Friday, December 31, 2010

Interesting and Original Derby Blogger: RollerWannabe - The Road to Rollergirl

One blogger I've been following for a while is TheRoadtoRollergirl.com, who you can also read quips from on twitter at @RollerWannabe. I'm not sure exactly where she's located, but I think it's somewhere in Texas. Her blog starts off earlier this year, when she declared to the blogosphere that she's ready to do what it takes to join a roller derby team.

Fast forward to June when she starts writing about her first fresh meat/training practices (the league she was skating with requires you to try out) and throughout the Summer she writes about little lessons she picks up along the way. Definitely worth reading if you are a current fresh meat, because she writes in a way that seems universal to all.  As the Fall rolls in, she starts writing about the upcoming tryout season.  I thought her reflection post on her Tryout Day was a particularly good read. Overall, she has a really great attitude and lots of awesome thoughts on derby.

Which leads me to the point of this post: a celebration of awesome and original content. She has two cute posts about the types of skates we used as kids - the Fisherprice 1-2-3s (I definitely had a couple pairs of these!) and a salute to those Brownie skates you rent at any standard roller rink (fade to memories of Guptill's skating. I could only last like 20 minutes with these babies before my feet hurt like hell.)

Her most recent post, Twas the Night Before Christmas, Derby Style, takes them all. She took the whole classic poem and derbified it. Here's a short excerpt, which describes the one and only Dumptruck as St. Nick:

A bag full of skates he had flung on his back,
And wheels filled his golden lamé fanny pack.

His nip-rings -- they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks half-exposed, his back kind of hairy!

His muttonchops framing the grin that he flashed,
No beard on his chin, but a Hetfield moustache;

I smiled ‘cause I couldn’t help notice the way,
His voice sounded just like a strip club DJ
;

and then at the end:

With his fingers he gave me the sign of the goat,
crushed the can with his head, laughter roared from his throat;

He sprang to the bus, to his team gave a shout,
And they swiftly returned, climbed aboard, and peaced out.

But I heard him exclaim, as he guided the pack,
"Happy Christmas to all -- see you out on the track."

Three cheers for her amazing poem and for her blog in general! Make sure you check out the whole poem - it's hilarious and awesome!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Book Review: Going in Circles

I want to preface this by saying I wrote this review back in September, and have been waiting for the write time to post it. I figure now is the time, since Oprah.com ran an article by the author, Pamela Ribon, back and June - which has just popped back up in some of my derby circles..

What's interesting is that I did't 100% love this book (read my thoughts below), but I completely loved her article on Oprah's website. The book is not primarily about roller derby, and I had a lot of trouble relating to it. On the other hand, her Oprah article is well written and, in my opinion, completely universal in the roller derby world - which makes me feel a little bit better about not 100% loving something having to do with roller derby.

Definitely read the article... and maybe check out the book too.

***

google images
On the recommendation of a fellow derby girl, I checked Going in Circles, by Pamela Ribon, out of my local library and snuggled up with a book for the first time in a while.

I haven't written a book review in a long time (middle school?) so forgive me if I do it wrong.  I won't give away the ending at least.

This book is not about roller derby... primarily.  In fact, the first third of this 300 page book doesn't mention it at all.  This book is about a woman in her 30s going through a divorce.  And frankly, I found the first part depressing.  I know divorce is a fact of life, and that's probably the point of the book, but when I was expecting to read about derby, it kind of threw me off.

So fast forward to the good stuff.  The chapter in which the main character, Charlotte, is first introduced to the sport is actually my favorite part of the book.  She's invited to an "event" at a warehouse by her new, yet quirky, friend from work, and when she arrives has no idea what she is witnessing.  An excerpt:

A group of women peel off and stomp to the track together.  Two other women wait a few feet behind them.  A whistle blows, and the women in front all start skating.  That's the word for what they're doing, but it doesn't describe what's happening.  It's more like an attack, like an army on the move.

The whole chapter perfectly describes the experience of roller derby to the uninitiated.  To the confusion/horror of the knocking around, to the grateful observation of the pads and other safety gear.

Charlotte ultimately joins the team and earns the nickname Hard Broken.  The story takes place in Las Angelos with a banked track team.  Nevertheless, her endeavors from learning to skate, to making friends on the team, to dealing with life outside of derby, are things every derby gal can relate to.  And there are some pretty funny scenes.  Her interactions with her wannabe derby wife, Francesca, are constantly heartfelt and/or jocular.

