to do it again so I should take the time to enjoy every second.  Problem is, all I could think about is the fact that nine months ago I’d never, ever, EVER had a pair of skates anywhere near my feet.  And I couldn’t help thinking that some time in the next 60 minutes I was pretty much definitely going to die – possibly more than once. Frankly that would’ve put a total dent in my weekend…

I wish I could tell you more about the actual bout, but if I’m honest it passed in a bit of a blur.  I remember coming off after my first jam acutely aware that I’d forgotten pretty much everything I’d been taught, but as yet I wasn’t dead – which frankly was excellent news. As the jams passed everything we’d been taught started coming back, tactical starts, strong walls, effective communication and awareness of where our jammer was in the pack all made for an excellent game.  Looking back on it all I’m incredibly proud of what we achieved.  It’s worth mentioning that it wasn’t just my first bout; four of the girls from my graduating Freshmeat class were making their debut too: Frocky Balboa, Rae-Pest, Killer Bite & Trailer Park Thrash. Having wobbled about with them all on the first week of training and seeing what we were all capable of now was pretty mind blowing (and after a few shandies at the after party it all got a bit emotional too).

The final score didn’t go in our favour, Kent played brilliantly and beat us to it in the end – but I’m pleased to say that no one died – so surely that equates to some kind of draw?

And that after party I mentioned?  I totally won that all by myself…well, maybe with a little help from my friends.

Copyright MRM Photography

On a Mother-flippin’ boat! – Adventures in Ghent, by Ragna Rock

On August Bank Holiday weekend, Mother Mercy and I embarked on an epic voyage to a far off land in order to learn from the great masters of roller derby. That land was Gent, Belgium, for a WFTDA Officials Clinic, the first of its kind in Europe. Being intrepid explorers, we mastered getting the Eurostar and various trains with little damage to ourselves and others and arrived safely on the Friday night at our boat. Yes, BOAT. We stayed on an amazing moored canal boat, set up as a B&B. Cue lots of on-deck drinking and harassing the neighbours – Essex style.

On the Saturday we rocked up to the main event (kindly, and very amazingly hosted by Gent Go-Go Roller Girls) and were introduced to our WFTDA trainers, the Pantichrist (head of South Central region WFTDA RefCom), Sarah Hipel (WFTDA’s training and officiating expert), Conan the Vegetarian and Judge Knot. We started with a session on the psychology of officiating and how we could use various techniques to enable us to concentrate and reduce anxiety pre and during bout. We then split off from the main group of referees and were ushered into a separate room where Pantichrist could impart his NSO wisdom and secrets. We worked through all the main roles and were given tonnes of tips and tricks to make things easier, while clarifying questions and consolidating our existing knowledge and practises.
[nggallery id=6]
That night we blew off some steam with our pals from the Brighton Rockers, involving cherry beer, posh kebabs and writing on random Belgian’s clothes… standard! On getting back to the boat we enjoyed a Belgian art-house film on a big screen from across the river in the way only Essex can: shrieking, cackling and inserting our own subtitles.

The Sunday was another session of NSO study, plus working with the refs on communication between officials, culminating in a scrimmage between Gent and RuhrPott Roller Girls from Essen, Germany. We got the chance to officiate in front of Pantichrist: I can tell you, NSOing in front of the person who helped create the dreaded IBRF is a wee bit scary! The day finished with many hugs from sweaty refs and exchanging of Facebook details. It was fantastic to meet so many amazing people from all over Europe and to have the opportunity to speak to some of the kingpins of roller derby. We’ve learnt so much to share with the league and help us run our bouts safely, fairly, and smoothly. Big love and thanks to Gent for the hosting and to all our officials pals – old and new! SSRG loves you!

Ragna x

The Road to Rocky Mountain – by Lady GoreGore

On Saturday 13 August, I dragged myself out of bed at an ungodly hour and off to Birmingham for an awesome weekend of derby training with the reigning WFTDA world champions, the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls. Fresh from seeing the 5280 Fight Club’s epic game against the London Rollergirls the night before, I was excited and I have to admit, a little nervous! After a three hour long journey which included trains, tubes and buses I managed to get myself over to the bootcamp venue where we were greeted by an enthusiastic Ecko and her wonderful ‘british accent’ at the door. I signed in, got my raffle ticket, was issued my very own bootcamp t-shirt and goodie bag, and nervously made my way into the main hall.

Before me were two tracks chock full of rollergirls warming up from all over the country and Europe. Leagues had travelled far and wide to get here and we were all super excited to learn from some of the very best derby players in the world. After a warm welcome from the coaches and an introduction to the classes planned for the day, we were split into groups and directed off to our first class.

