As Roller Derby continues to grow on a global scale we here at York Minxters Roller Derby are excited to tell you all about the latest developments in our little part of the derby community.
Until now the league has solely had a WFTDA aligned competing team however we welcome all to training sessions. To ensure we create a safe space for everyone we run WFTDA aligned and OTA practice groups and scrim alongside one another - with no pressure for any skater to take part in both groups. This allows us to provide opportunities for a much wider demographic to learn all the basic skills to play Roller Derby during our dedicated pre-minimum skills training sessions as well as the chance to play derby once scrim safe. Each intake seems to see more male-identifying skaters wanting to learn what the sport is about and we only hope this will continue to be the case. With an ever-increasing number of non-WFTDA- identifying skaters within the league we began to look for opportunities to play.
We have hosted mixed all-gender games in the past where we’ve opened the doors to allow skaters from other leagues to come and scrim with us, however Sunday 2nd September marked the day we were finally able to play our inaugural game as the affectionately dubbed “York Monsters.” Luckily for us the lovely Scarborough Slammers, who are our North Yorkshire neighbours were also looking for opponents!
It was an exciting build up with both teams fielding brand new skaters (from the Monsters they were: The Earl of Lemon-Jab, Lib & V-Wrecks) and the rest of the line-ups comprising of people with really varied experience in terms of amount of games played. Captains for the day were: Royce representing the Monsters and Balls for the Slammers. We also opened up the day to our latest intake of skaters to give them the chance to learn NSO roles thanks to our Head NSO for the day BookHer De’Witt organising a super Officials crew which allowed shadow NSO and ref roles.
The game got underway with a 35 point opening jam from York Monsters Jack Knife. The Monsters continued to open up the lead in the first half, with all of the new skaters making an impact on the score differential and getting lead jammer status at least once and The Earl of Lemon-Jab taking the title for best behaved skater receiving 0 penalties during the game. The Monsters continued to take advantage of getting lead jammer and using tactical call offs, ultimately leading to a final score of 302-33 in favour of York Monsters. The Slammers fought hard throughout the game and despite being skaters down due to injuries and penalties gave it their all to the last whistle, never giving the Monsters jammers an easy time and taking every opportunity to plow in some offence to help their own jammers ensuring the Monsters pack needed to be alert at all times.
Awards for the game went to:
York Monsters –
Best Blocker – V-Wrecks #93
Best Jammer – Jack Knife #74
MVP – Jason #77
Scarborough Slammers –
Best Blocker – Riff Raff #10
Best Jammer – Roller Disco Stu #70
MVP – Nuke Leah Attack #22
Special mention to Lib from the York Monsters who received the Monster of the Match award for keeping cool calm and collected both on track and on the bench and taking everything in their stride. This was their first game with the team after only joining us here in York less than 2 months ago - we can already see that they will be an asset on track in the future.
Thanks again to all the refs and NSOs for ensuring we could host the game and keeping us safe on track. Special mention to WAM Digital aka Sir Snapsalot who took all the photos you are seeing alongside the article – check out the full album on their facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/wamdigitalyork/ ). The York Monsters logo comes courtesy of Booty, who you can find on Instagram as @365dayzofdrawing – check out the amazing Roller Derby portraits she’s currently offering, as well as spying some of the latest additions to our merch stock.
If you are interested in arranging an OTA game against the York Monsters please contact us either via our email or through the York Minxters Roller Derby facebook page. We have very limited availability for the rest of this year at home but are open to travelling to you if we can find a date that works!
Check out the photo gallery....
The Minxters have been around since 2011 and whilst we adore our beautiful city, finding a venue that is both large enough and willing to host a skating even has been a long struggle. However, we are now beaming to announce that for the first time ever - ROLLER DERBY IS COMING TO YORK!
We're hosting the final stage of our tier of British Championships at York College on the 8th of July and there will be spectator seats available. This is literally the first time we've been able to offer this!
You can see the full details on our facebook event here - we hope to finally see you there!
It’s June, which for the Minxters means it’s time to pull on our outdoor wheels and take over the parks of York. It also means we’re preparing to take part in York Pride for the first time (June 9 at the Knavesmire!). The LGBTQ community has always been at the heart of roller derby, worldwide and in York. People of any and all genders and sexualities have found a home whizzing round the track – a place to be ourselves, and a family of teammates who support us for who we are.
