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,