Raven Von Kaos

Jul 072011

I am burnt-out, tired, emotional, over worked, under paid and ready for my effing vacation from the world. Get me to RollerCon 2012!

Something about this time of the season gets my booty shorts in a wad up my big beautiful behind . . . I’m pretty sure it is mid / end of the season burn out, but man I tell you it’s hitting me particularly hard this year. My team the Santa Cruz Boardwalk Bombshells have had a long (and amazing) season already and we’ve got more games to come. My real world job is without a doubt kicking my ass . . . I love it and I’m good at it, but dude it is frying my brain.

I am ready for Vegas baby! I freaking love RollerCon and this year is promising to be the best yet. Everything is happening in one place, making it even more convenient (not to mention easier to track down your pals). I am actually leading a seminar on Friday at RC about injury stuff and am looking forward to many, many challenge bouts.

I am so excited about RollerCon I have vowed to loose 10 lbs, bought a new swimsuit (my first in five years) and have even been tanning. I got a killer rate on airfare – thank you Southwest – and  can’t stop thinking about my escape from the world.

If you have never been to RollerCon just expect to have fun. Don’t expect to get into classes (although I have heard it is better this year), drop in on challenges or overly network – go with the mission to enjoy yourself. Girls will be walking around pretty much naked by Saturday, the social events will be fun, but try and get out on the Strip and enjoy Vegas – VEGAS BABY!

RC rules to abide by:

*Don’t forget sunscreen! Not just a cheesy song from the late 90s – nothing sucks more on vacation then being a lobster.

*Hydrate! Drink water, Gatorade, coconut water or whatever your preference is. Drink more then you think you need to and be extra sure to hydrate when you are drinking.

*Be nice! Douchebaggery does not happen often at RC, but it happens. Be nice, say hi to people, don’t complain – We have all invested our hard earned money on this little trip and everyone is there to have fun.

*Pack extra shorts and socks – for some reason I never feel like I have enough.

*Take care of your body – don’t over do it, over drink and remember to stretch and all that good stuff.

*Take time to relax – remember the pool? Oh yea . . . be sure and designate a little R & R time.

*VERY IMPORTANT: Don’t tag me in any incriminating photos on Facebook ;)

The days literally can not pass soon enough . . . is it time yet?

Apr 172011

After reading TrACDC’s piece on derby being the catalyst that ended her marriage I felt compelled to tell my story. Roller derby had in fact saved my marriage. Well . . . we weren’t married then, but it did save my relationship.

Oliver and I moved to Santa Cruz only about six months after we started dating over seven years ago. He had lived here before, as well as in Humboldt and was a tried and true cold-water surfer. I quickly adjusted to waking up alone most mornings, the smell of neoprene and the taste of sea salt every time I kissed him.

He loved surfing. I was jealous. Not that he was spending his time away from me, but that he had passion and a hobby that was all his. Surfing in a way completed him as a person. After he would come home from being out in the water he was always so happy and content. Even if it was a crappy day with small waves, he still loved to get out in the ocean and paddle around. It brought him true happiness and balance.

The first time I saw him surf I was completely blown away. His body was fluid and agile. He almost danced up and down his long board with such grace that it made a ballerina look clumsy and uncoordinated.

WTF life? Where was my passion? What was my talent? This surely had to be some mistake.

Oliver had made surfing look easy, so easy in fact I was convinced I was the next Laird Hamilton, all I needed to do was go out there and kick ass . . . just like that. No big deal, it’s just the ocean. WRONG.

Just like every other sport / hobby I tired, I truly sucked at surfing. I did not have a natural desire to be out in the cold-ass water on a huge board dodging angry locals, marine animals and thinking about great white sharks. Every time I went out, the anxiety of drowning would consume me. Which is ironic because I am an excellent swimmer. It just wasn’t for me.

Who was I before derby . . .

This is an important part of the story.

I had given up on women. I had a few close friends, but on the whole I had been backstabbed and left heartbroken too many times to want to trust any female friend again.

I was competitive to almost an insatiable degree. I had no outlet and could not recognize this trait in myself as competitiveness. I came across to most people as arrogant, defensive and bitchy with a hint of always-something-to-prove.

