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Roller Derby Blog | June 2014

Featured Skater - Team Australia's Bambi von Smash'er

27th June 2014

Derby Name: Bambi von Smash'er

Derby Number: 411

Age: 36

League: Canberra Roller Derby League

Position: All over!

How did you get into derby and how long have you been playing?

I’ve been playing for 6 years. A friend at work came to me one day and said “hey, I’m starting a roller derby league, I think you should join, you’d be good at it”, so I joined, and here I am still skating 6 years later.

Highlight of your derby career?

I've been blessed with many AMAZING opportunities over the last 6 years. Playing in the 2011 roller derby world cup would definitely be up there as a MAJOR highlight.

What is your personal derby goal?

I love playing derby and I’ve had many amazing opportunities. I train hard, spending most of my "free" time skating or at the gym. Roller derby is an exceptional sport but until it is professional I don’t think about it as a career, it’s a passion. My goals are to continue being fit, effective on the track and to keep loving the game. I’m keen to see our league become a full WFTDA league and be involved in competition in the USA.

Who is your Derby Idol?

A skater in my league - Pink Mist. She is organised like a demon, fit as a fiddle, and on track has the calmest, smoothest head and no matter what is thrown at her she just keeps working, she works as hard in jam 20 as she did in jam 1. Pink is fair minded and hard working in all aspects of derby, she enriches our league and the teams that she skates with.

What is the best piece of advice you could give and up and coming derby player?

Try not to aspire to be another skater, aspire to be your own best skater. In sports we can get bound up with who beats who and who is better than who…because that is what competition is, right?! This merry-go-round can be crippling though! When you go out on the track or go to the gym, aim to beat you yesterday to be the skater you dream of tomorrow.

 

**Credit to Roaringstorm Photography for allowing us to use this image of Bambi. For more fantastic images from Roaringstorm Photography click here 

TGSS! - National Officiating Scholarship Part 5

26th June 2014

I have to admit, TGSS began for me several months ago, with an e-mail from Wolfey offering me a place on the 4 person referee staffing committee. Along with Harry Spot'er, Kernel Panic and Rowan de Boate, I spent weeks in a google doc having discussions about the skills and strengths of Australia's referees - between the four of us, we had direct experience with at least 90% of the applicants.

I was also made aware a few days before the tournament started that apparently the referee and NSO staffing had been very different in style. Staffing itself was done via a couple of video chats - on the ref side, the chats involved a lot of silence.

'Okay, who do we want in this position?'
'*silence*'
'...what about...X person?'
'I was JUST thinking that!'

Apparently the NSO side was more of a video chat while all three staffers attempted to build 'dream' crews and poached officials from each other - much more lively, by the sounds of it!

Nonetheless, we arrived at the tournament ready and raring to go, and we actually had very few roster issues throughout the weekend (the refs, at least, I can't speak for the poor NSOs).

The night before Day 1 of the tournament, I cooked pizza for my roommates and some friends - something that went down extremely well! Home-made pizza is, in my opinion, an ideal pre-event meal - full of carbs, protein, just a little bit of fat, and a whole lot of hearty good-feelings.

My first day found me as a crew head referee for a Division 1 group which included Canberra, Brisbane City Rollers and South Seas. My crew gelled extremely quickly, and spent all day improving - I found most of the feedback that I needed to give was around the small tweaks to make a better referee - positioning, the cadence of your voice etc.

Most of my crew then followed me into a quarter final between Adelaide and Sydney (both teams already having had a 'last few minutes' scare earlier in the day). 'Heated' doesn't even begin to describe that game - both teams are reputed for playing a very physical style of roller derby, and from the first whistle the roller derby was fast and intense. An hour of gameplay later, Sydney had prevailed and a very long first day was done and dusted.

Day 2 had four Australian referees acting as 'track supervisors' - in effect track 'head refs', off skates providing feedback and guidance to the Division 2 crews that were officiating that day. I found this enlightening for myself, let alone for the crews I was leading - reading how well a crew was gelling and picking out items for them to work on - which for one crew might be fundamental 'skills based' corrections, while for another crew might be more aimed at fine-tuning. It was, again, an enormously long day, but being able to see the progress made by certain officials from morning through evening was really quite impressive.

The most other notable event of Sunday was an impromptu meeting with Grace Killy and Allasin Sane from the WFTDA - I just happened to run into them at the same time as I ran into the Sun State WFTDA Skater Reps, and half an hour later we were all still talking. The conversation was unbelievably productive, talking mostly around our difficulties with finding teams willing to play sanctioned games against us in order to obtain an initial ranking, and the overwhelming impression from the two WFTDA board members was that they genuinely felt our concerns - all they needed was more information in order to decide how best to approach the issue. It gave us so many ideas as a league to help progress roller derby and WFTDA membership in Australia - watch this space!

