Sep 192011
 

There are some pretty harsh words flying around about the Dutchland Derby Rollers right now. If you didn’t hear, after their win Friday afternoon over Maine Roller Derby (the first bout of the Eastern Regional Playoffs) Dutchland advanced in their bracket to bout against Gotham Girls Roller Derby for a shot at the championships. They made the decision (a WFTDA first) to forfeit that game. You can read their official statement here.

Dutchland entered this tournament as #8. Gotham (we all know…) is #1. If you have read anything about this decision you have probably seen these words: “disgraceful”, “pathetic”, “embarrassing” or that “they threw away a shot at the championships”, “they don’t want to win”. As fun as it is to think a lower ranking team could come in and upset number one, let’s be serious about this. Gotham is so far out of every one else’s league, it was embarrassing to watch them play anyone in this tournament. Dutchland bench coach Merv the Perv explained that he wanted to reduce the risk of injuries to skaters and start the next day in the consolation bracket with a “fresh” team (he also wanted all bad mouthing to be deferred to him, not the skaters). Why not? Sure there are things to be learned by skating against a higher ranking team, even if you have no chance of winning, but why risk injury and fatigue (not to mention a total f*ing beat down) when you have a chance to actually progress on a more level playing field (which sadly they did not- they left the tournament remaining #8)? And if forfeiting a game were so demoralizing to the WFTDA, then why would they even allow it?

Let’s face it, Gotham and Dutchland don’t even belong in the same bracket. This may be a call for the WFTDA to look at how tournaments and brackets are organized. Could uneven match ups be prevented by switching to a system of divisions, where teams move up or down accordingly with other teams of the (relatively) same skill level? With a lopsided talent pool, there must be a better way (for fans and skaters) to dictate competition besides just a zip code.

"C'mon Dutchland... don't be 'unsportswomanly'..."

Fans… won’t someone think of the fans!?!? The fans did not get what they expected (as one blogger put it, they  were “given the middle finger” instead). At 4pm on Friday instead of a sanctioned bout, they watched Gotham scrimmage Maine and Carolina for 30 minutes each. I would actually consider this a bonus. They also got some WFTDA history. They also were saved the boredom of watching Gotham win yet another bout by a grotesque amount of points. The Seattle Roller Derby Examiner claims that of the teams who didn’t make it into the top 10 “… all 17 of those teams would have happily stepped up and taken a crack at winning this tournament” then went on to call Dutchland’s presence in the tournament a “total fraud”. Come on! No one had a chance of winning this tournament! It’s Gotham’s!
The DNN comment board even has some calling out for a boycott of Dutchland for the following season, or to ban them from future tournaments and even the WFTDA. Forfeiting is not a crime against humanity. Actually, it’s a procedure that even exists in the rules (article 9.2.7.2.2) under several different parameters.  Merv the Perv commented in response to the mega-hate happening on DNN “Sports teams often pull starters from a game that has no meaning to them… they do it to protect the players… For people to comment that they would not vote us in the top 10, regardless of our merit, is even more disrespectful to WFTDA, and the way it is set up.”
There were cries to let Maine have their seat and move on to play Gotham, which commenters speculate Maine would “love to” have the chance to do. Well, guess what? Maine lost. The Cincinnati Roller Derby Examiner calls this a set back in women’s roller derby’s progress to be “taken seriously”. He writes that, “… this is a nick in that hull. This decision is not only embarrassing for Dutchland, but it slaps the face of every woman who laces up a pair of skates with the dream of making regionals.”.  Well, I do dream of competing in regionals, and the only slap I’m feeling from this “event” is the ill-will and lack of compassion I’m reading on the subject. Why are spectators taking this so personally? Is everyone drunk? What gives people the entitlement to say all these nasty things? It makes me sick. Windy Man (please read Windy Man’s Roller Derby Notes) writes, “Modern roller derby is still a young sport, but with youth comes immaturity…and I think the reaction to Dutchland’s decision was far more immature than the decision itself”. Amen.

The Dutchland Derby Rollers are being called “unsportswomanly” from far and wide (I hate to do this, but I really have to: “unsportswomanly” is not a word. Sure, I get what they’re trying to do with it – we can’t be unsportsmanlike, because we are women! But it’s patronizing – I digress). Why don’t we call Gotham “unsportswomanly” for relentlessly demoralizing every team they play? I don’t want to say they are poor sports, because they are phenomenal athletes with proven abilities. So I am going to assert that if there is a poor sport in this equation, it’s the people boo-ing what isn’t really that big of a deal.
Perhaps I’m just as “pathetic” for not being outraged at the fact a team would forfeit during a tournament and I suppose I can brace myself now for untoward comments. Does this mean that I am not a true fan or that I don’t really love derby? No. Does it mean that I am an uncommitted quitter? No.

