Sunday, October 27, 2013

Being involved in derby - part 2: Coaching

Being involved in derby 
Roller derby can take over your life. It can and with me it pretty much has. In the first place I am a skater, but I do a lot of stuff in and around derby that doesn't have to do with playing directly. That's why I want to talk about the other ways that I am involved in derby and what I take from it. The first one I wrote was about being an official. This time I will write about coaching. 

Picture by Jurgen Rijsdijk

I started coaching before I even really knew that much about derby myself. When I was barely skating for 6 months I got in touch with a few girls starting a league in my home town of Utrecht. I met up with them and before I knew it I was trying to teach them whatever I learned from my own coaches. 
Without really realizing it I started coaching other skaters. 
This was back in July 2010. Now October 2013 I am coaching on a regular basis. Last season me and Hurricane Hayles started coaching our b-team; the Amsterdam Derby Dames B.ADD girls. 
Also I started running our scrimmage practice every other week with a hour of drills. I really started to get a taste for coaching. 
This season I'm coaching our b-team by my self, of course with the help of other skaters in our league, but unfortunately I have to do this without the lovely Hurricane Hayles as she has moved to the UK...  :(

Bench coaching our B.ADD girls.
Picture by Jurgen Rijsdijk

Coaching our B.ADD girls brings me so much joy. Its cool to be able to work with a team every week, and work on skaters individual strengths and weaknesses. Getting to know the girls better and understanding their individual coaching needs. Then seeing them grow as a team and play together and coach them during their games, is just icing on the top. You can see that all their hard work paid off and it fills me up with such utter pride. I am super stoked for this season for the B.ADD girls, as there are now 18 players and they will be participating in the very first National Championships. And I can see they are working their asses off to show everybody what they are made off.

Bench coaching the Northern Lightning Roller Girls at their game vs East Side Rock n Rollers
Picture by Jerry Vinkel

Last year me and Fist Fucker coached the Rotterdam Death Row Honeys before and during their very first bout. It was a lot of fun working with a team that isn't your own. Seeing their possibilities with a fresh and objective eye and trying to make sure they work hard to the best they can be.
Since then I have also coached the Northern Lighting Roller Girls from Groningen and the Dutch National Men's team. And I really enjoy benching. Its fun.

Teaching people new skills and strategies is great and I really love it when you see that something is "clicking" and they really get it. As a skater I have experienced this myself with different coaches. And it's such a joy to have that "clicking moment" and as I coach I really enjoy trying to make this happen.
It's so funny tho as I never expected to be this invested in any sport as a participant, let alone as a coach. 

I've been really lucky that so many people have given me the opportunity to coach. As I feel I have gotten better and better each time. I learn so much from coaching, and try to take what I learn and improve for the next time.

- Furrrocious

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Block around the clock - 24 hours of Roller Derby awesomeness

Over 2 years ago I met Sum Mo Payne and PBR through my friend Tigre Force from Helsinki Roller Derby. We got in touch as these awesome ladies had the great idea to skate around the Netherlands. And not just for fun either, but for a good cause. As they have been Skating the State for MS in the USA for several years, they wanted to do something special here as well.
At the time I started talking with them about it, I couldn't imagine us pulling this off, I personally just started a masters program next to work and just could not see it happen. Luckily they had also gotten in touch with the wonderful Dom City Dolls, and they took on the challenge of organizing this Sk8 the Netherlands trip. And from the 5th of September till the 13th of September 2013 this group of strong awesome women skated around the Netherlands. They skated around the country to raise awareness and  funds to end sex trafficking. A very big problem which is not given enough attention. 

The Dom City Dolls asked all the different leagues in the Netherlands to contribute. By organizing an event or hosting a sleeping place for this group while they were on the road.
As we are located in Amsterdam, which is definitely one of the epicenters of human and sex trafficking in the Netherlands and because I felt connected with this project from the get go, we felt like we should do something big and extraordinary.
While talking to my team mate Vegan Vengeance in a bus on our way home from practice we came up with the idea of a 24 hour scrimmage marathon. And slowly started fantasizing about pulling it off. Having an event with 24 hours of roller derby scrimmages.
When didn't dare to actually think about if this would work out, because our biggest challenge was finding a venue that would have us for the full 24 hours. But once we got that problem covered, our ideas seemed to be able to become reality.
With a core group of ADD girls we started getting organized. We looked at how RollerCon and ECDX organized their challenge bouts, with time slots and no breaks. It seemed like a very good formula to go with for this event as well. We ended up making a schedule for two tracks, with a total of 47 scrimmages, each lasting 30 min (except for the first 1, going for a full hour). There would be team scrimmages, challenge bouts and open scrimmages to fill up the full schedule.
It was a hell of a lot of stuff that needed to be arranged. And we as the Amsterdam Derby Dames had not before pulled off an event like this. To say the least, it was a bit of a challenge. Especially when a lot of the organizational work had to happen over the summer time. When a lot of our girls weren't around to help out. It took some blood, sweat and tears. But we did it and even though we did get the 12 teams and around a 150 skaters to sign up (we got 6 and around 70) we were still determined to pull it off.
One of the very notable things about this event, is that the first ones to sign up were the officials! Officials from ALL over Europe were very excited to come and help out in this event.

