Intake Vol. 2 – Return of the Rookies
Yes indeed! Its that wonderful time again where we take on a fresh batch of skaters and train them into roller derby machines! If you would like to join in the fun and give it a try come join us at Energise Leisure Centre, Acomb, on the 3rd or 10th of October.
If you want some more info first, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out these testimonials from some of our August intake skaters.
See you soon!
We're back, baby!
After a long, long year we are officially taking on new skaters, so get your skates on! Join us at Energise Leisure Centre for an afternoon of learning the basics, getting to know the training team, and getting a crash introduction into the wonderful world of Roller derby.
For more info, email us at email@example.com. See you there!
York Minxters vs Wakey Wheeled Cats - our last game of our 2019 British Roller Derby Championships, Review by EmRAH
Well, where to begin? We've trained so hard during this British Championship season and it felt like this game brought together the effort, commitment and team spirit from everybody involved York Minxters Roller Derby.
We all put 110% into every training session in the build up to the game; we pooled together our collective knowledge, experience and skills that we have all gained from watching footage, going to external scrims, bootcamps and our own training sessions.
Game day came and we were all nervous, excited, terrified and confident! Not only was it our last game of the season but it was also our turn to host, which we did so at the brilliant York College. As anyone involved in roller derby knows, hosting an event takes time and effort from everyone. We are really proud of the way we came together to make it work - it was all hands on deck, right from from the marketing of the event through to the set up on the day itself. Huge shout out to skaters, officials, NSOs, the bakers, the raffle prize contributors, and of course those people that came along to support all the teams who played on the day!
First, we did our usual pre-game warm up and team talk. Then the first whistle blew. This was it!
The first half was a very close game with multiple lead changes. But one of our team strengths is being keeping our cool and focusing on the job at hand, ensuring we use the skills and tactics we have been training. Our blockers created strong and effective walls that Wakey Wheeled Cats jammers struggled to break through. Our jammers gave it everything - all using their amazing footwork skills to challenge the edges and get around the Wakey's walls. Every single point mattered and hard earned - for both teams. At the end of the first half, the score was York Minxters 61 Wakey Wheeled Cats 53. Half time was a debrief of the game so far and an acknowledgement that everything we were doing was working. All we had to do was just carry on playing in the same way.
The second half was so exciting for the Minxters. Wakey were getting tired, which saw them being assessed more penalties. This meant that we were able to put our power jam tactics into play on a few occasions and our we were able to create a bigger points difference. We even had a staggering 20 point jam from one of our jammers, Hencherson. Our blockers were playing stronger than ever and Wakey's jammers were really struggling at this stage to gain the critical points that they needed to close the points gap. Every Minxter fought until the very last second, every skater was pushing themselves and working to their strengths. We were all determined that we could do this, we have worked so hard for this. It paid off! The final score of the game York Minxters 157 Wakey Wheeled Cats 124.
We have won 4 out of 5 games this British Championship season. This has resulted in us coming 2nd overall in Tier 3WE, and we will receive a shiny silver medal to prove it! Our 2nd place ranking also means that we move up to Tier 2 in 2020 which will be amazing for us as this was one of our team goals. Thank you to every single Minxter and to all of our supporters for believing in us.
Stay tuned - there are some very exciting times ahead for York Minxters Roller Derby!
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