I’m sorry that fans throughout the world of women’s roller derby have been so rattled by this event. I’m sorry for the Dutchland girls that they have been attacked so viciously (and will probably never be able to recover from this bad-press-nightmare on 95). Perhaps we should all take a step back and look at how we watch and judge other people and their actions. To me, roller derby is not “everything at any cost”, it is a give and take relationship (that mostly takes, am I wrong?) that many people will never understand. But I do not require their understanding. And I will give everything I can, until I can’t give anymore – and when that happens, it is for me to decide, not fans/bloggers/skaters/announcers/coaches – me.

 

Have a nice day

 

 

By the way, did anyone enter the Big 5 Bracket contest with a forfeit for game 5? ‘Cause you might really have a leg up.

Share
Sep 012011
 

Mr. Fever is going back to school. He graduated from college the first time… gee, 14 years ago? He’s going to the California Maritime Academy. That degree in philosophy just doesn’t pay when you’re a commercial fisherman. I applaud his desire to make a more secure future for us and his ability to stoke up the self motivation. I’m not very motivated. I’ve attended several colleges around California, usually just for one or two semesters at a time. When a girlfriend asked me “How many times have you gone back to school?”, I told her “I only go back”. It’s just what I do.

Captain Cupcake

He's gonna go far...

In all this back-to-school melee (which included removal of long since established facial hair) Mr. Fever has had to do some seemingly tedious “exercises”, including an online alcohol education course. This course was designed for graduating high school students, and to us, was pure comedy. Now he is working on trying to establish his educational goals through guidelines set out by Brigham Young graduates. The more my husband talks about this goal setting guideline, the more I wonder if I have any goals of my own, and if I do, what the hell are they?

Well, as we are learning in “Introduction to Engineering Technology”* goals should be both specific and measurable. Thanks. Coach Nottie A. Siwant had ingrained the importance of measurable goals back in the dark days of the Cog Blockers (who reigned supreme at goal setting/achieving). What is clearly laid out in these guidelines is that “a goal not written is merely a wish”. Far out. Goals should be tiered into attainable sections, baby steps, leading up to the grand prize. Immediate goals followed by a year or two out, five to ten years all coming to the summation of lifetime goals. We must have tools for measuring written goals and how to face failure should we meet it. Your goals should be realistic, but still aim high. If you don’t push yourself to grow, you will not grow (how zen). The “Goal Integrity Spectrum” shows us that a superficial goal will meet it’s end upon the first failure. When failure is experienced with a “well desired” goal our progress will slow, but may still continue. If the goal was made with strength and sincere intent, then failure will be corrected immediately and progress will endure. So let’s not be discouraged, but learn from our mistakes and plow on!

I have some derby goals. They have never been very specific and I am lax about time lines and accountability (especially accountability!). Part of making an achievable goal is to make them public, to people who will both understand and support you (example: if you want to quit smoking you don’t confide your goals to your tobacconist). Alongside the Mr. who is making his educational and monetary goals for the future, I decided to outline what roller derby goals I have.

Previous goal of earning "MVP" from visiting team achieved. Stoked.

Cat Scrap Fever’s Roller Derby Goals:

I want to pass my probation period (3 months) and be picked up for a home team immediately. This will be accomplished by not only attending the 3 practice minimum per week, but 5 practice units per week. I will encourage my league mates and graciously accept all criticisms/tips that come my way. I’ll do my damnedest not to piss anybody off (this kinda means not talking).

Within the next 8 months I want to be invited to scrimmage and/or practice with the travel team. This will be accomplished by continuing to exceed the 3 practice weekly minimum, getting tips from a personal trainer, and doing derby specific cross training no less than 4 days per week. As specified by B.A.D. handbook standards I will progress from 3.5/4 star skater to a 4/4.5 skater. I will also watch lots and lots of good derby!

Before the winter of 2012 (and the end of days… right?), I want to be rostered on the Bay Area Golden Girls All-Star team. I will accomplish this goal by pushing myself at every practice and scrimmage, meditating on all feedback, spending commute times focusing on how I can improve my skills, becoming more realistic about how healthy my diet is and trading sexual favors to each and every girl already on the roster (just kidding?).

