Sep 2015 07

My Love Letter to Those That Make It Happen

by Laur’n Disorder

Roller Derby representation in the mainstream media remains unfortunately predictable. Sometimes dubbed (mostly by me) the “By day/By night” phenomenon,  you can depend on media coverage of Roller Derby to focus exclusively on the skaters. All the flash and skill of the game, all the fun of the sport with the occasional (somewhat reluctant) nod to the athleticism and commitment of the players. People unfamiliar with the sport tend to focus solely on the game happening on the track.

The truth is the bout is the result of the tireless efforts of people who will often not get any of the glory. Leagues make the effort to recognise these people, they work like dogs and without them there is no Roller Derby. This is just my attempt to express my gratitude (in no particular order) to the following people:

The Non Skating Official (NSO)

These are the people you see around the edges of the track and clustered in the middle not wearing skates or team colours. In a screaming crowd they must remain totally neutral. They will be wearing what our league has lovingly termed ‘Beige Face’, the gently bland facial expression they must maintain even when their team is so fabulous they can’t stand it. These are the score keepers, the penalty trackers, the box timers. They need to know the rules, interpret what is happening on the track and react instantly. NSO’s can be ridiculously undervalued for the work they do, the bouts and tournaments we love would be impossible without them. Considering they do such vital work it must be really frustrating when they are left unacknowledged or worse are left to cop a lot of the flack.

As a role, NSO is also a great way to get to grips with the sport, but every week it can be a struggle to get enough people to have a proper scrimmage.

I would therefore like to thank the NSO’s for their quiet awesomeness.

Photo by Double Time Imagery

Referees

Team Zebra, where would we be without you?

In Roller Derby referees are a precious commodity. Many spend their nights and weekends travelling between different leagues training sessions, not to mention coaching skaters on the rules and checking we are all safe. These people work hard to keep on top of the intricacies of Derby, and believe me Roller Derby gets complicated. They can also be the subject of under appreciation and sometimes even outright hostility. Yes, there are very occasionally calls that as a skater you may not agree with. But there are also great calls, there are hours spent reviewing rules and training so that the game can function. I think that the referees can get a lot of negativity directed at them that they absolutely do not deserve.

Those that enforce rules are never popular but without them there is no Roller Derby, only girls on skates beating the crap out of each other.

I would therefore like to thank the Refs for their tough love.

 

The Committee

The Roller Derby world runs on committees. In S2D2, committee members are so good at their job it often appears effortless.

These are the people who spent hours upon hours sourcing venues, trainers, chairs, tape, equipment, endless jobs that all need to happen before anyone can even put on skates. People who dedicate themselves organising schedules, plans, events. People who will face a endless well-meaning feedback over any decision they make but are the only people willing to get up and make decisions. Committee work often seems thankless, even to those of us on the outside. It is not just the actual physical work that needs to be done but the management to get the best out of everyone, making all the tough decisions for the good of the league.

Without the Committee the league is just a group of people that don’t know when to meet and are without a venue.

I would therefore like to thank the Committee for their superhuman patience.

Training at Menai Indoor Sports Centre

The Trainers and Coaches

The people who go out of their way to see that we level up as a league, not just committing to their own training but putting in the time to help others. It’s easy to forget sometimes that the trainer or coach who might be pushing you more that you’re comfortable with is doing it because they believe you can do better. Every session requires hours of thought and preparation, even the most well planned session must be fully adaptable. These are the people who forgo their own training time to help others improve.

I would therefore like to thank the Trainers and Coaches for believing in us more than we sometimes do.

 

The Volunteers and Supporters

The families, friends, and allies. The people who pay to watch us bout, buy the merch, donate their time and skill, and provide an unwavering support that get us through. The people who bake goodies for cake stalls, work behind the counter selling, and the usually pay for a treat when their done. The people who convince friends and family to come see the awesome sport they follow, who make signs, sit for hours to cheer their teams.

