The Journey From Skate Skills to Intermediate

C-bear tells us all about their journey through Skate Skills 101 through to our inters group and the fun they have had along the way. If you want to sign up for Skate Skills 101 (our new skaters programme where we take you from beginning strides to your first game of roller derby) then email newskaters@arrg.co.uk and they will give you all the information you need.

Here’s what C-Bear had to say:

I started learning to skate around two years ago after I watched a friend of mine play her first roller derby game. I had no idea what was going on but it looked like fun! So I bought some awful cheap roller skates and joined the skate skills programme. Like many people I had fallen out of love with physical activity as a teenager and I therefore assumed sport was not for me. How wrong I was! It took me 3 or 4 times to get through skate skills and graduate to intermediate level. Other people passed first time, others took longer. What I love about roller derby is the emphasis on trying your best and supporting your team. I was reassured that my progression would be at a different pace from other people’s and that was okay, I would be welcome anyway. This ethos was something I’d never felt in any other sport before and is what kept me coming back even when I was not feeling great. I kept going and made it to intermediate and it was such a great sense of achievement which everyone shared with me.

The recent InARRGuration game for new skaters was a wonderful experience, we “the vipARRGs” played against skaters known as the “Black and Deck-hers”. We gathered in the changing room with Hex and Fury, our awesome bench coach and line up manager, who gave us some good motivational and reassuring chats. Hex told us about a tactic called “catch a haggis” and drew us a hilarious and informative diagram of what a haggis looked like. Fury then lead us in an off skates warm up which started out with us throwing a ball around and made us all very glad that roller derby does not involve anything to do with a ball! The game began and we were working really well as a team, communicating well and putting into action some of the tactics we’d discussed. We were doing so well and were ahead by the end of the first half. Unfortunately we began to lose our advantage, but Hex and Fury helped us keep our cool. Well maybe I didn’t keep my cool. I really went for it and fouled out about ten minutes before the end of the game. Oops! At least I didn’t miss too much though and I actually managed to enjoy jamming! By the end, the Black and Deck-hers had won, but we had a wonderful time playing them. I was so chuffed to have been given the Most Valuable Player award – maybe I did know what I was doing out there after all! We returned to the changing rooms feeling badass. However I was confronted with a MASSIVE spider sitting on my skate bag, nooooooo!! So after being super brave smashing through walls on the track there I was cowering in the corner because of a spider! I will always be grateful to Stellar for rescuing me from the spider!

Roller derby has really had a positive impact on my life. I used to be the kind of person who claimed to be “allergic to exercise” but now I love it! I have never been fitter or stronger than I am now. I appreciate my body for what it’s physically able to do, rather than how it looks. The wonderful sense of community and supportive atmosphere has really boosted my self confidence, I feel like my girls have got my back!

Thank you ARRG! ♥

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We take everyone with us

We take everyone with us.

It’s hard to capture what it feels like to be part of this team. The sheer amount of laughing you do. The training, the sweat, the particular smell of a wrist guard after training. The planning. The working together. The in-jokes, the bibs. The stress. The worry. The hard work, the determination. You see each other at your best moments, giddy and laughing or triumphant after a win or a great jam, and you see each other at your hardest, under pressure, up against it. After a tough loss. When you come up short.

It does something to you as a group. You show up for each other. You take care of each other. You put up with each other, even if you’re driving each other mad. It’s close to family, really.

Over a season, over the years, you develop rituals. Habits, traditions, jokes. They layer over each other until you barely know who started them anymore.

Someone will lay track.

Someone will plan training.

Someone will coach.

Someone will avoid wearing a bib at training, claiming their shirt is the same colour so it’s not confusing (it’s confusing).

When we go away for a game, someone will ask if there is a sauna.

Someone will tell the story of when Stef went into a sauna alone in Berlin.

Someone will #finddoom.

Someone will remind DD to put Pony on during our off-skates warmup.

Someone will ask if we remembered the panties.

Someone will (sometimes jokingly, sometimes sincerely) ask if we have time to pee.

No matter how many times you do a head count, someone will always be missing (even though that person is sometimes you).

It’s not ‘someone’ because it’s impersonal, or a chore, but these things are a part of us now. Everyone does these things. They’re as part of our ritual as warming up.

When we get to the bench, someone will put up the bunting. We take it with us everywhere. Everyone on the team has their own ‘bunt’, which means that as the team grows, the bunting grows too.