Part of this is in the nature of the sport: there is no ‘ideal’ player, and a team needs a whole bunch of different people – jammers, blockers, referees, non-skating officials – working together. In derby, what makes you different makes you an asset to the team. The only demand is that everyone works together seamlessly, and that we have total trust in our teammates. What is more, derby has historically been one of the only female-led sports, meaning that a feminist ethos is always present, even though nowadays the gender policy is more inclusive.
At York, all genders train together, though we do have a safe-space provision, with separate contact training and gameplay for female- and non-binary identified skaters, as well as an all-gender option. When competing in the British Championships, we play under WFTDA gender rules, meaning that female- and non-binary identified skaters can compete for the Minxters, but skaters of any gender can play with us in house and regionally – the Minxters are dedicated to supporting all players in developing their derby skills.
But it is much more than just the mechanics of the game that makes derby so important to its LGBTQ skaters. To celebrate Pride, we’ve asked a few Minxters about their experiences of skating and what derby means to them…
How long have you been skating with the Minxters?
I've been skating for three and a half years, and with the Minxters for one and a half years.
What made you first want to play?
I was just coming out of a dark place in my life and I was looking for a way to make friends and get active.
What does roller derby mean to you?
Roller Derby is the first non-queer specific space I've been a part of where it's basically the norm to be queer. I never even had to question whether I would be accepted or if I felt safe coming out. It's amazing to be part of a group that puts accepting people of all sexual orientations and gender identities at the heart of what they do, despite not being a political organisation in nature.
Skate Butch #15
How long have you been skating with the Minxters?
Since September 2017 – so I’m still pretty much Bambi on ice when I’m on skates!
What made you first want to play derby?
I’d moved to York a few months before, and didn’t have many friends in the city. I happened to see that there was a new intake, and loved it. Also I’d wanted to play derby, like many others, since seeing how badass the players in Whip It were (and also thinking that Alia Shawkat should have been Ellen Page’s love interest, but that’s another story…).
What does roller derby mean to you?
Derby is a chance to step outside the everyday world for a few hours a week. Putting on our padding and special shoes, stepping into a punningly-named alter ego to do things we never thought we’d be able to do in our normal lives – the only difference between a derby player and a drag queen is the wheels.
I’ve done a few sports in my time, but there’s been none where I’ve felt so un-self-conscious as when skating with the Minxters. Being able to take pride in what your body can do just as it is, is an amazing thing for anyone, but particularly in a world that has on some level always said there’s something wrong with you. Roller derby, with its unique blend of teamwork and fierceness (in both senses of the word) is a world away from that.
Roller Luxemburg #91
How long have you been skating with the Minxters?
I started as a freshie last summer - about 10 months now? I can't believe how quickly it's gone! Still not passed my minimum skills though... but who cares, it's been the absolute best.
What made you first want to play?
I went to watch Kent Roller Girls play when I was a student and spent the whole time jumping up and down yelling and punching the air – I had no idea what was going on, mind, but I knew it was brilliant. I always hated team sports because the environment can be so macho and I wasn't ‘athletic,’ but derby was different. There were so many people you'd never expect to see in a sports hall!
What does roller derby mean to you?
I think it means safety and community. Especially in such a small-c conservative, overwhelmingly het place like York. It took me a few weeks to totally relax but I quickly realised not only that nobody in the Minxters (and the derby community) cares if I'm queer, but that they're actively there for you as an LGBTQ skater. That felt huge - there are so few places where you can really let go of all that internalised shame and homophobia that we drag around with us as queer people, just be yourself and enjoy what you're doing.
You can meet the York Minxters, have a chat and find out a bit more about roller derby at York Pride 2018, on 9 June from 11.30 am at the Knavesmire. We look forward to seeing you there!
