Tag Archives: skills

Min Skills Update

So as per usual, shit got real busy and my poor blog got neglected. I’ve had an extremely busy semester, as I was teaching two demanding tutorials, coauthoring a paper, as well as trying to make progress on my thesis. I’m hoping that this semester things will settle down a bit, and I will be able to a) put more focus on my thesis and b) spend more time blogging.

As I noted in my last post, my minimum skills test happened in December. The 18th, to be precise. It was, honestly, the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire like physically, mentally, and emotionally. We started with 20 in 5 (we skate on an unfathomably sticky floor….seriously, ya’ll have no idea. If you don’t actively push then you just don’t go ANYWHERE, so we test for 20 in 5). I managed to make it, but I was SO EXHAUSTED afterwards. Unfortunately, our testers gave us very little break, and we were set to test stops and falls.

Unfortunately, this is where it went all down hill for me. My legs were shaking, I couldn’t breathe and I felt dizzy. I could barely stand, nevermind stop or fall and get up again. I suspect a lot of it was nerves contributing to my bodies response, but I bombed that section of the test. It was like I had never been on skates before. To make matters worse, our test was designed so that we basically never stopped skating. We were always skating around the track, so there was no break. Finally, after my second 180 knee fall, I just couldn’t get up. I simply stayed on the ground. My tester, who is a completely awesome and understanding woman, told me to take my time, take a breath, and start when I was ready. So I did, but it still didn’t go very well. After we finished stops and falls, we took a short water break. I sat down to rest and started to get really upset.

All of a sudden, I was crying and a panic attack set in. I couldn’t breathe. I called out for help, but could barely make a sound. When I finally managed to get someones attention, everyone came over and tried to help me calm down. I was shaking, and crying and feeling more and more embarrassed. When I had calmed down a bit and had some water, we went on with the rest of the test which I thought went quite a bit better. Like I mentioned earlier, we were constantly skating, so both myself and the other girl who was being tested got extremely tired, which I think led to a bit of sloppiness.

For testing our whips and hits, they made us receive the whip or give the hit, and then race around the track to catch up and deliver the next hit. I felt like this put us at a serious disadvantage, but I really tried to focus on doing the best whips and hits that I could.

At the end of the test, we had the opportunity to retest some of the things we hadn’t done so well on. At that point in time, I was feeling much better and so I essentially retested all the stops and falls, and nailed most of them (with the exception of right knee 180 falls…I always fall on my left knee, and so I TOTALLY screwed those up).

I am also happy to report that I nailed all of my jumps. My tester, who had been working with me on them for the previous 6 weeks, actually let out a big “yes!” when I landed my first one. It was probably my proudest moment of the test.

Unfortunately, I do not yet have the ‘results’ of the test. Our testers met with the rest of the coaching committee to discuss what they had assessed, and then it was holiday break. So I will be finding out on Friday evening if I am able to move up to the vet practices or not. Without trying to be too negative, I am prepared to hear that I am not ready, since I struggled so much. I also HAPPENED to overhear my tester say to one of the coaches “She has a lot to work on.”

I’m trying to take it in stride, and I won’t know for sure until Friday, but I am just working to remind myself that I have come SO FAR in the past year, from a girl who didn’t even have the strength to get up from a fall to one who managed to survive the skills test (with a few bumps in the road). If I’m not accepted to the vet practices, its likely that I will be upset, and probably even cry, but it won’t be the end of the world. And I will still love derby. And it will be one more story to include when I finally ‘make it’ that I can tell to all the other fat girls who feel like they are struggling.

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A Celebratory Post!

So now that I am back to derby regularly again, its time for some good news! I will be doing my minimum skills test at the end of the month. This came about because of the first time ever, I passed my 25 in 5! I just about passed out, but I did it. It was probably one of my proudest roller derby moments.

Once I learned we would be skills testing, I got a bit worried because I still havent mastered jumping. Its this big huge thing that I am super paranoid about. So veteran skater took me out last practice and we worked on jumping, and guess what! I can jump! Its not consistent, but I am capable of doing it.

It’s been a long, hard road, but I’m finally getting there!


Dealing with Anxiety

For me, one of the biggest challenges of roller derby is letting go of a lot of anxiety. I spend a LOT of time worrying about what people are thinking of me, or if I am going to make a fool of myself. This anxiety has prevented me from doing many things. In fact, prior to derby, I had never stuck out an activity for more than a few months because the anxiety always ended up discouraging me from doing anything.