I would therefore like to thank the Volunteers and Supporters for their ongoing commitment to the Darkside.

S2D2 Supporters

South Side, Strong Side!

 

There are more people than I’ve listed here (photographers, sponsors, charity partners, and venues all come to mind) that should be thanked more. I hope that we continue to benefit from their work, we should certainly take the time to express our gratitude!

Thankyou!

 

Jun 2015 29

Hello, my name is Atomic Bombshell, and I am a geek.

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To be quite honest, I can’t say that I’m really all that ashamed of being a geek. Quite the opposite. In the wonderful words of Simon Pegg (whom you may know from Star Trek and Shaun of the Dead):

“Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. It’s basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating.”

Being able to love what you love and never have to act like you’re too cool for school? Sign me up!

I’m also a person who never quite felt like she belonged.

The hunt for a tribe is one that most people are familiar with. I had heard of this crazy roller derby thing from a few different places, but I’d always felt like I wasn’t tough enough, or brave enough, or badass enough. Derby girls were the next level of awesome in my mind, and I wasn’t quite sure that I was cool enough to join in. Without league members like KillaBee and Anklebiter, that image would have stayed in my mind forever. I’m very glad to say that isn’t the case.

I decided I needed my own hero- and because I’ve always loved the idea of having a secret identity, I decided to become my own.

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I seized my courage, bought a pair of skates and in October 2014, I signed up for Fresh Meat with the South Side Derby Dolls. I found a group of people who had named their travel teams The Force and The Empire (I have a deep and abiding love of Star Wars, borne from a father who tricked me into watching Episode IV when I was 7 with the promise of a princess). And I found teammates who had named themselves like Marty McDie, Sailor Doom, Gnarley Quinn, Sin Siti and Bruise Wayne… It was obvious right away that these were my people – I’d found my tribe.

League Photo

When I found out that the League would be attending Supanova in Sydney, I was all over it like a rash. Any event that celebrates the aforementioned awesomeness of being a geek is a-okay with me, and the fact that my league was going to be in the thick of that awesomeness, I was more than happy to give up my time and promote the awesomeness of roller derby.

I spotted plenty of Harley Quinns (and there was one Harley that stood out in particular- a New 52 Harley Quinn on roller skates!), a few Jon Snows (thankfully SPOILER ALERT still walking and breathing). I got selfies with Princess Belle, Kaylee Frye (my all time favourite Joss Whedon character), Thor and Captain America.
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I was like a kid in candyland with all the cosplay, but that wasn’t really what stood out for me. The most intriguing and interesting thing that happened when I manned the booth was chatting to people and seeing that moment. That moment when you chat to a person who is staring at the booth, looking a mix of intrigued and shy. Someone who was once like me- fascinated by derby, but not quite sure if they’re enough of a badass to actually give it a go… Someone who is unashamedly geeky, on the search for a tribe; and someone who maybe might see if our “cupcakes and rainbows” roller derby league is the place for them. Roller derby has been an absolutely transformative experience in my life and I really, really hope that I played a part in someone strapping on a pair of skates and becoming their own superhero.

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My choice in my derby name is quite obvious… I love the 1950s and I’m pint sized. I’ve had more than one person ask about my derby number. I’m not an ’84 baby and the 0 at the front doesn’t really make much sense. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, an 0-8-4 is an Object of Unknown Origin. Thor’s hammer was one in the first Thor film, as was the Obelisk, The Plasma Particle Beam and Skye in the television offshoot of the movies, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.LD. This year, one of Supanova’s guests was Elizabeth Henstridge, who plays Dr Jemma Simmons on SHIELD. I couldn’t help myself, I had to have a photo. I very nervously walked into the booth, my Southside shirt in hand. I’d barely finished explaining that I play roller derby and I’d chosen my number because of the show before she’d whipped the shirt out of my hand and held it up to the camera. Needless to say, it was the Best. Day. Ever.

