Mar 072011
by Turbo Tyke #225, Red Stick Roller Derby, Diables Rougesstar

What happens when you join a roller derby team? You can’t sleep. Your heart starts racing before practice. You have high expectations of becoming the biggest bad ass in the league, the region, THE WORLD. Your every waking moment (and there are a lot of them because as I’ve mentioned, you can’t sleep) is spent contriving ways to get better at this crazy sport. You know nothing about the game, but you know you’re in love and it’s going to feel this way forever.

What happens next? A lot of things, but eventually, familiarity breeds complacency, and at some point you find yourself slacking. Maybe you’re at the top of your league and there’s no one around to call you out anymore; maybe you’re in the middle and the bitches at the top are so busy inventing new plays with names like “Confuse the Chicken” and “Have Sex With Your Grandma” that they forget you need help mastering your hockey stop; maybe you still can’t stop at all and no one seems willing to pull you aside and say, “Try pointing your toes inward when you go into the plow.” For whatever reason, your beloved league can’t provide the kick in the hotpants required to renew your initial enthusiasm. I suggest you seek outside support.

confused chickenLast weekend I went to my second roller derby training camp and as any of the skaters in my league will tell you, my enthusiasm has been most decidedly renewed, probably to an irritating degree.

Blood and Thunder was fucking amazing. My league mates (Tank, Violet, Zoom) and I skated almost constantly from 9 in the morning to 9 at night for 3½ days and were reluctant to remove our skates Sunday afternoon for the 8-hour drive home. We took pages of notes on advanced offensive strategy; we learned how to return to the fundamentals of skating and tweak the basics; we loaded up on drills and plays to take back to the girls at home. But most importantly, each of us regained the derby spark. I can see it in Zoom’s eyes when she explains the fancy whips she learned from Smack Ya Sideways; in Violet’s smile when she demonstrates “derby hugs”; and in Tank’s whole demeanor when she and I talk over each other out of sheer excitement while planning our next practice.

I’m not saying you have to shell out tons of cash and drive thousands of miles in order to rediscover your derby spark in times of slump. Just remember that there’s a whole world of derby out there besides the one inside your helmet, and the more you access it, the more you’ll progress as a skater and as part of a team.

This is unrelated, but I have to tell you: I beat THIS WOMAN at Queen of the Box. Granted, it was off-skates and she obviously would have out-witted me with skates on, but still… I think I deserve a cookie or a shiny star on my chart.

Turbo Tyke is not a regular contributor to LDG. But we want her to be! If you want to see more of her on LDG, or send her a cookie or shiny star, hit her up on Facebook.

Apr 152010

Okay, so first let’s get the whole magical Pacific Northwest scenery thing out of the way. It looks like this.

This is the view from a fucking parking lot, people. Taken with an iPhone with very little attention to composition. Shit just looks all majestic and amazing everywhere you look. But, really.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about Blood & Thunder Training Camp. It’s a four-day derby trainingstravaganza. It’s twelve hours a day of derby. Those fantasies you have about your life being all derby all the time, it’s that. Girls from all over are here. Girls of every skill level and speed. Girls, girls, girls.

This is Black Dahlia. She is the first person you see when you get to training camp, and she totally runs shit. Day one, and I have started calling her the Queen of Knowledge, because I have asked her no less than five hundred thousand questions and she met all my queries with unflustered charm. Plus, she’s adorable. I promised her a crown with a shiny black unicorn spike to celebrate her reign. I have no idea how I am going to make that happen with the paper cups and cheap shampoo in my hotel room, but I’ll find a way. Yes, your majesty.

My first workshop this morning was Beginning Pack Drills with Quadzilla from Rat City. He is seriously rad, and he has the dopest skates I have ever seen. (Wait for it, cuz I ain’t givin that shit up just like that, y’all.) What did I learn from him? Oh shit. A lot. I’m new, so I’m all spongey and everything seems like a total revelation all the time. Deal with it. I learned to think of the inside line as the fifth blocker. He introduced me to the idea of thinking of the track as four lanes and distributing blockers accordingly. He told us that a jammer’s best friends are space and speed. Duh. I guess I knew that, but once I thought of it in such simple, pared-down terms, it really helped me focus on not giving the opposing jammer those things. That bitch can do without.

