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So much scrimmage!

Published October 13, 2014 by Vegan Derby Cat Party
September 7, 2014 PFM scrimmage

September 7, 2014 PFM scrimmage

SO MUCH has happened in the last month, and most of that “so much” has been in scrimmages. In fact, the week before last, I skated 3. September started out with the regular monthly PFM scrimmage (above). I had just gotten over the stomach flu that day, and didn’t even know if I was going to play. Much to everyone’s surprise I showed up determined, skated my very best ever, and completed my 6th scrimmage. It was a little bit of a turning point for me. It was the first time I felt like I had a strong sense of what to do on the track, and I was able to focus my energy on trying to improve my blocking.

Thomas & I at the NW Derby Summit 9/14/14

Thomas & I at the NW Derby Summit 9/14/14

The weekend of September 13 &14, we headed down to the NW Derby Summit for the most skating I’ve ever done in such a short period. It was a super fun weekend, not only because of all the great coaches, and my derby besties, but also because I was able to convince Thomas to go with us. We had a lot of fun taking classes together and practicing some new moves. It was also Thomas’ first contact drills. He’s attended a few non contact fitness type practices since he got back on quads, but had never done any hitting or blocking. We did all the beginner and all levels classes. His lifetime of skating was really evident here, as he was able to jump in with no problem. The second and final day ended with a short, kind of informal beginner scrimmage, which Thomas decided to skip, and video for us instead. It was the first time I ever skated with strangers before. It was terrifying to step out of my PFM comfort zone. It comprised a small group of girls with a similar skill set as me, but also a couple of guys and junior skaters of varying levels. It went okay. Mostly everyone was just exhausted after skating so much all weekend.

A picture of me jamming in the same early September scrimmage that really shows off my adorable skort.

A picture of me jamming in the same early September scrimmage that really shows off my adorable skort.

The following weekend I joined Jet City Rollergirl’s Cadet (Fresh Meat) program. My 1st day was part of the 6 week Bomber’s Clinic they’re running, and was an open scrimmage! Eeep! I was so thankful that I had done an open scrimmage the weekend before because it really helped me to deal with the fact that I was about to skate with very experienced skaters and all stars from all over the area. It was a leveled scrimmage so the first 30 minutes was a beginner level/positional blocking only half, so that we could include the junior skaters. The second period was a adult only, full contact, intermediate level including some big name fancy pants all stars. This scrimmage ended up being just the confidence booster I needed. I ended up skating against a couple of ladies that I had just seen playing against the best WFTDA team in the world two weeks before, AND I was able to get out of the pack every time I jammed. I was so proud, and glad that I survived!

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The following weekend was double practices (Jet & PFM) on Saturday and Sunday. We were alerted that Saturday that they would be assessing us on Sunday to clear eligible skaters to begin practicing with teams. What an exhausting weekend! The assessment consisted of some minimum skills and scrimmage scenarios. I was really unsure if I was going to get cleared, as my weak sided turn around toe stops at a 12 second lap speed left a little to be desired. We spent the next week frantically awaiting any word of our results.

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The next week also happened to be the week of 3 scrimmages! PFM had a special opportunity to do a late night scrimmage on Tuesday September 30th with a full officiating crew and Rinxster doing our statistics. (Since we’re just a practice and learning team, we usually don’t have all that fanciness.)

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Again, I used this opportunity to work on developing my blocking further. I did some pretty successful jamming too.

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That Saturday was another Jet City open scrimmage. This time I was pretty fearless, and just had fun. We were really hoping to hear the results of our assessment that day, but were told we’d hear back the next day. The next day was the 3rd scrimmage of the week, and  PFM’s regular monthly scrimmage.

PFM October scrimmage

PFM October scrimmage

I think you can probably just tell by my expressions in these last scrimmage photos that my mental game had changed into something a bit more focused and determined, already.

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That weekend my goal was to start playing a more aggressive game. And by that I don’t necessarily mean trying to kill people, but just not giving up as easily as I have in the past, and also relying less on other people to bridge forward and back.

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It was also a lot of fun to be skating with my original team twice in one week!

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We finally got the results of our assessment on Monday. It turns out I was cleared to scrimmage with the league, but not to attend team practices yet. They were still getting to know my skill set, so they wanted to be sure I was ready for team practices. I was really hoping to knock their socks off at team scrimmage on Thursday so I could skate with my other good friends that were cleared, but unfortunately after the Sunday scrimmage my shoulder was feeling a bit sensitive all week, so I declined. They were very understanding about it. I did however, get all my scrimmage shirts ready for this week.

