10 tips from a Rookie Roller Derby Referee

Hi. I’m Dee Tension, a Roller Derby Referee with the South West Angels of Terror.

My story.
Dee Tension rookie refereeI joined SWAT in April 2012 aged 42, my only aim was to learn to be safe on 8 wheels whilst skating with my son, but Roller Derby had an impact on me straight away. The skills to be a Roller Girl didn’t come easily but eventually, having passed the minimum skills, I made it onto the SWAT B Team. I was ecstatic! Sadly, being an older skater came with its problems. For me, it was my knees (which aren’t as supple as they used to be). With constant pain, enhanced when I fall then stand, I had to make a serious decision- do I stop skating or find an alternative? I’m sure others within SWAT will be able to tell you of the hard time I had making the decision to go to the other side.

Late in 2013 I made the journey to the world of Stripes, Zebras, Whistles and Haribo and haven’t looked back. Initially it seemed daunting; there’s a  lot to learn; written rules, hand signals and various penalties too and I will always be learning them.

The role of Roller Derby Referee is very  male dominated, there aren’t many female Refs, would I fit in? I needn’t have worried. The Ref crew I work with have become like a family to me and are more than willing to help with my progression and confidence as I continue with my journey.

Now, what makes a good Ref?

My Top Ten Tips.

  1. Read the Rules 
    This is your bread and butter. Study hard and learn them, don’t be afraid to ask when you don’t understand.
  2. Watch as many bouts as you can 
    If you can’t get to bouts there’s plenty on YouTube/the WFTDA website. You’ll soon find that instead of watching the game you’re focused on the Refs!
  3. Find yourself a good mentor
    I’m lucky, not only do I have the wonderful TeeHee with SWAT but many others too. Check out HorseRolfer Damage and Morris Maniac.  A good Ref will bend over backwards to help a baby zeeb into the world. Love them all.
  4. Talk to yourself constantly about what you see whilst officiating 
    You may feel stupid and it’s taken me a while to get used to it but believe me it does focus your mind and eyes.
  5. Be prepared to make mistakes 
    We’re not all perfect after all. Don’t allow the skaters to influence a decision, if you didn’t see a penalty how can you call it?
  6. Learn to skate! 
    It may sound daft but you need skate without looking where you’re going, your eyes are focused on the skaters and there can be obstacles in the way. Be prepared to jump over a skater that’s just been hit out!
  7. Read the Rules… 
    Have I said that already?
  8. Watch the experts 
    If you’re not confident officiating a game consider shadowing a Ref during a closed bout or even NSO for a while. This will help the rule reading fit into place.
  9. Use forums available 
    UK Refs, Female Refs on Facebook, YouTube, and Zebra Huddle.  I find these incredibly useful.
  10. This is the most important tip and I will say just one word – Haribo.
    No Roller Derby game is complete with out the obligatory pack of Haribo. This is a Zebra’s staple diet!!

I still get the odd pang of missing playing and hitting the other girls but in time I’ll make a better Ref than I did Roller Girl. I’ve now played 4 closed bouts and am looking forward to my SW:UK debut this April, a series of open bouts between South West Derby Teams.

Right now my life couldn’t be better!

Transitioning from Fresh Meat to Advanced Training in Roller Derby

Becoming a Roller Derby Butterfly!

It’s been six months since I joined the Roller Derby world. Having passed most of my minimum skills, I now find myself in the limbo between Fresh Meat and Advanced.  Everyone experiences the weird in-between stage at some point, so here’s a few tips to help you along the way:

  1.  Expect to be pushed, not protected.
    This is probably the stage in your derby career that you will feel the biggest shift, all of a sudden you’ll slowly stop hearing “be careful of the freshies” and “don’t hit them too hard” and the emphasis will be on treating you like just another member of the team. Don’t panic- you haven’t lost your freshie identity, but now you’re one of the big girls (and we know you can take it!!). Your coaches may remove a layer of the sugar coatings, but it really is a case of tough love- don’t take it personally, instead see it as a compliment, they are trying to push you to be the best player out there.
  2. Be ready to go from a checklist mentality to a team mentality.
    By now you will have probably crossed off most of your minimum skills, it’s just about putting them into action. One of the most overwhelming things is being thrown into the world of team tactics and quite frankly feeling a bit frazzled! You may go home and shed a few tears, but believe me when I say that everyone goes through this. We all experience bad sessions and unfortunately this transition stage is like a magnet for confusion. Don’t give up! By continuing to go to training, it will all become clear in time. Remember, you are now part of the team and they need you there, even if you don’t feel valuable, your input may help someone else understand it too.
  3. Ask questions!
    You may have heard this a million times in school, but there really is no such thing as a stupid question. Don’t understand what bridging is? You’re probably not the only one, by having the confidence to ask you’ll end up helping out your fellow freshies too (and giving a nice reminder to all those advanced skaters!). By being actively involved and taking in as much information as possible, your coaches and team-mates will respect you more because ultimately it will make you a more valuable player in the future!
  4. Don’t be ashamed if you make a mistake.
    Mistakes are how you learn, plain and simple! Everyone makes mistakes, even the advanced skaters! It’s useful to set yourself mini goals along the way, keep your eyes peeled for a future blog post from us all about not giving up!
  5. Watch archived games.
    The more you immerse yourself in this sport, the quicker you’ll pick it up. The WFTDA have a youtube full of free archived games to watch* and by seeing some of the best teams in the world, your own team tactics might begin to make a bit more sense! The announcers give a pretty decent run-down of exactly what’s going on, and if you’re really keen (guilty as charged) you can rewind and watch those amazing hits over and over again!
  6. Get involved!
    Use any opportunity to be a part of this wonderful new team. If there’s a bout or a scrimmage, don’t get discouraged just because you can’t skate- why not NSO or help out the referees? Keep your eyes peeled for fundraisers or events you can help out with, and don’t doubt the amazing impression this gives off to your teammates. It shows determination and enthusiasm, both extremely valuable attributes- it’s not all about skating ability, your personality will help you along the way so make sure you use it!

WFTDA archives (website): www.wftda.tv/archives/

WFTDA archives (Youtube): www.youtube.com/TheWFTDA/
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By Attack-O-Belle and Queena Hearts.

SWAT’s 5 February Fitness Tips

The February frost (or should it be floods?) have arrived… long gone is the New Year’s determination to be more active and squeeze into those smaller than small hot pants. And we all know that the January 1st mantra of ‘no more chocolate’ probably didn’t make it past the first week, let alone into the next month. Well, with the following 5 tips there’s no reason why you can’t get those resolutions back on track (well, maybe not the chocolate ban…) and even improve your derby while you’re at it!   

  1. Do it because you love it.
    You’re more likely to stick at something you enjoy doing and you’ll be a happier (and therefore healthier) human because of it. Some people love a group training session, while others prefer hitting the track solo. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what exercise you’re doing, as long as it gets your heartbeat racing and builds a sweat (and no… I’m not talking about watching your derby crush and fangirling yourself into a fluster!!)
  2. Menial tasks are training opportunities!
    Get out of the lift and meet your new best friend- the stairs. Now, take them two at a time; not only will this strengthen and tone your legs but also means you are doing lunges on an incline- perfect for mastering those knee taps! Brushing your teeth? Squat at the same time! Brilliant for that blocker behind and I’ve been told it makes you brush more vigorously, so if you see any sparkly smiles behind those mouth guards, now you know why!
  3. Be a planker.
    Core strength makes all the difference between being a good player and a great one. Whether it’s having the strength to stay standing after a huge hit or the balance to twist your body in all directions … you need to get your core rock hard.
    One of the drills that we find most core-inspiring is the plank pyramid:
    15 second plank, 15 seconds rest.
    30 second plank, 30 seconds rest.
    45 second plank, 45 seconds rest.
    1 minute plank, 1 minute rest.
    45 second plank, 45 seconds rest.
    30 seconds plank, 30 seconds rest.
    15 seconds plank, 15 seconds rest.
    It may hurt to laugh the next day, but you’ll be the one giggling on the track when you’re unmovable thanks to all those planks!
  4. Get fit for free without even leaving the house!
    YouTube is an amazing resource for fitness and it doesn’t cost a thing. Whether you’re trying to find out how to execute the perfect squat or a workout to get your heart racing, you can have your own personal trainer at the click of a button! There are plenty of channels dedicated to fitness and you don’t have to worry about how you look from the safety of your own front room (just make sure you close the curtains!)
  5. If at first you don’t succeed… SPEAK up… Don’t GIVE up!!
    If your ploughs lack the ‘stop’ or you haven’t yet mastered the crossover, it’s okay to ask for advice. In roller derby, you join a team but you gain a family and believe it or not… even the best skaters started somewhere! By showing determination and a willingness to learn you’ll have the team on your side with none of the guilt of giving up. Maybe some skills take longer to ‘click’ but with guidance and advice from your fellow roller-folks one day you’ll be ploughing with the best of ‘em!

