Ch ch ch changes

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When I first started writing this blog (nearly ONE WHOLE YEAR AGO!) I couldn’t tell you what WFTDA stood for, I didn’t know the intricacies of a skate set up, I couldn’t have told you what a jammer was or why that ref was doing the X Factor sign, and I didn’t know that you could HIT someone and still love them with all of your heart.

Oh how times change eh.  I remember sitting down to write that first blog post thinking I probably wouldn’t keep this up (the blog writing or the roller derby) I’ve always been one to give up a hobby if it’s too difficult.  The flute, the violin, ballet, diving.  All left behind.  I even class myself as a ‘hobby enthusiast’ in my twitter bio.

I have officially debunked the old adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.  If I was a dog I would be 125.  That’s pretty bloody old.  And at 125 dog years, I have learnt a whole host of new tricks.

This is where I need to say a few words of thanks because dogs can’t learn new tricks alone.

To Blockson and Deadfool: you guys have encouraged and supported me, when I honestly didn’t believe I would ever be safety assessed you believed in me and when I was the biggest sooky douchebag you didn’t take my shit.  I owe you!

To my mentor D.Mac: thank you for being honest with me for giving me useful pointers rather than generic bullshit.   Thank you for giving me courage and pushing me further.  Without your immense knowledge and willingness to watch the mess that is me on track I wouldn’t be where I am.  Your notes give me something to focus on.  Everyone needs a mentor.  Always.  These are the reasons I’m grateful you said yes!

Ahem, enough of the soppy shit.  Here’s a quick update:

 

Not only have I GraduSKATED

Photo Credit to brand new Zeeb Woolverine!

Photo Credit to brand new Zeeb Woolverine!

 

I’m also playing in another scrim this Saturday.  I have completed 4 Tuesday (advanced) sessions and I have yet to die, if that isn’t exceptional living skills I don’t know what is.

 

This post and the ramblings above are dedicated to those I have spoken to recently, (you know who you are) the skaters who think roller derby is beyond their capabilities, go back through my posts read about my struggles (it’s taken me a year just to get this far).  You think you’re striving for unattainable goals, I know, I’ve been there too.  Minimum skills still seem unreachable – 27 laps!?  Sod off!  But looking back now, I’m not the same person I was on 4/5/13 and I’ll bet my life that you’re not the same as you were when you started.

I’ve changed and it’s thanks to the Hulls Angels Roller Dames.

Whichever team you owe your changes to – tell them.  They probably haven’t realised how much they mean to you.

Photo Credit: My Fiancé!

Photo Credit: My Fiancé

 

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SAFE!

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On the last day of 2013 I wrote a post about bringing the fun back to my derby training.  It has been almost 3 months since then.  Somehow, just the act of writing it down made it stick.  It wasn’t easy though, hence the blogging gap.

As I look back on the last 3 months I’ve lost count of how many fun nights I’ve had at training and just with the team in general.  I skate with the funniest (and most beautiful) bunch of weirdos.  The fun has well and truly come back to me.  I remembered why I loved skating and all of a sudden I’m safety assessed.

 

Yes, that’s right, I can scrim with the big kids!

 

Not so long ago I wrote a post on UK Derby Dialogue group on Facebook.  I had worried that I was taking too long to pass mins.  That I wasn’t really cut out for skating.  I have constantly worried since I put that first pair of skates on that everyone around me thought I was in the way/too slow/too inquisitive.

Once I put those worries behind me things started to click.

I’ve watched a hell of a lot more derby, both streamed and live.  I’ve watched everything from high level to newbies.  I’ve constantly watched the skaters I admire in my own league, creepy I know.  I’ve read up on techniques.  I’ve NSO’d.  I’ve watched YouTube videos.  I’ve asked 1000 questions about edge work, stops and speed.  I’ve read books, blogs and status updates written by skaters I aspire to be.  I’ve pretty much lived and breathed derby.  The only thing I didn’t take notice of was the fact that I was getting better.  So it was as much of a shock to me as everyone else that I am now safety assessed.

And now, writing this on the eve of my first ever advanced session, I feel excited and scared!  I don’t want to let anyone down.  Least of all Blockson and Deadfool who believed in me, if it wasn’t for them I don’t think I would’ve busted my butt and passed my jumps let alone anything else.

All I can say is that no matter what I will do my very best.  I’ll let you know how it goes…wish me luck!

 

Resolutions or Revolutions

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I never make resolutions.  They’re silly and we ALWAYS break them!

So this year instead of a resolution lets start a revolution.

LETS BRING THE FUN BACK!

