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

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Being involved in derby - part 1: Officially Official

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. This is the first one, all about being official.

Picture by Christopher Yarrow

When I started Roller Derby I had no idea what this game was all about. Seeing how derby was still pretty new in Europe and we were the first league in our country there was not a lot of derby around to go and see and learn from. The first time I went to even see a bout after I started was 9 months later in Berlin. Not really around the corner, cause it's a decent 6 hour drive from Amsterdam to Berlin.
But even when I did get to watch bouts live or online, I didn't necessarily understand all of what was going on in the game. Especially cause I seem to have a little "condition" called "hooliganism". Whenever I get to watch a bout I turn in to a total hooligan and scream my lungs out. Which is all fine and dandy, and maybe fun for the teams playing, but it doesn't leave a lot of room for focusing on the game and whats going on.
The other thing was, that in our first year we were focusing mostly on skating skills and basic derby skills and we weren't scrimmaging yet. When you haven't played a scrimmage yet (or worked a bout for that matter) you don't really have that "feel" yet for the game. You don't feel the excitement you feel right before the first whistle, you don't feel the pain shooting through your body when you get a great hit, you don't feel your body working hard and you definitely don't get the same feel for the game as when you play. 

So what can you do to get more of a feel for the game when you cannot play yet? When you are still fresh meat, or even when a certain injury makes it that you cannot play.
I found that a good way was by being a part of the game. And not as the hooligan, but as an official.

The first time I ever worked a bout as a Non Skating Official (NSO) was in November 2010 in Stuttgart; Stuttgart Valley Rollergirls vs Go Go Gent Roller Girls. I had the position of outside white board and had no idea what I was doing. I of course had read about what I was supposed to be doing, but I had no idea what it would mean to be a part of the officials crew. I understood, of course, that I wasn't supposed to cheer. And I was supposed to be impartial. But I didn't really understand what it meant until I was working that very first bout.
Being part of an officials crew, means that even though you are impartial and not supporting one team, you are supporting roller derby it self in the highest way possible. Cause you are making sure this game can be played the  way the girls want to play it. 
For me, being a skater (first and foremost), this made a huge impression. Realizing how important our officials are for our game. 
But it did more then just give me respect for officials. It gave me that feel for the game, without being able to play. 
I was part of the action. And because of officials role, I for once got to focus on all going on, cause I had to keep my "hooliganism" in check. 
And it was a great experience. 
After this first time I went on to NSO the first German Meisterschaft: Roll DMC.
That's when I got a real feel of what it meant to be a part of team No-Fun.... It's so much FUN! I don't mean to say that officials secretly have a lot of fun and don't take their jobs seriously. Cause I think they take their jobs very seriously. But I did also see the "other side" of the officials. The side that they do not show on track. And that is a very fun side. 

The officials crew for Roll DMC
Picture by Michael Wittig

Accept for feeling like a part of the game, getting more of that feel for the game and gaining more respect and understanding for officials I also noticed something else. 
As I started working more and different NSO positions I felt like my understanding of the game and the rules improved immensely. And I am not saying that the only way of getting this understanding is by officiating. But I sure do think it helped me a whole bunch. There are several reasons why. First of all because in officials meetings and during the games you hear all about how refs call certain penalties and why. Another reason is that refs love to discuss rules. All.the.time. And even though I might not be the best rules nerd in the world and I will probably zone out after 30+ minutes of rules discussion, I do think I have picked up quite a lot of the years by hanging out with officials.
Also just the NSO jobs it self teach you a lot about how the game has been set up, how it works, as NSO's are there to make sure the game runs smoothly. And even though everybody (should) reads the rules, I still see that many people don't understand all the rules when it comes to the penalty box and jammers. Also being able to fill out all that paperwork and knowing what says what, where and why, makes it a lot easier to understand the stats book and to analyze it.

Now 2,5 years after I started NSO'ing, I've been playing bouts as a skater for 2 years, but I still love to NSO. I don't do it super often, as derby takes over you life enough as it is with "just" being a skater. 
But I do try and NSO at tournaments and a bout every now and again. 
And I still feel I learn something new every time. 