I LOVE DEEEEEERBY! Fresh Meat to S.W.A.T Travel Team by Mrs Kripling

So, I was asked to write this blog as one of the newest members of the travel team and a normal person, awkward, anyone who knows me will tell you I’m far from normal! Although stereotypically I suppose I am, I’m a single, working mum of two boys. I run my own business as a cake designer around the school runs, cleaning, standing on lego etc.!

Derby came to me in a dream, and then that morning on Facebook (via a friend) was a picture of our very own Vampira. I got straight on google and found S.W.A.T Roller Derby. I emailed all 7 addresses desperate to know more. Bolty instantly replied and recommended that as the current fresh meat hadn’t started I join the local gents team. ‘The League of Extraordinary Rollergents is coached by a S.W.A.T member so it would give me a feel for it. I knew I’d love it!

League of Extraordinary Rollergents

I donned my skates for the first time since I was 11, nervously watching in awe of the others. The first thing I remember is how friendly everyone was! Completely welcoming, everyone is there purely for the love of derby, something that I have witnessed at every session, scrim and bout since. I trained with the guys for nearly 7 months when I heard Fresh Meat was starting but due to my commitment and skill level I was asked to join S.W.A.T early, I got in my car and actually screamed with joy, I grinned so much I looked like Wallace from Wallace and Gromit, now a regular look for me!

Fresh MeatMrs Kripling Jamme

Once I joined S.W.A.T my fitness levels were really put to the test. After having two kids and never taking part in regular exercise, I hate the gym, I don’t like getting cold and I can’t run due to asthma (and the fact that I just don’t like it!) I was over the moon to find not only a form of exercise that just felt like I was having fun but a team sport as well! I’ve always enjoyed being part of a team and the comradery of roller derby is something truly unique. You instantly gain a ton of friends and soon enough find yourself part of the derby family.

The night I passed my minimum skill was one of my greatest achievements yet, not just in derby but in life. My fitness has been pushed to the test as well as my determination, I wanted nothing more than to be a fully fledged roller girl. My final skill to tick off was the 27/5, a test of endurance and fitness (I genuinely thought I would never pass due to my asthma), when I passed, if I could have breathed, I would have cried.

Kripling & Flash Bo Dash

I have an addictive personality and used to spend every free minute obsessed with work/cake. I have now added, to an already cramped life style, derby. While I thought it would not be possible to have any more commitments in my life, it turns out, if you want something enough you WILL make it happen, and you’ll enjoy it even more!

I spent weeks obsessing over my derby name – as EVERYONE does! I lost hours researching the best wheel set-ups, learning new tactics and laughing at the latest team social pictures on facebook!

This year I have made the travel team (another amazing feat in my life and derby career) and we have the South West Championships coming up alongside many other bouts and Scrims. Having never played in a public bout I’m quite sure I will be pooping my beautifully shiny, purple custom bout pants to begin with but I know the atmosphere at a bout is something to be reckoned with.

Team WorkKripling

You have fans of all ages (babies to biddies), from all over, with their home made banners cheering on the skaters and enjoying the MCs amusing comments and then rushing up to high-five all the players and refs (a great touch which you don’t get in many sports).

This truly will be a proud moment, getting to skate out with the team around me, supporting me as they have every single step of the way.

So what have I learnt about derby so far?

  1. It’s addictive! Get used to it, accept it.
    You’ll spend hours deciding what colour to get your new bout pants trimmed with let alone the craving you get for training or when you, heaven forbid, miss a session!
  2. You just need determination.
    As simple as that. If you want it bad enough, you WILL get there.
  3. Shape and size does NOT matter!
    I have seen skaters from a size 4 – 24, each with their own talents. Me personally, I’m small but mighty (like Persil!). I may be tiny but I’ll still hit with all I’ve got – sleepless nights and snotty customers all result in a nice build up of tension just waiting to be released!
  4. You will stink!
    Unwashed pads and sweaty girls stuck in a car together (usually my 7 seater!) results in something you have never smelt before. Even the most glamorous looking roller girls go home stinking of witches pee – or something equally evil!
  5. You will get fit!
    Even if it kills you getting there, it will happen. Fitness isn’t always about being ‘ripped’, sometimes its just about being able to run up the stairs and not get out of breath when you hear the bath is about to over flow as one of your kids has set it going!