First up for our group was Basic Blocks that Will Knock Your Socks Off with Psychobabble and Deranged. After watching these two awesome players in action at the bout, I was excited to say the least! We went over basic blocking stance, tucking your elbows in tight to your body, sucking your core in and driving up from your legs. We then went on to practice full-body hitting, shoulder blocking and double hits with a partner where I picked up a rather tasty looking bruise on my right shoulder!

Next was Jam Out with Your Clam Out, also with Psycho and Deranged. We learnt some clever techniques for staying in bounds when a blocker is attempting to push you to the outside and we also worked on footwork like the duck walk and heel/toe to really help get power into our starts. Both coaches were really approachable and happy to offer further guidance and advice on anything you were having trouble with. It was amazing to watch them demo the moves on the track and see the years of experience between them.

Then it was the Awesome Jammer Off-Skates Workout with She Who Cannot Be Named. What an absolute trooper she was for doing the workout four times that day! She Who, Frida Beater and Bob Loblaw led us through a series of off-skates exercises including some really evil sprint shuttles, plyometrics, squats and core work. It was safe to say my butt was well and truly kicked, and I was looking forward to incorporating the exercises into my own off-skate workout routine.

After all that hard work, I was very glad to be sitting down for the final class of the day, a great session on Visualisation and Mental Training by Catholic Cruel Girl. I found the class really useful, with lots of tips on positive thinking and visualisation for performance in sport. I’ve been guilty of negative self-thought in the past, and it was great to learn about how to use visualisation to help enhance my performance on the track and improve my mindset.

With day one over and done with, it was back to Birmingham Central Backpackers for dinner and a well-earned rest. I don’t think they quite knew what hit them as the little hostel was over-run with roller girls! I was sharing a room with a bunch of girls from the Gent Go Go Rollergirls and I also got to meet some of the ladies from One Love Roller Dolls from Antwerp. It was lots of fun hanging out with them and they introduced me to the great past-time of leg wrestling, and proceeded to challenge every red-blooded male in the place to a leg wrestle!

Day two started bright and early at 9.00am. I was already aching after a hard day of skating and exercise the day before. Our first class of the day was a talk on Nutrition for Athletes, again with Catholic Cruel Girl. Cruelie was great and gave us lots of tips on what to eat and when for peak athletic performance. I often suffer from sore muscles post-workout, and she gave me advice on what I could do to help speed up my recovery. Apparently it’s crucial to have something like a protein shake 15/20 minutes after a workout, and then have a larger meal about an hour after.

Next up was Pack Dynamics with Frida Beater. We learnt a fun way to think about offense and defense using cheese (!) and I really enjoyed the class. Being able to transition between offense and defense on the track is so important in derby, and I found having a fun analogy in my head was a really easy way to think about it. We also did a couple of drills about waterfalling and recycling, which was great having seen the amazing 5280 Fight Club girls put this into action on the track.

Then we had a scrimmage assessment with She Who Cannot Be Named, Amanda Jamitinya, Psychobabble and Ecko. We were split into two teams, black and white, and got to scrimmage with each other, trying to put into practice some of what we had learned earlier in the weekend. After each jam, we received feedback on what worked and what didn’t from our coaches, which was useful. I was starting to feel pretty tired by this point so my derby mojo wasn’t quite at its best, but I made myself take the jammer panty and managed to break through the pack a few times!

The last class of the day was a Strategy Q and A with Assaultin’ Pepa and Winona Fighter. This was a nice chilled session, just what I needed after a hard weekend of training. They shared with us how they did their line-ups, which was insightful. We also went through a bunch of questions about strategies, including things we’d noticed at the bout on Friday and more general questions such as tips for bridging, goating and using timeouts. Both Pepa and Winona were really nice and friendly, and happy to share their knowledge with the group.

The bootcamp concluded with something called the One Jam Slam. By this point I was shattered and opted to watch from the sidelines, not wanting to be sweaty for my long journey home! Skaters were placed into teams and scrimmaged against each other, with the winning team staying on the track to do battle to try and become the last team standing. It was great to watch some of the stars of UK and European derby in action at this point, including a few of the London Rollergirls, Red n Roll from London Rockin’ Rollers, Swede Hurt and Mad Malooney from Crime City and a real talent in jammer FranceyPants who is now skating for Montreal Roller Derby.

All in all, it was an amazing weekend, and I’m really looking forward to sharing my new-found knowledge with the rest of the league – and putting it into practice myself on the track.

Thank you Rocky Mountain Rollergirls for a fantastic weekend!

Lady GoreGore