Photographs courtesy of Kaisa Viljarand
When the first line up comes on, all eyes are on the track, veteran derby viewers asking....which team has the back line? Where are the Jammers positioning themselves? Who is going to get through first? Those with fresh eyes for derby asking....what's going on? Why are skaters wearing things called panties on their heads? The first jam whistle goes and it's on, the audience are captivated. Sure, you are probably aware of those people in your peripheral vision, running back and forth, possibly causing a momentary distraction; or more irritatingly briefly obscuring your view. Until Saturday I didn't really have a grasp of exactly what those people were doing, other than proving a rather annoying distraction (if you have my kind of Magpie "oh look, it's something shiny" attention span) . I now know, those people are working their butts off to make sure the day runs smoothly and to schedule, the value of which should not be underestimated!
Before you enter the hall, with all your excitement, anticipation (we hope), and wishes of yummy treats for sale, so much thought, planning and setting up has already happened. On Saturday, as the hosts of the SW:UK final, it was all hands on deck for PCRG....skaters, Mums, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends...come one, come all, just come and help! So, my job (along with Storm Cooper) was to take all that hard work and make it worthwhile, by: keeping the schedule running on time, telling people where they should be (mostly hurrying people along), signposting and being a point of contact for the many queries that inevitably arise throughout. It was actually a pretty daunting task, but with the support of a load of PCRG peeps and the mentoring of Slams, it was quite fun and gave me a greater appreciation of what's involved in putting a bout together successfully.
So, I've compiled a list of memorable moments from said task:
Most embarrassing moment: being given a radio in case of emergency, having nowhere to put it other than my back pocket and as a result walking round looking like a douche on a power trip.
Scariest, pant wetting moment: trying to get gatecrashers to vacate the hall, who were....let's say reluctant to go, evident by the tirade of verbal abuse. Followed by their friends' reemergence at another door;I think I lose feminist points for seeking out a man to take with me! Luckily they were more friendly than their friends and were encouraged to buy a ticket to our next bout (May 11th, in case you were wondering).
Oh My God, I'm out of my depth moment: approaching a pack of refs to try and tell them what MY schedule was!
And finally, most proud moment: seeing all the hard work at training being put into practice on the track. It was sad not to see PCRG take the win, but pride inducing watching them skating fast, hitting hard and working the PCRG way...as a team!
As I said, the best thing about being a bout coordinator is...you don't have to be impartial.
This is Bella Trips, over and out.
A well looked after crowd cheering on Warhannah as she emerges from the pack with LEAD JAMMER!
| || |
We are always overwhelmed by the support and love that we get from our fans... but this week we reached 1,500 fans on Facebook!
<---- This is how you make us feel
This is an amazing achievement for us and as a thank you we picked one super fan at random to receive PCRG goodies and 2 tickets to our upcoming bout - The SWUK Final!!
Well done Jennifer Pointon
(p.s as much as we love all 1,500 of you... we don't think our venue has that kind of capacity!! So make sure you get your tickets fast!)
Grab your tickets now for the SW:UK Final to see Kernow Rollers battle against Dorset Roller Girls for their place in 3rd and 4th, and then the final battle for 1st between Plymouth City Roller Girls and South West Angels of Terror.
With a regional rivalry these two teams have been training hard since their last match up which was the closest final score in the whole season.
Set to be an absolute nail biter, don't delay in purchasing your tickets for just £7 advance - there will be a limited number of tickets on the door for £9. Children under 10 go free.
Get them HERE
Plymouth City Roller Girls have joined forces with awesome eco-friendly junk band, Weapons of Sound, to put on an half-hour FLASH MOB dance protest to call for an end to violence against women!
Join us outside Drake Circus, at the top of Cornwall Street.
Our ethos is all about empowering women and girls, our referees and volunteers, so they can thrive in roller derby and life. This cause fits exactly with what we stand for. The fact that one in three women in the world will be raped or beaten in her life is shocking. Rape, genital mutilation, domestic violence, none of it should happen and it must be stopped. We believe the only place a women should get hit is on the derby track!