I signed up for my fresh meat intake knowing that when it comes to rostering games, the Minxters adhere to the WFTDA gender policy, meaning I would be unable to represent the team on track. This wasn't an issue for me; frankly my motivations for joining were partially to get a bit of exercise but mainly to learn to skate in order to develop another shared interest with my wife, who had joined during a previous intake. I think I figured I would learn to skate then go off on my merry way with another hobby under my belt and that would be that. Oh how wrong I was…
The next part of my story will be a familiar one to many of you: roller derby quickly drew me in and I went from being a couch potato who did basically zero exercise and hadn’t played any sports since school to a former couch potato who was spending as much free time as possible either in the gym or on skates. Over the course of the fresh meat programme I got to know my fellow freshies and the rest of the Minxters and really started to feel like I was a part of the team. By the time we had completed the programme, I knew I wanted to be more involved and do whatever I could to contribute despite not being eligible to play.
Last month there was a game between the Leeds Roller Derby challenge team and the ‘Minxcadias’, a one-day-only team made up of members of the Minxters and Arcadia Roller Derby. A request went out for bench crew for the Minxcadias and I eagerly volunteered. I was (and still am) keen to get involved with benching and I saw this as a great opportunity to get some bench experience. As time passed however, I had the worrying realisation that no-one else had volunteered and it looked like I was on my own.
A few panicked messages to our team captain later, I felt reassured that everything would be fine; I’d done mirror bench at one of the Minxters games, I had a pretty strong grasp of the rules and I’d been paying attention to the bench teams during the recent Eurocup in Manchester. I spoke to some of the Minxters, including our usual bench manager, and asked all the questions I could think of. I knew that being a good bench manager is something that only comes with experience, but I thought if I could focus on the basics I would be ok. I was still very nervous but I just told myself “You’ve got this.”
Keeping a positive mental attitude gets you a long way, but sometimes you can’t help experiencing that creeping horror when you realise that not only do you not know what you’re doing, you also had no idea how much there was that you didn’t know. I’m glad I did the prep work I did, because once the game started I realised with absolute certainty: “I haven’t got this.” I did what I could; I signalled when I thought our jammer should keep running the jam or call it off and shouted the handful of things I knew it would be useful for our skaters to know (“jammer standing!”) but that was pretty much the full extent of my repertoire.
All the skaters on our team were really helpful and encouraging and after a few jams our jammers were telling me I was doing fine so I actually calmed down and started to enjoy it. I’m under no illusions as to how much I have to learn, but I did come away from this game feeling like I’d actually contributed – and more importantly, it was really enjoyable.
I can’t wait to get some more bench experience and I absolutely recommend it to anyone who wants to help their team on game day without being on track.
Them’s the rules – or why you should totally NSO
It is a truth universally acknowledged that roller derby can’t exist without officials. Although there are only up to 10 skaters on track at any time in a game, a fully staffed WFTDA bout needs at least 18 volunteer officials to be run properly. And even if we ignore the 7 on-skates officials and the track repair crew, that leaves still 11 NSO (non-skating official) positions to be filled for each and every game. I won’t go into detail of what these roles entail, since plenty of other blogs have made a much better job of that than I could. This is just me trying to make the case, not only why you totally should, but also totally want to NSO. And no, that’s not just because of the copious amounts of snacks you’ll be provided with on game day.
As it is, York Minxters Roller Derby have made it a mandatory requirement to NSO at least 3 times before any skater would pass their minimum skills. This is certainly one of the easier tests to pass, but it’s really no less important than those 27 laps in 5 minutes.
NSOing and volunteering in other roles hasn’t only given me the opportunity to see some really fantastic high-class roller derby for no more than the cost of fuel to get there, it's also taught me how to actually watch a game to get the most out of it.
Each NSO role concentrates on a different aspect, so if you’re busy tracking or timing penalties, either in the box or at the inside white board, you’ve got less time to actually pay attention to the point scoring. But when you get the opportunity to just watch, having taken on these specialised roles will give you a much better ability to read the game and understand what’s going on.
A better understanding of rules and how they’re applied doesn’t only help you getting much more out of a game as a spectator, but obviously will in the long run also make you a better skater. It helps you to avoid committing penalties inadvertently, but also to spot opportunities for surprising yet legal tactics.
Not to mention that learning in a practical setting is much more fun and effective than studying for the WFTDA rules test by just reading the rules.