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In summary… Southside Derby Dolls are awesome. Being a geek is awesome. Finding your tribe is awesome and always remember, no power in the ‘verse can stop you.

Love and derby kisses,

Atomic Bombshell xx

Jun 2015 25

South Side Derby Dolls has a place for skaters of all levels. From those playing in the highest level of competitive games to the person who bought skates yesterday with dreams of getting approved for contact. But there’s another group of people who train and work hard to help make every roller derby game safe, fair and fun. The S2D2 Droids is our team of officials both on and off skates.

Why are our officials called droids? Droids are an essential part of any organisation in the world of Star Wars. They’re always in the background offering translations, processing data and keeping things functioning. Some on wheels and some on foot. The S2D2 Droids are always active during roller derby games collecting scores, directing players and keeping games running.

Being an official is often overlooked even though it is an essential part of the game. Officiating can be hugely rewarding, enjoyable and a great way to participate in the game without the contact side of things. It is a great way to meet people. We asked our officials some questions about why they chose to become a droid and why they find it rewarding:

What do you enjoy about being a Droid?
“The people and the opportunities. I have met so many amazing people during my time involved in derby; people I would have never met in any other circumstance.” – Switzerland

“I like being part of the team. Not necessarily the “officials” team, but contributing and being an active member of my league is most important to me.” – Kaos Bob

“I’m enjoying being in a supportive team where I can take my time to learn things properly. I also still get to hang out with all my skater friends.” – Sweet Baby Cheeses

“I like working on a crew for a tournament and how that crew works better and better together each game they work.” – Totorod

“We sometimes travel a long way to help make derby happen. Some of my favourite games have been working closely with a mix of skill levels.” – Gory Numan

“I really enjoy the disciplines of being part of team zebra, receiving and giving support to fellow officials and of course I have met some great friends along the way.” – Wayne-o-War

“You instantly make so many friends and people who share your interest in derby. I also feel the league I skate for respects the officials and include us as just another skater on the track…we just happen to wear stripes.” – Boom Tish


Photo by Liam Mitchell Photography

Is being an official fun?
“I find NSOing great because simply it’s fun to do.” – Raven Nyx

“I like it when things click and I have lightbulb moments.” – Sweet Baby Cheese

“Made and get to work with great friends, warm fuzzies from helping facilitate a great sport, and getting my rules nerd on.” – Major Skateholder

“I like doing it right. Its always fun to learn but applying that to give the players and fans a smooth game is very satisfying. Also we get into games for free.” – Kaos Bob

Why did you become an official?
“I became an official to learn more about derby as my skating developed then fell in love with it so it made an easy choice to get more involved when I could no longer skate.” – Coch Less Monster

“I was living and breathing Derby as a fan, but it wasn’t enough so when S2D2 advertised for NSOs I had to give it a go. No choice.” – Kaos Bob

“Derby widow, refereed sportsball in the past so was comfortable with the concept of officiating.” – Major Skateholder

“My best friend at the time decided she wanted to play the derby and as much as I loved the sport it wasn’t for me. I decided I wanted to be behind the scenes, plus I love statistics, so I became an NSO.” – Boom Tish

“I started NSOing so I could learn the rules and hopefully end up being a better player. It was also a time where officials were pretty scarce in our region.” – Switzerland

“Our family grew up in and around roller rinks until family life got in the way and unfortunately roller skating took a back seat. many years later my wife found roller skating in the form of roller derby whilst I was overseas.” – Wayne-o-War

Are there some things you find hard about being an official?

