I’m going to be away at a wedding for our next Bristol Roller Derby B(ee) Team’s game, so was planning to write a guide to LUMing for our lovely Tooms who will be covering for me as Line-up Manager. What better opportunity for me to take my thoughts and turn them into a blog post? There’re some great blog posts already on the internet about how to line-up manage and what makes an effective bench team, so I’m going to try and do something a little different.
Line-up managing is a role that I have been doing at Bristol Roller Derby for over two years now. I started at the league skating in fresh meat back in 2011 and promptly broke my ankle in three places. I started to NSO during my recovery and several consequent operations, but it just wasn’t for me. I feel that NSOing (and officiating in general) requires precision, a mathematical and/or analytical brain, attention to detail and good concentration. This is certainly not me. I did OK, but it went against the chaos of my general being, and my ankle is still not in a state to play derby.
At the start of July 2013 I got some really exciting news: I had been successful during tryouts and was now part of Team Portugal Roller Derby who were going to take part in the 2014 Blood and Thunder Roller Derby World Cup! I immediately started planning the months ahead, pencilling in our training sessions and other important dates, setting milestones for my on and off skates training and just trying to figure out how to be the best athletic version of myself I could be. I was officially in training for something big and there was a lot of work ahead…little did I know how much…
Minimum skills are tricky: as well as trying to pass some tough skills, you also very quickly learn a lot more about yourself as a human being. Long before my derby days began, I was a competitive figure skater, so not only was I massively competitive (and still am), I also thought that my years of training would help me breeze through my minimum skills. However, this was far from the journey I ended up on.
Shortly after starting my minimum skills tests, I injured my knee and I was not allowed to skate for three months. As many people will know, it is demoralising and extremely frustrating to watch other people start to pass more skills than you, whether it is due to injury or just to them picking up skills more quickly than you. You feel like you are being left behind, and gradually more and more like a failure. If I am honest, this three month period landed me in a pretty dark place where I felt useless and often like giving up. But it was also during this time that I started to realise that the minimum skills process was teaching me a lot about my approach to setbacks and my reaction to failure.
On Saturday morning, the Bristol Roller Derby A Team got on the bus at 8am to head from West to East to play Brighton Rockers Roller Derby in their second game of the British Championships.
On arriving at the venue, the team were shown to their changing room whilst other league members went to set up the merch stand or found their seats in the stands. We have to give a shout out to one of our skaters, Tooms, who came all the way from Bristol, on the train, lugging her cast. That’s dedication – props to you!
The Bristol v Brighton game was the second game of the day, so there was a tense wait to endure. Most of the players took the chance to watch our hosts, the Seaside Sirens, take on Royal Windsor Roller Girls. Delta Strike headed over to the merch stand to get her hair done. This is not on our usual list of services offered, but we’re pretty dedicated to fundraising!
You might already know that the Bristol v Brighton game was nail-bitingly close, to the point where passing out was the only way to cope with such a tension overload.
There was a lot of excitement about this game throughout the league, as it was the first time our A-team had played in a tournament. We filled up a big fun-bus to London with the team, subs, bench crew and about 15 supporters, who were bolstered on our arrival in London by ex-BRD, now LRG skater Tess Robinson.
Our game was the second in a double header, so the Bristol players were able to watch some of the Brighton/Seaside bout before disappearing for warm-ups and secret preparations (apparently involving dragons) at half time. We had been warned that the floor of the venue, a painted concrete surface, was currently particularly slippery: it was evident when watching the start of the Brighton/Seaside game that some players were having trouble adapting to the floor.
Wow, what a year its been! Let’s have a look back at what Bristol Roller Derby got up to in 2013…
The League kicked off the year in January, with the A-team (ranked 29th by ERDR) playing the first bout, which was almost a no-goer due to the snow! We visited the lovely Dolly Rockit Rollers in freezing Leicester, and took home the win 237-166.
March brought a double header, with BRD as the hosts. As usual with all our home bouts, league members all chipped in and things ran like clockwork. Thank you to all those who have volunteered their time, we couldn’t do it without you!
The Harlot’s B-team (affectionately referred-to as ‘the Bees’, ranked 95th) took on Mean Valley Roller Girls. The score ended 227-162 in Mean Valleys favour.
The A team faced Leeds Roller Dolls B team, 245-91 to us, continuing a great start to 2013.
The Bees certainly have been busy! In April we were winging our way East, to bout against the Royal Windsor Roller Girls B team, the B-Headers. We fought well but Windsor were triumphant 204-131.