We can apply this to all areas of our lives; most importantly skating.  Let us never forget the reason why we started this sport.  It’s a hobby.  We all have lives outside of derby (shock horror) we have the normal stresses and strains of adult life and we need to remember why we’re still here.  Why we strap our skates on.  Why we feel sad when we haven’t spent enough time with our derby families.  The best skaters I have seen/know really love skating.  They haven’t forgotten.  That’s not to say they don’t have frustrations like the rest of us, but they suck it up and get back to having fun.  These skaters should be our inspiration.

In 2014 my life will change and so will my attitude.  Here’s to working HARD and having fun.  2014 will be the year I get my wings.  And I will do this:

1909-7-121711This post is dedicated to unicorns everywhere.

The Derby Effect

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It astounds me just how much I’ve changed since that fateful day I put my first pair of skates on.  As we approach Christmas I am reminded of even more ways in which I have changed.  For the better?  For the worse?  I’ll let you decide that.

The inspiration for this blog post came from Christmas shopping.  I tend to do a lot of mine online to avoid the weirdos but this year I made a huge mistake.  I ventured into Hull city centre.

Before the 4th of May 2013 I would’ve been quietly frustrated and done nothing.  This time was different but no, I didn’t actually hit anyone!  Instead, I practised agility skills and I was juking in and out of crowds nipping through spaces I wouldn’t normally have gone for.  Roller derby gives you valuable skills for life, not just for the flat track.

I have to be honest though, there were many, MANY times I could’ve hit my fellow shoppers.  The annoying old lady blocking up the reduced section with her whole trolley so that no one else gets a look in.  The small, very bored children who are not being supervised.  The slow couple meandering around and changing direction every two seconds.  I could easily have given all of them a couple of hip checks.  BUT I didn’t.  I was a very good girl.  I must admit though positional blocking is really fun when that couple change direction to go against the flow of traffic.  Fools!

 

On the drive home it got me thinking about other situations in which we can utilise our derby skills:

Balancing on the bus when there are no seats left

Staying upright when the pathways are icy

Getting yourself a good vantage point for a gig/firework display/public flogging

Fending off unwanted advances from strangers/kisses from a ageing relative

Protecting your dairy products from feline friends

Getting to the front of the queue at the bar

Ducking out of the way of missiles

Wrestling the duvet from your other half/cat

 

I can’t be the only one who does this?  Tell me your tales!

And remember violent fantasies can get you through the madness of Christmas shopping.  Just don’t act on them…

 

MERRY DERBY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

We Are Family

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I have been writing this post since 24th October 2013.  It started as a pretty soppy post but the events of H.A.R.Ds victorious home bout against the Hallam Hellcats have pushed the soppy part into overdrive.  So get your sick buckets and/or tissues at the ready, I haven’t held back.  And yes I cried multiple times whilst writing this.

Chapter One

Our story starts on Saturday 19th October 2013.  I spent the majority of my Saturday at training working on bits and bobs to try to get as much as possible ticked off for our minimum skills sessions over next two Thursdays.  With Ju and Mia’s help I nailed my plough stops after being consistently unable to get low enough (you can ALWAYS get lower).  It was a great session, I learnt a lot and felt that I made considerable steps forward.  In short, I left on a derby high only to be brought crashing down to earth…

I returned home to discover that some utter scum bags had broken into our home.  After hysterical phone calls to Simon, the police and my mum (yes in that order) I assessed the damage.

They had gone through EVERYTHING.  Including our underwear drawers.  They had even emptied Simon’s roller derby kit bag to take our stuff away.  But the biggest kick in the teeth for us was that they had taken our hard earned and even harder saved wedding fund.  And the best part – we had no insurance at the time.

I wasn’t able to see the silver lining until the dust had settled and I’d remembered that I had a bottle of wine in the cupboard.  After my second glass I checked facebook only to discover hundreds of messages of support/offers of help and the promise of what turned out to be the greatest survival kit from Lexi.  It was then that I realised that for every twatbag out there, Simon and I know at least 50 amazing people.  Faith restored.

Chapter Two

On the 24th October 2013 we had the first of two minimum skills sessions.  The previous two sessions psyched me out – I was too nervous for words.  My legs wouldn’t stop shaking, I felt sick and the atmosphere in the room wasn’t great.  I can’t remember much about those first two sessions but I know that I only had 7 ticks at the end.  Pretty poor performance.  Pretty poor attitude.

I don’t know what changed in the 12 weeks between assessment periods but I felt excited this time around.  Of course I was nervous but I couldn’t wait to get my skates on.  I was giggling, messing around and supporting the other girls and boys, I actually felt happy just to be able to skate.  The atmosphere was brilliant, no pressure, everyone willing each other to pass.  I think a lot of that had to do with our coaching team (Blockson and Giant) making the decision not to call people into the centre after every skill.  Anyway, to cut what is turning out to be a long story short – this time around I got 26 ticks!  At the end of the final mins session Giant asked us to tell everyone one thing we were most proud of.  I had two.

