Welcome to a post where I ramble not about knitting, Neil Gaiman, or Dill’s stupid dog! This one is all derby baby…
I’ve been completely stressed out about what kind of wheels to get for our upcoming season. I fell in love last season with the narrow pink G-Rods. Perfect grip, narrow width made for better cutting, the perfect wheel for me! Unfortunately this season we’re moving venues, and changing floor. For those of you that don’t play derby, different wheels work better on different surfaces, and those G-Rods were gonna be way too grippy on our new surface… skate court.
The other problem this presented is that now I needed TWO new sets of wheels. New G-Rods for our concrete practice space, since my wheels were beyond bald, and another set of wheels for the skate court that we’ll now be bouting on.
I tried some very skinny Heartless wheels. They are REALLY narrow, and while I loved cutting in the pack on them, trying to sprint around the track I felt myself sliding really hard on the turns, pushing me almost out of bounds. No good for my style of skating. Whether they would work differently on the skate court.. no idea.
So I decided to bite the bullet, and just order the G-Rods, which are really, really expensive wheels, and then I would just hopefully figure out what to do about the skate court before the bout. After calling a few places and getting prices, I found a deal on some G-Rods. Normally those suckers run around $98(!) for eight wheels. I managed to find them for about $50! They also had a good deal on some Atom Stroker wheels, which are harder. Harder wheels = better for skate court.
We had a scrimmage against Quad State Sunday, at the fairgrounds, on our new skate court. My Atom Strokers came just in time, so I got to try them out. Trying to skate on those wheels on concrete had me looking like Bambi on ice. I fell over, and over, and over again. On the skate court… no problems. I could cut, I could sprint.. I did have a little trouble running off the line on my toe stops, but my bad knee has been making that difficult anyway. Besides, even if I’m not the first off the line, I’m the first out of the pack, and that’s what counts 🙂
We learned some new things from Caesar, who graciously came out from Ohio, to give us tips about skating on the new flooring, and utilized his advice almost immediately. I was in the pack for the first jam ( I have never been in the starting line up, so this was a definite high point for me!) and spent the majority of the first period blocking.
Then JRoller handed me the jammer cap.
I stood there clutching it, and felt petrified. I spent the last couple of seasons not jamming nearly as much as I used too. When we first came back from break, JRoller started jamming me again. The first couple months were disastrous for me. No points, grand slammed, never getting lead… I was a mess. Then JRoller yelled at us. She spent about a good 15 minutes yelling, the game is in your head. Getting off the jammer line is in your head. The other girl being faster than you is all in your head.
The next night, during an endless jammer drill, I got through the the pack without anyone touching me. Fluke I thought. It was a lucky jam, no one saw me.
Then I did it again.
Then we scrimmaged, and I got lead jammer. Again, and again, and again. The next two scrimmage nights, every time I hit the jammer line, I got lead.
I tried to let go of the fear, think about how well I’ve been doing lately, put the jammer panty on my helmet and strolled up to the line, and looked at the blockers. Shit. Juwanna Hurt was up against me. The Hurt sisters, Juwanna and Jewel B. have a reputation in the midwest. Legend has it they came out of the womb on skates. Juwanna hits hard and effortlessly. She doesn’t appear to strain herself on the track. A little nudge from her hip, and the wiliest jammer will go flying.
Second whistle sounded, and I took off, slightly behind the other jammer. We came around turn 3, and I saw it! The teeniest, tiniest hole on the inside line… right next to Juwanna Hurt. I could either bide my time, lose my speed, and try to avoid her, or I could go for that line… I went for it. On one foot. The opening was so small, I had to lift my left leg, and take the entire pack on my right. If anyone had seen me and hit me, I would have been gone! I got a couple of tiny little bumps, but I hit it so fast that almost everyone missed me until I was already by them! Our blockers were still holding the other jammer up, and Quad was focusing on that, so as I came around again I saw that same teeny tiny little hole! Could I do that again??? I sprinted, and again, lifted my foot, and made it past three of their blockers, with one more to go. I had room to put my foot down and push off for a second, and the last blocker turned and saw me. She stuck her leg out, guarding the inside line I was going for, trapping me in a sea of Quad skaters. I pushed, hopped over her leg on the inside corner, and got past again!
I was on a total high after that jam! We were steadily increasing our lead, until we were 40 points ahead. After the half, I went out to jam again… and totally effed it. It took me FOREVER to get through the pack. One big blocker was on me, slowing me down. Finally Sin got her out of my way, and I broke the pack.. and got lead jammer. Huh? I could have sworn the other jammer was through first! I figured she must have fouled, and looked for her. This entire thought process took about two seconds. I looked, and saw her in the pack! Crap! She must have already gotten through our blockers. I was on turn 2, as far away from my bench as I could be, so I couldn’t look to see if they were screaming at me to call it or not.. so I called it. Went back to the bench, only to discover that I was wrong, and the other jammer had NOT broken the pack yet. Sonofa!!!! So I had a 0-0 jam. I always say it’s better to play it safe, but damn… I could have had another grand slam!
I did fine during the rest of my jams. Some with points, one where the other jammer tried to hold me, I passed her and she called it. Overall it was great.
Sweet C had a freaking 19 point jam! Highest score of the day! All of our blockers did amazing. Cleaver held the other teams jammer for a full two minutes during one jam. The other blockers would fall back and try to hit her, she would dodge them, and get back in front of the jammer again! We had a couple of sloppy jams, but we played like a team for the majority of the game. It felt really, really good to connect with everyone on the track like that.
We ended the scrimmage with us at 139, and Quad State Terrors at 35.
Personally, this was the day that I needed. I’ve been working so hard to get in shape, and be the derby girl that I know I can be. I’ve lost about 30lbs since last season. I eat healthy (no white flour, no sugar, no alcohol the month before a bout), work out between practices, and sometimes before and after practice, and even though the weight loss has plateaued I get at least one customer a day asking me if I’ve lost a bunch of weight. I feel faster and fitter on the track, and in better control of my body. If this is indeed my last season, I want to go out with a bang.