I've long passed the minimum requirement of NSOing at three games, but I don’t intend to stop. Continuing to volunteer as an NSO or other off-skates positions allows me to be involved, even when I’ve still got quite a way ahead of me until I pass my mins—or if I should be unlucky enough to sustain an injury that would keep me off skates for a while. It helps my league, which has to nominate NSOs as part of the requirements to participate in tournaments, it helps me to grow on a personal level (there’s no better way to learn to stay calm in stressful situations), and it really is just a lot of fun. You just need to learn to keep your cheering inward (easier said than done), as absolute neutrality is a must on game day.
I feel lucky that here at York Minxters Roller Derby there’s such a dedicated and helpful crew of officials (on and off skates), and I can only recommend getting involved to anyone interested in roller derby.
- Scornflake Grrrl
Freshie’s Diary: These Girls Can
We’re getting to a point now where the momentum of our 10-week new skater programme can only carry us so far – we need to get our eyes on the prize, and that means goals. Although it’s stressful to start with, going through a freshie intake as someone with little or no skate experience is amazing because every week you’re doing something you never dreamed you could – the amount of new skills you learn and develop is overwhelming but also pretty exhilarating. But then you get to a point where that initial burst starts to level off and you really have to – I’m realising – be committed and intentional with how you use your skate time if you want to properly crack those skills.
This is where goals come in. I’m generally not super into this cultural moment the idea of ‘goals’ is having, mostly because I’m pretty uncompetitive (still not sure how this is going to work out for me derby-wise!) and also because I find it too prescriptive and easy to beat yourself up if you don’t meet them. I prefer setting intentions over resolutions… but with that said, having concrete aims is helping a lot with the transition from fresh to ever so slightly less fresh skater.
So for example, I really want to work on my lateral movements and one-foot glides, because I find them tough and beyond not getting those precious ticks off the min skills list, I know not mastering them will hold me back in loads of other situations. With the help of our infinitely wise captain and other teammates, I’ve started breaking a big, scary goal (‘master laterals’) into smaller aims:
The first skate session after I started formulating this plan, I instantly felt more determined: I made myself save the jolly pootling around for later and cracked on with 15 minutes of lateral Ts. I looked at how everyone else does it. I asked for tips. I started to notice which movements are throwing me off balance. I can feel how I will get there eventually.
If this much thinking – and time – has to go into learning these small skills-within-skills, clearly we were barking up decidedly the wrong tree when we were telling ourselves, “tick off ALL THE THINGS”. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
And actually, sitting down to think about my roller derby goals has made me (in a nice way!) think about what I want from my day to day life and what I need to do to make the progress in derby I hope I can.
It’s amazing how much this sport (and the people who play it) can help you focus on what’s important to you and what you want. When you realise the amount of joy you can feel on track, you really notice if it’s missing in other areas of your life. But I feel like derby is giving me the mental skills to keep on top of things, ask for help when I need it and take joy and pride in the small, ‘pointless’ things. After all, there’s little more pointless than racing round on eight wheels bashing into other people, but somehow it’s by far the most meaningful thing in my life at the moment.
So if you’re a new skater struggling to push on after your first big progression, it’s worth taking some time to work out what your goals are. Take stock of all the amazing stuff you can do, and build on it one small step at a time. Start where you are, do what you can – you’ll get there.
- Roller Luxemburg
As I write this, it's been 6 months since I joined the Minxters last Fresh Meat intake and in a few weeks the next intake will join us. I'm excited to see them begin the journey which has become an integral part of my life more quickly than I expected.
Six months ago I had only the haziest idea of what Roller Derby was about--my husband had bought me a pair of skates for Christmas, "because this sport looks like it's exactly up your street". Not that I was ever much into sports, especially team sports. I was way too worried about not being good enough to even try. What if I'm too old? What if I'm too slow? What if nobody likes me? But now that I had a pair of skates, I thought I might as well try, and so I did. I was really quite nervous, especially because I didn't know anyone else there, but quickly realized that my fears were unwarranted. Everyone was so welcoming and helpful.
One of the first things we were told was not to compare ourselves to anyone but ourselves. People have different backgrounds with more or less skating experience, and it's pointless to compete with someone who might have started from a completely different baseline.