Personally I now have delts, traps and even abs again! (I had to research what these new found muscles were that I now owned by the way)

So that’s me, Charlotte, Mumma, The Cake Lady and Mrs Kripling – A derby loving, fancy dress obsessed, party going, cake fanatic who plays Mum, Business owner and Roller chick…and I couldn’t be happier!

Mrs Kripling

5 Reasons to love Roller Derby

5 tips for preparing for fresh meat

Having just had my first year anniversary of roller derby, I thought it’s high time I try to pass on my (eh hem) “wisdom”!!

Now I’m not one of the most confident skaters and I certainly wasn’t one of the fastest people to pass my minimum skills but I think there are some tips that I can bestow on any potential fresh meaters. I remember being so nervous before going to my first fresh meat session but here are some things that helped me get there.

1. Just go for it!!!

So you’ve found out roller derby exists! Amazing!! It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the U.K. at the moment. And it’s so easy to see why. It’s brilliant fun; you make some fantastic friends and become part of a really close team. It’s also a great way to lose some pounds and get toned up and you have this feeling of being generally awesome! If you don’t know anyone else who does it; who cares? Be brave. Most of your fellow newbies will be in the same boat and you’ll soon make friends. As soon as you join you will be taken under the wing of the team, and you will be supported every step of the way. We all remember the fresh meat fear, but it vanishes as soon as you get started.

 2. Get chatting.

Talk to the team! Most teams have a contact page/social network page and will be easily contactable. They will be able to give you some indispensable advice before you even start skating. Even if they’re not advertising for a fresh meat intake at that time, get in touch anyway and find out when they are having a new intake, and what you can do in the meantime. You will get the feel of how supportive your team will be from talking to them already. I was given loads of advice on skates/pads etc which really gave me confidence before attending my first session. It’s also a good way to find out about lift shares to training sessions so you don’t have to turn up alone. If you can jump in a car with other skaters you will save petrol money and get to know people in the journey.

 3. Have a little practice.

There will usually be some alternative skate sessions you can attend so you can give skating a try, or events such as roller discos which are becoming increasingly popular and S.W.A.T actually hosted one for Halloween, so keep your eyes peeled for more. These are great opportunities just to get a pair of skates on your feet. Roller discos will have skate and pads hire if you don’t have your own. You can always get outside if the weather is nice. Find somewhere with a smoothish surface that is quite flat and go for it. Take your trainers in your bag for if you get stuck. My first adult experience of skating was going along the quay in Exeter. I managed not to fall over and it gave me lots of confidence for my first fresh meat session. Exmouth sea front is also an ideal place for a skate.

 4. Equipment!

When you start there are lots of choices to be made about equipment. S.W.A.T have a selection of skates and equipment that fresh meat can borrow until they get their own but my advice would be to get in contact and ask what is available. Try and get as much as you can yourself so you don’t miss out. You won’t be able to skate unless you have skates, a helmet, knee, elbow and wrist pads.

KNEES KNEES KNEES KNEES! One of the first things you will get taught is “how to fall correctly” For this you need good knee pads. Don’t scrimp on these. You will fall on your knees a lot! A good set of knee pads are imperative. 187’s or scabs are used by most of the girls at S.W.A.T but there are lots of good makes. In my experience, bigger the better!  Also when I started I found the wheels that came with my skates were too slippy for me. The durometer (hardness) were 95a. I swapped to an 86a. (Higher the number, the harder the wheel). I found I had a lot more confidence with softer wheels because there is more grip, but everyone is different and you will find what suits you best.

 5. Don’t worry.

Unless you’ve been skating recently, you will fall over the first time you put skates on your feet. I’m sorry to say but the memories of how easy it was when you were a kid are lying to you! It’s quite difficult to even stand up at first! But have it in good confidence that everyone was the same when they started! When I first got my skates I thought I’d have a nice gentle skate up my street to try them out. No no. I stepped out of my front door, flew straight on my ass and crawled back into the house in all my glory! But it’s all good fun. We enjoy laughing at each other when we fly on our asses. You will definitely get some bruises. Wear them with pride! Also don’t fret if you feel that people are progressing faster than you. Some girls may have had some more recent skating experience than you and may find some things easier. We all learn at our own pace and we all will find our own strengths. Just keep trying. No one expects any more from you but to try.

 

I hope this has given you a bit of confidence to go and give it a go. You won’t regret it. It’s so much fun, highly addictive and really rewarding!

