Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Flat Track Side-Tracked: My Other Life and Blog

There's been long term radio silence on this blog, largely due to a busy school schedule, a new puppy and very little skate time. Also, I have another blog, but we'll get to that. Though I'm currently out with a recent ankle injury, once I'm cleared, I'm planning to rejoin the ranks of the rolling. ...Again.

Though I feel like I spend a great deal of time trying to get back into derby after recurring absences, I have high hopes this time. Why? For one thing, after hearing that along with physical activity, derby offers a weekly chance for me to work on my social anxiety, my psychiatrist is very firmly on the derby bandwagon and the opinion of the person prescrbing your SSRIs can have something of an effect. Also, my partner Antonio will be joining me: now that cricket season is winding down. he'll be volunteering with FCDG and hopefully attending skate practices. And frankly, I feel so sluggish lately that I'm really craving a chance to reconnect with my body and health. As is often the case, derby is the answer.

With those high hopes in mind, I thought I would introduce my other home on the internet: my gaming blog. Coming into the third year of my PhD, I decided to start up a blog that reflected my academic interests. It's still pretty fresh, but any readers of this blog looking for fresh content and willing to talk games should check out The Bagatelle.

In the mean time, despite the long quiet, TPE has not been abandoned, but awaits new skating experiences to feed it. Jam City Rollergirls, alas, does not count. But I should probably blog about it somewhere.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Postcards from the Inside Track: First Practice Back + NSOing a Mixed-Gender Scrimmage

This past week, I had my first fresh meat practice with FCDG on Thursday and NSO'd a Men's and Women's scrimmage in Woodstock. A dramatic landing after approximately forty seconds on my skates on Thursday resulted in an ongoing ouchie, so this post was very nearly titled The Sore Ass: Synonyms for Pain. Perhaps that classy title will appear later.

On Thursday, I was very nervous before practice. My anxiety has kept me from getting to the fresh meat practice at FCDG before and I was unsure if I could make it. Happily, a friend called to offer a ride to practice and that sealed the deal. Getting back on skates after a long break was a study in humility: I could barely get off the floor without using my hands. However, the trainer I was working with was wonderfully patient and positive. Due to anxiety and work, I've had more absences from and returns to derby and subsequent visits to fresh meat training than most and FCDG's one on one training was some of the best I've had. Next up: getting in shape again. Somehow.

This Sunday, I was penalty wrangler/tracker for a scrimmage hosted by Woodstock. Open to men and women, the scrimmage featured skaters and officials from Tri-City, TORD, Royal City, Rollergettes, LMRD, Festival City, FCDG, and Woodstock. Several of the players were also referees affiliated with their home leagues, so the occasional penalty getting called from the bench was slightly confusing for a first-time tracker. The referees and NSOs were a dream to work with and scampering around the inside track was great fun. The most frequent penalties assigned were for cutting the track, with fore-arms coming in second.

It was my first time watching a mixed-gender scrimmage and I have to admit that I expected it to be rough. What I didn't expect was that the hits, though hard, were generally legal. There were a few dramatic pile-ups, but the scrimmage went more smoothly than expected.

Woodstock also hosted a free dinner after  the scrimmage, which was a great idea. Free food encouraging community and connections between leagues? Delicious genius.

Next up, continuing to practice with FCDG and a post on the scarcity of referees.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Festival City vs Area 705: Melee in Milverton + Blog Announcement

After a long break from derby, I'm back, training to be a referee with the Forest City Rangers, the referees associated with London's own Forest City Derby Girls. I'll also be blogging about my experiences in hopes that offer trainee refs and folks curious about working to earn their stripes might find it useful. Look for updates each Monday!

Copyright Area 705 Roller Derby
As part of my training, I'm currently NSOing as often as I can. This past Saturday, the Festival City Rollergirls' Decapulettes hosted the Area 705 Roller Derby's Smooth Operators. The match-up promised a great chance for the Decaps to show their fast-paced improvement and Area 705 to take on a more experienced team and earn both some bruises and some crucial playtime. Both teams had visiting players from other leagues (including Toronto LOCO, LOCO Kitchener and LMRD) and referees from all over (WEWRA, FDCG, among others already mentioned) showing derby spirit and helping fill the rosters and positions

The Decaps maintained control throughout the game, with some excellent jamming and hard hits. But the Smooth Operators were no slouches and showed a great deal of potential with incredible sportsmanship. From the perspective of the penalty box, I saw quite a few players from both teams, but the Smooth Operators did their league proud with great attitudes.

My favourite players of the bout? The Decaps' nimble Cargoyle and the Smooth Operators' Rainbow Crash, who was all enthusiasm in Pinkie Pie socks.

Copyright Festival City Rollergirls
My favourite sight at the bout were the "Go Decaps!" pennants on sale. Cheap and easy to make, pennants are a great way to sell some merch, distract children and get some team colours into the crowd. Kudos to whoever in Festival City decided to go for them. It's great to see leagues diversifying the content of their merch tables. A Decaps fan at Saturday's bout could buy shirts, buttons, pennants and hot sauce. Happily the hot sauce did not come to the after-party.

All in all, Saturday's bout was a great showing and a wonderful way for a derby fan to get back in the game.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Featured Blog - BeLEAGUEred: Adventures in Roller Derby League Administration

Today's featured blog is BeLEAGUEred: Adventures in Roller Derby League Administration. This new blog is the work of a good friend of mine who has written a great guest-post for our own TPE previously. BeLEAGUEred focuses on the ins and outs of league administration, straight from the source.

BeLEAGUEred addresses an important gap in derby blogging - you can't swing a pair of skates on the internet without hitting a (sweet) player blog, but league administration just doesn't have the same online resources. It's essential to tell derby stories from all sides of the sport - sharing the ideas of players, refs, NSOs, fans, and administrators too. Without the folks who run leagues, we're just skating in circles. League administration blogs like this one also offer key insight for readers interested in how your your derby sausage gets made: new admins and experienced admins looking for ideas on how to make the roller derby machine run deserve support. With BeLEAGUEred leading the way, it's my hope that we'll see more of that conversation spread.

Knuckle Slamwitch of Toronto LOCO has a clear, (leg)whip-smart writing style that makes obvious her intelligence, pop-culture sensibility and passion for the game. With multiple league experiences under her belt, she's qualified and smart, making her a great voice to lead discussions on league administration.She's already listed some future topics and is casting her nets wide for informed voices to interview (it could be you!). Get in contact via her blog to share your experiences and help start a great new blogging project.

In the mean time, thank your league admins for their time and effort. Those people work hard.