I am proud of myself for sticking with derby for this long, and I credit the positive influences of derby for helping to keep me on track, but my anxiety has had a major impact on my ability to progress. I often don’t give 100% effort, or push beyond my comfort zone because I am afraid of looking silly. Despite paying for two practices a week for the past 9 months (one is a Freshie practice and one is a league practice), I only went to my first league practice yesterday. Fear of being the slowest, the worst, having everyone’s attention on me and thinking terrible things about me prevented me from going before.

And you know what? Going to that practice was the best decision I’ve made.

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Off Skate Training

Following up on my last post about weight loss and derby, I want to emphatically state that roller derby is an intense work out that requires a significant degree of athleticism and fitness. This is true not only of the top tier teams, but of my own recreational league as well. Although a large part of this athleticism is about skating skills, it is extremely important not to to overlook off skate training.

Thankfully, my league puts a significant emphasis on off skate training, and about 1/3 of each practice is dedicated to it. The things we do in training varies so we work a number of different muscle groups, and are often influenced by on skate skills our coaches think we need to work on (ex, footwork, getting lower, whips).

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Derby and Weight Loss

Today I want to talk about something that gets brought up a lot, especially when fat women are involved in the discussion. That is the relationship between roller derby and weight loss.

Often, when larger girls are unsure of joining up or have hesitations about their abilities due to size a common response is talk about how derby will get you in better shape and help you lose weight. While it is certainly true that roller derby will get you in better shape, that is practically a guarantee if you understand ‘better shape’ to include increased strength, more flexibility and better endurance. There is, however, no guarantee that roller derby comes with weight loss.

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Adventures in outdoor skating!

So today I went out for my first honest to goodness outdoor skate. I have had outdoor wheels since May, but my first short venture out into a nearby parking lot had scared me seriously.

So today I decided that I was gonna go out and give it another go. When it cooled down this evening, I packed up my stuff (yes, I wore all my protective gear), and headed to a nearby tennis court. That worked out well, until the park I was in was over run with kids. I wasn’t feeling confident enough to dodge running children, so I took my skates back off and headed up to an empty government parking lot.

There, I was met with some crappy pavement, but I did some investigating and found a newly paved parking lot towards the rear of the building. I headed off that way, did some laps focusing on technique (derby stance, really pushing with both legs, sticky skating), and generally got used to the feeling of skating outside. Its bumpy. You feel every little thing, even with my Radar Pure outdoor wheels.

Overall I think I skated actively for thirty minutes or so. I didn’t fall down at all, although one non confident attempt at a bracket stop nearly had my flat on my butt. Now that I know the joys of outdoor skating, I will be looking forward to doing it more often. Maybe once I am more confident in parking lots I will give the bike trails a try!


Minimum Skills, the heart-breaking bane of my existence (Or, How I learned to put things into perspective…)

So I started roller derby on November 14th, 2010. Almost exactly 8 months later, on July 9th, the girls from my fresh meat ‘class’ were set to take our minimum skills. Now, there was a lot of us who started out in November, but our numbers had dropped significantly, which probably only 6 or 7 of us regularly attending the Freshie practices each week. For the few months leading up to minimum skills, I was absolutely dreading them. I was not ready, I was always in pain, my skills were not at the level of the other girls in my class. I was freaking out. I did not want to be the only girl who didn’t make it through.

In the weeks before minimum skills testing, I spoke with our head coach. I was hemming and hawing about whether or not I should do them. Down the wire, the week we were set to test, I had to make a decision. I took 30 seconds to run through the pros and cons, was over taken with a sense of confidence and opened my mouth to say “Yes! Lets do it! I am a badass roller derby player with mad skillz!” Before those words could actually leave my mouth though, my coach announced “I think you should wait until the fall.”

I felt like I had been kicked in the gut.

I nodded okay, and said I understood completely. That I was fine with it. That it didn’t matter. That I agreed with her. But inside, I was devastated. On the way home I called my partner, and cried. Then I called my mom, and cried. Then I got home and talked to the cat, and cried. I felt judged. Was I really that bad? My partner told me that it just meant I needed to really commit myself to working harder. I got angry. I was working hard! I worked my butt off every practice! Kindly, my partner pointed out that yes, I worked hard at the practices. But I only went to one practice a week. I never skated outdoors despite buying outdoor wheels. I never worked on conditioning outside of practice, even though I said I would.

All of these things are true. Does it mean I don’t work hard? That I am not committed to derby? Absolutely not. I have just mistakenly believed that eventually derby would be easy for me.

Derby is not easy for me.

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