Last month I was working the Men's European Roller Derby Championships and in my very first bout I was working the penalty box and all ready learned something new. The blockers and jammer of one of the teams were super communicative while in the box. As in when their jammer had lead but there were several of their blockers in the box, the blockers would communicate to their jammer (every time he lapped the box) what their time was, so he would keep going until their box was empty. And therefore they could start the next jam with a empty box. 
I am sure this sounds like peanuts or basic stuff for some. But it was kind of an eye opener for me. As we have never really did it that way. Of course we try to empty out our box, but never like that. It was a very confident and "in control" way of running the game. And it was good to see. I am not sure I would have noticed the same thing or as quickly if I would have been in the audience. But because I was working the box, and the blockers kept asking every few seconds what their time was I noticed a lot quicker why they were asking, what their strategy was behind it. 

So yeah the conclusion of this blog post is that I love NSO'ing. For several reasons:

  • You get to be part of the game and get a feel for the game more then when you are in the audience. 
  • You get to be part of the funnest team no-fun there is
  • You get to facilitate the BEST sport in the world
  • You learn so much more about the rules and the way stuff is called
  • (a lot of times) I learn more about game play then while screaming my lungs off in the audience 

 - Furrrocious

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

ECDX day 2 & 3

These weekends are always long and tiring, which is way I didn't get to blog when I wanted to, just because the weekend it self was too amazing (and exhausting...).
So therefore I need to recap now, now that I have the energy to do so. :)
But have to recap a weekend of amazingness, is not that easy. Cause where to start? I guess I could start by saying the a pool party combined with roller derby is a very good idea! It was really nice to be able to chill pool side. 

The Saturday and Sunday were both filled with a crazy amount of bouts. There were 50something bouts in 3 days, and seeing how there were 4 on Friday, that left 46+ bouts to be spread out over 2 days, 3 rinks.
I can honestly say that I never expected to say there is a thing as too much derby, but I guess in a way there was this weekend. The only "bad" thing about this much derby, was that it was impossible to see it all. 
Having to choose between one good bout or another is a very hard thing to do.
And then I had two moments where I had to choose between playing myself or watching a few of my favorite teams playing. I chose to play, like any derby girl would (I guess...). 
On Saturday I got to play for team drunks vs team stoners. A fun challenge bout, that was 30 mins long. 
The drunks took the win and it was fun to be a part of the team. It's so weird to play with other people, but so much fun!
The rest of the Saturday I got to enjoy some great games, like Auld Reekie vs Dominion and Montreal vs Charm. 
Auld Reekie you're so fine!

Montreal won 211 - 168

Also I had to make so signs of course, to show my love for these teams. :) 

The kind of derby we love to play and watch!

It was great to see all these amazing teams play live. I appreciate the Derby News Network and WFTDA tv bringing all these great teams into my little Dutch home. But sitting track side at a Gotham, Philly or Montreal bout (to just name a few...) is just a whole different experience. And I have to say I loved every minute of it.
What was extra cool, was that I actually got to see some people play live that I've met before. Like Georgia W. Tush from Montreal, who coached us in Amsterdam a few years back. And Teflon Donna (Philly & Team USA) who was a coach at derby revolution last year in Ghent. 
It was just great to watch them play and cheer them on. 

My sign for Philly vs Texas. Love both teams, so had to support them both. 

Sunday started with the best.breakfast.ever! As the first bout of the day was Glasgow vs Long Island. I mean oh boy oh boy! That was the most exciting bout of the weekend up until that point. A true nail biter. Definitely a fan of Lawless, Rogue and Mcmillen and all the Glasgow blockers too of course. 
TAPS AFF for Glasgow. :)
Still think Glasgow should have won...but I guess with a game that exciting both teams won!

