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.