What's difficult about getting through the book is Charlotte's constant struggle over her divorce.  Throughout the story, via Charlotte's odd mental flashbacks, the reader learns more about her not-so-perfect-afterall with her lame almost ex-husband.  These asides are often just stressful to read through, because Charlotte is so distraught over it all.

But luckily she has roller derby, and luckily this book plays that up a bit more in the end so all the excited derby girls (the intended audience?) can finish the book satisfied.

Interested?  Check your local library or read more about it on Amazon.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Roller Derby Secret Snowman

Tasty pizza from Play by Play.
Yum.
On Thursday night before practice some Hellions met at Play by Play (the bar where we have our after bout parties). We has some pizza and salad (carbs for energy before practice!) and enjoyed each other's company. I also had a mint chocolate Bailey's on the rocks (with a candy cane, haha!) I couldn't indulge too much because I had to skate in a couple hours. I was happy that Shrimp Scampi was there because I haven't seen her in a while! Anne the Bonny Basher, one of our skaters who moved away this summer was also able to make it, and she stayed for practice.  Hooray!  Except that Anne hits like a truck and I am scared of her.

About 16 people participated in our Secret Snowman (same thing as a Secret Santa gift exchange).

Here are some of the neat things people received:

Mathundra Storm got a book for writing down song ideas.
Did you know Storm is an accomplished musician?

Cool derby gift: Polar Derby!
Polar Derby! According to the description: the game is a rolling polar bear jam. Roll the colred dice to collect high scoring polar bears from the rink. Roll doubles to trip up opponents or "Free Skate" to take your pick of the pack. But press your luck too far and you may wind up flat on your face. The player with the most points skates away with the victory.


Derby style tights, X-men headphones, and a Zombie Christmas book. Derby
girls can be geeky sometimes.  Ok, a lot of times.
I got custom derby booty shorts from Ursula Udders! Awesome!!
They were made by Hot Across Buns on etsy.
Hot Across Buns is currently offering 20% off coupon with code HOT20

And lastly, I got my secret snowman, Snausage, a custom My Monster Hat Scarf (in Hellions colors!) made by the talented Anne Persand. I also ordered myself a matching scarf :)  Snausage, as you may recall, recently wrote a guest post on about Hellions practices.
Me and Snausge in our sweet Monster Scarves
Other people got various derby gifts such as socks and tights. A few items (the booty shorts, socks, and Monster scarves also appear on my roller derby fashion post, if you wanna read more about them.

Thanks again to Ursula for coordinating our little get together.  After our party, we headed over to practice (conveniently about 0.3 miles away). As if we hadn't induldged enough at the party, Ursula also brought these crazy colored cupcakes. Look at the blue! Of course, Ursula got a cupcake recipe book as she seems to be our resident baker of tasty and unique treats.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Injuries and Regrets and Envy at a Tough Work Out

Guest post by Hellions freshmeat, Snausage

It's really hard to be injured when you've just discovered a sport that you love and really want to master. It's even harder to be injured when you so how much fun everyone is having during practice.

Last week the Hellions had a brutal endurance practice, and I wanted so badly to join them. It started out with the always fun, 40 in 10 (40 laps in 10 minutes). I re-injured myself a week ago during 40 in 10, so I know how hard it is. After four minutes, I spotted a certain Miss Short Temper attempting to call off this endurance work out as if she were lead jammer! Most of my fellow meat made a spectacular showing of it, getting over 40 laps in the time allotted. Good job girls!

Wall squats
The next part of the work out was a core work out drill. It started out with three sets of thirty second squats. I sat this one out as my Doctor has forbidden me from doing squats. The second part was three sets of thirty second bicycles (a type of 'crunch'), 'superman' (lie on your belly with your arms and legs raised off the ground and hold), and planks. I did participate in this workout and am grateful that I have much more core strength than I used to. There was much groaning and grumbling from the assembled players and referees, but you know they loved it.

Bicyles - a type of sit up.
Afterwards there were pack formation workouts. This I also sat out, but watched with great interest and much envy. Players were split up into groups of four and given a number. They were then to skate together and change position when it was called out, for example, two in the front, two in the back. There were 'whips' being given, to help players get into position more quickly. It was great to see the cooperation between seasoned vets and fresh meat (new members of the league).

