On Sunday 25th November 2012, with my hubby and 4 year old in tow, oh and my brand new, just out of the box, Anarchy Skates – I headed to ‘Zombieland’ AKA Upper Heyford Gym, the home of OWG, to watch my first in the flesh Roller Derby Scrimmage. (I wouldn’t be human if I had not utilised YouTube to see what I was letting myself in for). Now hopefully you followed the wikipedia link in part 1 and know all about the sport …. ok, not to worry if you didn’t, here is a brief synopsis from Wiki just to get you up to speed:
Roller derby is a contact sport played by two teams of five members roller skating in the same direction around a track. Game play consists of a series of short matchups (“jams”) in which both teams designate a scoring player (the “jammer”) who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. The teams attempt to assist their own jammer whilst hindering the opposing jammer — in effect, playing both offense and defense simultaneously.
OWG are going up against SRT (Severn Roller Torrent) in a closed door scrim, meaning a) that as a scrim, rather than a bout, no points would be allocated to the league table and b) that as closed door, it was not a ticketed event or open to the public. This is also a special occasion – it is OWG’s first birthday and food and a roller disco are planned for the evening
So I find myself a seat on the ‘bleachers’ with hubby and little man and get ready for the action to start. Some official stuff is going on in the centre of the rink with Refs, Team Captains and NSO’s (non skating officials) and then the music starts and SRT skate out, as each skate name is called out a girl stands up and gives a wave, cool just like I have seen on YouTube, but better because I am here. Next OWG come out for a lap of honour and the same roll call process, some looking a little nervous but all obviously happy to be there. Then OWG line up with their hands out as the SRT girls skate past and hand slap along the line with lots of smiles and cheers. Let the game begin.
Now this is where the problem starts for me, I only have a basic idea of game play, I do not know how points are scored, I do not know what counts as a penalty, and have a sports mad hubby asking me lots of questions. Now luckily for us, one of the OWG team was a spectator, how could we tell, well ST was holding her team shirt that she had just collected, so hubby asked her for answers to his questions and then relayed the information back to me. All too soon, half time came and it was time to say bye to hubby as he was taking little man home – and I was left as Billy no mates. So I joined ST, who skates as Misty Knight Mare, and had a chat about derby until the teams came out for the second half. Now going into half time the score was pretty dire in favour of SRT, they are an experienced team, whereas the current OWG line up have quite a few newly signed off skaters. Well I don’t know what happened in the changing rooms, but OWG really pulled out the stops in the second half, OK they did not reduce the score margin, but hell, they were fired and spectator wise it was great to watch. Now this is what I signed up for.
All too soon it was over, SRT did a victory skate around the rink to applause from the audience, they were then joined by OWG … and the roar of the crowd got even louder and it was time to PARTY … and to put myself on roller skates for the first time *Gulp*
The main lights dim, the disco lights come on and music starts to pound from the stereo system. Luckily all the skaters have disappeared to get changed and ready to party meaning that I can put my skates on and wobble onto the rink without anyone noticing. At this point I am reciting a mantra to myself … you do not need to hold on to the side, you do not need to hold onto the side, you do not need to hold on to the side … and before I know it, and even if I am on shaky legs and frequently walking and moving like Frankenstein, I manage to get around. Go me!
After a few circuits I am already feeling the burn, well what do I expect, I have done no real exercise since becoming a Mum four years ago – chasing my boy around has been exhausting enough – and the teams are filtering out of the changing rooms now and into the foyer and they can see me. OK, they can see me, so self consciously I decide that this would be a good time to ‘take a break’. So I take my skates off, and wander outside for a smoke and bump into a couple of the SRT team who are getting some air and having a chat. One of the skaters makes eye contact, and with a grinning face and shining eyes (probably euphoria from the win) says Hi, I say Hi back, the way you do and the next thing I am asking how long she has skated and she is asking if I am a skater and I say that I have just signed up and start my basic training with OWG the following Wednesday. The skater in question was Beatrix Got’er, and her enthusiasm for the sport, and for anyone joining was immense. Beatrix basically welcomed me to the family and told me about some bouts coming up along with ‘You must come along and have a skate with us after’. I did not know her, she was on the opposing team, which in other sports generally means the ‘enemy’, and here she was giving me the equivalent of ‘verbal hug’.
We all headed back inside and I took some time to chat to some of the OWG girls, better to break the ice now, when they were not focused on training, than wait till Wednesday when I would be too worried and nervous to even look anyone in the eye. All too soon it was time for me to head home, leaving the disco in full swing, and put my little man to bed. I went over to say bye to our Derby Mamma SmackHer Lazarou and the first thing she said “I was watching you and you did OK” – music to my ears. With some time and effort I can do this …. and it seems a few others know I can too.
My next roller derby blog will be all about my favourite pastime – shopping!
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