That game definitely set the tone for the rest of the day. The Auld Reekie bout after that was super exciting too. Especially the first half, which was a half with a lot of lead changes. But the second half was dominated by Auld Reekie. 
Auld Reekie team huddle

I had to miss seeing Montreal play as I was playing myself, but I was lucky enough to watch the thrilling game between Philly and Windy City. 
At first it looked like Windy was going to take the win for sure. But it wasn't a sure thing at all, because Philly put up a great fight. And at ended up in a tie! With an overtime jam that had to decide the win. 
And Philly won with 1 point! It was crazy, everybody was screaming and it was amazing to be a part of the crowd at this bout. I thought the Glasgow bout was going to be the best of the weekend and then this bout happened. Just amazing. 
Tie at the final whistle

After that excitement I had to head over to rink 1, to skate myself. 
I was lucky enough to be part of team the World. Who took on Fishtown (a neighborhood in Philly), a team made up out of Philly players. 
It was pretty amazing to play in this team, as there were several players from team Canada in this team (like 8 mean wheeler & Jenna) and a couple of Auld Reekie girls (Legs and Cider) and a whole bunch of other rad ladies from all over. And not to forget we had the team Canada coach as our bench coach.
Honestly it was quite nerve wrecking to play with- and against people that I look up to. 
Pretty sure that those nerves effected my game play, but I did do my best. Even tried jamming, although that didn't go down that well due to a hit in the face that left me quite dizzy during the whole jam... I did keep going though and even scored some points. :)
It was fun to play. But I just really have some insecurity issues that get into my head when I'm surrounded by such high skill leveled (famous) players. Definitely need to get that out of my system at some point...
Oh and because of all the "reflecting" i almost forgot that team world won. :)

One of the things I wanted to do at ECDX was get in touch with a few "derby famous" teams and people to see if they could donate something for our Scrimmathon auction in September. As we will be raising money for the battle against sec trafficking, it seemed like a good idea to get some good auction items. 
The Gotham girls were nice enough to arrange something special for us and I met up with Slaydie at ECDX and she handed this one of a kind bag for the auction. 
I'm sure a lot of people will want to get their hands of this....

After all the excitement of Sunday's bouts the cherry on top was being able to watch Team USA vs Team Canada live from the suicide seats track side. 

First points on the board for Canada

I was not expecting the game to be extremely exciting, as we all knew USA would win, but watching so many very skilled players battle it out, was going to be exciting enough for any derby girl. 
The thing that made it special for me, was that I've had the pleasure over the passed week to scrimmage with and/or against skaters from both Team USA and Team Canada. And in the last few years I've been lucky enough to be coached by both players from both teams. So yeah, it was exciting enough for me to watch. 
The Canada crowd was supportive of their team, the whole way through and I was definitely rooting for them as well. 

Proud Canada crowd 

At the end Team USA won, but not by as much as you might have expected. Canada did a good job at scoring points and holding the jammer back as much as they could. 

The highlight of this final game of the weekend has to be when V'Diva was backwards blocking 8mean Wheeler and seeing how Diva is pretty tall, 8mean was just at the perfect level to motorboat Diva. And she did! That was a funny moment. Really showed that even though these players fight to be the best, they are still having fun in derby. And that's what it's all about in the end. 

While we walked back to the car we bumped into my very favorite NSO in the whole wild world and NSO inspiration;The Prosecutor, from Houston, TX. The first time I saw her NSO was in Austin, TX almost 2 years ago. When I went to see Texas vs Denver. She was the jam timer at that bout and her form just blew my mind. I remember that me and Dr. No-No just enjoyed watching her work so much we sometimes forgot to watch the game. 
At the first day of ECDX I saw her again and was immediately mesmerized again. I have gotten inspiration of this lady when I work as an NSO myself. And being able to tell her that this weekend was definitely one of my highlights. 

Furrrocious the NSO fan girl 

All with all this whole weekend and this whole trip in the USA, was a great derby experience. Got to scrimmage with and against great skaters and teams. Got to meet a bunch of new people and reunite with derby friends from all over. 
It was a great experience and I would highly recommend going to the East Coast Derby Extravaganza to anybody!

