Basin Brawler for a day

Chico Norcal Skate Tournament 2010This past weekend I headed up with a few of my sister Tahoe Derby Dames to play in a derby tournament in Chico.  Since most of us hadn’t done much skating or practicing in a few months, it was emphasized that this was to be a friendly, no-pressure event.

Our team, the Basin Brawlers, was a mix of players from Tahoe and Reno, and we were up first against Redding in a 30 minute bout. Typically a derby bout lasts twice that long, but as the team that won this bout was to play Chico in a 40 minute bout, the first game was kept deliberately short so as to not totally exhaust the team that played twice.

Despite the ‘no pressure’ element, it was clear that all of us wanted to win, and while the first few scrimmages weren’t our most effective – we were, after all, literally just getting back into it – we quickly regrouped.  At the end of this first scrimmage, we were tied with Redding.  One final scrimmage, one with Redding’s point-scoring jammer in the box, and the Basin Brawlers won, 65-56.

Admittedly, our team was a wee bit tired by this point, so facing off against Chico’s fresh team felt a bit unfair, but with a few additional Redding players joining us, we figured we had a decent shot.   Given that I was thrown in as a jammer for the very first time, I’m pretty sure that I didn’t help us much in the point scoring department.  But I must admit, I really enjoyed it, even if I didn’t fully understand how the hell I was supposed to get through a pack of skaters who were out to clobber me.

In the end, combined with some other factors, the Basin Brawlers lost to Chico by 14 points.  While not ideal, we played a closer game than we have in the past, and also had one new player on the track, so all told, it turned out pretty well.

This was a very quick trip to the home of the ‘Harvard of the Cal State system’ (not my words, but those of a certain alumnus I know), so my sightseeing was limited to the Cal Skate, our hotel, a bar with a really bad DJ playing rave music, a burrito stand, and an awesome bakery (best latte I’ve had off Hwy 99 – fact).  I shouldn’t be too hard on myself, as we were there for a little more than 12 hours total.

I’ll have another chance to both see the town of Chico and skate there, as Tahoe has an away bout there in April.


Tahoe Derby Dames 1st win of the season

Just got home from a marathon 3 day road trip to Coos Bay, Oregon for Rollerpalooza.  Which also happened to be my first derby bout.

It was a jam-packed weekend. Three states, 11 Tahoe skaters, 1 coach, 2 bench coaches, assorted family members, 19 hours of driving, and one bout, handily won by us 144-82.

To win my first bout was awesome, even more so because it was the Tahoe Derby Dames‘ first win of this season.   So the euphoria was well earned by my teammates who’d suffered through earlier defeats this season.  Plus it made the 9+ hour drive home a bit less painful.

The best news? The team we played this weekend is coming to Tahoe for our first home bout on June 26th.  So it could be a great bout for family, friends and fans to come watch.

Derby School Dropout

Tahoe Derby DamesDuring the ski season, I deliberately schedule my life to avoid sacrificing my weekends for non-skiing events.  It’s all about snow (preferably powder), and my family has learned to deal with it.

Cue the current spring weather we’re seeing at Lake Tahoe. High pressure, mild days and cold nights are not great for finding powder (or winter) snow conditions.  That said, in the spirit of making lemonade, it *is* ideal corn snow harvesting time, and I hear it’s been good.  I say ‘hear’, because I’ve missed out, thanks to a work event I put on last week, and this past weekend’s sacrifice to attend roller derby school.

Let’s be clear – I am still a derby noob, trying to stay upright while attempting to block and hit.  It requires more synapses than I think I have at this point, but I’m having fun.  With the news that a renowned derby coach was coming to Reno, I figured that I ought to make the effort and see what I could learn.

This is how I found myself in an abandoned grocery store off Moana Lane in Reno early last Saturday, with girls from a number of other local teams, and a guy who has played a big role in the resurgence of roller derby.  Coach Pauly knows his stuff, that’s for sure, having coached some of the best leagues out there.

