Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Fresh Meat - Summer 2013

Ever wondered what it's like to join a Roller Derby league? Huge thanks to one of our most dedicated, motivated and generally wonderful Freshies, Hen, for the following write up!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

About 2 or 3 years ago I once spent all day in bed, and I mean aaaaall day; I only got up to make myself cups of tea and food which I’d then consume back under the duvet, until I went back to sleep  for the rest of the night. 

Until May of this year, I’d considered that day to be pretty much uncontested for the title of Best Thing I Have Ever Done, but then a challenger suddenly came out of nowhere and now a recount has been called. 

Fresh Meat with BRDG has been an amazing and completely unexpected experience. Long-time friend and BRDG team captain Steg O’Soar had been subtly, and then not-so-subtly, hinting that I should look into roller derby for a few months but I’d never seriously believed I’d actually do it. 

Fresh Meat line up at the very first session of our 10 week course (Pic Credit - Hazel Freear)

I was quite surprised when I actually pressed send on the “yep, I’ll do it” text when she told me that a new intake of skaters would be happening soon. I have no business joining a roller derby league: I  had never worn a pair of skates in my life let alone played a team sport. Somehow I didn’t think that  my experience of “fielding” (walking as far away from the actual game as possible with my pal Lucy and sitting down to chat on the grass) in rounders at school was going to help me much. I’d also not voluntarily exercised for a loooong time. All these factors might make you believe that I’d turn up to the first practice and totally suck…

And I did! My first sessions on skates I needed a minimum of one of the BRDG helpers just to help me stay upright and moving forward. If I was feeling especially bold, I’d raise my hands a few inches above their forearms for a few seconds, before slamming them back down. Apologies if anyone still has claw marks in their arms from this. 

I absolutely wasn’t a comfortable or natural skater and I’m still not. I can move around the track  unaided now and I’m slowly but surely picking up speed, but I still haven’t totally lost that sense of  nervousness from having 8 wheels strapped to my feet. The list of basic skating skills I’m terrible at is  pretty darn long, but so is the list of things I suck at less than when I first attempted them. And that  feels incredible. 

Demos from Blondage & Steg (Pic Credit - Hazel Freear)

I’m pretty sure I’m not the first person to discover that practising a skill you find insanely hard until you can do it is really satisfying, but I’m always surprised by how often I get that feeling in derby. In the immortal words of Jake the Dog from Adventure Time “Dude, suckin’ at something is the first step to being sorta good at something” 

And being bad at something you want to be good at is really hard. At best it’s challenging fun, like destroying your brother’s Sims family without him knowing it was definitely you, but at worst it’s utterly frustrating, like when you come home from a sleepover and the Sims family you’ve been  working on for months suddenly all hate each other and the house you built for them is covered in their own urine. 

Despite finding it hard work (physically as well as mentally) training has become the highlight of my week since I’ve started. Like an excited child counting down the days until Christmas, I’m usually thinking about how long it will be until I get to kit up and skate again. This isn’t just because I enjoy circling a track and making poorly timed and clunky attempts at crossovers, but also because I get to  spend two hours in the company of some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. 

I would never have been able to predict how brilliantly social a sport roller derby is. I’m struggling  to think of a single person I’ve come across during my time with BRDG that I’m not super excited to know. Doing something slightly better than you were last week? Chances are at least one person will  loudly announce to you how awesome you are, while you mumble something resembling “thanks”  just in case there’s actually someone with your name standing directly behind you, doing backflips on skates.

Fresh Meat's first ever pace line (Pic Credit - Hazel Freear)

I’m convinced the biggest reason I’ve found derby such ridiculous fun so far is because of the people I get to do it with. I do sometimes wonder how there can be such a large group of people who can be  as friendly, funny, smart and talented as the women and men I’ve met through BRDG. It just doesn’t  seem logical that something this good can exist in a world that has Mrs Brown’s Boys or BT Customer  Service call centres in it. 

I might have to spend another whole day in bed just to be sure, but at the moment I’m thinking that joining BRDG Fresh Meat might just be the best decision I’ve ever made.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Do You Remember The First Time? Bath Roller Derby Girls Vs. Devon Clotted Screamers!

A long overdue post to record our first ever closed door bout with the very lovely Devon Clotted Screamers! Having travelled to Barnstaple for some shared training and scrimming earlier in the year, we were really happy to have the chance to repay some of the Screamers' amazing hospitality and play them on home turf. On July 14th they braved the heatwave and M5 holiday traffic to join us at Withywood.

It was a fast-paced, fun few hours, with both teams sending out very eager rosters. It was clear how much work both teams had put in over the few months since we'd last played together, with a huge improvement in everyone's tactical game play especially noticeable. After a few scrappy first jams, both teams seemed to find their stride and level out, continuing to push each other and keep the pressure on until the final whistle(s). Lots of love to all who reffed and NSO'ed (lots of first timers!) - and special thanks to XiXi Stomp for sorting our line ups, and MatLovin for being our first ever Bench Coach (we promise to do some listening drills in the coming weeks!)

Lou Boot'in takes a corner (Pic Credit - David Payne)

Wheelia Smith comes up against a strong Screamer defence... (Pic Credit - David Payne)

Wheelia making it through with a little help from Hardcore Blondage, Steg O'Saur and Scarlet O'Harma (Pic Credit - David Payne)

Hadouken! (Pic Credit - David Payne)

After a super sweaty couple of hours, we de-padded, wrung out our hair and headed outside to cool off and decide on who to award our bout certificates to. We also gave out some special BRDG goodie bags to thank the Screamers for coming so far to play us; stickers, badges, chewing gum, popping candy and some neon sticking plasters, just in case ;)

Goodie Bags! (Pic Credit - Hell Cat)

Next up; group photo and certificates! Deciding on MVP, Best Blocker and Jammer was tough, but luckily we had some customised cupcakes as brain fuel... In the end awards went to;

MVP Bath - Foxy Hard Knox 
Best Blocker Bath - Hardcore Blondage
Best Jammer Bath - Kerri Kon Karnage

MVP Screamers - Rolls Moyse
Best Blocker Screamers - Whippety Split
Best Jammer Screamers - Becky Spaghetti

Pleasing team kit colours coordination! (Pic Credit - David Payne)

After the prize giving, both teams hoped into oven-like cars to drive all over Bristol looking for a picnic spot (which Hell Cat had been assured was very easy to find!) What felt like several hours later (waaah, sorry again guys!) we finally found Leigh Woods, where we proceeded to demolish indecent amounts of Jaffa Cakes. Perfect end to an awesome day.

Mythical picnic spot! (Pic Credit - Hell Cat)

Thanks again for coming to play us Screamers - we couldn't have lost our bouting cherry to nicer girls!  Looking forward to seeing you all again soon :)