- Furrrocious

Friday, June 28, 2013

East Coast Derby Extravaganza - DAY 1

Oh boy, oh boy, where to start...
Day 1 of ECDX, is the "easy day". Bouts don't start until 6 pm and there are only 2 rinks in use and 4 bouts in total. 
Which seems like not too much if you realize there are 50 in 3 days!
However I found it was not an "easy" day at all! There were a few really intense bouts this first evening at ECDX. The one sticking out was the bout between the two men's teams; New York Shock Exchange and Mass Maelstrom. These two teams were ranked #3 and #6 in the MRDA rankings and was promising to be a very exciting bout. And boy oh boy oh boy it was! 
NYSE warming up

This bout was an absolute nail biter. At first it looked like NYSE would dominate, but maelstrom would not let NYSE conquer without a fight. And what a fight it was. It was epic. I saw amazing agility and hard intense hits. I loved every minute of it. 

NYSE won by 12 points

Another thing that was very exciting and overwhelming some times was the amount of awesome people. :)
I met up with Georgia, Beater and Mark from Montreal who visited Amsterdam almost 2 years ago. It was so good to see them again. And I cannot wait to see the New Skids play tomorrow and cheer for Tush! 

The other bout that was very exciting to see live, was the bout between Gotham and Texas. There are so many "derby legends" (or hero's if you like) in these teams. And watching them play in real life is pretty mind blowing. 
Again there was some really amazing skating, super agile jammers, tough blockers, great technical game play. Loved it. Gotham dominated the first half, the second half Texas came back, getting lead the first four jams of the period. But Gotham, the great team they are, did not let Texas get ahead much and blew them away. Although Texas kept fighting till the end, and because of both the teams amazing game play it was not a boring game at all. 

The unofficial final. Gotham takes the win

This was a good day and I cannot wait till tomorrow. Cause tomorrow I'll be watching some amazing derby, with awesome people. I'll be playing at least one challenge bout myself and I'm sure I'll be joining the pool party. :)
On to day 2....

- Furrrocious 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Banked track adventures

The door of the PJRD warehouse.
When you play roller derby in Europe, you hear about banked track and you can watch it online, but there isn't a roller derby banked track anywhere in Europe.
When I knew I was going to Philly, I got the tip to get in touch with Penn Jersey Roller Derby to try out the banked track. 
So I did, and last night I went out to the PJRD warehouse to give the banked track a try.

First of all I have to say, that I don't think I have ever felt this welcome anywhere before. The ladies and gents from the Penn Jersey Roller Derby league were so nice and welcoming, it made me a lot less nervous. Cause yes, I was pretty nervous. :) 
Before I came out to try the banked track Tara Armov all ready gave me a few pointers, and that made me feel better. As she basically told me to rely on my normal (derby) skating skills, staying low etc. And her tips helped, because they did make me less nervous. But when I actually climed onto the track, I just didn't know how to "start". The PJRD girls just encouraged me and I gave it a try. It was very strange at first. But after a minute or so I started to enjoy it. 
Three of the PJRD teams; Sadistic Sweethearts, Dishonor Roll and the Hooligans (men's) were about to do some "light" scrimmage jams. As the girls were prepping for a bout this coming Saturday.

Sadisctic Sweethearts on the track
I expected to sit out and watch while they were scrimmaging. But their coach "little Richard" (former old school roller derby skater) got me back on track. He explained how to skate the banked track. Then they put me on the team with the Hooligans and after watching a few jams they let me play some myself. 
It was a strange and exciting experience. The first jam was like my very first jam on the flat track... It felt like complete chaos and I had no idea what was going on. 
But as the jams went on it got a little less scary and weird to skate on the banked track and I could focus a little more on the game it self. 
Although, that by it self was hard enough too, as the rules on the banked track are a lot different then on the flat track. There are a lot of different rule sets in the USA. Different rule sets for flat and banked track. And the ones that PJRD play by have some fun elements that seemed very forgein and weird to me. Like the fact that the pivot can become jammer as soon as the opposing jammer has passed her or him. That way the jammers are actually always racing. And the lead jammer, is just the jammer that is in lead. Another thing that is a lot different under the WFTDA rule set.

