Apr 202010
 

Team Thunder with Smackya Sideways

I will not drink and derby. I will not drink and derby. I will not drink and derby. Yeah, right.

I woke up on Sunday with a massive hangover from the after party. My muscles were completely depleted and I was pretty sure I would not be okay. But eventually I dragged my ass out of bed and down to camp. Whoa. It took me like thirty minutes just to skate up and as soon as I stood up, I thought, “Fuck this, I can’t skate.” But then why did I drag myself across the country and spend half my savings to be here? To be a big fat hungover pussy? No way.

Don’t get too excited. I didn’t last long. I didn’t even get there until lunchtime. During which I decided to warm up. Skating was next to impossible, but I threw my poor pitiful bones around the track and listened to The Cult loud enough to blow an eardrum. I was so dehydrated I didn’t even break a sweat for almost twenty minutes. But it got better. Because I saw Quadzilla loitering, and I thought, “Hey,  I’m here to learn. He’s here to teach.” So, I asked him to pretty please help me with my skating.

My short private lesson with Quad was one of the most valuable moments of all of camp. He had been watching me skate all weekend and knew exactly where I was going wrong. And the thing about him is that he’s nice and whatever, but he’s really  honest. He’s not all “oh give yourself a break, you’re so new”, he’s more like, “look, if you want to get better, this is what you have to do”. And he looks at you like he’s not sure whether you’re gonna do it or not, because I bet he’s seen a lot of girls just say fuck it.

Anyways, here’s what I learned. Your weight needs to be over one leg all the time. All the fucking time. The whole skating thing is about weight transfer. If you’re in derby stance and your weight is in the center of your body, all your power is going straight into the ground. You have to center that weight over the leg that you’re using to push off. This all sounds really straightforward, but barely sober me had a really hard time putting it into practice. Because even though I’m new, I already have bad habits. And because even if my brain isn’t scared of falling, my body is, and it wants to keep my center of gravity centered instead of moving it back and forth like I need to.

I also learned that the last part of your skates that should leave the ground is the front. You gotta be pushing. Not stepping. Me? I step. Which seemed okay to me, because it took me forever to have the physical confidence to even lift my foot off the ground. Well, great, but t ain’t working cuz I’m still slow and clumsy. Not for long. Quad may have seen a lot of girls give up, but he doesn’t know me. Ima get this. Shit, since when did this turn into my diary? Oh, since I got too hungover to go to workshops. Sorry, y’all, but you’re gonna have to deal with some of my emo epiphanies. There’s a moral in there somewhere.

After my impromptu lesson with Quad, who probably thinks I’m in love with him by the way I’m up in his shit, I took a nap. (Dear Quad, I am not a stalker. I’m a writer. It’s kind of the same thing, only I will never call you or show up to your house. I am happy with a strictly textual relationship.) I thought I would never get up, and I almost didn’t, but the irresistible pull of hot fresh derby wafted in through my window and I drag-assed to see the Rat City v. Charm City bout.

And holy fuck, was it worth it. Sure, I was so tired that I could barely carry on a conversation and had to hide by myself in the beer garden, but it was a really exciting game. I’m not much of a recapper, but I will say this; it was tied at 52 at halftime, Rat City was down for a lot of the second half, and then they made a major comeback and won 143-107. It was a hard won game, too, with a lot of dirty stuff going on. I saw a lot of low blows and elbows, but the Rat City girls kept it together and played it cool. I fell in love with Rat City.

Especially this girl. Her name is Onya Heels and she’s fast as shit and a total bruiser. She blocks, she jams, and she does it all with effortless grace. And she’s not some skinny bitch who looks like unattainably athletic standing still, either. She’s hot and everything, but she looks  basically like a regular girl until you see her move. And then you realize that she is a total.fucking.superhero. I would not fuck with this girl if you gave me a thousand new pairs of skates. Re AnimateHer was also a super notable jammer. She’s fast and nimble and took some really hard hits with aplomb. I’d show you a picture of her, but I never caught her standing still.

The game ended. My night ended. Camp ended. The End. Boo hoo, I know. But, I’m still in Seattle, so stay tuned for my night of practice with the Rat City Girls.

Read about Day 1.
Read about Day 2.
Read about Day 3.
Read about Day 4.

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Apr 172010
 

Holy shit. I am sore, tired, and overflowing with the sweet nectar of derby love. Yes, I am actually halfway through Day 3 of B&T, but you’re gonna have to forgive me cuz derby twelve hours a day leaves little time for blogging. So just forget about the dates and let’s get it on.