The second pack drill was to block the jammer. Teams of four went out with a jammer following behind. I must admit I got a bit nervous when I saw one of our newest members going up against Miss Flexi Wheeler, who was jamming, but she held her own against a truly great player. It made me want to go out there and try it myself! Teams went out, many people fell, and a great and educational time was had by all. Here's a video of two teams of four out on the track, with a jammer trying to sneak her way through.

video
And then came the hitting. Players went out in groups of two and three to throw hits at each other, shoulder hits and hip hits. And while all of this was happening, the referees were out practicing their own skills. Even at practice, they are not shy about calling illegal elbows or back blocking.  All in all, an enjoyable practice to watch, but much more enjoyable to participate in as I saw on Facebook by all of the postings about being 'sore, but happy'. Hopefully I will heal soon and be able to return to my skates, until then this is Snausage, signing off.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fun Friday: Tap Dancing on Roller Skates

Check out this video Mr. T showed me of Gene Kelly tap dancing on roller skates. It's a scene from the movie It's Always Fair Weather (1955).


There's a lot I can do on my toe stops. Jammer start, jump around, run backwards, jumprope. I think I have new challenge! Actually, it looks like Gene Kelly is doing a lot of figure skating moves, which sort of makes we want to take artistic skating lessons.

At first I was skeptical that this might not be real. I mean - I don't mean to doubt Gene Kelly, but I feel like it could be staged or dubbed over.  I looked up the movie on IMDB and one of the commenters makes a good case for why this probably is real:
You notice how sparsely Gene Kelly's finest numbers are shot? Long takes,little in the way of cinematic flair? Well,ponder this for a moment-he will often do something truly spectacular at the end of a take,leading one to wonder just how many times the poor chap put himself through the preceding minutes before getting it right...

A case in point is the justly famed (among those in the know) "Rollerskate Number":In order to demonstrate that the skates are,indeed,authentic,Kelly will swap-flawlessly-from "tap" to "glide" at the end of each take.

Pretty talented, I'd say. I've never watched any of his movies, but just the dancing and singing alone makes me want to.  Happy Friday everyone - hope you enjoyed this little number!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2011 Winter - Spring Season

Wondering about the next time you can check out some Hellions action? See you in January!



We've got a fun season coming up. Hopefully debuting some new girls in our home bouts, and taking on some challenging teams away. One bout I'm excited for: Green Mountain Derby Dames up in Vermont. Skiing anyone? Happy we're taking on WFTDA leagues - I love learning more and more about the organization when we get to play teams who are members. Still got my eye on the prize for the Hellions - one day!

All home games take place at Rollarama in Schenectady. Hope you're able to make it out to a bout (or three!) this season!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fun Roller Derby Stuff on Etsy

Keep Calm and Derby On by PosterPop
Periodically I like to skim etsy.com for for derby stuff. Here are a couple things I recently came across that I really like.

Keep Calm and Derby On Poster by PosterPop. $15.00
This shop actually has a variety of "Keep Calm..." posters. This poster is available in many different colors - so you can stylize to match your team!

Being part of a roller derby league can be a hectic but fun time. I think it's always important to keep this phrase in mind.

Custom Name Patch by lizmiera. $3.50
I collect patches so I think this is pretty awesome. This seller also has a variety of interesting designs, plus other styles of name patches, including one in tattoo style writing.

Custom patch by lizmiera
Put this patch on your:

-Gear/grm bags
-Backpack
-tote bags
-scrimmage shirt
-sweat shirt
-jacket



Important note: if you click on a link for an item and it is sold out, make sure to check the seller's shop for a new listing. You will probably still be able to get it!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Slay Belles Photos on Nippertown.com

Nippertown.com posted some pictures from our Slay Belles - Naughty vs. Nice bout on their website, which were taken by Bill Dhalle.

Take a look: http://www.nippertown.com/2010/12/06/live-the-hellions-of-troy-rollarama-12410

Journey from Fresh Meat to Graduated Skater - Part 2

Check out Part 1 of Valerie Valkyrie's story here.

The continuing story from guest writer Valerie Valkyrie regarding her past 5 1/2 months with the Hellions. She's been with us all summer and has been an incredible asset to the league in terms of craftiness, willingness to participate in league events, and general friendlyness. Meet Valerie Valkyrie!

Guest post by Valerie Valkyrie

Valerie Valkyrie
When that fateful Sunday arrived, we hit the track with gusto and labored through our drills, pushing ourselves and trying not to focus on our mistakes. At the end of the night I was pleased with my performance but still unsure if I would pass. I knew where I may not have met the minimum requirements and where I didn't meet my personal standards. I drove home with a knot in the pit of my stomach and my fingers crossed.