    

We started a new tradition this year, when we attended our first ever WFTDA playoffs tournament. Someone got everyone in the league to sign a shirt, and we took that with us too. Because it’s not just us that makes the team. The team is a big as the whole league. Every person who lays track, or stays to NSO, or refs our scrimmages, or plans our games, or sells our merch. We take them all with us.

  

That’s why being Captain sometimes feels like the biggest thing in the world and sometimes it feels like nothing at all. As long as you plot the course together and you take the team with you, it doesn’t matter who you are. You could be anyone.

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It takes a Village…

They say it takes a village to raise a child.
In that case, it takes a city to play a game of roller derby.

Here’s some* of what goes on behind the scenes of roller derby, and why the Reserves are so grateful to ARRG roller derby community for helping us on our journey to British Champs playoffs:

 

1.      What’s App

Honestly, you can’t leave your phone for 3 minutes to nip to the loo without some ridiculous, hilarious, heart-warming, emotional or urgent appeal for a missing mouthguard pinging your way via team What’s App chats. Teambuilding. It’s not on track, it’s on app.

2.      Families and friends, aka my son’s face when I tried to wash him

You maybe don’t know if you’ve not been up close and personal with a skater or ref, but roller derby really smells. We all do our best to wash our kit, but we train 3 times a week and there will be times where your sweaty wrist guards end up sweltering in your stinky skate bag. So, the people who care about get you back from training smelling like some very old potatoes causally sidled up to you and asked to come home. I tried to wash my wee boy’s hair when I rushed back from training one day. He actually cried, “Can Daddy do it, I don’t want the smell on me”.

I can’t thank my family enough for making it possible for me to play roller derby – they support me, do without me, accept that I need to check forums and write emails, and even ask how training was, knowing that I will tell them, in great detail.

 

3.      Reffing and NSO-ing at training

Maybe sometimes you get to have an evening off scrims, or you get to leave after your group’s session? Nope, not for some! Many of our skaters come on evenings when they don’t have to, or stay later than they need to, just to make sure we keep to the rules, which some of us still fail to do. Thank you, officials, and sorry for keeping you so busy.

 

4.      Leadership

When you take on the job of Captain, Vice Captain, Bench or Line up Manager, it comes with a sense of pride and honour at being picked by your teammates. And then you read the to-do list and open the emails…
It’s a given that our leadership team organise travel, accommodation, tactics, training, where we will eat (most importantly), team selection, team development, gameday schedule, “do I have time for a wee?” questions. What you don’t know is that the All Star Reserves’ leadership carry a lifesize version of the whole team on an enormous sheet of paper and display her at different locations to make us feel good and special and part of a wonderful thing. Honestly. Teambuilding. It’s not on track, it’s in the boot of someone’s car being driven to a funny location to have a picture taken.

 

5.      Inters and AS playing against us at training

What’s harder than playing roller derby? Playing roller derby against a team that train together all the time. Kudos to our Intermediate skaters who prove to be amazing opponents for us. And we get the other extreme when our All Stars train against us at scrimmage… They came straight back from D2 playoffs ready to whip us into shape on track. Thank you. I think.

 

6.      Coaching

So, coaching. That’s just running a few drills and blowing a whistle, yes? No. It’s mainly working out where the coaching bag is. Like many leagues, ARRG train in numerous locations at various different times. We have people who book these illusive sports halls, plan the training rota, let the league know where they are meant to be, make a training programme, organise the coaches, invent and bring a track-making device. Then we work out (over an assortment of What’s App, email, Messenger, telegram and owls) who has the essential bag of track tape, whistle, bibs and helmet covers. And THEN the coaching begins.

And if we are lucky, once a year, someone will wash the bibs.

*and I haven’t mentioned fundraising and off-skates training and people driving mini-buses and spreadsheets and comms and google docs and pre-game breakfast chat and….

Auld Reekie, you’re so fine.
 

 

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PREPPING FOR PITTSBURGH – 9 Ways ARRG is Getting Ready

Next week ARRG’s All Star team head of to WFDTA Division 2 playoffs for the first time. Getting ready has been a huge operation, involving a lot of lists and a lot of bunting, and lists on bunting. Everyone has pitched in, bringing their own skills and talents!

