Monday, June 30, 2014

From Freshmeat to Team Mate: Level One Skills Begin

Last week, I explained one of the core skills needed for Roller Derby, the Derby Stance. For the first few practices I attended, we spent at least a few minutes working on learning proper derby stance form. Our freshmeat coach and the team's regular coach both suggested we all do tons of squats. I still do squats at random times every day...a favorite is while I'm waiting with my dogs in the backyard. I actually need to start doing them in regular sets, working to get as low as possible.
Squats are good for
POD players in one of this season's
games. Notice Macrum's great skating
Derby stance up front!
building your leg strength for skating, perfecting the form of your stance, and building strength in the tendons of your ankles and knees, which can help prevent injuries.

Aside from learning to stay low for balance while skating, I remember spending the first few practices learning to skate with all eight wheels on the floor and the basic derby stop, the t-stop. It sounds silly that we had to learn how to skate with all the wheels touching the floor, but we did! Aside from being able to skate forwards or backwards on all eight wheels, by learning how to use the edges of your skates - inside, outside, or a combination of the two - you can develop the skills to weave, turn, or slolam while skating.
This skater is using her edges to turn
 left on the track. From Decat#6

By putting pressure on the outside edge (two wheels) of your left skate and pressure on the inside edge of your right skate, you will find yourself leaning to the left and then your body naturally begins to turn in that direction.  If you reverse your edges, you turn right. By alternating between the two, you can go around turns and weave through cones (or later opponents!) without taking your feet off the floor.

It sounds simple enough, but using your edges is like riding a motorcycle. You have to lean into all your turns and trust that you won't just fall over. Veteran skaters make it look easy but it took me months to really get the general hang of it. Most people, including myself, are stronger leaning and turning to one side, too. However, over time and with the right equipment (good skates with well-adjusted trucks that allow your feet to maneuver without pulling your wheels off the floor), it becomes almost second nature.

When I started as Freshmeat, I did not have skates of my own. I borrowed the only pair of freshmeat skates that would fit me - some sneaker skates like the ones pictured here. They were free to use, which was great while I was figuring out if I could actually make a go at Roller Derby. What they weren't, was flexible (or light, honestly!).  Trying to find my edges was near impossible. I would lean and nothing happened. Switching to my own Derby quad skates weeks later made a huge difference.

It was the same with learning to do a t-stop, though in this case the heavy skates helped a little, I think. A t-stop is the first real stop you learn in derby. It's fairly simple. You transfer your weight to whichever leg you put in front. Then by dragging the other foot behind (making the shape of the letter "T") you cause friction with the track, which slows you to a stop. You have to be careful to drag with the outside edge of the back skate so that you don't hurt your ankle by accident. Check out this simple video explaining it nice and clearly!

Learning to do the t-stop originally in those sneaker skates meant that when I switched to my real skates that they felt like a breeze! I'll tell you guys all about picking out my own gear and skates soon, promise.

Until next time...
Nikki Tesla #134

Monday, June 23, 2014

From Freshmeat to Team Mate: Just Getting Started

So, when I decided to join Pair O' Dice City Roller Derby, I was lucky.  I had two coworkers and another friend already on the team.  It helped a lot on that first night when I got to the rink, bewildered and nervous, to have some familiar faces nearby.  And yet, as I soon found out, I didn't need to be so apprehensive.  Everyone on the team was welcoming and happy to see new freshmeat.

No really. It could have been this big, scary moment to come in and immediately start doing something new and terrifying that you may or may not kill yourself trying for the first time...but that's not how it works.

With today's safety concerns and regulations, there is usually a very strict and structured process for introducing freshmeat to Derby.  At POD, we had to fill out waiver forms and contact info sheets first thing. Then before even going near the skating floor, we had to get outfitted with safety gear.  The dreaded freshmeat gear. I say "dreaded" because this is the (very nicely) donated old gear from all the skaters on the team.  It's sort of stinky and ill-fitting, BUT, it does the job until you can get your own personal gear.

Some of our team's freshmeat gear.
What type of gear do you need for Derby, you ask?

Well, aside from quad skates, every skater is required to wear these items every time they are on skates:
*Elbow pads
*Knee Pads

Without these things, you are not allowed to skate and believe me, they check. They check before practice, during practice, and before and during every scrimmage and game. It took some getting used to and it still takes me about twice as long to gear up as the veteran skaters, but I'm glad to know that I HAVE to be safe when I skate.

Once we'd officially geared up, we got to go out onto the track.  First we covered why we have to wear all our safety gear then we skated a few tentative laps.  I seriously had not been on skates in I sort of felt like Bambi wobbling around out there.  I'm sure it was actually pretty hilarious to watch.

I'm the skater in the striped helmet...
relearning what it feels like to be on wheels. 

Most of that first night after gearing up was sort of a forgettable whirlwind.  We got papers that told us about the team and papers that told us what skills we'd be learning to pass our Level One test.  The only other truly vivid memory I have is learning the all important DERBY STANCE.  This is a skill that you build upon with everything else that you do in Derby.