“Time: it takes a big commitment to develop and maintain both skating skills and rules knowledge.” – Major Skateholder
“I’m a Derby fan first. That’s why I got into this. I find it hard not to cheer. Sometimes I have to take a game or two off just to watch and be part of the crowd.” – Kaos Bob
“I’m a perfectionist and a bit of a stress head so sometimes I really feel the pressure when it comes to doing things right quickly.” – Sweet Baby Cheeses
“One thing I find hard is not being able to stop and explain why a skater got a penalty.” – Totorod

You too can join the S2D2 Droids!
South Side Derby Dolls is always looking for new officials. To find out more come to our recruitment info session (28th June) and talk to some of our Droids. There are lots of great reasons to become an official:

  • Learn more about roller derby
  • Be an essential part of safe and fair games
  • Be part of a team working together
  • No skating required (some roles are on skates)
  • Non contact
  • Opportunities to help other leagues with their games and practice games

 

Jun 2015 15

By Lil Web Riding Hard

It is no secret that I am a proud member and supporter of geek culture. As I wave my nerd flag high, I cannot help but wonder if it was something greater than myself; something divine; some higher power that lead me to become a member of the nerdiest little hub of derby love in the whole derbyverse … Or perhaps I just have outstanding taste. When I first found S2D2 I was feeling a little derby lost, but all of the glitz and glamour of a team full of friendly Star Wars loving people caught my attention … and the incredible athleticism and team work held it.

Right at this moment in life, when every other comic is becoming a movie and geeks all but inheriting the Earth, it is a really good time to be a geek. So imagine my excitement when my two worlds once a mere blip on the pop culture radar collided!!! Pure bliss. For a long time the derbyverse has played with concepts from geek culture inspiring player names (including our own Sailor Doom and Gnarley Quinn to name a few) and bout concepts (like the recent Tri-Wizard Tournament). More recently geek culture has started to salute to derby, and the results are awesome. As cosplay is also an important part of my life the chance to don a costume at a bout and be a derby girl at a convention is something I celebrate.

So with SupaNova nipping at our heels, here are 5 of my personal favourite derby/geek crossovers … enough to inspire anyone to put together a killer derby themed con costume!

1. Harley Quinn gets a Derby makeover.

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Ok so not all Harley Quinn fans are in love with the new Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti series, but this fan was pleased as punch. Sure at times her Derby style gets a little “Whip it”, but we all have to start somewhere. The writers do however manage to include a little bit of derby 101 which is always a bonus.

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2. Ame Comi Flash, what better hobby for The Flash than Roller Derby??

DC’s Ame Comi girls is a short comic series actually based on a popular line of figures. In this Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti universe only females are superheroes or villains. I cannot think of a better universe than this for Roller Derby to exist, and who better than the Flash to be the star player and the “Fastest Girl alive”.

flash

3. Tom Kurzanski whipped up the GC Rollergirls

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Tom Kurzanski is an incredible artist from the states who decided to whip up a few GC roller girls and when they hit Teefury, nerdy derby lovers everywhere went crazy for them! My newsfeed was alight with these bad boys and I am not ashamed to say – I too joined the buying fury. Recently Kurzanski added some of Marvels bad ass ladies to the roster and let’s hope it doesn’t end there. Check out Kurzanski’s work – www.facebook.com/t.kurzanski

 

4. Danielle Gransaull draws her derby squads

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Not only did artist Danielle Gransaull reimaging some of the best and worst the DC universe has to offer but she made some popular Marvel mutants into a magical team and to top it all off she gave us sugar ,spice and everything nice in her Chemical X derby squad. These interpretations have inspired many a cosplay group and are sure to inspire many more (I myself am dying to bring these to life). You can check our all of Danielle Gransaull’s work here - www.facebook.com/daniellegransaullart

 

5. Heroes of the Storm Roller Derby Skin;

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Not to be outdone Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm; an online multiplayer battle arena, released a Roller Derby Nova skin. The skin transforms the character November “Nova” Terra, originally of the Starcraft franchise into a truly awesome looking derby girl.

This character has been so popular in the cosplay scene it has drawn girls of all ages as shown in an image from Blizzcon 2014

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Image from Winged Mammal

She would make one hell of a derby diva!

Bonus Round:

And if you are stuck for a costume why not try and mix a little derby into your favourite characters for something a little out of the box, and don’t worry you can always grab a skate noose to keep the con happy. Just check out SRDL’s Feisty Cuffs when she rocks her killer Derby Dash!