Here’s 9 things we’ve been doing as a team to get ready to take on D2…

1. A UNIQUE APPROACH TO FUNDRAISING.. (by Skinner)

Like many other leagues, we’ve had to raise a tonne of cash just to get our team over to Pittsburgh and our teamies and league mates have worked their socks off to raise funds. We’ve guest coached, put on a feast and flogged cake and merch until we could sell no more. But our most novel fundraising tactic yet….BINGO! Your nan would be proud. All Star teamies headed out to the bingo hall with the agreement that any winnings went into the travel fund. A couple of rule misunderstandings may have rustled some old lady feathers, but it was all worth it for the team bonding and amazing… drumroll….. £52 that was raised on the night! So that’s someone’s hold luggage paid for anyway.

Bingo - learly the best fundraising in the world!

2. THE EPIC TRAINING PLAN…(by Crazylegs)

My focus for Playoffs prep – as well as working out a lot – has been to make sure the team had a custom made all singing, all dancing ridiculously detailed training plan (aka The Plan) to help us feel as prepared as we can be.  With only 5 weeks between end of season and the D2 Tournament, the team needed to hit the ground running and feel supported and organised to work on training priorities. Like all good plans – it was built bit by bit, whilst sipping wine on summer hols!

Our goal has been to create an even more confident and unified team in a tiny amount of time, and we’ve shaped training differently to build up a story from session to session, increasing our confidence and improving along the way. We’ve brought common elements to every session for familiarity and routines that we are taking to Playoffs so we all feel focused, energetic, positive, dynamic and above all, teamy!!

Our league is amazing for helping us focus on this and providing extra resources for the team, and the team has been full of resilience, showing up session after session with aching bodies and tired brains and getting through it with silly jokes and a lot of R.E.S.P.E.C.T.  We’re coming to the end of The Plan on Sunday, and then we have two whole lovely unstructured days to stretch and sleep and relax until we board planes to Pittsburgh where we shall be following the next plan… THE ULTIMATE TOURNAMENT TEAM PLAN that tells us all where to be and when, and when to pee!!

Top secret training plan - no looking now.

3. PLAYING LOCAL RIVALS.. (by everyone!)

Playing local leagues Glasgow Roller Derby and Dundee Roller Girls in the last weeks before we head over to Pittsburgh has given us an extra training boost – thank you guys! It’s been a chance to hone our tactics against other leagues, skate on different floors, to work to specific goals for each game and to have fun.


4. TAKING OUR LEAGUE WITH US!. (by Cirque)

Getting to playoffs is a huge achievement not just for the All Stars, but for the whole of ARRG. Every single member has contributed: by playing against us at training, volunteering at games, answering emails and filling in spreadsheets, sharing ideas and the thousand other things that drive the league forward every day. And it was important to us to recognise this in some way. So we are organising a team shirt to take with us signed by everyone in the league that helped get us to Pittsburgh. Once it is printed, we will be collecting signatures from all of Team ARRG 2017. We’ll be bringing a little part of the whole of ARRG to Pittsburgh with us, so their hard work and support can inspire us as we take on D2!

5. OWNING OUR WARM UP.. (by our bench coach, DeeDee)

An on skates warm up is one of the last chances the team gets to warm up their derby muscles and derby brains before the first whistle gets the game underway. It’s a chance for the team to work some adrenaline out of their system and up their focus. It’s also something that other teams watch closely and there’s a big psychological element to warming up publicly, and owning your own game.  Early on in our playoff training odyssey, we worked out what worked for us specifically as a team, because each team will choose to prioritise different things during a warm up. We talked about what makes us feel our best as we line up at the start of a game. We’ve run this at every practice from then until we leave for playoffs so that we’re confident, calm and ready when the team takes to the track on game day.

6. REMEMBERING OUR VALUES.. (by Doom)

Amongst all the extra practices and scrims, we’ve also been making time to have some important discussions, where we step back and look at what’s important to us. What are our values in life, and what do we love about roller derby? What do we love about our team? We’ve talked about what, if anything, can knock our confidence and what things help or don’t help if that happens. We’ve talked about how we can support each other. We’ve been honest with each other, talked about some difficult stuff and come out stronger without even putting our skates on. I mean right then. We obviously DO put our skates on a lot, but this has been an important part of building trust in each other so we don’t hold back or worry about making a mistake on track – we just go for it.

