Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I broke my truck

Well, one of the trucks of my skate. During practice. I thought I was doomed to skate in rentals for the next couple weeks, but then Massacre happened to have an extra truck. Tossing it at me, he said, undo the bolt, take off the truck, and put the new one on the same way.


Check out this diagram of a skate that I found at quadskating.com.  Lets just say that 24 hours ago, I did not know anything about parts 2 - 6.  Not many numbers, but really - look at all those parts!

After removing the broken truck (simply taking a skate took to bolt #2) it was actually very easy to switch it out.

Why did my truck break? I suspect because it's been over two years since I got my skates, and apparently trucks matched for this plate are notorious for breaking.  Anyway - no matter really...because I'm in the process of ordering new skates!  But that's another blog for another day.

Lesson: don't fear your skates! Don't be afraid to take them apart if something is wrong.  I even waited over a year before changing my wheels for the first time... sheesh! No worries.  As Miranda Wrights says: Roller skates, the friends beneath your feet.

Happy skating!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hello Denver

Packing last minute.
This isn't a total derby update, just a little post about my first day in Denver, the day before the 2011 WFTDA Championship Tournament started.

The second weekend in November I attended the 2011 WFTDA Championships in Denver, CO.  Even though I got my tickets to Championships back in August, this was kind of a fly by the seat of my pants trip. I wasn't 100% sure I was going to get my time off from work approved, so I put off buying plane tickets as long as possible. I thought I might not get to go period.

I also wasn't sure where I was going to stay.  Everything came together barely three weeks before the tournament - it turned out Jonny Malice of Capital District Trauma Authority was moving out to Denver November 1 -- taking the "long" way there but arriving just days before Championships, so he invited me to stay with him for the weekend.  Putting that one thing in place ended up being a catalyst, because two days later my time off from work was approved and by the end of the weekend I had my plane tickets booked.

So fast forward.  I flew out Thursday morning. It was my first time flying solo but I did a good job catching all my flights and finding the right gates.  I love looking out airplane windows. I always try to look for baseball fields. Here's a shot of Colorado at the beginning of our descent into Denver. No baseball diamonds, but lots of squares.

Malice picked me up from the airport and we grabbed some lunch with his dad who, who made the road trip out with him (he flew back to Albany on Friday morning). It was really important to me to get to Denver a day before the tournament started because I knew I wanted to see at least a little of the city and they surrounding area.

Luckily, we found the perfect place to check out that afternoon: Red Rocks Amphitheater and Park. The Amphitheater is amazing. There were a lot of people exercising on the stairs, and we saw some other derby people checking it out, too. I heard Gotham flew out to Denver a week early - I wonder if they did any training there? It also reminded me of Roarshock, who is also praising plyometrics.

The Amphitheater is build right into the mountain. We were there at sunset and it was so beautiful. There was a hiking trail (a little over 1 mile) so we checked that out, too. Here's some pictures:

This is at the top of the amphitheater. That's Denver in the distance.
My scarf blowing in the wind haha.

Red Rocks!
On the trail.
After the hike we headed to Boulder to have dinner and take a walk around. Boulder reminds me of Burlington, VT. At the bar where we had dinner there was football games on every TV - not just NFL but also college.  It appears Boulder is kind of a big college football area. We also saw a quick segment about Championships on the TV?? I think it was a news interview. Exciting!!

The weather all weekend was perfect. It was 60 degrees and sunny every day.

So that concludes my first day in Denver. I do plan to write more about my trip - and of course the tournament - so tune in for that. I am so happy that I was able to go after all!

Friday, November 4, 2011

MRDA Champs

If you are keeping track at home, you will notice that I traveled to Baltimore three times in the span of a month (August into September) and in October I found myself rolling down 87 thrice for adventures in NYC/Long Island - the Gotham Boot Camp, CDTA vs NYSE, and on October 22 - Men's Roller Derby Association (MRDA) Championships. The event took place at Skate Safe America (also LIRR's venue) and was hosted by the New York Shock Exchange.
New York Shock Exchange

My second post ever on this blog was about men's roller derby. Since then I've come to appreciate it more and more. I definitely see some differences between the way men and women play, but I like watching both.