Yam- E Dodger

 

2

10 reasons

Give you a reason to join Roller Derby … i’ll give you bloody 10!!!

1. Fitness. We all eat one too many pies – and are all guilty of skipping out on the gym (every day) and so why would you not want to lose weight, tone those muscles, find that core … potentially even find those muscles you weren’t even sure you had!! And Derby is all about pushing yourself and, if like me… picking yourself up off the floor, numerous amounts of time in a 2 hour session really gets those muscles aching. With the usual planking regime and A+ core exercises that have been provided by members of the league, it is always exercise time … in a fun way!! Sometimes it’s surprising just how much exercise you’ve done without realising it … until the next day of course when you wake up and can’t move any of your body from the neck down!

2. Extra-curricular activity. It’s always good to have something to do – whether it’s going to the gym, tennis, badminton (urrrgh) etc etc … well it’s always good to have a ‘release’ and something to look forward to. For me, Derby is exactly this. My reward at the end of a long day – where you leave your day behind and get totally lost in the moment.

3. Being the person you want to be. Whether it’s on the track, in a bout or simply at training. It’s a chance to really be who you want to be, for some that’s wearing a cape whilst whizzing round the track, for other’s about jumping extraordinary distances that cannot be measured by us mere mortals, or just simply wanting to be the big mouth as that’s not normally who you are *shy’s away knowing everyone knows I am most certainly NOT talking about myself on this last one!!*

4. People skills. All of us occasionally struggle with our communication skills … which is something that Derby will knock right into you!! Communication is essential not only on the track but off the track too. And definitely pushes you to work on communication effectively with a wide range of people you may not normally come into contact with.

5. Pride. I have never had a prouder moment than when the final whistle went on S.W.A.T’s debut bout. Yes we had won (which obviously was an incredible rush) … but the sea of shiny purple hynies that piled in for a mass hug at the end was a feeling that I’ve never experienced. I was proud of everyone who had helped, played, been there at training or were involved in any way. We were a team, and one I was as proud as punch to be a part of.

6. Friends that become family. As many of you know that there is a tradition among many Derby girls of Derby marriages. Last December I was fortunate enough to have the pleasure … nay privilege, of marrying my Derby Wife. And after a long and happy two and a half months we decided to adopt a Derby daughter. I know that without a doubt they have my back both on and off the track (normally because it’s them plotting against me) But without them … I’d be truly lost.

7. Groping. This is just an added bonus. On many occasions there will be ‘incidents’ in which the front area is attacked and used like a climbing wall … this is either optional or ‘accidental’ … but all perks of the game! *looks at certain members of the team casually knowing they are very aware of who they are*

8. Merchandise. Because everyone wants to buy kickass tee shirts

9. Road trips. Going to watch other teams and look for tactics, scope the opposition and learn as much as you can is a large part of Derby and so road trips are essential. The best way of doing this is to car share and eat plenty of sweets to keep you going on the long journey.

10. Camaraderie. Because we’re all frickin’ awesome and support one another. Whether it’s shouting (or chasing with track pieces in recent events!!) for people in support to get them through their dreaded 25 in 5. Letting someone know you’re thinking of them after a bad day. All I can say is it really is frickin Ace! Being surrounded by THE most amazing people I’ve ever had the pleasure to come across. So get your butt off the sofa. Put down the biscuits … and come down for some skating goodness. Guaranteed you will fall in love with not only the sport … but the people too.

Love a very ‘cheesy’ and sentimental S.Mouse xx

All for one and one for all ….

So, it has been a while since I last wrote a blog (not long enough I hear some of you cry!) But think that with the inevitable post Christmas slump and New Year blues present that this couldn’t come at a better time. So over my last few blogs they have been from “Why roller derby is so great” to “Go team Go” all to hopefully bring the Derby world together and take even if just one thing positive or at least thought provoking idea from what has been read (Yes … it is a massive shock that S.Mousey can actually do serious … sort of!!) And I hope that only positives and a sense of belonging can be taken from this.