7. SETTING UP A TOURNAMENT COMMS HUB.. (by team comms)

We want our league, fans and friends to know what’s happening at D2 and to be involved in the action! And for those who can’t catch the livestream, we’ve set up a tournament page on our website so folk can check out scores and game times.  We’ll also be Instagramming away throughout the weekend, for all the LOLs and updates from the tournament floor.

8. PACKING ALL THE THINGS! INCLUDING THE BUNTING! (by… please don’t forget the bunting!)

Tournaments can be crazy places: loads of people, noise, excitement, adrenalin. We have to be careful to let that feed our energy and not drain it. We like to grab a nice quiet spot and make a nice teamy place for ourselves between games. We make sure we have everything we need to make an ARRGy home from home when we travel: with our patented team bunting (grrr…), foam rollers, fave snacks, and Skinner’s never ending flask of hot tea. Sorted. We also have playlists which we train to regularly, to help get us in the right zone when we need to fire up our energy and our brains and bodies to get ready for the next game.

9) AND THE REST!..

Knowing when not to train is a massive part of smart training! – and in the last few days before we head off to Pittsburgh we will be resting, reflecting, ingesting a lot of protein. We’ll also probably accidentally be sewing our team shirts to our legs as we re-do our WFTDA patches and be obsessively checking they are still there  - *goes to check WFTDA patches are still there*. We want to be in a place where we feel fresh and ready when we take to the sport court on Friday 18th! So soon!

See you there.

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LOOK OUT PITTSBURGH: ARRG TO TAKE ON DIVISION 2, AND WHY WE’RE EXCITED

We asked ARRG’s Temple of Doom to tells us all about the up and coming trip to D2 playoffs. Here’s what she said…

In only three short weeks from now, ARRG’s All-Stars will be packing their bags, heading over the pond and braving Trump’s America: all to compete as the number one seed in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association’s (WFTDA) division 2 playoffs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Getting to the WFTDA playoffs has been a long time coming for ARRG. In 2014 we were ranked 72 at the time of playoffs seeding and still had a few spots to climb before we would be eligible.  After working hard in 2015, we were just outside the rankings cut-off for D2, which back then was 60, and we were ranked at 63. In 2016, we qualified!… but due to various factors beyond our control, couldn’t send a team and someone else gratefully took our spot. So here we are in 2017 and not only have we qualified, but this year we’ve steadily climbed the entire D2 bracket and come out at the top! As a team, we draw confidence in the fact that every climb we have made over these last few years represents genuine improvement in our gameplayEvery game, scrim, extra practice, additional work with a guest coach, time spent analysing footage, off-skates session and early morning gym trip has meant that each rankings increase has been hard fought and deserved.  This year we’ve had the privilege of being pushed even harder by a B-Team that’s currently kicking ass in British Champs  and going from strength to strength.

(Photo credit: Marko Niemiela Photography. Marko Niemelä Photography)

Despite being a long time coming, it is also a very good year to be joining the WFTDA play-offs structure. It’s the year that Gotham (NYC) has finally been dethroned of their world number one spot by VRDL after what’s seemed like a lifetime and the first time one of the playoffs locations has been hosted outside of North America (oh hai Malmo!). This year there are more “international” teams represented in the WFTDA playoffs brackets than ever before. I say “international” because, since it’s reboot at the turn of the millennium, roller derby very quickly spread beyond the USA. Yet “international” often still gets applied to non-US teams, even though really it’s just one big playing field (well, derby track) that we’re all playing a part in, whether you’re in the US or not. This year, in division 2 there are teams from Scotland, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, France, England and USA represented – how cool is that? We are the only Scottish team going to playoffs  this year, and we want to help build up Scottish derby on the roller derby radar. For ARRG, it is great for us to be taking part in what will hopefully be the year we can stop talking about “international” roller derby and just call it roller derby.

Pittsburgh is a long way to go, there’s no doubt about it – getting there will cost us in time, money and our collective carbon footprint. To some extent you could be forgiven for asking, “is it worth it?” But for us, totally, it’s worth it 100%. I’ve already talked about being part of pushing the boundaries of internationalism within the sport. There’s loads for us to gain as a league from mixing up the gene pool: Playing different teams with different behaviours and styles of play is really important for flexibility and depth in our own game. It stops weird rankings enclaves from building up. Put simply, when the same teams play each other locally all the time, this can skew the rankings (which has historically had a negative impact on teams outwith North America), big international tournaments can iron things out. There’s also the small differences in where refs and officials draw the lines of what is or isn’t a penalty which are good to learn from and adapt to. Then there’s the mental focus and endurance that’s needed to play multiple games across a weekend on an unfamiliar floor in a different time zone, which can only help build resilience and strength individually and as a team. Throughout this, we want to learn and assimilate new information so we can take it back to our amazing league and we can all level up.