I was also pretty convinced at this point in my life I was not good at anything. I had no passion. No drive. Yeah I was a good student and excelled in my journalism program, but it was not enough. Along with my adventures in surfing I had tried: running, basketball, water polo, softball and in high school I pretty much sucked my way through every performance art group I could sign up for. I was crap at it all.

As a result of all this suck, my unsung competitiveness and my lack of faith in the female sex, I had developed a very low self esteem. Our relationship suffered as a result. I was discontent with myself and would take out my insecurities on him. I’m lucky he stayed with me . . . looking back I know I was not a fun person to be around.

And along came derby . . .

I knew from the first second I saw roller derby I was going to do it. There was not a question in my head. I was a derby skater.

Oliver was encouraging. I think he was concerned that I would get hurt (which I eventually did) but he really encouraged me to try it. So I tried out and made it. I don’t blow smoke up my ass very often and when I do I’m usually joking, but I was a natural. I’m not a crazy good athlete who understood the fundamentals of strategy and blocking from the get go, but I was and always have been a good skater.

I come from a modest upbringing, so although I had shown the aptitude for skating at a young age, my mother had to pass on the idea of paying for figure skating classes when I was kid. K sera sera . . .

I was instantly in love with derby. I loved going to practice, learning new things, getting my ass handed to me and really getting in touch with the tough girl inside me that had been trying to breakout for so long.

Oliver was there every step of the way. He would make dinner for me every night and wait until after practice so we could eat together. He would go to every bout, fundraiser and social event. This was not easy for him. Oliver is sorta a shy guy and he would time after time put himself out there and go to these events even though I could tell it would make him anxious. I loved him more for it.

I thought this was normal. It was not until a couple years into this derby thing that I started seeing the turn over in derby widows. Perfectly normal seeming dudes would turn into these controlling, oppressive douchbags. Women would turn into self-confident super heros and their guys could not hang. Lame.

Oliver celebrated my new found inner light. He loved and continues to love everything about it. He has never once complained about me having to go to practice, or any time spent away from home. He has never complained about the money I spend on derby and always gets me derby stuff for my birthday, Christmas etc. Above all he is always there for me. He lets me cry on his shoulder when I have a bad practice or game and encourages me to get back out there and try harder.

I think the pinnacle for me was when I had knee surgery. I expected him to persuade me to stop playing. The one thing that was a hot button for Oliver was the potential for injury. He did not like seeing me with ice packs all the time, hobbling around our apartment questioning whether or not this ache or pain was worth calling the doctor for. Once I tore my ACL and knew I was going to have to have surgery, I thought this was it, the support ends now.

What actually happened was he became my champion. He pushed me to do the physical therapy and to keep my eyes on the prize. He let me vent to him my constant frustrations and fears, and held on to me emotionally while I went through the darkest time in my adult life.

Recipe for Success

One of the main reasons, I’m convinced I’ve had such a good run at derby and my relationship is because the two are not meant to meet and that is the way I like it. Derby is mine and surfing is his. He comes to games, cheers me on, but does not make it about him. Game day is about me and what I need / don’t need and he gives me that. He never tries to tell me what I should be doing out there, but does give me an honest assessment if I ask him.

I know what I have is a fluke. I look around at the girls who I have been skating with for almost four years and only one other girl still has the same spouse she came into derby with.  Now those are some odds.

I appreciate Oliver’s support and I think that is the other part of our magic derby chemistry. I know what we have is special and I try to appreciate him everyday.

When Oliver and I got married last September as part of our wedding vows I gave him a skate wheel and he gave me a bar of surf wax – symbols of our unity through our individuality. Today they sit in a wood box on our mantel to remind us everyday to appreciate and support each other.

Roller derby saved me and my relationship.

Jul 132010

Granted I have only been to RollerCon once before, I am definitely expecting to see some core derby essentials sported around my favorite desert oasis. These are the best and must have fashions of RollerCon. So get your checklist out and your suitcase open – We’re packing for RollerCon!!

*Bandannas Galore – worn around neck, on the head and occasionally even the wrist (that’s one of my favorites). The derby bandanna is like derby fashion 101. It ranks right up there with booty shorts and knee socks. I will be packing more bandannas then I will be bringing underwear – he he.