My post-practice shaky legged derby stance.
I can hear Coach now, "Get Lower!" ;)
A good Derby stance is harder than it looks.  You basically work to squat on your skates. You want to be as low as possible. You need to keep your arms in and your core tight.  All of this helps to lower your center of gravity which helps you balance in everything that you do when you're skating.  

When you're stationary, it's easy, but once you start moving it's pretty easy to forget and start to stand up straight while you're skating.  I know that I still work to maintain a good Derby Stance when I'm skating and I strive every practice to learn to get lower. If you watch really great Derby skaters, they all stay amazingly low and it really does help in their speed, their turns, even their blocking and hitting.  It's a great skill to constantly work to improve.  

Until next time...

Monday, June 16, 2014

Pair O' Dice City Rollers vs. Elm City Derby Damez 6-14-14

This past weekend the Pair O' Dice City Rollers played against the Elm City Derby Damez.     POD roster was all official POD team players and Elm City played about 2 guests because their roster is a bit short.  It was a fun game.  Lots of jammer on jammer action.  Kill Bitch Enrage was the MVP player for Elm City.  It's no surprise with the way she kept working the POD jammers.  Her MO is to jam and then if her rival jammer gets out near her, she will play her until she pushes her out of bounds and then she will pull her back behind the pack if possible.   She did this multiple times to POD during this game.   However,  when she tried to do it to Macrum, it didn't work!   Macrum put forth a great fight during one such jammer on jammer conflict.   (you can see the jammer video clip - 2nd one right below)

Overall it is always enjoyable to play against Elm City.  Great bunch of gals!!  

MVP  Macrum!

Refs, NSOs and Off the track POD People

We want to give a big {{HUG}} to the REFs, NSOs and other POD people who contributed to the Elm City bout (game). Not everyone is wearing purple and skating around the track!   These POD people have contributed so much to our league, we THANK YOU!

NSOs and behind the scenes workers!   


Video Footage

You can see more photos here

Friday, June 13, 2014

Upcoming Game - Elm City Derby Damez vs. Pair O' Dice City Rollers

POD Fans!!  Come root your favorite roller derby team on!  
Brattleboro is only 45 or so minutes North of Springfield.
That's not too far a drive for some great derby! 
Elm city derby damez vs. Pair o' dice city rollers -  June 14th  Living memorial Park Nelson Withington Skating facility,  Brattleboro VT.

Elm City Derby Damez  vs.  Pair O' Dice City Rollers
This Saturday!  June 14th.  
Brattleboro VT.  

Tickets are $10.00 at the door!  
Doors open at 5:30 and whistle is at 6:00

Monday, June 9, 2014

From Freshmeat to Team Mate: An Introduction!

Hi There!
My name is Jessica...and until recently I was "Freshmeat."
The day I got my very own Derby gear -
I was SO excited to just try the skates on again!

For those of you who may not know, when you join a Roller Derby team, you start out as something called "Freshmeat." It's sort of like a probationary player.  The Freshmeat period allows you to get your feet wet in the world of roller derby. It's full of practices where you just try to remember with envy how well you USED to skate when you were a kid (or maybe that was just me, LOL) or you basically learn how to skate from scratch.

In Freshmeat training, you learn basics.  Real basics.
Here are some quick examples:
*how to do a derby stance
*how to skate forwards
*how to balance on one foot while on skates
*how to skate backwards
*how to turn around while skating

Then, once you've mastered all of your Freshmeat skills (and there's more...just wait and see!) you get to take your test for Level One. After you pass Level One on our team, you can officially be voted in as a full member of the organization, which is great!  I was voted in a few weeks ago after passing my Level One test...and now I'm working on my Level Two skills.

Sweaty from practice, but THRILLED with my
brand-new track jacket with my official name
and number on it! 
All in all, there are three levels of skills that you have to master before you can play in an official Derby game. This level testing is done for safety reasons.  It proves not only to your team, but to the other team, as well, that you can safely execute all the required skills that may be needed in a game.

 In this series, "From Freshmeat to Team Mate," I'm excited to share with you what I've done to this point to pass my Level One test and to hopefully continue as I get all the way through Level Three to become a competitive player on our team.  I'll be showing you different skills we learn and sharing some of my experiences. I hope you find Derby as fascinating and exciting as I do!!

- Jessica a.k.a. NIKKI TESLA #134
(oh, yeah, did I mention when you play Derby you get to pick a cool "Derby Name" to play under?  We have some great ones on our team... "Meryl Creep,"  "Haulin-Sass," "Astra Knot," or "Paleo Pixie." You can check out our player profiles over on the right sidebar --->)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Video - HOME GAME - Pair O' Dice City Rollers vs. Beat City Bedrockers

Our FIRST HOME GAME  of the season  - Pair O' Dice City Rollers vs. Beat City Bedrockers

Was a close game.   The Bedrockers had a full roster and Pod was down by 5 skaters with only a total of 9 girls skating.   The game was close, going back and forth with the score.  POD was winning by about 20 points towards the end but in the last 15 minutes or so, we got some penalties which put a damper on our game.

Score ended up being Bedrockers 181 -    POD City 165

Check it out right here :)