So, that’s just some of the reasons why we’re excited about heading stateside in a few weeks – and why we hope you’ll be following us and the Division 2 tournament on the 18th - 20th August. We will be adding game times and scores on our our “Division 2 Tournament” page  so be sure to check back to see how we’re doing. Our first game will be on Friday 18th August against Dublin (entering the tourney as 16th seed), who we last took on and won against in 2016.

Then, if we’re able to repeat our previous success against Dublin we’ll be heading on to play No Coast Derby (hailing from Lincoln, Nebraska) or Ohio Roller Derby, and we’ll be charting new territory with either league. And as for the rest, we’ll update you with news as we have it!

Next week in our blog we’ll be bringing you some of the many things we’ve been doing to prep for this tournament so we are at our peak mentally, physically and as a team when we take to the track in Pittsburgh. See you then!

In the mean time….

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All Star Reserves British Champs Campaign. The story so far..

Captain of the All Star Reserves, Cirque Du Slay, has written us a round up of ARRG’s All Star Reserves British Championships campaign and some great info about their secret weapon for the upcoming game on the 12th August at Meadowbank Sports Centre. Here it is with some excellent photos. Want to come along and watch them in action? Buy tickets here.

This is the Reserves’ first year participating in British Champs and it’s been an absolute cracker. Our journey through Tier 3 Women’s North has been an exceptional development opportunity for all of us as individual skaters and as a team, as well as a ton of fun, and we’re doing pretty damn well! As we approach the final games of our tier on August 12th with one eye firmly on British Champs playoffs in September (fingers crossed!), it seems like a good time to look back on all we’ve achieved so far.

We kicked things off back in Aberdeen in April with an absolute nailbiter of a game against the hosts, and our tier’s current leader, Granite City Roller Derby. Top hosting prize for providing blowing bubbles and smiley face balloons, pals! Granite ultimately took the win with a heart-stopping scoreline of 201-199, with both teams playing some pretty epic roller derby along the way.

For our next challenge, we took on Spa Town Roller Girls in Halifax. We prepped good by fuelling up on noodles the night before at a hotel in Huddersfield, to take on a team from Harrogate in Halifax (Reserves’ English geography is coming on in leaps and bounds).

Corridor food ASR.jpg

Obviously this was an excellent strategy as we won by a comfortable 453-58. Here we are celebrating. Aren’t we just sickeningly adorable?

Halifax selfie.jpg

After that we got to host our Tier 3 North pals in sunny Edinburgh, sharing our venue with a wee Iron Man competition, just in case anyone lacked for sporting inspiration that day. The crowd was full of cheering friendly faces from the rest of our incredible league and their support carried us to a second convincing win of 290-77 against Halifax Bruising Banditas.

Our fourth game took us back on the road (karaoke may have featured) to our third country of British Champs so far, taking on Furness Firecrackers in North Wales. Furness came out all guns blazing and there was a tense series of lead changes at the beginning, but we pulled away decisively to take yet another win of 308-134.

North Wales ASR.jpg

Next up, we are hosting all six teams for an exciting final in which we will take on North Wales Roller Derby for the chance to make it to British Champs playoffs in Stoke-on-Trent in September. There is everything to play for and we are sure of a great day for not just our team, but all of our wonderful opponents, officials, volunteers, fans, organisers, announcers, bout crew, designers, track layers, PA operators, social media updaterers and videographers who make all the good fun roller derby happen.

The Reserves are feeling pretty confident about this game, cos we have a secret (?) weapon and her name is Big Shirl. Big Shirl may be two-dimensional, but she knows how to make the most out of life (pictured below on a casual intergame fashion shoot), and she is the ultimate teammate. She is made up of every single Reserve who has played for us in this tournament, and of the combined strengths that every single one of us contributes to the team. She contains our goals, our successes, our best bits, our in-jokes and our reasons to be proud. She has been with us in Aberdeen, in Halifax, in Edinburgh and in North Wales and soon she will be back with us for our final game, cheering us on and reminding us of how hard we have worked and how much we’ve improved and all that we are capable of together. Come see.