MRDA Champs featured six teams from around the United States:
Dallas Deception (Texas)
Magic City (somewhere in Florida)
St. Louis Gatekeeper (Missouri)
Puget Sound (Seattle area)
Pioneer Valley (Western Mass)
New York Shock Exchange.

woohoo, PVRD!
PVRD is my favorite MRDA team. Ever since I saw them last year, I've been all about the mustaches.  I also love the Shock Exchange, cause hell yeah New York! Plus they're all super awesome. Side note: CDTA is obviously my favorite not-yet-MRDA team.

The other four leagues I didn't know much about.  Dallas?  Texas has roller derby, that's cool.  St. Louis? The guys with beards. Also, where the heck is St. Louis? Puget Sound = Quadzilla.  Magic City? wow... those are some ridiculous names on that roster.

So that's what I was working with going into the tournament.

It was a solid event of all-day derby - there were 8 full length men's bout, plus one women's bout in the middle to break things up.  I hung out mostly with the dudes from CDTA and there was also a bunch of people from the Utica Quadfathers there and Central New York players there.
Capital District Trauma Authority
Roarshock, Jonny Malice, Massacre, Wellen Dowd, and Museknuckle
Being the top two ranked teams, St. Louis and NYSE had a first round by. NYSE ended up playing Magic City in the first game, and the score was a lot closer than I expected.

Grambo from CNY volunteering at
Magic City is ridiculous.  I mean that in a mostly good way, although at first I was not sure how I felt about them. Rumor had it that most of their skaters have a background in jam skating. They definitely had some fancy footwork. Overall, NYSE played a tighter game strategy-wise and were able to take the win. Check out the Derby News Network recap here. There's a comment which is a bit critical of NYSE's strategy that won them the game, but heck - that is the way derby is played these days. It's just playing smart based on the rules of the game.  Anyway, the first picture on that article where Magic City (green) is facing reverse direction pretty much sums up the whole game.  It was an exciting game to watch.

PVRD had a tough first game against Puget Sound, who are a powerhouse in the west. After losing to them, they played Dallas Deception, which was a little bit closer.

The best game of the day, in my opinion, was Magic City vs. St. Louis. Two teams I knew little about going into it, but I think this bout exemplified some of the best men's derby has to offer. The two teams were very well matched game and I decided I just really like to watch Magic City skate.
If you watch any videos of the bouts from MRDA Champs, I definitely recommend Magic City vs St. Louis.

These are just my basic impressions from Champs.  If you want some real stats based, unbiased recaps you should check out DNN here, here, here, here, and here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I attended a Gotham Girls Boot Camp and lived to tell the tale

Another goal I had for 2011 was #4. Attend at least one bootcamp hosted by another league. On October 1, I got my chance! I attended a Gotham Girls Game Strategy Camp and got to skate my tail off for 5 hours, plus a lunch break in the interesting area surrounding their warehouse.  So much sweet graffiti. NYC <3. Roarshock, Eloda, and Doc attended off skates and took notes.

The boot camp started off with some off-skates jogging, jumping, and skipping around the track.  I saw Gotham do this as part of their warm up at Eastern Regionals. Then we did some dynamic stretching, which felt really good! I felt so warmed up and ready to move. (Two days later would be a different story, when I was pretty much unable to move.)

It was a good mix of skating and talking about strategy. I learned some interesting stuff about how to work in a better wall, the importance of being able to stop quickly, and I even had an "aha!" moment when doing a jammer drill.  I also kinda figured out how to almost do a hockey stop.

It was kinda awkward for me at first being the player who brought three coaches with her to the clinic, but in the end I was really glad. Some girls there were the only representatives from their league, so during strategy talks they were also fussing to take good notes. My advice to anyone attending a boot camp: bring an off skates person to take notes for you! The other thing that was bad at first was when I was working on a drill that I wasn't doing it right, I occasionally heard hey Short, you need to get down wayyyy lower!  Ahh, all eyes on Short Temper >:(  But then when I was practicing hockey stops and sometimes even getting them right I wanted to be like Roarshock, Roarshock, did you see what I did, DID YOU SEE???