Finally dawned Day 3 - semi-finals and grand finals for Divisions 1 and 2. I found myself on an absolutely stellar crew, with all three Australian certified refs on the inside of the track (Harry Spot'er - or as he's more recently known, 'Cornish' - at head referee, myself at inside pack and Rollbar at jammer referee). This crew was ear-marked for the grand final, but first we had to get through an intense semi-final between Sun State Roller Girls and Canberra. The crew gelled with a speed that reflected the skill level of each referee - immediately operating like a well oiled machine. This gelling was then emphasised with a crew lunch - even if we did have to wait for the restaurant to open - oh, to be so hungry so early!

One of the highlights of the weekend was the opportunity to be evaluated by Grace Killy for Monday's two games - not only submitting the evals to WFTDA, but also generously opening up her feedback to us specifically, so that we could immediately implement anything she raised.

My specific feedback was mostly about my body language - while I've worked hard on a 'poker face' in big games, it appears that I still have movements like 'whistle twitch' which give away when I'm uncertain or thinking about certain penalties a little too much.

One impromptu evacuation later, it was game time - grand final time, that is! The two finalists from the previous two Slams, Victoria and Sun State, met again in a game that was intense from the very first whistle (I believe I issued my first penalty approximately 3 seconds into the game). The pack play in this game was unbelievable - bridges stretching forwards and backwards, a pack nearly impossible to define shifting up and back, and Spots and I both frantically working together to cover as many things as possible.

From the rare times I looked at the scoreboard, the game was clearly tight, and swung back and forth. From the gameplay alone, it was clear to see that the teams were incredibly well matched and close in skill. But what I was most proud of was the hard work of the officials in the game - never did I see a ref 'off their game', never did I see a bad call, or a moment of being lost. These referees well and truly earned their place on the grand final, and proved their skills in the most intense game I have ever had the privelige of refereeing.

The next couple of months will be pretty quiet from me - but come late August, I will be in America attending PLAYOFFS! No official news yet regarding appointments etc, but in any case, the networking and derby-experiencing opportunities will be most excellent!

 

**Thankyou to Richard Tompsett for all images in this piece

Satellite Workshop - National Officiating Scholarship Part 4

23rd June 2014

Satellite Workshop - National Officiating Scholarship Part 4

Apologies for the delay on this - it turns out that the busier you are in derby-land, the less time you have to write a blog!

Following a Sun State Roller Girls home team double header on 25 May, I found myself driving into South Bank (in Brisbane) the very next Friday for the National Officiating Scholarship satellite workshop.

The planning for this scholarship started back in April with a phone call from Ben (from the Australian Institute of Sport) - 'because this one's in your home town, do you want to stay in the host hotel, or do you want to drive in each day?'

The answer to that question, by the way, is always ALWAYS choose the fancy hotel. Two nights of luxury and wonderful food in the South Bank precinct.

The workshop itself was again chock full of seminars and information from the experts involved with the program. The first morning started with a psychology session on knowing your stress, as well as a nutrition session on busting the myths.

I cannot over-emphasise how important the psych sessions have been to my development - being able to recognise when you're reacting in an unhealthy way to stimulus, and now being able to recognise when you are 'stressed', even if the stress is not necessarily manifesting with what you think of as the 'standard' feelings (for me, nervousness and butterflies in the tummy). Being able to recognise the difference between good stress (or eu-stress) and bad stress.

In fact, I can specifically relate to eu-stress thinking back to the ANZAC tournament. I recall in the first fifteen minutes of the grand final, every time I stopped in between jams I could feel my knees wobbling inside my knee pads, I had so much adrenaline pumping through me. I felt alert, aware, almost with a heightened sense of focus, with the world slowing down around me and plenty of time to do everything perfectly. There's no question that my body was absolutely flooded with adrenaline, but it was being focused and channelled perfectly into my reffing, rather than distracting me and making me over-excited, shouty or frantic.

The day continued with more one-on-one psych and nutrition sections (where I discovered that I lose weight 'like a male' - minimal difference in most places, but weight absolutely melting off my calves), and also with a small-group officiating conversation (similar to one we had in the first workshop). These officiating conversations are an ideal way to get to know your other officials and their challenges and accomplishments in a facilitated discussion - conversation is free-flowing and covers any number of topics, but is always carefully guided.