 

So no matter if you are a geek who is just finding out about derby or a derby girl (or boy) who is only just embracing the culture that is taking over, it seems that there is plenty of love out there for a little crossover (no pun intended). Whilst the convention floor might not be the most welcoming place for a set of skates; find your local derby team and show them some love, derby teams reach out and touch some geeks. Some things were just meant to be!

How I Survived Fresh Meat: the girl who couldn’t skate
Mar 2015 04

By Sasha Fierce

I honestly didn’t think I could be taught to roller skate.

It’s a common story on the first day of fresh meat, “I can’t skate.” And, “I’ve never skated before.” And lots of, “Skating as a kid doesn’t count, right?”

In my (limited) experience having skated as a kid really does give you a little advantage and a great starting point for being more open to trying new skills. I think this is because, you’ve kinda already learnt that it’s ok to strap wheels on your feet.
But for me –  it is not ok to strap wheels on my feet.

I literally had never skated before.

Not as a kid. Not on inlines. Never went skiing.

Can’t even ride a bike. Not on ice. Except for that time I clung to the wall for dear life for one lap before sitting out the rest of the session perfectly happy to just watch others enjoy, calmly refusing to put the skates back on, “You guys have fun. I’m happy to chill here.”

Sasha yoga skates

On a whim, my husband encouraged me into buying a second hand $50 pair of black plastic, toy skates from the 80s off gumtree. The plate and trucks, PVA glued in. The bearings, rusty. The wheels, too hard. The size, too big. The brand, no one had even heard of it. But, I didn’t know any of that. They just looked like skates to me. We also grabbed a $30 set of wrist, elbow and knee pads from Rebel Sport but splurged a little more on a decent skate helmet.

Sasha - gumtree skates

We got home and Googled some ‘teach yourself to skate’ stuff and decided to start with one basic skill: taking a knee. I stood, shaking from fear, on my lounge room carpet in full gear surrounded by yoga mats and pillows. For hours at a time I stood, still shaking, in my skates going down to one knee. Coming back up. Going down to the other knee. Coming back up. Repeat. Nonstop. For weeks.

By chance, I saw an ad: “It’s not too late! Sign up for fresh meat roller derby with the South Side Derby Dolls.” Still shaking, I responded to the ad on a Tuesday, did my paperwork on the Wednesday, paid my fees by Thursday, and went to my first training session on Friday. That Friday I went along, I honestly thought that I wouldn’t be able to learn to skate. I pictured the derby girls kindly offering me a refund and apologising to me because I simply just wasn’t right for this activity. I risked it and went anyways (yes, still shaking).

Four months later and not only can I take a knee like a boss but I can skate, stop, crossover, jump, skate on one foot and I can even shoot the duck (pictured).

Sasha - shoot the duck

The shaking thing slowly went away. It occasionally comes back if I feel really out of my depth. But these are my top things that helped me through and what I’ve learned from being fresh:

1. Mind over matter.
I know this sounds corny but, you’ve gotta genuinely believe you can do it before you’ll be able to do it. Your body tends to be capable well before your mind realises it so, push your mind. Believe in yourself.
If, like me, you suffer from depression, anxiety, low self esteem and the like – talk to your GP about being referred to a psychologist and take an active role in your treatment. You need a strong mind for derby.

2. Off skates.
Train off skates. I’ve found weight lifting, mixed martial arts for fitness, yoga, running, and swimming all really great for overall strength, endurance and agility. Pick something and create a diverse regime that works for you. Note: It does not matter what your size is. It does not matter what your body looks like. What matters is what your body can do. You need a strong body for derby.

3. Cross train.
Pick up something that isn’t derby and do it.
I picked casual indoor rock climbing because I’m afraid of heights and derby doesn’t do much for upper body strength. Turns out that rock climbing requires a lot of single leg squat movements, hip flexibility, and fear conquering – just like derby.