1: I’m proud of the fact that I have stuck at something in spite of the fact that it’s flipping hard work.

2: I’m proud of my fellow Cherub Helz Belz.  My first memory of Helz was her being incredibly down on herself and getting upset over grapevine stepping.  She always had the ability but never believed in herself.  There were times when I thought she would give up.  Over the last month or so Helz has pushed herself further than I think even she thought possible and she came out of this assessment with an impressive 42 ticks with only 5 left until she’s safety assessed.  If she keeps this up she’ll get her wings in no time.

I also want to give a special mention to some former Cherubs who earned their wings  this time around – Vicky, Stacey, Giselle and Kess (I cannot call you Emily).  You girls are amazing and I can’t wait to join you amongst the Angels.

Chapter Three

The final part in our tale is from the latest and spectacularly victorious home bout.  There seemed to be more people in the audience than ever before and the atmosphere throughout the day was electric.  Just as we started the clean up Lexi called everyone into the middle.  The next part is a blur – Simon and I were asked to step into the circle of NSOs, skaters and refs and presented with an adorable card and a bottle FULL of money.  These people, who have known me for only 6 months clubbed together to replace our wedding fund.  Well as you can imagine, I immediately cried my eyes out.

At the after party whilst still feeling weepy and speechless, I had a conversation with the amazing Betty Banzai; without whom the Hulls Angels Roller Dames would not exist.  We talked about how we were the ‘freaks’ of our respective schools and how we had now found our fellow freaks through the love of roller derby and hitting people and that is a beautiful thing.

The past 6 months have changed my life.   Roller derby is so much more than you ever think that it could be.  Going through tough times on track and off, it brings people closer.  I love being a part of this and finding out that they think enough of Simon and I to do this for us…well, I’m still speechless.

Boys and girls of HARD, I may not have known you for very long but I love you so much, the things you’ve done for us are beyond compare.  I would trust each and every one of you with my life and if you ever need me I’ll be right here.  Don’t ever change – you’re the most beautiful souls on the planet and I am honoured to be a part of your team.

I came here to skate and I found a family.  How flipping lucky am I?!

Sing it Sister Sledge

Try H.A.R.D

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Forgive me roller gods, for I have sinned.  It has now been almost 2 months since my last blog post.  I have many reasons for my absence so let’s have a catch up.

Over the last few weeks I’ve had more ups and downs than Lindsay Lohan.  Without the rehab.  My ups and downs are both personal and track related.  I’ve missed blogging, perhaps the cathartic release of sending my thoughts out into cyberspace is one of the reasons I’ve felt off balance.

Firstly, let me apologise for being away for so long.  Just because I haven’t been writing doesn’t mean I haven’t been skating.  For the last few weeks I have been training alongside the newest Cherubs (Fresh Meat).  One of which is my fiancé – yep he caught the derby bug!  It’s been tough, this intake have been so amazing especially my other half.  I’m not proud to admit this but the fact that he (and the rest of his intake) have taken to derby like naturals whilst I still flounder about trying to master the very basics has really knocked my confidence back a few steps.

The reality is that ‘The Fear’ has had me in its clammy grasp.  So when Treblemaker909 posted in the UK Derby Dialogue group on facebook asking what Fresh Meat currently struggle with I immediately responded with confidence.  I soon discovered that I wasn’t alone and her response was this: Exercises to strengthen your confidence muscle and that was the beginning of a wonderful turn around.

I am not a natural athlete.  I used to fake illness to get out of sport at school but I guess as you get older, you become more willing to take risks and now I’m taking all the steps I can to improve because I really love derby and I don’t think I’m beyond help.  As it turns out a few others believe in me too.

Friday 20th September 2013 was H.A.R.D’s black tie 3rd birthday event.  It was all very civilised and made me realise that I skate with some of the most beautiful people on this planet.  After the food and before the dancing we had an awards ceremony.

Well I only went and flipping won the Try H.A.R.D award!

That right there is shock/awe and happiness all in one facial expression.

That right there is shock/awe and happiness all in one facial expression.

It was the most incredible feeling ever.  Even now I struggle to get my head around the fact that people have noticed the effort I’ve put into this.  To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever put this much effort into anything in my life and to find out that people have seen that made me proud.  So proud I might wear the medal every now and then…

It goes with every outfit!

It goes with every outfit!