So, while Coots and Stagger B:
- who joined at the same time as me just played their very first bout as mins-passed skaters, and others are close to passing their mins, I’ll probably still need quite a while to get close--but I’m not worried. Six months ago I could barely skate in a straight line, let alone stop in a controlled manner. After the first (and second, and third...) session, muscles ached that I didn't even know existed. What kind of sadist came up with sticky skating? Or worse, going backwards? 27 laps in 5 minutes? You have to be kidding me!
Despite this, I realised l enjoy working towards something and measuring my own progress, cheering on others for theirs, and being part of a team of wonderful people. Until I'm good enough to skate for them, there's still plenty of other ways to be involved.
When I started, I wasn't even sure if I was going to make it to the end of Fresh Meat. The commitment just seemed so much. But very quickly I realised that this was something I wanted to do as often as possible. I found myself putting wheels on my feet at any opportunity (including doing housework, because, why the hell not?) and I wasn't the only one.
I'm excited for the next intake and hope they'll fall for this awesome sport as hard as I have. 27 in 5 still seems like a ridiculous idea to me, though, but that won't stop me trying.
- Scornflake Grrrl x
“You’re going to ache for DAYS,” they said. “Their warm-up is absolutely brutal,” they said. “That floor is super sticky and wobbly and weird,” they said.
‘They’ would be the older and wiser mins-passed Minxters who definitely know what they’re talking about – but somehow these grim warnings didn’t put nine of us naïve little freshies off from making the trip across the Pennines last Sunday for a pre-mininmum skills bootcamp at Rainy City Roller Derby.
They were right on all counts, but what a fantastic day we all had. According to our resident bootcamp aficionado The MorrigAna, Rainy are well-known for their inclusive training “high on helpful, nice, knowledgeable coaches” and after several hours of rigorous post-mortem of all the skills we learned and insights we got into our weak spots, I second that emotion.
So what did we actually do? After a gruelling ‘pyramid’ warm-up involving way too many planks for my liking and leg raises with the added weight of skates (which I’m still trying to forget about), it was into the skills training proper. We worked on one-foot glides, T stops, plough stops, laterals, transitions, backwards skating, crossovers, derby stops, form for laps and 27/5, positional blocking and probably other things that I’ve forgotten in the adrenaline-fuelled haze. So you know, just the basics!
This may sound like a lot to take in (and it was), but the coaches – Rainy’s Fairy Quakes, Rusty, Hel Razor and Weeble, were ace at breaking down each skill into manageable chunks, building up our confidence with several different drills before trying out the real thing. They really looked at what we were doing and suggested different approaches until one clicked (I definitely had several ‘aha’ moments thanks to that).
(And with that new motivation, here’s my desperate attempt to internalise my most important lesson learned!)
On that note, here are some of our best bits from the day...
Scornflake Grrrl #48
How long have you been skating? I joined the last Minxters Freshmeat Intake in September 2017, previously I only ever did some really bad tentative skating with my kids at family skate.
Favourite drill at bootcamp: I really enjoyed the aggressive snake drill. (This involves weaving through a paceline but hip-checking each skater you pass)
Best thing I learned: Don't know where to start, I just found it really useful to have things broken down differently, so suddenly it clicked and I'm not scared of T-stops anymore.
What tip would you give new freshies? Never compare yourself to anyone but yourself from the week before.
How long have you been skating? About 18 months? Only regularly since joining fresh meat in Autumn 2017, before that roller disco and had some lessons with roller girl gang.
Favourite drill at bootcamp: The pyramid drill was best
Best thing I learned: That you haven't transferred your weight properly if you are stamping when trying a one-foot glide.
What tip would you give new freshies? Squats! Lots of them.
How long have you been skating? Since last September, bar a bit of roller discoing as a kid.
Favourite drill at bootcamp: Skating and doing one-foot glides in anti-derby direction helped me feel how to use my edges for balance.
Best thing I learned: Sticky floor/soft wheels is no excuse for not mastering quick, aggressive plough stops!
What tip would you give new freshies? Learn to love falling. If you never fall, you’re not pushing yourself.