4. Rest.
I loathe rest days. Surely just one hour at the gym counts as a rest, right? Wrong. Your body needs that day to heal. You need a rest day.

5. Stretch.
Every. Single. Day. I now have patella femoral pain syndrome in my left knee. That means, I didn’t stretch properly and my knee now hurts a lot all the time. Stretching at the same time each day (like, when you wake up) to establish a routine of daily stretching. Stretch a lot before and after exercise. Stretching can prevent injuries. Listen to your body. See a professional if you have any issues.

6. Skate.
The more time in skates, the better. I feel that training is where you learn cool stuff. Skate practise on your own is where you master it.
Also try non-derby skating activities like RollerFit, speed skating, outdoor skating. Although, I personally forbid you to try ramps when you’re as fresh as me. I even sometimes do my chores in skates.

Sasha - chores

7. Fall over.
Once you’ve been taught correct falling technique, practise and make it muscle memory so that your body just does it when it needs to. Falling can happen from pushing your limits so far that you overreach. That and you have wheels on your feet. Every stack is a (painful purple blotchy) lesson (on your ass). Falling is not the opposite of success, it’s the method to it. The more you fall, the more you learn.

8. Laugh.
Instead of pressuring yourself to be Wild Cherri – relax, laugh, and enjoy the moment when you’re skating. Your brain will be more receptive to learning if it’s relaxed and having fun. Be excellent to yourself. Understand that you don’t have to be good at things right away. What’s the point in doing this if we’re gonna pressure ourselves so much and have our expectations set so high that we just feel inadequate and miserable? None. Being hard on yourself won’t make you a better skater.

9. Reward your efforts.
Every time you attempt something new, mentally reward yourself just for trying. That way, you’ll teach your brain: “trying = good.” The more your brain wants you to just try, the more practise it’ll be receptive to do, the more practise you will do. And, practise makes perfect.
You’ll also feel happier (see point 8.)

10. Wash.
Wash your gear. Promise? Good.

11. Gear.
‘It is a poor workman who blames his tools’ but hot damn does investing in quality equipment make a difference. Buy decent knee pads, learn about the parts of your skates, loosen your trucks a little, and ask for help. For training, wear something practical and comfortable – this is a full on sport. If you were going for a run, what would you wear? Wear that.

12. NSO.
Be a non skating official at scrimmage to help learn the game. Watch as much derby as you can.

13. Mantras.
Having a mental database of mantras helps me through the tough times. These little slogans hark back to bigger ideas and philosophies that I use to keep my mind strong (see point 1). Sure, it’s a bit lame, but maintaining a positive frame of mind, in this sport, is a decent chunk of the work. Here are some of my personal mantras (I shout a lot of these to myself in my brain during laps):
– Feel the fear and do it anyway.
– Yes, it hurts but I do not care.
– Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.
– Turn your fear into a ‘to do’ list.
– You’re doing really well.
– It doesn’t matter how much it hurts so long as you know you did everything you could.
– The only difference between someone who can do it and someone who can’t is that the person who can do it believes they can.
– Comparison is the thief of joy.
– Identify the difference between a reason and an excuse.

14. Above all, trust your trainers.

If they say, “Throw your weight across” but you’re scared to throw your weight across, trust your trainers and throw your weight across. If they say, “transition”, transition! If they say, “Jump the apex!” Well… Just try your best, ok?

At the end of the ten week fresh meat course by London Brawling, I was deeply honoured and humbled to get the ‘Freshie of the Year’ award.

Sasha - freshie of the year

THUNDRBUTT was so proud, she made me this:

Sasha - so fresh

The trophy sits on my bookcase flanked by those aforementioned filthy $50 gumtree skates, which I did the entire course in.
If I can do it in those, you can do it in yours!


Ps. As a Xmas treat to myself, I hooked myself up with these pretty little Bonts (below). Felt like a T Rex with extendable arms!

Sasha - bonts

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