Now I started Roller Derby at a really pivotal moment in my life, I needed direction and focus and something to aspire too. Something which would get me out of my slump and back to feeling me again. Turns our projectile vomming in a pub and on your favourite misfits tee is a wakeup call to sort it out!! So when I walked in to my first training session I was very wary, there was the athlete super skaters to the typical over tattooed fishnet wannabes.. and then the group in the middle. The “holy shit balls I can’t even stand” group … I knew which one I belonged in!! … and you’re right … it wasn’t the super skilled athlete category *Whispers you bastard at all the smirkers* I took great appreciation and comical value from probably my first few months of training and not a great deal of “This is a serious sport” … but only all too soon did my opinion change. I was currently going once a week (if the pub didn’t call to me and win against a training session that was) and didn’t really see any improvement from week one to month two. But I loved the social side and I guess at first this is what kept me going. Plus I’d brought myself a super cool helmet and turns out you don’t have much of a need for one of them in everyday life.

Now everyone always says you can’t judge a book by its cover … but we’re not Mother Bloody Theresa and we all do it. Not just from a physical aspect but you take people for face value, comments you hear said from a person, or about a person. The effort someone puts in to the task itself or in making an effort to actively communicate with people. All things we take for granted and use to base an opinion or judgement on, although know we shouldn’t. Now although I am very aware I am tarnished with the “Joker and trouble maker” brush (I have no idea why ….*looks away knowing EXACTY why*) But looking back now, it wasn’t really a surprise that I didn’t improve or make the bonds with people when I didn’t take it seriously or think about the impact of my actions … or lack of in this case.

Being Bambi on ice was funny for the most part and through the social side helped me to make some friendships. So with this new ‘want’ to bring the social and skate together, it seemed like a great idea to arrange a skate down to The Quay. So there I was, sat on the wall, knee pads on, skates laced and my high tops ready as backup plan tied together and hanging around my neck. The group arrived and off we went. In my head I had envisioned this great moment of all skating and laughing together … in reality I shit my pants as there was no walls to fly into to stop me (something my lack of experience and training had yet to teach me … stopping) giant dogs running around and of course an audience of about 10 who due to my lack of errrrm skating ability got the wrong impression that I wasn’t willing to put effort in. Something not helped by the fact I gave up, put my shoes on and walked to the pub whilst they skated on! However shortly back in my comfort zone (and off skates) sat in the beer garden with the other skaters, I could really see this was a great bunch of girls and started to think about how I could start to be a part of this?

By now I had been “a part” of the league for around 3 months or so and the girls were due for their first official bout against SRT and due to my errrr … mouthyness I was asked to MC for the bout. Although I had no clue what exactly this entailed … I accepted as thought this would be my ticket into making a better impression. On the day, there I was … stood dressed in a top hat and tails, red lapels with gold trim and next to LRG’s Vigour Mortis, who towered over me in her beautiful heels and white wig. Still not really knowing what the frick was going on I took the time to see how much effort had been put in behind the scenes. From ticket sales, to finding a suitable venue to making cakes for the cake stall. All parts I had no idea about and was blissfully unaware required effort. Watching the girls from the side I started to look at it in a very different light. Why had I not known about all this? Through my own ignorance had I missed vital parts of helping to become a part of the team, through thinking it was all about socialising and making friends? As the day went on I had spoken to more of the skaters in one day than over the course of the last 3 months, because although I was not at that point a strong enough skater to bout I had actively participated in being part of the team.  As if by magic a light switched on and the derby bug had started to take its toll on me.

With this new sense of worth and want to be a part of this I made the effort to come to every session I could make. And choosing to train over going to the pub (turns out derby is pretty social and you can do both and not have to substitute one for the other!) I started to see an actual improvement. I could actually stand on wheels! And with the more sessions I came to the more people I spoke to and started to make some really good friendships. The better I got, the stronger the want became to make training sessions. All this time I had spent thinking that by coming to a session here and there would be enough, I had missed out on becoming a part of; in my eyes, a sport that deserves recognition for what it is. I had now been skating for 6 months and asked for new skates for my birthday, which I was extremely excited about testing out at the next possible opportunity. I was on holiday for my birthday and so had to wait over a week to try on my skates which was actual torture! I was so excited – something I hadn’t been for a long time. I had genuinely missed training. I had missed the planks. The falls. The smell of sweaty pads (sort of) but most of all the amazing people I had started to become friends with.

So with my new skates on and a VERY wobbly start I made the conscious effort to make all sessions and with that I felt a confidence in myself. I started to see an improvement in my attitude and in my ability to skate (which certainly hadn’t been there before) I felt amazing! All because I had put in a 100%, something which evidently I had taken for granted. I soon realised that you gained equally as much respect for how much you tried as you did for actual ability. So yes, although I wasn’t the strongest of skaters, my want to become better and the fact I put everything into it became my ticket into being part of the team.