Time: Monday, February 18, 2013 6:00 PM - 6:30 PM
Host:Plymouth City Roller Girls
Outside Drake Circus at the top of Cornwall Street,
1 Cornwall Street
Plymouth, Devon PL1 1DH
Plymouth City Roller Girls are about to open our doors once more to new skaters! If you think this might be the sport for you, why not come along to MARJON sports centre on Friday 8th February 7pm - 8pm (and every Friday in February) to give skating a go? It costs just £4 and is a great way to begin your Friday night!
Drop us an email at info@plymouthcityrollergirls if you require kit and we will see what we can do!
Address: MARJON Sports Centre, Derriford Rd, Plymouth, PL6 8BH
Our next bout is nearly upon us. We are heading up to Bournemouth to play our biggest rivals S.W.A.T Roller Derby in what is set to be an absolute thriller!
Event details can be found here:
Tickets can be purchased here:
S.W.A.T vs DORSET ROLLER GIRLS
300 - 44
PCRG vs WILTSHIRE ROLLER GIRLS
255 - 103
A week ago today, my team mates and I were feverishly discussing the finer points of our tactics in preparation for the South West Season Opening bout: A Fistful of Blockers. We were fortunate enough to have seen our opponents in action only a few weeks before and thus had an idea of what kind of game they liked to play. However, teams can change their tactics seemingly overnight and the my ever suspicious nature began to question if they had played in a particular way to psyche us out? Alas, not everything is about PCRG, and it turns out that the Wiltshire Roller Derby
we had witnessed play a few weeks before were the same competitors we were due to play in the season opener.
The video by Richard Silverwood demonstrates more perfectly the bout we played than I could ever express in words. All of the team's hard work finally seemed to 'click' into place and that is evident through the team work, walls and communication clearly seen on the track. I felt nothing but pride (okay maybe a little tiredness too) before, during and after the bout of all of the PCRG team - from our amazing chair Charl Shred for stepping in at the last minute to do announcing duties, to our b-team skaters for manning stalls, performing stewarding duties and generally providing all the support the skating team could need. Extra shout outs need to go to Madame Gutterfly from CRD for also stepping in last minute to announce, Veni Vidi Vicki from S.W.A.T for strapping on her skates to referee PCRG vs WRD. This to me reflected the great parts of roller derby - people from opposing teams helping each other out for the love of derby.
It was immensely pleasing to win our first bout of the season - not only has it given us some confidence (we are a team not used to winning. Like. Ever) but it has also given us a good starting point for the rest of the season. Thanks to a dedicated bench team (Ramona Devours and Hilda Guard) our team was able to focus entirely on on-the-track events and concern ourselves less with on-the-bench events which has always been a problem to us in the past.
We are currently in 2nd position on the leaderboard
, and this is the explanation of the rankings system:
SW:UK Ranking System League Points 3 Points : a win of 30 + points in a single bout 2 Points : a win of 5 - 29 points in a single bout 1 Point : a win of 1 - 4 points in a single bout (Points are allocated for a win only) If more than one team has the same amount of 'League Points', their position will be then decided by their total points margin (i.e how much they have won by over the season). Each month a new League Table will be released after that month's bouts showing each teams position. At the end of February the final table will be released showing the top two teams who will compete to be the best in the south west! This system will result in a League table that will be carried on to next season when more teams join our region.
Tickets to the South West Season Opening double header are now available to purchase right here from our website!
Click on our fantastic poster (designed by Laura Jayne Weeks
) for tickets!
So on Thursday 9th August, I Hilda-guard of Plymouth City Roller Girls tried my hand at Bench Coaching. Today it seems I am going to try my hand at writing a blog about it.
First a little bit about me. My real life name is Kirsty and I joined Plymouth City Roller Girls in May 2011. Now I am know as Hilda-Guard to those I skate with. I joined the training committee and have now been coaching for a couple of months. I love coaching. I enjoy planning the sessions before hand and I enjoy leading a group through different drills. I have surprised myself in just how much I enjoy it and how the knock on effect of this is that I am pushing myself and taking on more responsibility than I ever would have thought possible. But that is the thing about Roller Derby. It pushes you and you learn things about yourself that you just never thought would be you. All of a sudden you are in a new environment with skates strapped to your feet padded up to eyeballs forcing your body to work all kinds of muscles that you had happily forgotten the existence of. Then, then the mental side of the sport comes into play. You are now in a team, people are relying on you to do your best. To push yourself beyond your physical and mental limits so you can play your part in this team’s success. For me that was something I had never experienced. Not since school had I been forced to push myself beyond my perceived limits and even then I never really cared enough to really push myself too far beyond my comfort zone.
