Derby She Wrote

26/05/2016 - Going steady with SCRD.

Being part of a roller derby team is like being in a long-term relationship. You either worry you're spending too much time together... or not enough!
You tell your significant other (the team) about your toilet habits ('cause you need to get off the bus to have your pre-game poop.. like right now!), your front wedgie (when you tried to subtly adjust your leggings and ended up hooking up your pants instead!) and of course there is the derby version of 'does my bum look big in this?' which tends to be, 'but i'm definitely skating lower right? Like.. I'm not completely upright?' they ask.. 'you were SO low hun... like.. it is unreal how low you're getting' you reply!
There is also the odd occasion when you bump into your ex..
Ok so the derby team relationships you tend to see; there's the childhood sweethearts (joined a team, stayed with the team, been in that team for four years... and it's love) ...then there's the somewhat promiscui-team (a skater floats from one team to another and thrives in mash-up teams and mixed scrims) ...then there's me.. the 'hey I just met you, and this is crazy, but here's my number, call me maybe?' team (started derby, was in a long-term team relationship but unforeseen circumstances ended in a rather painful breakup and a new relationship with my current team...)
It's ok though, we've moved on now, I can see my ex (my old team) without running/skating double-speed in the opposite direction. We can now have a drink and a laugh together with only minor awkwardness. Yeah I stalk them on Facebook a bit (who doesn't?!) I like to see how they're getting on! But ultimately I'm happy, they're happy, it's all good!
Now with every relationship there are ups and downs. Wins and losses create a number of hills and valleys for us to venture together, but it comes down to more than just games. Derby is more than just a hobby to most. Sure it can be just a fling, but from what I've seen, that is rare. We fall for it, we fall hard, we fall so hard we want to tell everyone we know about it. Have you met my partner? (Roller derby) she is THE BEST, I mean we have this intense connection y'know, it's deep man, it's the real deal.
Your non-derbs ('derbs single') friends roll their eyes and ask again how you score goals and is there a ball? You explain excitedly and they say how cool it sounds... maybe they'll arrange a double-date (bring a friend to watch a game with them) some time.
It can be the most full-on relationship you've ever been in. There's laughter, tears, drama... there's that real bond-solidifying promise-ring-giving invite to join the charter (yes! yes! a thousand times yes!) and the down-on-one-knee epic proposal when you see your name on that roster.. (I do! *blubs*)
There's minor tumbles; twinged ankles... the fight between resting up and the fear of missing out. A bad training session; your partner (team) says you were fine, you were 'on point' and fabulous as always, but you felt crappy and you think you would have been better off at home watching bad t.v. with a pack of biscuits to yourself. A foul-out, oh no you didn't! Dude.. it happens, we still love you.
But there are wicked highs! We moved up the rankings! Dating (skating for) someone (SCRD) that is ranked in the top 25 in Europe is like going out with a supermodel... you want everyone to know... but you don't wanna brag! Finding that sweet spot where you can juggle work, non-derby life, gym and training is an unbeatable and glorious moment. Gym on Monday, netflix and chill on Tuesday (no seriously, I mean watching ten episodes of 'Suits' and falling asleep on the sofa!), derbz training Wednesday, working late on Thursday, night in on Friday, lie-in on Saturday and more derbz training on Sunday! Achievement unlocked!
Anyway, it's safe to say that SCRD and I are definitely going steady!
Roller Derby love is real guys, we're totes Facebook official!!

 

10/05/16 

If you went to a work event on a coach with your colleagues, chances are if the air-con broke on the hottest day of the year, you'd whinge and moan and melt, but you'd survive, fully clothed, until you reached your destination. This is not a work event. There is no room for polite sweltering on the SCRD fun bus.

 A coach full of roller derby girls and company take a six hour journey to London on the hottest darn day of the year. We last maybe an hour before the tops come off and bras are on show. A little longer and there are those larking around in just their pants. We grumble in the heat, melting in puddles with boob sweat and B.O galore. We strip off; take water rations as if stranded on a desert island and pass out rehydration sachets. We grow increasingly envious of 'the outsiders'; those beyond the bus with their cool breeze, lying under trees, playing Frisbee on the grass, boy are we jealous. We hit London and crawl from Hammersmith to Tottenham, stopping at every set of lights, never exceeding the limits (we couldn't even if we wanted to).

The traffic renders the many speed cameras completely useless. We pull up just in time to kit up and get on track. No time or need for a warm up, we are already boiling! Eternally grateful to have our bench by the back doors’ Snail rounds us up and tells us to get out there and play. We look to our captain; Aly says it's time to hustle, so we do. Kyle passes out helmet panties and it's time to get on track. We play on weary legs, shouting with dry mouths as we begin to recall this thing we call roller derby. In a state of dehydrated delirium we set about jamming and blocking. It is almost easier to play after such a disastrous journey; when it feels hard we think to ourselves, well at least we are off the bus! Bexon passes their blockers, dancing and darting as they try and keep track. Kitty sweeps their jammer across the track and recycles before reforming.

 Aly does some one-on-one blocking before joining the wall in a truck and trailer formation. Mort barrels through and they scatter. We take turns in the sin bin then we come out fighting. Victory side surfs her way to freedom, Coop wiggles through the pack like a slippery fish. Crash gets caught up in their four-walls and in comes her offence; they put their training into practice and proceed to clear the track for an easy get-away! The London jammers apply pressure and skip up the inside line. We grit our teeth and plant our feet. We try and cover the track as much as possible. Carey and Mart join forces to hold the London jammer, Amy smashes unexpecting opposition blockers to break their formation.

Mandi dances between pillars as we practice our cube-walls. The London blockers dig in and our jammers push and push. We pass the star and the blockers swarm the pivot like kids on a football pitch chasing the ball. The crowd gets louder as the game comes to an end. Excitement builds as we squeeze the last of our energy into the final few jams. A chorus of whistles sound and it's all over. We hug our opposition, cheering and sharing compliments and cheesy grins. We line up to slap the hands of the other team and the supporters. We stand with hands out ready to reciprocate.

We exit, a sweaty bundle of skaters. We pull off sodden safety gear and re-emerge in joggers and spare scrim vests. We chug cider and cheer for the next game. We form a small mass of bedraggled skaters, teammates, partners and family members along for the ride. We dread the return journey but the bus has cooled considerably and we're now too buzzed to care. We trade stories and even some tears. Some snooze, swig booze, we kick off our shoes. We over-analyse and strategise and exhaust ourselves.

 

 We stumble off the bus well past midnight. We go our separate ways. Some collapse onto their beds in full kit, some grab pizza and find just enough energy to run a bath or jump in the shower. Some stay up late buzzing with excitement. We wind down, dreaming of derby, watching the game back in our minds as we drift off to sleep. The last one awake closes her eyes and finds a small smile as she whispers to the night "we did a win".

          

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All photos courtesy of: Stine Kiran