I had a conversation with my friend the other day and said to her “Looking back on the past year of my life, I can’t actually believe how much has changed” … and I can honestly say that Roller Derby has made this happen. I would be lost without it. Without every wheel shape bruise, without smelly wrist rot from my pads (yep … we all get it) without every joke or laugh or cheeky look. I can’t even imagine what the last year would have been like without Roller derby. And if you’re reading this and thinking it’s all just a load of tripe to fill up a space on the website … well you’re not completely wrong! But it is a plea. A plea to each and every one of you to take the time and make the effort to fall completely in love with Derby like I have. Because each and everyone makes a difference. Not just to the running of the league, but also to each person’s experience.

And I am fully aware this pure gold extra mature cheddar is wafting through to you with every word that I write!! But do you know what? Sometimes it needs to be made known just how bloody fantastic something is. And Roller Derby … scrap that, how bloody fantastic S.W.A.T. is! This is easily the single biggest achievement in my life. And without each and every one of you it wouldn’t have been as epic as it has been. So thank you. Thank you for memories. The tears and tantrums *ignores the ability meltdown I had once upon a training session ago where I may or may not have thrown my helmet in a ‘slight’ strop along with mouth guard lob, which nearly hit the Wife!* BUT … that all being said, I would happily bet a pair of scabs knee pads that when you put in 100% effort into training, that you too will see how incredible your Derby experience can be.

Lots of love S.Mouse xxx

Bouts to date 2 <– my biggest achievement yet!

Because we matter …

Happy (albeit extremely late) New Year!! I hope that everyone started their new year with a new and positive look for the things to come … (yeah – me neither). However with this being said, things are already looking positive for the S.W.A.T. ladies. 

As part of a funding scheme, Waitrose each month are giving away a share of £1,000 to 3 organisations. So how does it work? I hear all you all ask, well there are 3 boxes; (one for each organisation) which have an A4 sheet of paper explaining and outlining what they do and what they would use the money to help with. When a customer makes a transaction they are given a green token, these little magic emerald nuggets are then placed in the box they feel is most deserving of the funding. Dependant on the percentage of tokens between the boxes will depend on how much of a share you will receive… therefore in essence … we need some bloody tokens!! So please help us by choosing to place your token in our box so we have the best chance possible. As another supermarket would say… ‘Every little helps!! 

The Waitrose store inExeter, along Heavitree road is the store where our box will lie and so please please please start shopping there!! It only has to be for February, but will give us the best chance possible of winning a nice chunk of the money, which will help us to raise our profile and in turn help the league in the long run. 

On another note we have started the year on another positive with our first roller disco being successful and raising over £900.00 from the event. It was a massive group effort and thanks to all those who were involved either before the day or on the day. From skateMarshalls, to skate hire everybody played a part in the success and we hope for another within the year so we can all put our glad rags and moustaches on again! 

Lastly, as many of you know. I am not a fan of the New Year and all its prosperous things to bring ethos (definitely a glass half empty kind of gal!) But with all this being said, this year is already starting out as a better year. And that’s down to each and every one of you. For every laugh or accidental grope we share (No need to mention names … we all know!) It makes this year already better than last. So thank you to every one of you – and I hope you all continue to share these times and moments. And of course … kick some majorDerbybutt over the next year!! 

Love today … and I suppose always! 

S.Mousey xxx

The end to a perfectly good year …

So Christmas is looming and we all hope over Christmas, that without training, it’s only the goose that’s getting fat!! This year has certainly had its up’s and downs, but am glad to say that S.W.A.T are ending the year on a high.

Starting out the year as fresh meat it was a hope that not only would I learn a new and exciting sport, but that a new group of friends would follow. How wrong was I!! And when I say this, I think we can all agree that we have all gained more than just a new friends group. Yes yes, this is pure cheddar at its finest. But I can honestly say that each and everyone on the team has made my Derby experience what it is. Team mates both on and off the track, each person bringing a memory that makes a training session what it is. From bullet proof tit plates, to rolling boot camps, to awkward falls that end in every one wincing and holding their girl bits in sympathy pain. But we are all there to help them dust off the hot pants and get back up again.