Our group was an assortment of skaters, ranging from really kick-ass to very new.  Even with such a wide range of skills, Pauly’s drills were ones we could all do, admittedly at different speeds and with varying levels of success.  His frank style was refreshing, and he took the time after every drill to explain the importance and role of the drill, making sure we understood the larger strategy.  That was particularly useful for me, because typically when I’m thrown into a jam I feel like a deer in the headlights, and anything beyond that very moment is beyond my capability.

Since I had to leave the workshop early, I can’t confirm or deny that diplomas were awarded.  Even as a dropout, I can say that I did come away with a better understanding of how to best ‘knock bitches down’ (Kidding, Mom! Sort of….).

And how to best stay upright while doing it.

My First Jam

So I did get to play at Saturday’s roller derby bout.  Not for long, but long enough to really like the adrenaline, and appreciate all the practicing I’ve done up until this point.  Lucy Crabapple was indeed, in the house (rather, on the track) for a brief moment in time.

I know my mother isn’t that thrilled that I’ve gotten into derby.  On the surface it may appear violent, but when you learn how to fall – forward, on your pads – it’s not as bad as it looks. I was relieved to see that all the time learning falling, skating and hitting techniques paid off during the blur of time I was out.  I know I fell a few times, and *think* I hit a few times, though it went so fast I couldn’t take vows on it.

In any case, the bug is there.  While it’ll never trump my love of skiing, it’s definitely a group activity I’m going to continue with, unlike, say, outrigger canoe.

I’m Skating Tomorrow

I just learned this evening that I’ll be on the roster for tomorrow’s (final) home bout for the Tahoe Derby Dames.  I’m stoked, but also a wee bit scared, given that I’ve not skated a whole bunch in the past few weeks, and as such, my skating, hitting and blocking skillz aren’t quite where I’d like them to be.

However, it’s my last chance of the season to play, so despite my confidence issues, I figure if I channel all my anger about the ignorance and stupidity surrounding this health care debate (don’t get me started on the death panels thing and the retarded men who feel they need to carry friggin GUNS to these town halls) I should be able to take down a few roller girls.

That’s my secret weapon – hating stupidity.  I figure it can easily fuel my adrenaline for a few 2 minute jams.  ‘Cause that’s the only option I’ve got right now.


Roller Derby Overview

Last weekend we attended the local roller derby team’s first home bout.  It was a great opportunity for me to see the rules of play in action, since I had seen and read about the game, but not seen it live.  Before the bout began the announcer and teams ran through a demo ‘jam’ to show spectators what the game is about.  I got it on film, with my shaky camera hand and all.  A better video is the one that was put together by a local website, Tahoeticker.  They had music and interviewed Sister Slayer, the president of the team.   It’s a good group of women who have really welcomed this (tattoo-less) noob, and I’m looking forward to actually playing a bout sometime soon.

Wannabe Badass

A  few weeks ago I was asked if I wanted to play roller derby by a guy who’s in the swim class I coach.  While I first thought it was because I have big shoulders (good for shoving?) it was more because I play sports. Apparently the team is always looking for more players with athletic backgrounds.   His wife is on the team, and he figured that since I have bleached hair and silver Dr. Marten boots, I’d maybe be more interested in it than some of the more jam-band loving hippie types that tend to populate mountain towns, who might not find appeal in derby.

I got on skates for the first time in 20+ years on Tuesday, and was surprised by how quickly it came back and how much damn fun it was.  Today’s practice was only my second, but instead of being relegated to wobbling around the perimeter of the track I was invited to try to keep up with the Tahoe Derby Dames as they practiced for their upcoming bout next Saturday.  This involved skating fast around the track as they scrimmaged, pushed and occasionally fell.  I skated relatively fast, but avoided the whole pushing and falling thing, as that’s a bit beyond my comfort zone.

To be honest I’m more scared of the tiny shorts that comprise the team uniform than the actually contact sport part of it.  I fall skiing and mountain biking, but I don’t tend to embrace tight things on my bottom half.  Heck, even my speedo swimsuit is baggy.  So that will my mental hurdle to overcome.