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,
Sick of the tacky, lovey doveyness that comes with this time of year? Then join us for some Speed Hating and make some like-minded new friends! Full details can be seem on the facebook event here.
The 2018 British Championships have officially started, and we will be playing our first game on Feburary 10th against Suffolk Roller Derby.
You can see all the details on the facebook event here.
Stay tuned to our facebook and twitter pages on the day for the results!
Breaking the tradition of just one Fresh Meat Intake a year, we've happy to annouce that in 2018 these will become more regular. Our next Intake will be sometime in March - keep your eyes on this page and our social media for the specifics when we have them!
It's finally that time again! Our once-a-year new skater intake will be happening on Sunday the 3rd of September - don't miss it! For the full details check out our Facebook event here.
Do you want to learn more about Roller Derby? Would you like to join us for our next skater intake? Want to find out what's involved before signing up?
Now is your chance to come and meet members of the team who will be able to answer any questions you have. We are also hosting a skater debut on this day so you will be able to see the sport in action and get an idea where you could be after completing the Minxters Fresh Meat programme. We're holding a Meet the Minxters event at our training spot, Energise on 20th August 2017 at 4pm.
If you're interested, you can RSVP and see the full details on our Facebook event here. If you'd like to attend but don't use Facebook, please drop us a message via the Contact form above.
The end is in sight! Tier 4 North British Championships comes to it's conclusion at the end of the month. Come and watch us at our final game against the Grim Reavers. You can see the full details and ticket links on the Facebook event page.
This weekend we have our first game of British Championships! It,s going to be an amazing day of derby, come on down and show your support. You can see more information on the facebook event here.
On 20/11/2016 we played the lovely Northern Rogues - we lost with a final score of 219-62, but we had an awesome day! Here's our post game interview.
What was your strategy going into the game?
Northern Rogues Captain Sugar and Spite: Ok. As a team, our strategy was to play calm and keep our walls strong. For myself as a jammer, my strategy is usually just to keep moving and hopfully find a gap. I try to avoid getting hit if I can!
York Minxters Captain Gem O'Cide: We wanted to use the strategies and walls we have been working on within training. We also have been focusing on structured packs and positions for the champs next year.. as this was the last fun game of the year we decided this would help solidify that but mostly to have fun!
What did you team do well?
Northern Rogues Captain Sugar and Spite: Our team were very good at reforming around a jammer, we kept the pack slow and tried to control it as much as we could
York Minxters Captain Gem O'Cide: Mostly we kept to the strategy and walled up well together. We smiled a lot and everyone worked hard.
What was your favourite moment?
Northern Rogues Captain Sugar and Spite: My favourite moment from the game was probably any time I was sent flying by you (Gem O'cide) or the rest of your team. I try to avoid contact because it's tiring as a jammer, but I love the physical stuff!
York Minxters Captain Gem O'Cide: My favourite moment was probably hitting Sugar and Spite flying I felt my hitting was on form and got lots of lovely feedback. I love her but that damn smile when she had lead jammer! My other favourite moment was also when my wall used a strategy we have really struggled with and it worked!
Who on your team would get the Captains award?
Northern Rogues Captain Sugar and Spite: If I had an award to give to my own team it would be incredibly difficult as they all played so well as a team, but I would have to give it to kitty hitter. She always gives it her all despite the fact that at this point she is literally held together with kt tape and chewing gum!
York Minxters Captain Gem O'Cide: Lady P got the MVP award but she deserves he captains award too. She's fairly new to us but has thrown herself in full throttle. She's always enthusiastic and really is the definition of a team player! We would also like to thank Crafty Hog and Hellfire Hoskins and Big Guns for LUM and Benching us!
We love the Northern Rogues and can't wait to have them back! There is definitely a lot more games to play between our teams!
So Saturday the 10th of September was the day of my very first, proper, actual, real-life bout. This is just a memento of the lead up to the day, how it went, and how I felt afterwards. It is not intended to be advice but I will mention things that helped me to focus and not have a melt down on the day of the bout and a few things that I think I could have done better or differently in the lead up to it. This is more of a rambling than anything - welcome to my brain, it’s a terrifying place to be.
So began the run up to the big day.
Luckily I had a pretty full on schedule in the weeks prior to the game so I didn’t have too much time to dwell on my pre-bout nerves. (That didn’t stop me having some pretty damn ludicrous nightmares though, brains are great aren’t they?!) But I had a lot of questions about silly things like:
I know, I know, I am my own worst enemy. The thing is though I like to be organised, I like making lists, I like fully formed plans; when I’m doing something or going somewhere new this trait goes in to overdrive. I kept most of this scary side side of my brain to myself; I think it would have helped me to ask people all the questions, but I just didn’t want to annoy people – I’m pretty sure I’m over that fear now though so be prepared team. Luckily another skater was going to be skating her very first bout too so we managed to muddle through some of the insanity together. I pushed myself at training during the weeks building up to the bout, gave every drill my all, tried things that scared me and most importantly didn’t break myself.
Moving on to the day before the bout I made sure I acted as normally as possible, carried on with the usual routines, met some friends so I wasn’t sat at home fretting alone, had a few cocktails and decided it was a good idea to write a blog post, ate a good meal in the evening and checked over and lined up my kit ready to pack in the morning (alongside my inevitable list(s) of things to remember.) I even packed up some food and plenty of drinks for the day so I would have something to devour after the bout because I knew I wouldn’t be capable of eating much before.
Now I know I said this wasn’t an advisory blog but I’ve changed my mind. If I can give you one piece of advice it is this: DO NOT GIVE YOURSELF SIX BLISTERS THE NIGHT BEFORE A BOUT BY WEARING SHOES WITH STUPID LITTLE SOCKS THAT COMBINE TO CREATE THE WORST WALKING EXPERIENCE OF YOUR LIFE. (Apart from that time you didn’t realise that the thing in your shoe was actually a nail sticking in though the sole…. But that’s a story for another day.) So yeah, bout day started with me frantically trying to find enough blister plasters in the pockets of bags to try and salvage what dignity I could for my angry feet – needless to say this was not on my list. Luckily adrenaline numbed the worst of it until after the final whistle.
So the day I arrived, I force fed myself some breakfast and coffee then packed my bags. The journey there was fine, I managed to tune my brain out as much as possible and relax, luckily I was able to get a lift with fellow Minxters so I didn’t have the added stress of driving and also had people to chat with on the road. Then we arrived at the venue and I realised it was really happening and welcomed back the nausea, but almost every skater was feeling the same so I was not alone. Honestly the whole experience from the minute I put my skates on was a bit of a blur, if you’re lucky there will be some fab photographers there on the day so that you can look back and realise that maybe you did do something useful, or yes you really do need to work on your derby stance and being tall is no longer a viable excuse! But it was great, despite not winning the team were all in great spirits and really supportive. Even when I put a jammer panty on my head and then got all the penalties. It was a learning experience for all of us and I’m so glad I got to be a part of it.
All photos courtesy of Dave Moore, to see more photos from the bout check out: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gridiron/albums