Another one of our coaches, Hanna Solo, attended the jammer bootcamp a couple weeks ago. Between her and the rest of our coaching staff we've already done a bunch of new drills, and I think offskates warmups are going to become a regular part of Thursday practice. I am starting to recover quicker from them ^_^.  I really do like the offskates warm up drills Gotham showed us though, because it really does make me feel warmed up and ready to skate, more than any other drill I've done before.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bout recap: CDTA vs. NYSE. October 8, 2011

The weekend of Saturday, October 8 I headed down to Long Island with Massacre for the Capital District Trauma Authority's bout against the New York Shock Exchange brand new B-Team: the Dow Jones Average, featuring saucy players such as everybody's favorite Jimmy Rage as well as Bane-Ana-on-Skates, or as Wellen's mom put it, "Oh that 1B player - he's so out of control - he's dangerous!" In only the voice a mother could have when a scruffy lad is beating up on her seven-foot-tall son's teammates.

NYSE took the lead early in the game with a 29 point jam by Starsky. I should back up and state that NYSE, as a League, has been a dominant force in men's derby for years. This bout was to be a learning experience for CDTA. And to be fair, there were a few A (B+?) players on NYSE's roster.

Let me get some numbers out of the way: the final score was 194-91, and Roarshock scored 49 of those points and was voted MVP. All of CDTA's jammers had to fight hard for their points, though - Roarshock, Jonny Malice, and Up End Atom faced solid and disciplined walls from the Dow Jones.

The time I tried roller derby refereeing

Me and Luci D. Dream.
A couple weeks ago we hosted a Sunday night "meat grinder" scrimmage for our newer girls and who took on the Hudson Valley Horrors' newbies. Veteran skaters were invited to watch, NSO, or just help out in some way... I figured this would be a great night to try refereeing!

In the beginning of the year, I talked about my roller goals for 2011.  Goal #10: Start learning how to referee.

A quick note: I was thinking of making my ref name "Bad Temper" instead of Short Temper.. hmm? huh? huh? hahaha.

And holy cow there is so much to learn! On Sunday I played worked functioned (?) as an outside pack ref (OPR).  I learned how to rotate around the outside of the track with the other two (three total) OPRs. I never paid much attention to how OPRs rotate around the track, but trying it myself was enlightening.

So, first I had to get the rotation down, then next was learning where to look in the pack. As you skate along with the pack on the outside, first they are approaching you, so you watch the front; then they catch up to you so you watch the middle; then as you end your half track rotation (slowing down) you watch the back of the pack.  AND, if there's a jammer in the pack, you really got watch them cause who knows what hijinx they will try to pull.  I should know.

There's SO MUCH to pay attention to when you are refing.  It was so hard for me to spot penalties, but I did make one call - I think it was a major cut.  I called it out at the same exact time as Luci D. Dream, who I was shadowing. But yeah - it's like my brain was working a lot slower than my eyes, and  my mouth was working even slower.  If I though I saw a penalty, first I would have to think - ok, was that really a penalty? Then I would have to remember who to call it correct - *whistle* Color - Number - Penalty *MAJOR*... which is just so many steps and words and ahhh. By the time I thought I was ready to call something, it was like 20 seconds later - too little too late.  And then if it's a minor penalty there's no whistle, just color/number/penalty ... and by the time I thought I was ready to shout something out, another ref would've already called it.  Then there's remembering to alert the penalty board person of the minor penalty you caught.

Sorry - that was probably a lot of rubbish to people who don't know anything about derby, but I hope any refs reading this will either sympathize with my plight or at least get a laugh.

Notice the spine of the book is barely cracked. >.>
I would love to try refing again and want to learn more and more.  I'm def on the look out for opportunities!  It's time again for me to whip out my rule book - it's been a while since I went through it...and now I can look at it from a ref perspective too. Speaking of all this too - Flexi Wheeler recently jumped into the fray of refing too.

Special thank you to Luci D. Dream for letting me shadow her during the scrimmage.  She was an awesome teacher and gave me a great beginner run down.

Lastly, a request for all you refs out there: I don't want to seem like just another n00b player trying to figure out refing.  Do you have any recommendations for attacking the rules? Where should I focus most first? Sometimes I sneak around the public area of zebrahuddle.com - but jeez, some of that sh*t is over my head. I also just started poking around the WFTDA Officiating section -- wow!  Resources and information I never knew existed.