I think I might be more proud of this medal than anything else I’ve ever received – degree included.  I never imagined that someone like me could win something for sport related activities.  So, ladies and gents of H.A.R.D who voted for me, thank you.  You’ve given me the confidence to keep going!  And congratulations to my fellow winners:

A-Bout Time: Rae-Zor Lite

Best Attendance: Dr Blockson

Bambi: Anull Trawma

Best Blocker: Dr Blockson

Best Jammer: D-Mac

MVP: Iron Giant

Best Jammer Face: Iron Giant

Biggest Contribution: Dr Blockson and Iron Giant

Biggest Moaner: Rae-Zor Lite

H.A.R.D Member of the Year: Dr Blockson

Loudest: Iron Giant

Most Improved: D-Mac

Most Travelled: Mia

Party Animal: Iron Giant

Try H.A.R.D: Katie Krueger

Best Outfits: Betty Banzai

Smelliest Kit Boy: Roller Polar Bear

Smelliest Kit Girl: Marah

Most Fearless: Mia

Best Excuse: Harlequim

Best Injury: Pixel Vixen

Needlessly Sexy Official (NSO): Snow Fright

Needlessly Sexy Official (Ref): Rae-Zor Lite

Unsung Hero: Scissor Kick

The second thing that got me back on track (literally) was a pre minimum skills boot camp I attended hosted by the Rainy City Roller Girls.  A whole 5 hours of skating dedicated to getting us up to scratch for our test.  It was a great experience and I came back feeling more confident than ever before.  At only £20 I would highly recommend it to any pre mins skaters.

Prior to the bootcamp I’d taken 2 weeks off skating because of health issues and other stupid things.  Taking that time off left me feeling a bit weird about going back and I have no clue why.  Attending the bootcamp was just what I needed and by the end of that 5 hours I was well on my way to nailing transitions.  The following Thursday back at practice people noticed that I felt better about being on my skates and for the first time ever I didn’t have jelly legs!  Things are starting to click with me.  Yes, I’m still slower than others but they better watch out because I’m not giving up.

Finally, you may have noticed that the Try H.A.R.D award was in my new skater name.  That’s right, thanks to the voting I am now known as Katie Krueger #1428 it’s a big name to live up to.  Freddy is the original nightmare and I need to do the Krueger name justice on track.  Correction: I WILL do that name justice on track.  With the incredible support I’ve received from Cherubs and Angels alike I can’t imagine life without roller derby now.  Thanks to all who voted!

Skate H.A.R.D

What’s In A Name…?

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Did Juliet have it right?  Do names matter?  I’m the same person and therefore derby player no matter what my name is right??

I think names are important.  Imagine yourself with another name.  The name your parents said they nearly called you, that name you chose for yourself/wished was yours at school, or the name you and your friend decided to tell strangers in nightclubs.  Does it make you feel any different?

As you can probably tell I’m struggling with my derby name.  There are so many things to consider.  Do you want to be fearsome, cute, an amplified version of yourself?  Puntastic?  Evocative?  Silly?  Do you want to use a nickname you already have?  Or fit your real name in somehow?

When should you pick your name?  Straight away?  Not until you pass minimum skills?  When you’ve proved you’re in it for the long haul?  Should someone else pick it for you?  Will you be told when to choose it??

If you’re lucky you already had a name in mind.  If you’re unlucky (like me) you only have part ideas.  So you start thinking seriously, you come up with a few ideas and then you need to research it – is it on two evils?  Do a google search to see if anyone else has it.  Are you happy with it, do others like it, does it ‘suit’ you?

Then there’s your number – does it match?  Does it need to?  Does anyone else have it?  Will it be a nightmare for refs?

ARGH!

Well I’m picking mine now, because a) I want to b) I NSO and want to have my name for that too c) I promised myself that I wouldn’t pick a name until I’d made it through my first 12 week cycle and showed commitment.  I have a few ideas, some fully fledged, some only partly formed.

A bit of background to help you understand why I’ve picked these names:  I am a huge horror fan.  I love anything horror related especially old horror movies – my cat is called Vincent Price.  My favourite book is Frankenstein, my favourite killer is Freddy Krueger, I collect very weird things and have a passion for the macabre.

For me there was never any question, my roller derby name HAS to be horror related.

Over the past few weeks I’ve come up with a few names/part names:-

  • Olive Gore/Payne/Destruction/Macabre (I love…enter any horror related word)
  • Olive Jayne Gacy #34 (As in John Wayne Gacy – is it a bit too psycho to have that as a number???)
  • Katie Krueger #1428 (the number of Nancy’s house on Elm street)
  • Voorhees (Jason/Mrs)
  • Gein (Ed – inspiration for Psycho/Texas Chainsaw etc)
  • Lecter (Hannibal)
  • Necrosis (one of my favourite words – it’s so graphic!)

Then there are my part ideas:-

  • I love the colour green – could that be involved?
  • I love the X Files – is there a name in there somewhere?
  • How can I make Frankenstein into a name without going for the somewhat popular Frankie Stein?
  • I like ghostly movies and movies set in asylums (I even have a horror themed tattoo that incorporates an asylum)

So many ideas I just can’t choose, so…

The reason for this blog post?  To throw myself on your mercy and ask for your help.  Who do you think I should be?