Well I love Roller Derby and it turns out Roller Derby doesn’t give two figs for my comfort zone. So I have pushed myself. For me this has meant making myself have the confidence to coach, to believe enough in myself to lead others. To believe in the work I have done on my own and with my team. To believe what I am saying is valid and important, that PCRG will be a better team with me giving my opinion and leadership. That is not something that comes naturally to me, it is so much easier to make a self-depreciating joke and stand down letting someone else put themselves out there. To give opinion after opinion but not actually put myself in a position of responsibility where I have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. So now I am trying to walk the walk. This means more coaching but also now hopefully Bench Coaching.
What is a Bench Coach I hear you ask? Well the Bench Coach is the crazy lunatic you will often see jumping up and down yelling at her team on the track from the bench at bouts. The Bench Coach or if you are lucky Coaches are the people who keep the players organised. They give the line-ups , they keep an eye on penalties, they know when to call time-outs and they are constantly communicating with the whole team both on and off the track. The yelling is really all about communication. When should the jammer call off the bout. Should the pack be speeding up or slowing down. It is becoming an increasingly important role as the game speeds up and becomes more competitive and a team with dedicated bench coach should be a step ahead of a team without. So with my love of coaching and being a general bossy opinionated soul I thought to myself why that sounds like something I would enjoy. This is how I found myself at PCRG’s mixed scrimmage asking if I could possibly pick a team and have a go at bench coaching.
Luckily the answer was yes and then as a second stroke of luck I found myself another soul looking to try bench coaching. The lovely and wonderful Lydquidator (also known as Lydia) from Cornwall Roller Derby. More generally known for her super NSO skills Lyd was also interested in bench coaching and even better for me has a super knowledge of all the procedural bits that I suck at. Together we chose a team and went to try our hand at bench coaching.
I loved it. Not just a little bit but a whole damn lot. I spent the whole time jumping up and down yelling out instructions, setting line-ups and generally keeping my team organised, calm and focused. Lyd was amazing. She supported everything I did, kept an eye on penalties, told us how and when to speak to the refs and clarified anything we needed to know. W seemed to be on the exact same wave length and more than once I noticed us both jumping and yelling the same thing at the same time.
As it was a mixed scrimmage it was obviously different from being the bench coach to your own team. I didn’t know most of the players so didn’t know who wanted to do what or what experience people had. So I started by asking all the players what they wanted to do. Once I knew who wanted to jam and who was happy to pivot I had a starting point. I then unceremoniously volunteered one of the PCRG rookies to be captain as I knew her and was confident in her abilities to lead. Thankfully Swann-in-a-bout accepted and did a superb job. As I didn’t know all the players I tried to keep things simple but we did have a plan, we had basic tactics and the women knew a couple of basic phrases I would shout to dictate where they should be and what they should be doing. Also as I didn’t know anyone I only had the first 3 line-ups after which time we winged it. I would set up the next jam as soon as one lined up on track. As soon as we lost a player to penalties I would let the players know who would stay on the bench. This all worked beautifully because I was fortunate enough to have a great team of players. They were enthusiastic, focused and they worked really super hard. They also put their trust in me which I am so grateful for. They listened to my ideas and then put them into practice. I was completely awed by the way they all listened to my crazy little ideas and then went out on the track and did every single thing I talked about.
There was one brief point in the second half when we became a little chaotic and started racking up the penalties. At this point I asked everyone to take a breath, remember what we were doing in the first half and stick together. They listened and did such a wonderful job. The fact these women had never played as a team before was quite unbelievable. No one would have guessed it. On the track they stuck to each other like glue, recycled like they were going to save the planet and kept their heads no matter what. It was a huge privilege to watch them play and I loved it.