Big Shirl photoshoot.jpg

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Though she be but little she is fierce

ARRG were recently nominated for a National Lottery Good Causes Award to allow us to buy more free kit for participants of our new skaters programme “Skate Skills 101″. We asked Leah from our current skate skills 101 programme what it means to be learning to skate. We love it! Have a read and please vote for us by CLICKING HERE.

“Though she be but little she is fierce” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A friend recently bought me a mug with that quote on it.  I love it.  I use it every day wanting it to be true.  I am little, but am I all that fierce?

I’m 5 ft tall and I’m not terribly strong.  I’m far from athletic.  I need an inhaler if I run for a bus.  I’m self-conscious and not very confident.  I am pretty sociable but new situations make me nervous, people scare me.  Oh, and I know NOTHING about skating.

I’d heard about ARRG’s Taster Days and went along for the afternoon.  I decided it would be an easy opportunity to find out more about Roller Derby without having to commit to anything too scary.  At the start of the day the coach asked us what attracted us to Roller Derby, why did we sign up for the taster?

We went around the room and introduced ourselves.  It was a room full of diverse women, of different shapes, sizes, ages, personalities and backgrounds.  Everyone there had their own reasons.  ‘Meet people’, ‘Exercise’, ‘Just loved the film Whip it’.  It came round to me and I was terrified to speak in a room full of strangers.  That was my reason.  I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone.  I wanted to break my weekly routine of Work… Netflix… Pub… Work… Netflix… Pub…  I wanted to be active.  I wanted to learn a skill and to have an interesting hobby.  I didn’t want to be scared to try.

I was provided with skates and kit thanks to The National Lottery Awards for All and ARRG’s Loaner Scheme.  It meant I was able to give Roller Derby a shot without having to worry about the cost of equipment.  After a great taster day, and without any financial hurdle, I signed up to Skate Skills 101.

With a new-found determination and unwittingly wearing my new helmet backwards I took my first wobbly strides.  Although it was tricky and awkward I quickly realized that I needn’t be scared at all.  The people I have met at ARRG have been amazing.  The coaches are dedicated and skilled.  The other beginners are full of support and enthusiasm.  The encouragement on and off the track has been absolutely incredible.  We all try our hardest, we all help each other to learn and to improve.  And we’re all loving being on wheels!

Do I fall?  Yes, loads.  But I always get back up.

Do my muscles ache the next day?  Yes, every time.  But I smile because I know how hard I worked.

Do I feel hot as hell in my shiny new skates?  Yes, unbelievably so!

So when my photo is put up next to this, I won’t use the pre-practice one.  The one with my make-up still intact and my t-shirt sweat free.  I’ll use the one from the end of the day.  The one taken when I’ve fallen over but I’ve scrambled back up, taken when I’m exhausted but exhilarated.  Because that’s the moment in my week when I feel most proud of my accomplishments, when I feel confident in what I have and what I will achieve.  That’s when I’m grateful for the motivation and friendship from an amazing group of women.

That’s when I am fierce.


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This season the All Stars went all swanky and got us a Team Manager!

With this month’s WFTDA Rankings release showing our All Stars ranked at number 41 in the World, our highest yet, here at ARRG we’re reflecting on how much hard work and dedication it takes to build a team and support a team -we’re grateful to our league volunteers who work hard relentlessly to help our team be the best we can be, but we want to celebrate one special person in particular today.

Unphased by an unfortunate training injury following two seasons as an All Star jammer, MJ relentlessly hobbled along to team training every week on crutches to assist with training, support the team and NSO her socks off, so it’s no surprise that the team voted her into the newly created Manager’s position when it came up.  That’s right, we got ourselves a Team Manager! Level Up ARRG!  MJ brought the team tons of in- game experience coupled with a knowledge of all of our quirks (we have many), plus unlimited expertise in street food, bad rap music, horses and the best selection of footwear ever. Who could ask for more?

Having MJ as part of the Leadership team to ‘organise stuff’, has made a huge difference to the team this year, not just in the run up to games but also on game day where she can be seen masterfully operating our new walkie talkie system to relay game information to our bench coach. Captain Sasha says ‘Manager Johnson is the single best Manager I have ever had.  Having her there to help steer the good ship ARRG with her wisdom, efficiency and offers to cut a bitch has been the business, we will miss her so, so much’.