Waiting the 24 hours to hear the results was less painful than I expected it to be. My day was full with school assignments and I didn't have much time to dwell on the test, although any free moments found my mind wandering to my t-stops, hits and whips. The second I got out of my evening class I raced to my car and may have driven a little too fast to Schenectady. I was miserable knowing that missing the first 20 minutes of practice meant likely missing the graduation announcements - maybe I should've skipped class that night. As I walked into the rink, Flexi smiled at me and extended her congratulations. I grinned and jumped and squealed. And then I got down to business putting on my gear to join the big girls on the big track because as exciting as passing minimums and graduating was, it simply means that I am in for even more work.

My first night as a graduated skater was an extended 3-hour practice and since I arrived late I knew I needed to stay for the whole thing. It was exhilarating and exhausting and I was sore afterward and I can look forward to that for the rest of my derby career. I spent so much time focusing on meeting those minimum skills and on passing the test and I hardly gave any thought to what would happen after that. I knew in my the back of my head that the hard work and training continues but it wasn't something that really registered until I hit the track. I realized that even though I can perform all the necessary skills, I now need to put all of that together in the midst of chaos. I'm back to being a beginner and I so look forward to developing a new set of skills.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Win a Copy of Roller Derby Workout from Lucyindasky


Local derby blogger Lucyindasky is giving away a copy of Roller Derby Workout. I keep hearing great stuff about this DVD! It'd be great for even non derby people I bet. Also, if you win, you can participate in in the 2011 Roller Derby Workout Challenge on facebook!

Enter the contest here: http://www.lucyindaskywithdiamonds.com/2010/12/ho-ho-ho-its-giveaway.html
and check out the rest of her blog. Support local derby!

The contest winner will selected on Wednesday December 15 - so get on it!

Journey from Fresh Meat to Graduated Skater - Part 1

Sparkly HoT sign made by Valerie Valkerie
Check out thoughts from guest writer Valerie Valkyrie regarding her past 5 1/2 months with the Hellions. She's been with us all summer and has been an incredible asset to the league in terms of craftiness, willingness to participate in league events, and general friendlyness. Meet Valerie Valkyrie!

Guest post by Valerie Valkyrie

This is a long time coming.

I promised Short I would write a few different blog posts for her - one about my new skates and another about my love for hitting. But life took over and inspiration walked out on me and I never got them done. So I'm taking this time, so close to my recent graduation, to pour out my thoughts while they're still fresh and new.

I showed up at my first Hellions of Troy practice about 5 1/2 months ago. The first weeks were exciting but exhausting. I had also started a brand new on-my-feet-all-day retail job and I was constantly sore. My legs and feet were always aching, begging for a break. But I powered through it because something about roller derby caught my heart.

Brand new pair of roller skates!
Due to a lack of protective gear and then a nasty virus I missed almost a month of practices, upon my return the meat class was preparing for a minimums test and I was not ready. I tried it anyway, failing about half of the requirements and watched my compatriots graduate and take their derby names and kick ass on the track.

A few weeks later we held a recruitment night and brought in a few handfuls of new fresh meat and I went back to basics with them. After I had put in three full months of hard work, I felt ready to take minimums again and began pestering the coaches to run them - I can only imagine how annoying I must've been but I'm admittedly very impatient and I wanted to go, go, go! I understood, though, that they would be running a big test for just a few of us considering most of the newer meat wasn't really ready yet. So I waited and practiced and waited and practiced. And did wall squats and planks and ran drills and practiced falling and learned to place hits. And every time I started getting frustrated and maybe just a little bit bored, I was treated to a practice with the vets. Getting a taste of pack work and hitting and blocking drills was just the motivation I needed to continue working my ass off and wait (albeit impatiently) for minimums.

For the last month I wasn't the only one chomping at the bit - the women who joined during that recruitment night in late July were more than ready for a chance to prove their skills. It was announced that testing would be coming up in November and many of us spent those weeks alternating worry with excitement.
Would we pass?
What skills should we focus on?
Who could we snag to help us develop that lacking technique?
What fancy hot pants will give me the best range of motion while still making me look cute?


Stay tuned for Part 2 of Valerie's saga tomorrow!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How to Add Your Derby Wife to Your Facebook Profile

Adapted from here, from Michi-chan of derbydata.com.

Love it or hate it, the new Facebook profile setup has something interesting to offer. While Facebook automatically generates your friends list to display on your profile, and you've been able to list your relatives on your FB, you can now also add a custom list. Below is a guide on how to add your Derby Wife to your profile.

If you have not converted to the new Facebook profile page, do that first (warning - pretty sure you can't revert back to the old style profile once you revert. But we're all used to that by now, aren't we?)
Steps 1 and 2
http://www.facebook.com/about/profile/

1. Go to your personal profile page.

2. Click on the "Edit Profile" button on the upper right.

3. When the new screen appears, click on the "Relationships" link on the left side.
Step 3
Steps 4 and 5
4. Scroll down to where it says "Featured Relationships".