This blog has been rather long winded and involved huge amounts of I and me, but the truth is the role of bench coach is one of support. Being the eye of the storm, allowing all the players to play the best they can because they don’t have to worry about when they are playing, if they have minors or to decide what tactic to pull when, to know that if it all gets a bit chaotic there is one person who will be looking out for them, telling them to take a breath refocus and keep playing the best game they can. I had the opportunity to be that person for the first time last Thursday with a fabulous group of women and I loved every bloody second of it.
Okay, so what’s the worst that could happen? I could skate out to the jam line and fall on my arse and make a complete tit of myself. That’s probably the worst thing. That’s what I told myself on the Saturday morning when I woke up at 4am pumped with adrenalin. Why did I say I’d do this? Most of the other rookies are going to NSO. It seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, I joined Derby to play, so I jumped at the chance of a place in a rookie mixed scrimmage. Too late to back out now.
It’s now starting to dawn on me though, that we are the support act at a public bout and, although I have passed minimum skills and the rules test, I have no idea what I’m doing. There may be a couple of hundred people watching me not knowing what I’m doing…Why did I say I’d do this??
Still, we have a great bench coach organising the random bunch of rookies from several teams in the South West. I’ve only met them all on Facebook so far. Emma ‘Insane Bolt’ asked if I considered myself more blocker or jammer and I figure jamming just keeps it simple – one tactic: get the frick through the pack, skate fast and get through again… (Bless the PCRG coaches who have been trying to teach me the basics of tactics, strategy and plays. As yet it’s all a wee bit much and not really gone in at all. Me, I learn by doing, so bring it on! I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it).
Arriving at the venue, I get to meet the rest of my team. I also get my red Snipers Tshirt and putting that on makes me realize I’m really doing this. We’re all nervous and we’re all pretty new to this. A couple of girls have been skating a fair bit longer than me, but a few seem to have less clue what’s going on than I do, which is reassuring. Pimms O’Block is our captain and she gathers us, reassures us and gets us on the track to warm up. I’m anxious not to show up PCRG so try to look good in the drills (and not to fall on my arse!).
I’m in the line up for the second jam, as the jammer! Ok, f**k. Ok, that’s what I wanted. I can do this. I skate out to the line and stand there pretty much shaking (don’t fall over, don’t fall over). I’d love to run off on my toe stops, but the chances I pull that off without tripping myself up are slim. The pack moves off and then the jammer whistle blows and I skate off after the pack. Suddenly I’m not scared and I’m not thinking of anything except the best line through. I don’t remember there’s anyone watching. I can’t even hear them. I get through, I get lead and as I come round the track I suddenly register my bench coach yelling at me to call it off. I’d forgotten smart jamming too. I call it and it’s over. There’s a huge grin on my face and all I want is to be back on the track.
Jam four, I’m jamming again and this time I make points. Jam six, I’m lined up to jam again (I can’t be that bad then…). I’m loving this. The grin is a permanent, uncontrollable feature. Only then there’s an official time out. The roof is leaking and after an age of discussion and consultation and trying to re-lay the track to miss the wet patches, the refs decide to call off the bout. I’m gutted. It’s not over. This needs to be finished. But at the same time I’m exhilarated. I have actually done it – I’ve played Derby against another team, not in practice, not in my comfort zone; on a track, taking hits from girls I don’t know.
The rematch is in Bristol. I lie to get the weekend off work. There is no WAY I am missing this. Not all the Snipers can make it, so some of my team are new: Team Red. It’s a closed bout, but there’s still an audience. I’m still nervous, but it’s a different kind of adrenalin. I’m loving it and I can’t wait.
I’m lined up as the jammer in the first jam. I skate out to take my place on the jam line. As I get there I fall on arse and make a complete tit of myself. … And it doesn’t matter at all! I jam every other jam. I learn up close and personal about ‘eating the baby’. (What’s she slowing us down for? Why doesn’t she skate off?’ Oh, that’s why!). My team come up behind me to hit the black jammer and release me. They grab me and boost me through the pack. The feeling is amazing. I learn more about tactics in a couple of jams than in the hours in practice trying to understand. I learn more about communication in two minutes than I have in months of drills.
That we win the bout is the icing on the cake. I can’t say I don’t care becaus
e I do. I play to win. Next time I play I hope I don’t fall on my arse, but if I do, I know I’ll just get back up.