The second day of the workshop included another group psychology session - know your environment. This session built on the stress session to help you learn the concept of 'mindfulness' - being in the moment, living in the moment, and using all your senses to make sure that you're fully experiencing the moment. In general, the times when you are stressed mean you're thinking about something that is not what you're doing at that exact moment, or focusing your thoughts on parts of the situation that are out of your control. Sometimes, if the object of the stress is outside of your control, the easiest thing to do is to simply focus on your environment and attempt to 'let it go'.

The timing of that session could not have been more amusing - throughout the session, several officials were clearly getting edgier and edgier as we headed full speed towards presentation time. The presentation element of the workshop was left deliberately vague - you had five minutes, absolutely no more, and you could present on whatever topic you wanted.

Naturally, I chose roller derby - only to discover that it's VERY hard to summarise roller derby in five minutes. Still, I did a decent job, except that apparently when I'm presenting without wrist guards on I have a nervous tic where I click my fingers. A lot. Apparently 26 times in five minutes.

The final part of the day consisted of an impromptu discussion around some of the challenges that some other officials were having - mentor issues, appointment issues, issues with a lack of involvement from their sport. It was a lively discussion with a lot of input from the room, and I felt quite fortunate to have complete support from my mentor Kruger and Roller Derby Australia.

Heading to scrimmage that afternoon, I knew there would again be no rest for the wicked - it was less than a week until TGSS!

 

Featured Skater - Team Australia's Blockodile Dundee

20th June 2014

Derby Name
Blockodile Dundee

Derby Number
411

Age
26

League
Sun State Roller Girls

Position
Blocker

How did you get into derby and how long have you been playing?
I started playing when I moved to the the US in 2009. I played for the Lafayette Brawlin' Dolls in Indiana, and I had no idea about derby in Australia at all. When I moved back here in 2011, I was like, What is this TGSS thing everyone keeps talking about?

Highlight of your derby career?
Representing Australia at the 2011 World Cup and taking out fourth place!

What is your personal derby goal?
To play in a WFTDA Big 5 tournament.

Who is your Derby Idol?
Akers. For a tiny girl, she's got a whole lot of power. Also, her butt. She's also really funny. I just like her, okay?

What is the best piece of advice you could give and up and coming derby player?
Really, seriously push yourself and keep making yourself do the things you're bad at. The only way you'll get better is to get the hell out of your comfort zone and stay out.

**Credit to Roaringstorm Photography for allowing us to use this great image of Blockie. For more images by Roaringstorm Photography, click here.

Featured Skater - Team Australia's Giles

13th June 2014

Derby Name
Giles (aka G-Banger)

Derby Number
010

Age
26

League
Victorian Roller Derby League (VRDL)

Position
Jammer

How did you get into derby and how long have you been playing?
7 years - A friend told me there was a cool, fun, retro, full contact sport on roller skates, so the next day I was there, at training with my old op shop figure skates ready to go!

Highlight of your derby career?
Making it to the WFTDA playoffs 2013 with VRDL

What is your personal derby goal?
My personal goal is to take this as far as I can. Playing with the VRDL All Stars is the most amazing experience. Smashing old goals and taking on new ones, with my team, every time we go out and play. I want to be there on the track with the VRDL when we win the Hydra. ;-)

Who is your Derby Idol?
Steph Mainey... Cos she is a goddam machine!

What is the best piece of advice you could give and up and coming derby player?
Get strong, get fit, get a good core, GET LOW!

**Shoutout to Roaringstorm Photography for allowing us to use this great image of Giles. For more click here!

Featured Skater - Team Australia's Freyda Cox

6th June 2014

Derby Name
Freyda Cox

Derby Number
50X

Age
Dirty Tirty

League
Sydney Roller Derby League

Position
Blocker, Jammer, Coach

How did you get into derby and how long have you been playing?
Circa 2010, me missus (Dirty Rascal) rang me from work one day ranting and raving about "Whip It". She tasked me with finding derby in Sydney and I bought tickets to an SRDL bout the same day. That was it - we Googled, we saw, we were hooked.

Highlight of your derby career?
Oooh so many!!! Can I give you the Top#3!?! Yes!?! Thanks from...

#1 Training/Playing with Gotham at RDx 2013 - Holy New York batman, I'm still working my way up to train like those machines, I mean skaters.
#2 Cheering VRDL on their WFTDA tours - those ladies are such an inspiration.
#3 Making the TeamOz training squad - still pinching myself over that one.

What is your personal derby goal?
Learn absolutely everything and teach it to everyone else in the most engaging, inspiring way possible. "SET EVERYONE UP FOR THE WIN"

Who is your Derby Idol?
Everyone who loves and supports roller derby - 'fo realz - it's like Sophie's Choice! Okay, form if you insist - here's my Top #1's...