The Spring was set to be a full schedule of bouts for all the hard working Harlots, as both teams headed to Lincolnshire in April. The Lincolnshire Bombers hosted two very closed games. We won the A game, 193-171. The Bees game, went to the Bombers, 148-128. Nail biting stuff!
May, and our Harlots A-team faced possibly their biggest challenge to date. We took part in the Roller Rumble, a Southern regional UKRDA tournament, held in Alexandra Palace alongside the Great British Tattoo Show.
Seeded 4th, the Harlots first game on Saturday was against Brummies, the Central City Roller Girls. A fantastically close game, in which CCR just edged ahead, 218-204. Later that day we played Kent Roller Girls that ended in the 1st win of the weekend for us, 272-107.
With about 5 minutes to lick our wounds we were straight back on the track to play CCR for the second time. By now we were old friends and spent a good few time outs discussing who would have to play again straight after, against London. Sadly for our hearts (but not our bodies) it was Birmingham who went on, beating us again with a super close score 196-172.
Despite being a fit bunch of ladies, we were some-what unaccustomed to playing 4 bouts in one weekend (in what was essentially a greenhouse!). However… everything really clicked that weekend! Maybe it was the adrenalin, creating extreme focus? Or perhaps it was the quality of youth hostel sleep? Or maybe the few questionable fast food meals? Anyway, we all left feeling pretty proud and I think all the Harlots would agree; it was one of the most fun and rewarding things we’ve done as a team.
We won the hearts of the crowd, 3rd place and jumped up to 18th in the rankings!
No sooner were the A’s back from London, than the B-team were off to France in June for our first game outside the UK! The Bees played BMO Roller Derby in Brest, won some great new friends, almost missed a few ferries, and unfortunately lost, 279-86.
The A team, not wanting to be left out, hopped on a plane a week later to Stuttgart, Germany. The Stuttgart Valley Roller Girls hosted a fantastic game, with a huge crowd. Showing us and their fans just how its done, winning 160-94.
With so much long distance traveling this year, we have continued to raise money for the league and our chosen charity of the year, Survive. Our home teams held auctions, sponsored skates and bingo nights, but its not hard to put your hand in your pocket when you’re having so much fun!
Our June double header; the Bees and our newly formed mens team take centre stage. Porto Roller Derby came all the way from Portugal and put up a great fight, while skating short. The Harlot B-team won, 236-133
Recruitment for the boys stepped up a gear late last year, with skating skills and tactical knowledge progressing at lightening speed! Vice Quad was born in January and along with this bout we have had scrimmages and closed bouts with the likes of Devon, SDRD B and SWS. The June bout saw Vice Quad played their first open bout as a team and for some skaters it was their first public bout ever, cementing their new found love for Roller Derby. VQ did BRD proud against Milton Keynes Quads of War and this exciting game ended 251-166 to QoW. The boys will have their first international game in early 2014.
We also can’t forget our stripey friends, the refs and NSO’s from team Zebra, without whom there would be no order! This year, not only did they help out at home, they travelled with the teams and hosted our first Officials boot camp in July, providing invaluable knowledge for around 30 attendees.
The first of Julys games took the Harlots A-team North, to the home of the Sheffield Steel All Stars. We suffered a few injuries in this game, but soldiered on. The All Stars won 167-155.
A week later they were back up country with the Middlesbrough Milk Rollers who showed us they were definitely ‘coming’ in the last game of the season! 269-99.
Our rookies started their fresh meat training late in 2012, and have been coming on leaps and bounds since then. We can’t really refer to any of them as rookies any more, they are just too good! At the end of July they were ‘sorted’ into our home teams, during a Harry Potter themed scrimmage.
We’ve also started seeing some new skaters moving up to the league from our weekly ‘drop in derby’ sessions. The family is growing!
The whole league then took a well earned rest in August, but were raring to go in September… Hot Wheel Roller Derby came down from Leeds, with their heavily defense game play, and took no prisoners against the A-team, 282-112.
Our final home double header of the year, in December, saw our A-team rematch against the Hellfire Harlots. Unfortunately the Nottingham Harlots fire could not be quenched by our Harbour Harlots, 225-128.
We had almost 500 spectators at this event and the Bees gave them a real show, taking on Cornwall Roller Derby’s Atlantic Breakers. Lead changes were non stop down to the last jam, which gave the win to Cornwall by only 4 points, 180-176.
Thank you so much to all the skaters, nso’s, refs, cake bakers, coaches, first aiders and anyone else who has supported us in 2013. We can’t wait for 2014!