Within the next five years I want to compete on a national level. I will be a 5 star skater by B.A.D. standards. This may be a national tournament, it may be against a team within the top 3 rankings of it’s regional bracket, or it might be a game or tournament that hasn’t come to fruition yet, but I will know it when I get there.  I will achieve this by spending even less time with my husband (sad but true – he knows it). I need to recognize my talents in order to nurture them. I’m easily frustrated which slows my personal growth, I will tell my inner JoyKill to shut the hell up because I am attaining awesomeness, and cooking fewer meals.

After five years… how can I even see that far ahead? I’m getting older. Right now I am the median age (according to WFTDA survey stats) for a skater. But with Jr. Derby popping up and a rise in popularity, I don’t see room for me in the game ten years from now. I don’t see myself becoming another Hot Flash. This seeming negativity should be stiffled but I am counting it as realism. I consider myself humble and realistic (please do call me out if you see otherwise). For derby: five more years is a long time. I have time sensitive realistic goals, and if I can accomplish those, then I will feel fulfilled. I’m a peacock… I’ve got to let myself fly!

These goals are all barring injury or other outside-of-derby life traumas. Should I become injured, I expect myself to kick my physical therapists ass, get back on skates in record time and carry on as usual.

What do you want to do with derby? Is this just a hobby? A women’s liberation experiment? Sexual exploration? A long felt dream? Something to do in your spare time because the dodgeball league is full of creeps (seriously)? A goal not written is only a wish. And if wishes were horses all beggars would ride. So go ahead and tell yourself what you want (then tell someone else who will both encourage and keep you accountable).

This is Cat Scrap Fever telling you to tell yourself: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn-it ,  people like me.”

 

* “Introduction to Engineering Technology” by Val D. Hawks and A. Brent Strong published by Prentice Hall – Required reading for Marine Engineering Technology cadets

 

 

 

Share
Apr 152011
 

Are all Swedish chics this retardedly stylish? I'm expatriating.

Editor’s note: Swede Hurt is a mysterious and illusive creature. She’s the kind of girl that says, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you,” and even if you consider yourself pretty fucking cool, six months later you’ll still be waiting by the phone and pining for her. I am super happy to have her and her adorably idiosyncratic grammar back on LDG. And the captions are mine, not hers. She’s not like that.

Sooo there are lots and lots of things that have happened since I wrote here last, and I guess it will take a couple of posts for you guys to catch up with my life. Since I wrote last I have gone to WFTDA Championships and gotten a bronze medal. I have moved back to Europe. I have become head coach of a Swedish league and of Team Sweden , I have opened a rollerderby store called SwedeVix with a friend. Somewhere in between there I have also been reporting for DNN at the German Championships and Anarchy in the UK, written an article for Five On Five, lead sessions at the European Rollerderby Conference and played a banked track game in LA with Team Legit, and also played in the first ever Swedish bout… yeah…

Hottest couple in roller derby. Hands down, no contest.

I also moved in with my girlfriend Mad Maloony in Malmö, Sweden, Europe… well and if you wish to catch up on all the details there is always my own personal blogg that I have tried to keep updated under Swede Rambles. It started as a fitness blog and turned out to be random reflections on the world of derby. Itwould be  a lie to say that I am completly happy – I miss Gotham – very, very, very much and I think that will also turn into a separate blogg.

Well, this was my short little reintroduction to me – I have had a very busy few months – and life has gotten very different in just a very short time, and I really think it is for the best… more to come really… really soooon…

Share
Apr 152010
 
Old School

Old School Roller Derby Brawl (www.teachingtheoutsiders.com)

So you see a bunch of hot girls in fishnets and hot pants and knee high socks with fear-striking names printed on the backs of their shirts and quad skates on their feet. At first you think WTF? Is that some sort of crazy roller skating gang? Close. When you finally realize they are the wonderful ladies of roller derby, you either know NOTHING about it or you think its like the roller derby of old with brutal brawls and skates to the face.

Well I’m here to correct you.

So there are two types of roller derby: Flat track and Banked track. The banked tracks are the slanted, bowl like tracks. Their rules are a bit different but the game is essentially played the same way. What I’m going to explain is flat track roller derby, the thing I’ve devoted a good portion of my life to.