Then I went to an off-skates Land Drill Medley with Gingersnap, president of Gotham Girls and total fucking badass. Seriously, she made me do so many squats I almost cried. And hen she made us do some crazy shit where we did jump squats into push ups into mountain climbers. She showed us a bunch of different kinds of push ups. Whatever, she showed us a bunch of shit, but the best thing about her was her take-no-prisoners attitude. She was all, “unless you are seriously injured, you need to do every exercise every time. Or else you don’t need to do derby.” Fuck yeah. She’s also totally obsessed with core strength, which is a stance that I love. When someone asked her why their back hurt she said, “If your front hurts, it’s because your back isn’t strong enough. If your back hurts, it’s because your front isn’t strong enough.” I am always trying to say this to people, but since I am a pussy rookie and not a total fucking derby matriarch no one listens. Thanks, Gingersnap, for the burn in my thighs and also the personal vindication. That sounds dirty, but it isn’t. She’s married, okay?

Ahhhhh, lunch. I was starving because it took me freaking twelve hours to get to this coast and I had only had nutritional shakes and protein bars for twice that time. But I had no car. GINGERSNAP TO THE RESCUE! Who says New Yorkers aren’t friendly? Anyways, we got lost no less than a dozen times on the way to lunch, but it was a good time and I learned a lot about the history of Gotham and life and times of Ms. Gingersnap along the way. In like 2004, she saw the Gotham Girls skating in this weird marine god themed parade they have in Coney Island called the Mermaid Parade. When I say she saw the Gotham Girls, I mean all six of them! Six! Ginger is one of the two remaining skaters from that time, and you should basically worship her for making this sport happen for the rest of us. And then we ate Thai food and talked about her latex allergy. I smartly advised her against using condoms.  Yes, I am a genius.

Soooooo, then I tried to go to an Intermediate Jamming Workshop with Estro Jen. Fail. No, but really. Intermediate and I was instantly out of my league. Oh well, it gave me time to take notes for this little masterpiece. And to admire Estro Jen’s form and mad teaching skills. When I say form I mean her skating, of course, but she also might have the best ass in roller derby. Yes, I will try to get a close up tomorrow. Here’s a preview.

This is Coach Pauly. He’s some weird cross between the don of roller derby and a zen master. Seriously, he’s always using all these new age-y, nature-y metaphors and shit. It’s kind of amazing. I took this workshop with him for beginners called Know Your Role and it basically blew my mind. He had us do drills and scrimmage without skates on. I was so fucking irritated about having to take my skates off at first that I almost didn’t realize that this man is a Total Fucking Genius. For us new girls, skates are in the way. We are always thinking about our skating and sometimes the rest of the game just goes out the window. Scrimmaging without skates is exhausting, enlightening, and it made roller derby seem a lot more like football to me, which made me love football a little bit. Anyways, every team in every corner of this globe should take their skates off at practice sometimes. It’s an epiphany.

What next? Well, I did some non-derby things that no one gives a shit about and then I went back to the venue to scrimmage. Because I do not give a fuck about making a fool of myself, I tried out for the bout team. Some of the other bitches trying out could not only skate circles around me, but they could do so while smashing into me repeatedly. Needless to say, it was rad and it was chaos. There were girls of every skill level. No one knew anyone else, so for us new girls it was pretty disorganized, but fuck it. We’re all here to learned. I jammed more tonight than I ever have. I got my ass handed to me, and I feel pretty fucking thankful about it.

That’s all. Since you got all the way to the end, I’ll show you the holy grail of skates and my new most envied objects on the entire planet, Quadzilla’s Skates.

Doesn’t it look like the light of heaven is shining down right on these babies? That’s because it is. By the way, when I told Quadzilla that I was totally in love with his skates he said, “get in line” and then showed me the gold-plated trucks. For fucking serious, y’all.

Read about Day 2.
Read about Day 3.
Read about Day 4.