*Awesome Scrimmage Shirts – The RollerCon challenge bout is sorta the heart of the festivities that go on at the convention. They bring together guys and girls of all skill levels from around the globe to participate in great match ups like: Bacon vs Faken Bacon, Android vs iPhone, Team World vs Team USA and the highlight of my personal RollerCon: Star Wars vs Star Trek.

One of the best things about these challenge bouts is the shirts! Wicked Skatewear (as usual) is producing a few of the scrimmage tees and highly recommend visiting their site to check them out.

*Hot Booty Shorts – Dang Vegas is HOT. RollerCon is the best excuse to trot around in booty shorts for a week. I expect to see some cheeky-humor (I’m hilarious – just admit it) great displays of derby names, nicknames, favorite sayings and whatever else you can fit on that round bum.

*Great Displays of Socks and Leg Wear – Sure it’s 100 degrees outside, but what would derby be without a great pair of socks and some killer tights? I will officially call anyone my personal hero if they have enough resistance to the heat to sport a pair of leg warmers! I might squeeze a pair into my suitcase, but I have no delusions of actually being able to wear them.

*Headbands – This is newer, but growing trend I have noticed in the last couple years. I bleeping love the narrow 70s style headband!! I would wear one and booty shorts to work if I could. It’s my required after party accessory – It holds your hair in place while you get down.

*Mustaches – Last but certainly not least is the derby mustache! As I reported in an earlier column mustaches in general are all the rage, so I am forecasting the appearance of mustache everything: Actual fake mustaches, mustache socks, necklaces, tattoos . . . whatever else you can think of.

*Honorable Mention: the Fanny Pack – My pal Lulu recently enlightened me as to the benefits and convenience of sporting the fanny pack: it frees your hands up! Great for after party dancing and RollerCon amazingness.

So that about covers the basics. Drop me a comment if it looks like I forgot anything. Next up: fitting it all (and my gear) into my suitcase!

May the Con be with you : P

Images courtesy of: RollerCon, Wicked Skatewear, Roxy Scarmichael

Jul 042010

RollerCon – the majestic time of year when hundreds (maybe even a thousand?) derby girls from around the globe flock to the dessert known at Las Vegas to get down, play derby, party like it’s 1999 and swap and share skating skills, tips and tricks.

Oh YES sister! It is a few mere weeks away. I’m so excited I might pee myself. I have not gone to the holy con since 2008 and this year will be EXTRA special as it will be my last roller-trip before I walk down the aisle on September 4th.

But enough about me! Let’s talk RollerCon.

So big changes this year – no more Imperial Place (oh how I will miss those Dealertainers). From the website it looks like girls are either staying at The Palms, Hooters or the Tropicana. I’ll be at the Tropicana from late Wednesday until mid Sunday. I was pretty conflicted as to whether I wanted to go earlier and be in Vegas for the whole week or do the budget thing and just go for the weekend. So I compromised.

The good folks who plan Rollercon discounted the passes by over 50$ this year – I think this will be a huge factor in attendance numbers. The more the merrier, right? Also, just from looking at the schedules it looks like there are more skating classes verses seminars. Which I personally think is better choice . . . it’s hard to want to stay inside off skates to talk business. I pretty much plan on being at the LV Sports Center all day, every day. But, on the rare occasion I do detach from my skates I’ll be at the pool . . . it is suppose to be somewhat of a vacation too  . . . I think it is easy to forget that since we are all hardcore derby addicts and Rollercon is like a drug den of quad wheels, hot pants and derby icons.

Challenge bouts I have signed up for:

For sure I know I’ll be in the Star Wars verses Star Trek bout. I have also signed up for Bacon verses Fakin Bacon, iPhones verses Androids, Celebrities verses Animals and I think a few others. I need to check on the status to firm those up before I leave.

The last time I went to RollerCon I was so intimidated by everything (since it was my first time) that all I did was a few skating classes. This year I hope to skate my feet off, play in a lot of scrimmages and have a roller-riffic good time!!