How long have you been skating? Since August 2016 with a fair amount of injury time...
Best drill at bootcamp: Pyramid drill was the best! My fitness is not my strong point so anything to help keep that up is a bonus for me ☺
Best thing I learned: The new (to me) way of looking at one-footed ploughs, and in general the way everything is broken down. This is the third time I have been to a Rainy City bootcamp and every time has been different and the trainers have taught me new things!
What tip would you give new freshies? Never compare yourself to others and remember 'stupid sexy Flanders'! [The perfect example of how to move your hips for lateral movement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaeRM7X_yS4]
Best drill at bootcamp: Loved the pyramid drill. Also loved the aggressive snake and getting used to contact while moving.
Best thing I learned: Like Anke I liked how they broke things down, especially the contact stuff like where to hit, getting down low and stepping in front of your opponent.
What tip would you give new freshies? Try, try and try again, you will get there!
How long have you been skating? Since September 2017
Favourite drill at bootcamp: I thought the pyramid drill was great
Best thing learned: To drop low just before turning into a lateral. Hearing that made it click for me in a way it hadn't before. It was also really interesting skating on such a sticky floor with my poison 84s and having to adjust my technique to compensate. Right at the start Fairy Quake said I was going to have to do everything as lightly as possible with stops and although it took a bit of getting used to it was definitely doable.
What tip would you give new freshies? Learn not to fear falling. Fall early, fall often and fall forwards. You're much better off chucking yourself forwards into a nice "fall small" position than flailing around to get your balance then falling backwards. Also, get low.
How long have you been skating? Since Sept 2017, having never stood on a skate before then in my life.
Favourite drill at bootcamp: The aggressive snake was great. Positional blocking when static and when moving are very different beasts, and the snake brings together so many of the skills we'd been practising - though it often ended up with me on the floor.
Best thing learned: When you're blocking you're not trying to wildly bash people out of the way, you're just trying to take their space. As Weeble said, 'Don't be a dick.'
What tip would you give new freshies? Like Dan said, falling is good. Falling is just a sign you're trying to do something you can't do - yet. Fall small (or at least fall with style), get up, and try again - you'll get there eventually.
How long have you been skating? Approx 18 months.
Favourite drill at bootcamp: Ermmm... I liked the crossovers while pulling someone around. It was hard but useful! Don't know what it's called though :)
What tip would you give new freshies? Give everything a go. Stop telling yourself you can't do it. Everyone starts at different points and progresses at different rates. Just think how far you've come, not how far you have left to go.
By the end (to be honest, by lunchtime) we were all knackered, sweaty messes with aches in places we didn’t know existed – but with a fire lit underneath us and ready to come back to York and work hard to nail those skills!
- Roller Luxemburg
It's that time! Our new skater intake is just around the corner. To join us - sign up via the facebook event here. If facebook isn't an option for you, drop us a message via the contact tab and we'll make sure you can get involved!
RDWC 2018 (aka the best weekend of our lives).
This weekend Derby players from all over the World were transported to another dimension – a strange, seemingly underground land filled with the best people. I am of course referring to the 2018 Roller Derby World Cup held in Manchester. I am filled with so many words about this event and yet none seem to summarise quite how spectacular it was. But I’ll give it a go.
A small group of our skaters and officials made their way to the World Cup early Thursday morning. A little grumpy and tired, but with no idea just how inspiring and surreal the next few days would turn out to be.
We bumped into people from all over the country whom we have played with and against, officials from bouts and tournaments we have skated at, and of course many of our Derby idols. We saw people from so many countries come together in one building to share their love of this incredible, inclusive, entirely bonkers sport. We made new friends and lived alongside our heroes for 4 whole days.
Photo – (Freakachu and Chariz’ard in the crowd). Credit: Shirlaine Forrest.
Each of us came away with a list of skaters we admire and want to learn more from. I personally fell madly in Derby-love with Sarah Chambers of Team Australia, and now I’m determined to be just like her. The photo below is one I will cherish forever, and clearly shows me peeping through the refs in awe of Sarah in the final game - Team USA vs. Team Australia.
Photo – (Team USA vs Team Australia). Credit: Anja Wettergren Photography.