5. Click on "Create new List".

6. A pop-up box will appear. Make your list name "Derby Wife" and select your lucky derby wife from your list of friends.

7. Click "Create List".

8. A new section called "Derby Wife" will appear on the profile editor.

9. Your derby wife will now appear on your profile page in the same area on the left side where your relationship and your family appears.

As you can see, I used my boyfriend as an example. I don't have a derby wife (and am currently happily single in this arena, so don't worry). After I did this example, I checked his profile and this custom relationship did not appear on his profile as well. I'm sure this is to prevent some sort of abuse of the system, but make sure you let your derby wife how to add you to her profile as well if you want!

Don't have a derby wife? You can use this tutorial for any relationship you want: your closest team mates; blogging friends ("blends" as THS calls them); pets that have facebook profiles... whatever you like! You are allowed to list more than one person your custom relationship - so girls with multiple derby wives, this is for you!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Improving my Jamming

In our December 4 bout, Slay Belles - Naughty vs Nice, I was put out to jam more times that I ever have been before. Six in total. I feel a lot more comfortable jamming since my first time jamming, but I know I've got a way to go. But looking at the statistics from the bout, I am pretty proud of myself!
Photo by Kimberly Vockel.
Here are my jammer stats from the last bout:

Total jams: 17 out of 35 total
   Jammer: 6 of 17

I was able to earn lead jammer 3 out of 6 times. In the times that I didn't earn lead jammer, I did not score any points (the jam was called off by the other jammer before I could make a scoring pass).
In the other three james, I scored 3, 5, and 3 points, for 11 points total.  Other jammers on my team scored 12-14 points each, with Kitty being our top scorer with 26 points :)

The final score was 63 Nice - 115 Naughty.

Point scoring aside, I think I've also improved on my technique as a jammer. One thing I struggled with was once and made my initial pass and rounded around to the back of the pack, I would slow down as if I think I could more easily maneuver around them (especially if there were one or two blockers hanging back waiting for me). This has never worked out for me.


In reality, what a jammer should do, and what I worked on in the last bout, is not give up any speed once she reaches the back of the pack. It's much harder to hit a faster, moving target. Quick reaction time and agility is very important - the second you see a way through, you have to leap (sometimes literally) at the chance.

With these thoughts in mind, I was able to break through a couple times. Believe me, it's hard when you've raced your heart out around the track, only to find Flexi Wheeler (she played on the Naughty team, I was on Nice) waiting for you. Tell yourself: don't be scared, you can do it. Then race up, juke around, and look for your next opportunity to leap.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Deep Derby Discount

Hey local derby girls and boys!

If you bring your USARS card or wear your team jersey to our bout on Saturday, you can get in for the reduced price of just $5! Tell the girls working at the door Short Temper sent you. I hope to see you there!

What I've Been Doing While I Haven't Been Blogging

Heyo! I am back. I'm gonna tell you about what I've been up to the past two weeks.

N(Sm)ashville
Last week I was in Nashville for turkey festivities and mini November vacation. You can read about my insane open skate experience here. While in Nashville, we also saw an NHL hockey game - the Nashville Predators vs. the New York Rangers!! The only hockey I've ever seen was the Albany River Rats, haha. This was fun to watch because all the skaters are so awesome! You would think that knowing how to roller skate would translate well into ice skating ability. Well, it does not for for me. I stink at ice skating. But these hockey players were awesome skaters. Backwards skating on ice like 23424 miles per hour!
The New York Rangers won the game 3 - 2 in overtime.  OH YEAH.

I did try to look up the Nashville Rollergirls, but it didn't look like they had anything going on last weekend.

Prepping for the bout this Saturday
Our next bout is coming right up! Did you enter to win free tickets from Nippertown and All Over Albany? Also, there's going to be a coupon in the Schenectady Gazette on Saturday for $2 off the price of an adult admission at the door. ;)

The theme of our bout on Saturday is Naughty vs. Nice. I'm on the Nice team. :) Tonight at practice I caught up on what I missed while I was away. It felt awesome to be back on my own skates.

Entering this contest
Win Roller Derby Workout exercise DVD from local blogger and derby girl, Lucy in Da Sky. Leave a comment on her blog for a chance to win the DVD. No skates required and your legs will never be the same. This workout DVD looks like it would even be good for non-derby people.

Friday
I think I am going to see Cold Spring at EMPAC. I have no idea what it's about, but there's gonna be some derby girls in it -- on SKATES -- so why not?