#1 Skater: it's gotta be BonDawg Thunderpants (aka Bonnie Thunders). What would her business card read!?!: entrepreneur, coach, captain, WFTDA legend, catwoman!?! She's like the Richard Branson of Roller Derby and I have so much respect for how her brain works and how she makes our brains work too.

#1 Ref: Numb3r Crunch3r - dude she won a scholarship for derby! Amazing!!!

#1 NSO: Cochless Monster - an unsung hero in Australia in my books and always has a smile and hug for you - but not during sanctioned bouts because she's a professional.

#1 Supporter: Ma Wiffffe, Dirty Rascal is the wind beneath my wings and the foot up my arse when I'm complaining. Dirty you are the reason I do the derby and I simply cannot thank you enough.

What is the best piece of advice you could give and up and coming derby player?
If you ask questions - you can find a solution to every single problem you ever encounter in your derby career. Absorb ALL THE ADVICE and then decide which bits work for you. Most importantly though, say THANK YOU to everyone who makes the derby happen.

** A shoutout to Roaringstorm Photography for capturing the great Freyda Cox in action, for more click here.

A Little Update from the Team at RDA

4th June 2014

It has been quite a busy few months for Roller Derby Australia.

Since March we have been in lockdown trying to organise some pretty amazing opportunities for Australian derby, and we just thought it would be nice to share some of these workings with you all.

DIPP (Derby Injury Prevention Program)

As most of you now know we have launched the Derby Injury Prevention Program, and the response we have received from the community has been overwhelming to say the least. Injury prevention is something very close to us here; with ever rising insurance claims the impact is sure to hit the purse strings of our members at some stage, so we have tried our very best to come up with a few solutions to prevent this happening. So far the  DIPP is proving to be our knight in shining armour!

As well as rolling this out in all States and Territories before the end of the year, we are in the background with our High Performance Manager working on a model that will see this being an accessible program to all members. Part of this process includes developing a network of experts in each state and territory to help in all aspects of playing this sport including active recovery, rehabilitation, nutrition etc. Let’s just say ‘watch this space’.

Coaching Accreditation

The Roller Derby Australia Coaching Accreditation is coming together quite nicely. We are just about to finalise our last workshop, which will see the end of the consultation period conducted with each state and territory.  From here we will pick 1 – 2 people that participated from each state to create a working committee. This committee will work with us to create an accreditation for our coaches and trainers specifically to the needs you have requested. The best part is that derby has written the first recognised coaching accreditation for Roller Derby ever! WFTDA are even excited about the roll out and look forward to seeing how we set this benchmark for derby internationally.

**The Australian Sports Commission are currently reviewing their coaching guidelines so it may take a while for the course to be submitted, rest assured though we are aiming for the first course to be rolled out in January 2015.

WFTDA

It has been a long while since anyone has heard any official whisperings about the relationship between WFTDA and RDA. Each month RDA and WFTDA have been catching up regarding upcoming events and opportunities for derby in Australia. The WFTDA have been extremely supportive on the Coaching Accreditation and Injury Prevention front which may see further growth in this area. Further to this, we have been working on an exciting opportunity for Australian WFTDA apprentice and member leagues for 2015. We can't give too much away yet, just keep the Queen’s Birthday in June next year free ;)

Team Australia

We are pretty excited to have the opportunity to sponsor Team Australia at the Blood and Thunder World Cup. Apparently we are the first ever governing body in the world to give our team such support. To our international friends this is just as much of a big deal as it is to us, as it paves the way for other countries to follow suit, ultimately injecting more support into the sport on an international stage. We look forward to supporting the girls throughout this journey and are itching in anticipation to see them compete against some of the world’s best! Make sure to follow our weekly skater profiles and news updates as we get a little closer.

Derby Fest

RDA will be working with the organisers of Derby Fest for some awesome derby experiences for 2015. Not only are we sponsoring Derby Fest, but we have teamed up to deliver three regional clinics in Australia with the stops being in NSW, SA and WA. Roller Derby Australia loves the passion that Derby Fest has for growing the skating experience of our Australian skaters and feel this partnership is one that really taps into the grassroots development of our sport, not to mention gives back to the amazing regional leagues we have nationally.

New Merch

As we are heading into winter and the cold air is setting in, we will be launching a new range of merch. Available to purchase at TGSS and our online store, we will now have hoodies and baseball tees as well as a new range of tees. Make sure to visit our stall at TGSS to keep uber warm!

As you can see have quite a bit going on and are continually looking at new opportunities and initiatives to deliver to the sport in consultation with our members and the wider community. These are just the projects that we can talk about now and hope to give you greater insights further in the year.

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EMAIL

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