It was a lot fun to play these jams. The only thing I found very scary was to actually hit people. We are used to hitting a certain way on the flat track and it is just not the same on the banked track. I just felt like I would injure somebody if i would hit them normally. I think the gravity thing in combo with hitting on a banked track just freaked me a little. The other coach, former old school roller derby skater, Skip, explained me later how the hitting differs from hitting on the flat track. And it made more sense then. 
It was a very fun and educational practice for me and I loved it. 

A few of the Sadistic Sweethearts and their trophy

Except for the girls and guys from PJRD being super welcoming at practice they also showed me around town in Philly. :)
General Tso Fine (The Hooligans) and his sister Misfortune Cookie (Sadistic Sweethearts), took me to a few bars and hooked me up with some awesome PJRD merchandise. And to top it all off they dropped me off at home safe and sound as well. :)

It really was a pleasure to join a practice with PJRD and hang out with some of them. Any European that's ever around Philly and wants to try out the banked track, make sure to contact PJRD!
Want a preview of their warehouse? Here are a few more pictures:
The track

They have their own lockers, love that!

I don't care bear from the Hooligans is a H.O.S.S.A. fan. ;)

- Furrrocious

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Party! Party! Party! BLOCK PARTY!

Last night I was lucky enough to attend a Philly Rollergirls league practice.
First of all, coming from a little league in Europe it is pretty awesome when you get to skate with a league like the PRG. There are some really amazing skaters on PRG. Several of which play in a little team called team USA. 
I'm sure that people who skate with such "derby famous" and just all round amazing skaters it might not be such a big deal. Cause I'm sure it becomes "normal" at some point. But again, coming from a league in a country that never heard about roller derby 4 years ago, it's a pretty big deal when you get to skate with people that have over 9 years experience. 

When I arrived at practice I heard that they changed some stuff around and there would be 1 hour of drills and a 2 hour scrimmage. Normally they don't have visitors participate in scrimmages, but because this change was made last minute, they would make an exception.
I was super stoked and quite scared at the same time. But especially stoked! 

I was glad to see some familiar faces when I was warming up. Damage Dahl visited the Amsterdam Derby Dames about 2 years ago. And it was good to see her again. 
Also a new friend, Wendy Whiplash, was there and I was happy to see both of them. 

The first hour of drills was ran by Diva, a very experienced skater, who also happens to skate for team USA. 
It was great to work on backwards blocking for an hour. And I learned some new stuff that I'll be able to bring back to my league. 

After the hour of drills the 30+ girls there split up in the three travel teams that PRG has; The Liberty Bells, Independence Dolls and Block Party. 
I was able to join the Block Party. 
All three teams scrimmage against each other, so by playing with the Block Party we were up against The Liberty Bells and the Independence Dolls. It was such a great experience to scrimmage against such experienced skaters. 
Here I am on the line as a jammer. 
I jammed several times and even got lead jammer once. :)
It was really fun to play with the Block Party, we rocked it. 
Me and the Block Party.

I'm so grateful to get the change to skate with and against the Philly Roller Girls. It was a great experience. 
I sure hope I get to skate with them again this weekend at ECDX. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

24 straight hours of roller derby madness...

Sometimes in life it happens that you come up with a crazy idea while talking to a team mate in a bus... And now here we are, turning our crazy ideas into reality. Today ADD announced that we will be hosting an actual 24 hour roller derby scrimmage marathon, or scrimmathon! :)
There will be room for womens teams, mens teams, pick up scrimmages (female and co-ed) and challenge bouts (more info, scroll down).
I'm just so stoked that this is happening. It makes me giddy, slightly nervous and hyperactive all at the same time. :)

Here is the press release from our league:

Don’t you just wish to play roller derby all day long? Did you ever wake up at 4am wanting to scrimmage? Well, hold on to your toe stops, because it’s happening. On September 7th and 8th the Amsterdam Derby Dames are hosting a 24hrs Scrimmathon!
And we are not just hosting this epic event for shits and giggles, it’s serious business. In the first week(s) of September 2013, a group of positive roller derby enthusiasts will be skating across The Netherlands in an effort to end sex trafficking. They will try to educate the public and raise awareness to all the people they meet.
This group reached out to all Dutch leagues asking them to organize something to raise awareness and funds along their trip. Amsterdam being a city where sex trafficking certainly is an issue, the Amsterdam Derby Dames want to step up to the plate and do something extraordinary to really get some attention for this great cause. For more information about Sk8 The Netherlands check out their Facebook page.
When we got the dates for this trip we realized that in these weeks the Amsterdam Derby Dames are also celebrating their 4 year anniversary. All the more a reason to make this a memorable event.
An event of this magnitude needs a lot of bodies: skaters, refs and NSOs are essential to keep the games going for 24 hours. We invite teams to play, but we will be opening the event for individual skaters as well, to partake in challenge bouts and pick-up scrimmages (girls only, but also co-ed). That’s why we are asking you right now to SAVE THE DATE! You surely don’t want to miss this.
Registration for NSO-ing, refereeing, announcing and volunteering opens up soon, and so will ticket sales for skaters. But for now, make sure you mark those calendars for the 7th and 8th of September.

For more info keep an eye out on our website.

- Furrrocious

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Communication and appreciation

I like organizing small communities, groups of people, organizations and events. It's what I do as a social worker in community development every day, and I enjoy my work.
When I got into derby, it took me a while to get "sucked" into the organizational part of the league. But I did and I enjoy it and have been enjoying it for the past (almost) 3 years.

When you are in a organization like a roller derby league, there are always people that have no idea what goes on organizational wise. And in a way that's okay, cause not everybody needs to know exactly what it takes to run your league. But it gets to be a problem when people start feeling unappreciated, taken for granted or just completely unnoticed. Everything that keeps your league rolling takes effort from somebody (or several somebodies) within your league. The hall you are skating in needs to be rented. The bills need to be paid. Posters need to be designed. Bouts need to be booked. Etc. etc.
I know it's stating the obvious, but all those tasks take time, energy and effort. Some tasks are smaller, some are bigger. But non the less, they all need to be done.

Communication is another key word in any organization. Being able to talk to each other, ask questions or help and giving each other feedback. It's all a part of making sure an organization like a derby league can keep growing and evolving. 
Again, this will feel like I'm stating the obvious. And in a way I am. But I see every day that groups of people (in communities or organizations) fail because of communication issues. 
In roller derby we have to work with lots of different people. People with different characters, language barriers (we for instance have people from a lot of different countries) and many more differences that effect the communication between members and between committees. For instance if one of your members bark, this doesn't mean they will bite too. If one of your members is super shy, this doesn't mean they don't have valuable ideas to and cannot be the greatest asset to your leagues organization. 

In order for a roller derby league to work smoothly I believe you need to have a good system of supporting everybody in the league to rise to the best of their abilities. 
There is no one right way of organizing your league. There are several ways of doing it and to each their own. We have a system with a board, committees and heads of committees.
It works for us, or it does right now. Cause you also cannot forget that what might work now, might not work in a year. And that's ok. You need to keep evolving and growing as an organization.

But one thing that will be the same everywhere is that people need to feel useful and appreciated. This is universal. I see it in my work every day. Volunteers that have a job welcoming people in the community center and giving people coffee, need to know that what they do is important. As it is. And a "pat on the back" goes a long way.

In a roller derby league, this is no different, if somebody does something for the league they need to know that what they do is important.
I know that I, as president of our league, do not tell people this enough. But I hope that by writing this blog everybody from my league who read it, will know how important I think all of our members are.
I will make it a point myself to tell people more often. As while writing this I do realize I really don't do it enough, and there are no excuses for that.

I want to end this blog with the following message:
Take care of your league. Invest in communication and in appreciating the members in your league and all the work they do. It's very important to do so, or at least I think it is. Cause nobody runs a league by themselves, it is, like playing roller derby, a team sport to run a league!