My required 8 colors of scrimmage tees!

My required 8 colors of scrimmage tees!

This last week was a bit hard emotionally, for reasons that I will probably save for my next post, but I’m hoping that I can get it together again in a few days, and get back on that wave of confidence I was starting to feel and push through. We shall see!

September is my Derbyversary!

Published September 16, 2014 by Vegan Derby Cat Party
Me celebrating getting cleared for PFM with a box of Sour Patch kids and a cat.

9/7/14: Me celebrating getting cleared for PFM with a box of Sour Patch kids and a cat.

On September 7th, 2013, I geared up fully for the first time, and started my derby life by attending a PFM* foundational skills practice. It’s a class we do every two weeks that teaches new skaters how to stop and fall safely, makes sure they’re safe to skate with other skaters, and introduces them to some of the core members of the group. It’s how you get cleared to skate with the team. (Just a couple of months ago, I became the new skater coordinator/helper!) I was able to pass on my 1st attempt, and came home totally psyched. I then spent the next week barely able to walk.

(*Potential Fresh Meat (PFM) is a volunteer-run quad skating group open to all women 18 years and over interested in learning and practicing the skills needed to play roller derby. Many of our members skate with us to get ready for tryouts for leagues all over the Pacific Northwest, but there are many women who skate with PFM just because it’s fun and great exercise.)

My 1st helmet.

My 1st helmet.

My first actual PFM practice was shortly thereafter on September 15 with Jill Nye, which was a super brutal endurance style practice that again made sitting and walking something that involved lots of pain and concentration. They assured me that not every practice was that hard. I had family in town so I didn’t get back for a couple of weeks, but amazingly I did go back, and I kept going back for more.

No name and no number. I was #99 for my 1st scrimmage. :)

No name and no number. I was #99 for my 1st scrimmage. 🙂

On November 3, 2013 I laced up my skates for my very first scrimmage.

I didn't really know what I was doing, but everyone was pretty nice about it.

I didn’t really know what I was doing, but everyone was pretty nice about it…

Okay, maybe not everyone! Haha, I kid. Mod Quad, pictured here, did not fail to teach me what it was like to get blocked like crazy!

Okay, maybe not everyone! Haha! I kid! Mod Quad, pictured above, has a great, positive attitude about skating in general, and did not fail to teach me what it was like to get blocked with force. Repeatedly!

And I got to try jamming, which I really enjoyed!

I’m not sure if good form was even on my radar yet.

And I got to try jamming, which I really enjoyed!

A name is born!

An identity is born…

Eventually, I found a name for myself. AND then I changed it, so that it fit me perfectly.

And eventually perfected.

And perfected.

And the last step, the nickname.

And the last step, the nickname.

I finally got myself an awesome, vegan skate setup.

Proper fitting skates...

Bont Hybrid microfiber skates with Crazy Venus plates

Then all I had to do was keep on skating!

PFM Scrimmages 1-6

PFM Scrimmages 1-6

When I first decided to do this, getting onto a team was the furthest thing from my mind. I had grown up skating in the driveway or the street, and loved rollerskating, but didn’t really have any skills besides going forward and spinning in a circle. My real first goal going into all of this was learning to do cross overs, and my ultimate goal was skating backwards! That was pretty much it!

This first year has been more about getting past mental blocks and figuring out what I want to get out of my experience. PFM has provided me with a really awesome, safe, and encouraging environment. I tried a couple of times to move on to more advanced training, but found that I wasn’t ready. Since I didn’t come into this with the intense, competitive, athletic drive that some of my peers did, I’m not sure that everyone that I encountered along the way understood my cautious approach, but that’s okay. I believe we all do these things at our own pace, and I simply had to do what was right for me. In my own time, I’ve slowly lifted my expectations higher and higher.

While I am still trying to hone some essential skills, I have a much firmer grasp on the [huge set of] rules now, and have become more interested in learning the workings of more complex skating and strategy. Even though I feel like I have a long way to go (and of course everyone always has things to work on), I’ve recently felt like I’ve hit the next level on my mental game, and am going to be stepping up my training with Jet City’s Cadets starting next weekend.

There are so many wonderful things derby has brought into my life, including my derby family, derby wife (Stevie Thunder, who is a great source of encouragement and support), and most recently the transitioning of my partner and best friend Thomas to quad skates and derby, from his previous background of inlines and speed skating, so that we can share the experience together! I’m really looking forward to all of the cool things in this next year!