With the news that she’s moving ‘down south’ to take up a fab new job, but thankfully continuing her Team Manager role from a distance, it’s a great time to say THANK YOU to Manager Johnson for everything you’ve done this year – we salute you ma’am!  We asked MJ a few questions about her role so far…

Team Manager is an unusual role for a league’s travel team to have; traditionally it’s really only been national teams who have a Manager; we kind of made up the rules ourselves for this role, to suit the team needs this season;  What prompted you to apply for this role?

Simply put, I broke myself. After having done so, I wanted to stay involved because ARRG is a family of sorts and just because you can’t do the role you always have done, in my case jamming, doesn’t mean there’s not a place for you in your league.

I’ve never been a fan of passive healing – I kept breaking and training ponies with my arm in a cast when I was younger (my only other broken bone was also from skating) – and I wanted to have a reason to keep going to practices and scrims. Plus, I tend to have time in the mornings to do the documents, emails, and organising things that goes into the role.

And how did the team take to you in your new role?

‘My team is great. Full stop. They were 100% supportive and understand that part of this role is to chase them if needs be. Everyone has been on board with having a manager and that’s great.’

There isn’t much information out there for Team Managers; any advice for teams thinking of getting one?

Firstly, consider why you need one. Lay that out. Does your team travel a lot? Are your captains and bench crew spending all their time chasing people, emailing and doing small things? Secondly, think about how and where you would recruit? Would you do it in the league? In the team? Would you try to get retirees, or those who are not on a team at all? For us, it happened to work out that I couldn’t play and I was keen, but I wasn’t the only one who wanted to take on the role; competition is good. Also keep in mind what the trajectory of the manager will be. If, like me, they are coming back from injury, how will that effect the skating/manger crossover on game days? If it’s a lower level skater who eventually wants to move up to the top team, think about that too.

Overall, I think it comes down to workload and stress among the leaders, and the team having the knowledge that there is someone who works within the timeframe to get things done in the run up to games. If your team needs this, then I’d say go for it. Set up a year-long role. Trial it. See if it helps.’

What’s been the best moment of the season so far?

‘Watching our team kick everyone’s asses at Euroclash. We smashed it! I was so proud! I yelled so much.  I have to say that this is on the back of the games we played at the end of last year, also at Newcastle, and they were hard going! I was quite hobbly then, several of the team were unwell or unable to go…then at Euroclash we turned it around 10000% and showed everyone how formidable a team we are.’

What do you put on your feet as well as skates?

‘Cowboy boots and boat shoes.’

 Fave post workout snack?

‘ALL THE FOOD. No, I’m actually quite bad at post workout snacks. The adrenaline usually takes any hunger away until later and I need to actively think of getting food. That being said, I love a cold, crisp apple and yogurt after a run’.

And the question on everyone’s lips… who is the hardest team member to manage??

‘My lips are sealed!’

The sole of discretion; she’s got everyone’s back :-)

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National Lottery Good Causes Award – we’ve been nominated!

We are so delighted to announce that we have been nominated for an award from the National Lottery.

The nomination is for our Skate Skills 101 programme; our new skaters classes which take you from beginner to competitive skater with amazing coaching and structured assessments. On signing up normally, participants are encouraged to have their own equipment – something that can be a barrier to entering the sport. With National Lottery funding, we have been able to offer free kit on loan to at least 20 skaters. This has made roller derby more accessible to more people – one of our mission goals!

Please vote for us by CLICKING HERE TO VOTE

 

Thank you – wish us good luck!

 

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International Women’s Day – Be Bold for Change

International Women’s Day – Be Bold for Change by Lynda-Marie Taurasi

Lynda-Marie Taurasi

Do you allow your physical appearance to prevent you from becoming active or doing something you’ve always wanted to do?

Have you not gone to yoga class because you haven’t shaved your legs?

Do you feel the need to wear a full-face of make-up before you hit the gym?

Have you not started running because you felt you were too heavy?

Did you not swim laps because you hadn’t had a bikini wax or washed your hair?

Do men worry about shaving or grooming before engaging in physical activity?

How does this relate to Roller Derby? Well, allow me to explain.

It started when I was 13-years-old, and overnight developed D-cup breasts, ceasing all the physical activity I once enjoyed in my childhood: running, climbing, dancing, cycling, and even cheerleading. To delve into the emotional trauma that was being “overdeveloped” at such a young age would take another essay, but needless to say, physical activity was added to the myriad causes of my insecurity.