I started Day 2 with a blocking workshop with Coach Pauly. (See Day 1 for details about his unorthodox and amazing teaching skills.) He took us off our skates again, which always makes me groan and then is the most valuable approach on the planet. He made us focus on our hitting skills by positioning ourselves correctly in relation to the target. The target being, of course, the bitch nearest you in another color jersey. We did a lot of crotch stomping. Without skates, it becomes really obvious that the best crotch stomps come from behind when you lead with the whole body. Pauly is the master of telling you things that you should have already known without making you feel stupid. Like if you hit a bitch with your shoulder and she don’t go down, give her the ass. And also to deflect should hits with a hip and vice versa. And, holy epiphany for the new girl, again, but he taught me to give the girl trying to hit me my shoulder so she gets a penalty for back blocking. Duh. I love him.

On to Stance with Smackya Sideways. Have you heard about her? She’s like a sidewinding hurricane. She’s got this totally unflappable demeanor that makes you think she knows everything, and frankly, I’m pretty sure that she does. She immediately put music on to get us moving. To figure out our stance, she made us squat for like a hundred years while picking up only our toes to move in little circles. It really helped me understand where my weight needs to be. Think of your inside toes like steering wheels, pick em up and move em in the direction you want to go in. Then she showed us some jam skating move called Downtown (some people call it grapevining), which I totally can’t do yet, but the dancey steps helped me think about my footwork in a more fluid way. Like I don’t have to be a triceratops with wheels on it’s feet. Maybe I could be more like a gazelle. More like Smack.

Then what? Then I went back to my hotel with this crazy nineteen year old from Seattle, Stank A. Pantz (don’t get excited, it ain’t what you think), ate a pound of chicken and a bunch of candy (Krissy Krash, I hope you’re not reading this!) to get refueled. By this time the bruises on my arms from blocking with Coach Pauly were really starting to form and my legs felt like bendy straws from trying to keep up with Smack, but fuck it, I’m here and I’m not tryin to waste my time, so I geared up and got my ass back to class.

Jamming with Quadzilla was seriously intense. He made us hop from foot to foot for like an hour, and really hit home the idea of weight transfer. If you only step from foot to foot, all you do is lose power, but if you really hop then that leg that you hopped on becomes like a spring that propels you. Once we started doing it on skates, I was instantly faster and more agile. Instantly. Just thinking differently about where I’m getting my power from, muscle-wise, totally changed my approach. Plus, Quad has this great motivational spiel about rewards and consequences (video coming soon). Basically, if you’re a player (and I know that you are), you can’t be thinking about failure or getting hit or any of that shit. Sure, those other bitches want to knock you down. They probably will, too. But focusing on the consequences just makes you scared. If you’re jamming, you gotta be thinking about points, and that’s it. Points and the roar of the crowd screaming your name. Roar fucking roar.

I took a class with Gingersnap on using levels in blocking. I have already raved about the intense greatness of this woman, so I’ll try to tone it down. Using levels is about blocking when you don’t have much space. In actuality, you never have as much space as you want to give the kind of hits that you want to. So, what do you do? You gotta make it. You gotta make that space by getting so low you can touch your laces and let that be your velocity. Snap calls it harnessing mother nature. She’s got this great line about how derby is a sexy sport, and you gotta be using all the power from your, uh, mother nature, bringing it up and throwing at people.

Oh, what?!?! I forgot to say that I made the roster for the public bout! Quadzilla is my coach, and this crazy skater in the green helmet is my teammate. Her name is On Da Sligh and she’s like a little fucking badass jackrabbit on wheels. She jukes and fakes and speeds like a mofo and I think I worship her. And she’s on my team. What? Practice was a little chaotic at first since we don’t know each other, but we quickly figured out who does what. I hold the line. That’s what I do. Since I’m on a team of more experienced players, I was scared that I wouldn’t have a place, but I do. I’m pretty okay at it, and the other blockers can be off doing important things while I sit my ass on that line.

Oh, and I got hit in the face. Wait, guess what number hit me? It was a pretty crucial moment, because the refs totally didn’t notice or call it or ANYTHING, so after the jam I ran to the center and screamed, “Hey refs, whose fucking number is on my face?” and they were all, “oh shit” about it and then they had a little ref meeting about paying attention to illegal activity. And then everyone wanted to take my picture because it really isn’t that often you have someone else’s number so perfectly reproduced on YOUR FACE. Thanks #10. I got your fucking number.

Read about Day 1.
Read about Day 2.
Read about Day 3.
Read about Day 4.

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