I was one of the people working on getting sponsors for this event, and I have to say the Derby community (and its derby owned stores) really stepped it up! We got sponsoring in many ways even from teams and companies in the USA. Which meant a lot to us. One of the more remarkable sponsoring items we got was the artwork for our event. Seeing how I had met Tara Armov at several occasions and had seen and experienced the amazingness of her artwork I kind of wanted that for our event. As I felt we deserved something special for such a unique event. I contacted her through facebook, and there was no doubt she wanted to help us out. Which was very cool! As in this same time period she was kicking off her new company Notorious RED and going to RollerCon to promote this.
Even though she was very busy, she pulled off providing us with this amazing artwork.
Artwork by Tara Armov - Notorious RED

The week before the event I had to miss out of every practice of my league, as I was working around the clock (after work..) to get the last things organized and sorted before the big day. On Friday the 6th of September I think my nerves pretty much got shot. To a point where I started to relax, as there wasn't a lot more I could do now anyways, I would just have to go which ever way it was going to go.
My house filled up with a little German invasion on Friday night and it was nice to have the distraction of London playing the playoffs in the US to take my mind of things.

Saturday morning the fun started. I had to get up wayyyy too early, to be at the venue at 9 am. Before getting to the venue me, Vegan Vengeance and Shanty Core made sure people could find the venue by hanging up some signs. While doing this I started feeling the gitty excitement in my belly that this was actually happening. When we walked around the corner at the venue there was a big LED display above the door welcoming everybody to Block around the clock. I think this was the point when I got REALLY excited. As it was so cool and big. You couldn't miss it.

The first three hours the volunteers worked their asses off getting everything set up, tracks laid, registration of skaters and officials started, VIP room set up and everything else that needed to be done. Those first three hours were a bit of a blur to me, as I was trying to coordinate everything. But I guess everything went pretty well as the venue was ready and the officials were ready at 12.00 to start. However the skaters in Europe apparently had not encountered the concept of an "open pick up scrimmage" before. So when everything was ready there weren't a lot of skaters to start of the first scrimmage. The start of our 24 hours of scrimmage madness started a little slow, but as soon as stuff got started it just went smoothly.

Picture by Branko Colin

Around 13.00 I sat down to watch a little derby. As it seemed like everything we organized was working out and people were doing what they were supposed to be doing. I took a lot off and chilled for a minute. But not long, as I wanted to get out there and start having fun myself. So it was time for me to put on my skates.

The whole event went pretty smoothly. It was between 2 and 5 am I think we when hit some issues, with not having enough skaters to keep to our schedule. But it didn't stop the fun, with the great coordination of Event Head Ref Cherry Fury we changed up some of the scrimmages and kept it going as much as possible.

In the end I personally played 17 scrimmages and coached 1, making it a total of 18 scrimmages. And I slept 1 hour.

There is so much more to tell, as there was 24 hours of awesomeness. But I just cant tell it all. What I will say is that we got a ton of compliments after the event, which makes me believe that this was truly a very successful event. Also notable is that we raised 2100 euro's for Sk8 the Netherlands and Fier Fryslan. Which we are very proud of, it shows how much we can accomplish together as a derby community.

I will now post some different pictures and links, so you can get a bit of a feel for what was going on.

The Derby Shop - the newest derby shop in Amsterdam was present for all your gear problems
Picture by Branko Colin

There were womens games as well as co-ed games.
Picture by Branko Colin

There were 6 teams competing against each other.
Picture by Branko Colin

Officials from all of Europe!
Picture by Branko Colin

We had a live stream and shout outs. This was our very sophisticated shout out system.
Picture by Branko Colin

The wall of awesomeness! Where people could sign up for Challenge bouts.
Picture by Branko Colin
The ladies from Sk8 the Netherlands arrived around 20.00 after skating +/- 130 km to Amsterdam
Picture by Branko Colin

One of my very favorite challenge bouts men vs women. And yes the women won! :)
Picture by Branko Colin

What a great game!
Picture by Branko Colin

The wonderful Officials that worked their asses off to make this event into a success.
Picture by Branko Colin

A big part of the skaters, officials and volunteers of Block around the clock!
Picture by Branko Colin

And here is a video made by the wonderful people of Bureau Feestbeest who made sure there was 24 hours of DJ'ing during this event.

It was a wonderful event. Thanks to everybody involved.

- Furrrocious