The Hosts of the World Cup – Rainy City Roller Derby, put together something truly incredible. They worked relentlessly in planning and hosting this event, and we are truly grateful for their hard work and that of all the volunteers who gave up their time to make everything run so smoothly. Well done to them on an immensely successful event.
Each team and every game brought their own heart-warming and inspirational moments. We saw Team Aotearoa perform a Haka fuelled with a passion that literally gave us goose bumps. The crowd grew still as it commenced and you could feel an unreal energy emanating from the Team as it built towards the ending.
Team Indigenous delivered a moving speech in lieu of a National anthem, bringing attention to the horror and mistreatment Indigenous women face daily. The speech moved many members of the audience to tears. Team Australia asked them to deliver the speech again before the Final game, foregoing their National Anthem to give the spotlight over to their cause. This was followed by a moment of silence, where for the first time in the entire 4 days the entire crowd fell silent to reflect on the message these amazing women brought forward.
One final mention should go to the Fearleaders – the Official Fearleading Squad of the Vienna Roller Derby Team. What can I say? They put on an outstanding half-time performance during the Final game. If you haven’t seen it yet, go and find a video as you won’t be disappointed.
One of the things which inspired me the most during the World Cup was the incredible spirit of the high-level players. I saw Jammers go on jam after jam and not break through the walls of the opposing team. I saw blockers get knocked down and lose the jammer repeatedly. I realised that everything I struggle with in Roller Derby is a struggle for the skaters I admire too. What stood out though, is that every single one of those skaters got back up and tried again every time, no matter how tough the opponent. Many of them even did it with a smile on their face.
I am under no illusions that I am anywhere near the level of the players I saw at the weekend, but nonetheless I am reassured that we are all playing the same game with the same challenges. If they can get back up again and face the strongest players in the World, then we have no excuse not to keep trying and improving ourselves.
Photo – All of the Minxters who were lucky enough to go to the World Cup.
Miracle Whips training session.
It is safe to say we were feeling blue after the World Cup ended and we had to return to our real lives. The sadness didn’t get much of a chance to take hold however, as our Team Captain Gem O’Cide had planned for the one and only Miracle Whips of Team Canada to coach a training session for us on the Tuesday night.
The lead up to that evening had us all nervous-excited, unsure about what to expect from this skater we have all admired for so long. Miracle Whips was everything we expected and more. She led an introduction to the session and used this to assess the skills we would find most beneficial to work on, and away we went.
What followed was an intense 2 hours in which we had things explained to us in ways they never have been before. As a coach, she has a poetic way of putting her ideas across, using simile and metaphor to drive home her point on how a skill is best performed and how to get the most out of our bodies. I found myself able to do things I had been struggling with for months and trying things I had been afraid to really throw myself into.
One huge focus of the session was not to give up, or to be afraid of falling. As Derby players, we know that this is the essence of the sport, but all too often we let this fear hold us back and we don’t push our bodies to the limits to see just what they will do for us. Miracle Whips brought such passion and drive to the session that it was impossible not to throw ourselves into every drill and push ourselves harder than ever before.
We all left the session inspired, star-struck, and laden with selfies and ideas. I cannot recommend a session with Miracle Whips highly enough – if you get the chance to be coached by her, take it!
Photo – Us with Miracle Whips after she put us through our paces!
Looking forward to Champs.
As I write this I am preparing for our first Champs game of the year (and my first Champs game ever), which takes place tomorrow in Ipswich. The biggest lesson from this week I take with me is not to give up when things get tough (you might be sensing a theme here). I already try to live by this motto, but during games it can be all too easy to let that fear of failure hold us back.
I now realise that the worst and most humiliating thing I could do during a game is give up. I’ve been rostered as a Jammer, so I was terrified about never getting lead, or never even getting out of the pack, or messing up a star pass. I’m not scared of those things anymore, although obviously it will be amazing if they don’t happen. I’m going to try my best, and no matter what happens I will learn from it. The most important thing is to keep trying. How else am I ever going to get to play for Team England at the next World Cup? 😉
Most of all I am just really looking forward to playing alongside my amazing Team mates and seeing them do the wonderful things I know they are capable of.
Who are we?!?
All my love,