I would also like to say a massive thank you to everyone that has helped with the success of our league. I would like to say thank you to our head coaches Insane Bolt and Dot Slash for their relentless effort and hard work. Going over tactics to teach us and make us smarts!! To the assistant coaches Nurse A. Grudge and Ramona Devours for helping with training and putting a smile back on the coaches faces! To Marty McFlyer, for his extreme patience (mainly with me) and his help on the logo and Website. To the Mums and Dads who cheered us on and support us day in and day out, even when we bring our rancid smelling pads home after they’ve been left in the car for 3 days (sorry mum) To our friends who come with banners and cheered us on, your support means more to all of us and made our winning day even more perfect.

I hope everyone has a brilliant Christmas, stay safe when the snow comes (we’re all wishing it to come … who doesn’t want snow days?!) Eat plenty of turkey … (not too many sprouts) and look forward to seeing you all bright eyed and bushy tailed (I’d better catch me a squirrel if that’s what I’m hoping for!) Have a great time with family and friends. And look forward to seeing you all in 2012 … which I take this opportunity to say I feel will be an even better year for S.W.A.T

Much love folks

S.Mousey xx

A winning start.

The whistle blew and as I looked at the score board it flashed: South West Angels of Terror 167 – Bristol Harbour Harlots 107. Every blister, every sweaty elbow pad to the face, and every 30 minute endurance drill (aka 30 minutes of doom) had all been worth it. The hard work had paid off and the celebrations started straight away. The floor became a sea of piled up purple hot pants with twiglet legs waving around. It was not only the win that we wanted, but the win we deserved.

This was our first bout since the rebrand and what a game it was! It would be a lie to say that people weren’t nervous but the conversation quietly flowed over the pre-game satsumas. With the unveiling of S.W.A.T.’s flag (shortly to be flung off its pole in a victory wave from the Coach/El Capitano) we were all excitedly nervous. This was our first game as S.W.A.T. and our first chance to show exactly what we had been doing over the last six months. After both teams warmed up and the benches had been allocated, we were ready for the skate out. The audience was fully loaded for some derby action with their recently purchased merch, S.W.A.T. banners and even the odd set of foam arms! Camera flashes were going off everywhere, and the shit just got realz yo! I remembered saying “Can you believe we have 7 weeks until the bout?!” to the Wife, and then BOOOOM, all of a sudden it was here. I’d played my first bout the week before in a mixed scrimmage but this meant more than anything I had ever done before. My mind flashed back to six months before the bout when I had one hellish horizontal skating technique. I remembered looking up at the bright sports hall lights whilst flat on my back thinking there is no way I will ever be able to roll my arse around this track let alone skate on it! But here I was, about to play in S.W.A.T.’s inaugural bout, and the feeling was unreal.

With S.W.A.T. clad in green/purple and BHH in navy/red the first line up was ready and the competition was looking fierce; in fact I’d say rather confident. However S.W.A.T. immediately took lead jammer status and scored points to put us ahead whilst dishing out hits S.W.A.T. style. After the first few jams S.W.A.T. were 20 points ahead and looking strong, skating together as a team, showing we had our shit locked down (whilst avoiding the unlawful killing of unicorns due to abandonment of the inside line!). We were clearly on top form from the outset. It was no easy feat though; BHH dished out some massive hits and took the opportunity for some show boating amongst the derby carnage. By the end of the first half S.W.A.T. were still very much in the lead but BHH had stepped up their game and were becoming more aware of our tactics. However the second half brought a few more tactics and a power jam situation with only two BHH blockers on track so it’s safe to say Bristol didn’t know what had hit them… possibly more apt to say we were ‘snaking’ them! Another power jam down and our resident star and claim to fame called off her jam with a call of ‘BOOOM’ (minus the defiant middle finger – it was a family show after all folks!). Captain Solomon seemed to be unstoppable even after numerous power jams. Defeat seemed imminent for BHH and the game got a bit elbow-y; with proof only too visible on the Captain’s chin. But hey, we all love a derby scar!!

Looking at the clock with less than three minutes to go we were ahead by 50 points. A further 10 points in the last jam left S.W.A.T. victorious. Screams filled the air from this group of sweaty woman in tight shorts, but the victory hugs were even tighter. With a lap around the track, spirits were so high even the flag wrenched itself from its pole! There have been many changes since S.W.A.T. came to be. A new team dynamic. A new league structure. A change in training ethos and method. A new take on how roller derby should be played to be successful. And I challenge anyone to say that the hard work wasn’t worth it. It’s one thing to win a bout, but we can all be proud that we won it with a clean and clever game. If this much can be accomplished in six months, it literally gives me shivers to think what can be accomplished in the next six months.

South West Angels of Terror… here to dominate the South West!!