First off, there’s the reigning body of flat track roller derby: Women’s Flat Track Derby Association or as its better known by derby girls WFTDA (often pronounced whiff-ti-duh). They are the ones who make up the rules, rankings, requirements, and all official things that most leagues abide by.

Helmet panties

Pivot (left) and Jammer (right) for purchase at (www.Sincityskates.com)

So once, seconds before a bout, a guy asked me “So do y’all have a ball or something? How exactly is this played?” For all of you reading this who are in the boat with him here is your basic explanation.

Now to throw you right into the pool of sweat and fishnets, here is some derby terminology you will need to know:

Jam – Roller Derby is played in two 30-minute halves, which are broken down into 2-minute sessions called jams. Between each jam, teams have 30 seconds to get their new line-up onto the track. If they don’t make it, they play without the people missing. They don’t let this slide. My team once didn’t realize they were letting us have another jam so we had our jammer, who just happened to be the wonderful Rock Bottom, and 1 blocker while the other team had all of their members.

Pack – this is a group of 8 ladies – 3 blockers from each team and 1 pivot from each team. They are always fighting for position and control of the pack. This is where you will see the best hits.

Jammer – this is the lady with the star panty (yes the helmet covers are called panties) on her head who scores the points. She is typically the faster of the girls on the team and takes most of the hits as she tries to make her way through the pack. The best jammers I’ve encountered are the smaller girls who can get real low to the ground to dodge those hits. They also are expert jukers. Baby Face Assassin from Houston Roller Derby is 4’10 ½ and a helluva jammer.

Pivot – this is the lady with the stripe panty on her helmet. She calls the plays and helps control the speed of the pack. She can usually be found in the front of the pack. They also serve as the “last line of defense” for jammers who have passed the other blockers. Pivots are often the panty-chasers of the team.

Lead Jammer

Lead Jammer (www.ratcityrollergirls)

Blocker – These are the pantiless (only in terms of the helmet covers, mostly) ladies. They are responding to the calls of the pivot, stopping the opposing jammer from making it through the pack and helping their jammer get through. Often when fighting for position these ladies throw some mean hits and take down some blockers in the best of ways. I focus in on the pack while the jammers are making their way around.

Lead Jammer – this is an amazing status that all jammers fight for. Lead jammer is awarded to the first jammer that makes it out of the pack successfully and without any penalties. Lead jammers have the ability to call off the jam by tapping their hips. You can identify them by the ref on the inside of the track following them with one hand raised and the other pointed at them. This is something I envy, as a relatively newer derby girl, I tend to stick to blocking and I watch our lead jammers with the greenest of green looks.

Flat Track Measurements

Flat Track Roller Derby Track Measurements From WFTDA

Now that you have the terminology, let’s explain how the game works.
First the blockers and the pivots (the pack) line up at what is called the pivot line and the jammers at the jam line. The ref blows one long whistle and the pack takes off. He blows the whistle two short times and the jammers take off. Remember only the jammers can score points. Now the first pass through the pack the jammers are fighting for lead jammer status. After getting through, the jammer loops around the track and goes in for a second pass aka the first point-scoring pass. Each subsequent pass in the jam is a point-scoring pass. The jammer gets a point for each player of the opposite team they pass. Jammers can also score an extra point in what is called a grand slam. This is when one jammer laps the other. It is quite an amazing feat of teamwork to witness.

Penalties are frustrating but awesome at the same time. The most common penalty I’ve seen is elbows. When you “engage” or hit another girl on the team, you can’t use your elbows at all. This is a problem a lot of people struggle with including yours truly. You also can’t use your feet (tripping) or your head or your forearms or hands. The second most common is cutting the track. When any player gets knocked out of bounds they have to come in behind the person that knocked them out without having passed anyone else they were behind. There are more obvious examples like going through the middle and gaining position but most often its getting pushed out of bounds and coming back in at the wrong spot. And the third most common penalty, in my opinion, would have to be back blocking. This is when you are behind someone and pushing them or hitting them from behind. This penalty is probably common because we have a phrase “sit on her” which is where you put your butt on a girl trying to pass you and keep it there. If she does anything other than trying to step around you, she gets called for it. For more on penalties see official rules.

Well there you have it folks. The lowdown on the hoedown. Roller Derby is quite possibly the most amazing thing ever. And if you think you can’t do it, come out to a bout. It’ll change your life. I promise.
Support your local league!

Share