Getting ready for RollerCon:

One thing I need to purchase before I go (or borrow from someone not going) is a bag I can cram all my gear into, including my helmet, that I can also wear as a backpack and is checkable for my flight.  Hit me up if you have any links to good bags – that don’t cost a million dollars.

Packing for RollerCon is not as easy as it sounds. One must bring an assortment of booty shorts, scrimmage tees, a hot dress for the Black & Blue ball and few Vegas-specific outfits. Not to mention: bandanas, swimsuits, hats, make up and random miscellaneous items: Socks, Band-Aids, moleskin . . . all the lil items that live in my regular skate bag.

I’ll also be toting my camera and flipcam so I can get some footage and interviews for Live Derby Girls while I’m there. Keep your eyes peeled, I’ll be all over the place trying to get pictures and the perfect quote from YOU!

Be sure and drop me a line (derby.hurts@gmail.com) if you think there is anything specific going on that absolutely cannot be missed.


Woot Woot!!

Jun 132010

Last weekend eight teams from all over California gathered in Paso Robles to compete in The Big One – one of California’s most watched “unofficial” tournaments.

The teams that participated were:

Bay Area Derby Girls
Humboldt Redwood Rollers
Angel City Derby Girls
Central Coast Roller Derby
San Diego Derby Dolls
Derby Revolution Bakersfield
Silicon Valley Rollergirls
Santa Cruz Derby Girls

My league, the Santa Cruz Derby Girls, had finally received our invite and I was ecstatic to go as an alternate for the Boardwalk Bombshells (the team I played on for two years before I tore my ACL at the end of last season) and observe in the derby amazingness.

Day 1 – Intros and Round Robin Mini Bouts

On the first day of the tournament all of the teams gathered around noon to skate out and get introduced. Intros varied from teams having a very colorful, elaborate intro to teams just taking a few laps.

The Highlights:

*BADG taking it slow to R Kelly’s “Bump N Grind”

*Humboldt Redwood Rollers had a great choreographed disco themed intro

*CCRD (The host league) skating out to the A-Team theme song

I had attended a tournament in Bakersfield earlier this year and in similar fashion almost 95% of the people in attendance there were the participating teams.  These tournaments are sorta like a derby-love fest. We’re there to beat each other up, progress the sport and cheer each other on.

I did hear that the San Diego Derby Dolls’ Wildfires had a decent cheer section that came up for the game – kudos ladies (way to make the drive)!

BADG and San Diego were shockingly (sarcasm) the big standouts of day one. My league got to play San Diego and it was an honor lining up with Trish the Dish – I was a little star struck.

I have to say the Day 1 Sexy Award goes to ACDG’s Hollywood Scarlets for some sick uniforms that looked slick and hot with too cute 70s style Lift and Separate shorts. I ended up splurging and buying a pair of black ones from the Wicked booth – well worth the cost! Thank you Stychnine!

Day 2 – Finals and a Hang Over

Unfortunately my league did not advance, the plus side of this was that we could get our after party on without having to worry about being hungover and playing. Call me an optimist, but there is definitely an up side to loosing.

Day two was a little rough getting up and to the venue. My carpool buddy Cleopatra Catastrophe and I made it down just in time to catch the end of the first half of the Silicon Valley Rollergirls verses BADG game. Being that I am a culture columnist and not a bout-writer all I can say about this game is that BADG had SVRG’s card with a shocking win of 259-40.

The bout for the winning spot was between BADG and SDDD, again shocking ;) – BADG’s travel team has been kicking ass and taking names this season and won the tournament with a final score of 151-148.

All in all it was a great weekend. Iron Maven from LADD (and Whip It!) was walking around. I wanted to try and get an interview with her for Live Derby Girls, but I was hyper focused on not puking (which I ended up doing) and staying focused for our mini games. Next time!

I’ll be sure and bring my nerdy writing stuff (ie: laptop, pad and a pen) with me the next time I travel for derby – You better believe I’ll be getting some good interviews at Rollercon! Maybe I’ll do some video . . . the wheels in my head are already turning.

Special thanks to CCRD for hosting The Big One this year – you ladies are amazing hosts!

As always if you have any tips or story ideas feel free to hit me up at: derby.hurts@gmail.com

Photo courtesy of www.thebigonetournament.com