Now, as I enter the twilight of my 30s, or as I like to refer to it “My Zero F**ks” phase, I still find myself hung-up over stupid stuff like skipping yoga because my legs are hairy. I mean, like, ‘How am I supposed to look super cute in my lululemons when I’m sprouting a rainforest on my right leg?’

I’m kidding. My butt is too big for lululemons.

But nonetheless, there I was, the morning of my Auld Reekie Roller Girls Taster Day, second-guessing my attendance because I hadn’t shaved my legs. All of a sudden, the confident woman I’d become, the one who gave up a cushy university job in the states to fulfill her lifelong dream of living in Scotland, was reduced to the puffy-faced, 13-year-old, crying hysterically over going up a bra size, she thought she’d outgrown.

I had been in Scotland less than three months, and I was well into my first semester of graduate school. It was my year of “Yes”: doing the things I always wanted to do and saying yes to every opportunity that came my way—like the ARRG Taster Day event that scrolled down my Facebook feed.

Roller Derby was something that, for years, I wanted to try. I liked and respected the ethos behind the sport. I longed to be part of a team, learn a new sport, and be fitter. Plus, much like riding a bike, roller-skating taps into your youth, and I wanted to feel like a kid again. Yet for numerous reasons I never tried my hand; the primary reason being that I could not roller skate.

Unlike the roller derby league in the American town I moved from, ARRG offered a beginners training programme—no skate experience required. So instead of caving under my anxiety, I walked my hairy ankles to Meadowbank that cold, rainy day in November 2015 and entered a gym of women who, no doubt, pushed through their own clouds of insecurity to be there.

Not only did you not need to know how to skate, you didn’t even need to own or rent gear. ARRG veteran skaters had kindly lent their personal gear for those who had signed up for the taster day.

So there I was, sat in a circle, strapped in borrowed, derby gear, not knowing a single gal, and feeling all kinds of insecure when I began to really notice the other women. I wasn’t sizing them up. I wasn’t comparing myself to them. I just took them in.

I was sure I would be the oldest, but I was not.
I was sure I would be the heaviest, but I was not.
I was sure I would be the clumsiest, but I was not.
And I was sure I would be the hairiest, but I was not.

I smiled in relief when I saw lots of hairy legs before me. Some women wore make-up. Some did not. Some had worn cute workout gear; others had not. Most importantly, we didn’t feel pressure to look a certain way to be active. None allowed insecurity to prevent them from attending. All of us wore the same brash look of determined uncertainty: we didn’t really have a clue what we were doing, but we were going to do it any way. We didn’t care how we looked doing it.

It was so much fun, and even though I fell on my butt, I came away feeling accomplished and excited to try again. I actually relished in not being good at it because I didn’t have to be good at skating, at least not right now. I could enjoy the process without the pressure of striving to be the best. I could be part of ARRG and be crap at skating—because frankly, I was and am absolutely crap at skating. And that’s okay, I was told. “Lots of us were”, some said—even those who now skate for Scotland. In our competitive adult world, especially one where women are forced to compete with and best each other, it’s nice to be crap at something and know your sister lending a hand is doing so with no ulterior motive.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to strap on skates for another year. Life had gotten in the way. By the time the following skate skills session opened, I was in my second semester of graduate school and unable to find the time. Then when the summer skate training rolled around, I was well into my dissertation writing. Then, a whole year later from my initial Taster Day, another skate skills intake announcement landed in my inbox. This time, I was a recent graduate, hitting the job market, and unable to front the £180 for the needed derby gear. I began to wonder if that November day was just a one-off. But nope, it wasn’t.

Thanks to Awards for All Scotland and the Big Lottery Fund, ARRG received funding to purchase loaner kits for new skaters unable to initially invest in the equipment. It gives women the opportunity to try something bold like Roller Derby and gain the confidence in having done so without the financial burden.

For me, it meant not having to sit out another skills skate intake, and finally joining ARRG, in whatever capacity that winds up being. For now, it simply means having fun, not allowing my looks determine my physical activity, and being surrounded by supportive women who are there for the same reasons.

Inspired by Lynda-Marie’s story? Be bold! Come along to our next Taster Day on the 9th April and start your own roller derby journey.

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