First Four Months: Derby Doubts and Determination

Published January 17, 2014 by Vegan Derby Cat Party
New certified helmet, faster wheels, and of course, no trip to the derby store would be complete without new socks!

Written at 2 months in:

1. If I skip practice, the doubts begin.

Skipping one practice makes it really easy to skip another practice. And it’s not out of laziness, it’s generally been out of other life business. In September my parents were in town, so I wanted to get the most out of their time here, but ended up being off skates for 2 weeks. That made for a big setback, especially because I had only gone to a couple of practices at that point. So in October I was pretty diligent, and only skipped on Halloween night. November we had some friends in town for only a few days, and another had a birthday, so those two skips had me off skates for a week and a half. But each of these times, whether it was one practice or three, I noticed the same thing…

The doubts would creep in right away.

Maybe I’m too busy right now? Maybe I’m not good enough? Maybe I should just quit, and drop in to skate occasionally?

Fortunately there’s also another force at play here, a greater force. Every time I go to practice I get so inspired by not only what we’re doing and learning, but what I can see that I’ve already accomplished.

2. Every time I go to practice, I’m energized, motivated and addicted.

At the nearly 3 month mark (Early December), I did my 1st attempt at 27 [laps] in 5 [minutes], and got 24. For me this was a huge moment. I was so impressed with how far I’d come in a short time. So impressed, that I even lugged my gear down to Florida with me, so I could skate while I was gone and not lose the momentum. During that trip I also downloaded a copy of the WFTDA minimum skills, so I could look it over and see what else I needed to work on. I was a bit overwhelmed (but still determined!) For some reason I was expecting it to be more like a few things. It turns out that it’s more like 6 pages.

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Well, it’s 4 Months in now (mid January), and I can say, what I wrote 2 months in is still true. The more I skate, the more I want to skate, so I try to keep myself skating as much as possible. Also, when I glanced at the minimum skills again a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised at how much simpler those demands seemed. Most of it I can do now, it’s just a matter of doing it better and faster. December was a great month, and Christmas also brought my new plates! (Crazy Venus plates) I LOVE my new plates so much, mostly because they’re so much lighter, but also because my toe stops don’t budge now. Oh, and speaking of toe stops… I’ve also finally just got the hang of getting good turn around toe stops (YAY! Well, at least on my dominant side!)

They’re now no longer all drawn out and awkward like this:

but more fast and fluid, like this:

I also made another attempt at 27 in 5 last night, and got 26. While I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get the full 27, I’m positive that I’ll be able to make it on my next attempt. Our attempt last night was the last 10 minutes of an hour and a half endurance practice (that I started out a little sore for), so I was definitely dragging for the last few laps. Also, I have to get used to my recently much loosened (probably 2 full turns) trucks. They were making everything a little wonky last night. But really my speed is way up. I’m actually passing people now! Which is a twofold achievement. One, because I’ve gotten a lot stronger and faster, and two, because I’ve been trying to get over the fear of passing people. In fact I even got some feedback this morning from some of the girls on my team about how they’ve noticed a real improvement in my skating recently. Awwww. It’s still amazing to me how awesome and supportive most derby girls tend to be.

The other cool thing that happened in December was that I finally settled on a derby name, as I already mentioned, but this was a real solidifying thing. It made me feel like okay, I’m actually really doing this now. I have a shirt with my name on it! Hahaha 😉

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But yes, my goals have certainly shifted again. At this point I’m planning on going to train with Jet City‘s new skater program. They have basic skills classes, and a Cadet program. Cadets are the fresh meat for their organization, and while I’m not entirely sure if I’m quite Cadet ready right now, they’re starting a new cycle of both on the 25th, and they’ll be able to make that call. Either way I’m excited, because I still feel like the basic skills classes would be beneficial so that I could have a really solid base, clearly explained from the ground up. (Especially for the things PFM doesn’t really teach, namely proper falling. Which a coach just touched on for the 1st time yesterday, after all the practices I’ve been going to for 4 months!) But getting on Cadets, if I’m ready, would be a really exciting change too.

We shall see!

And for vegan food, stay tuned! I’ve been trying out a whole bunch of recipes from Isa Chandra’s newest offering, Isa Does it, and the post will be up next!

<3,

Ty / Vampira Knightley

The move, the stress, the cats, the derby…

Published October 25, 2013 by Vegan Derby Cat Party
Some of us didn't seem to be stressed in the slightest by the move.

Some of us didn’t seem to be stressed in the slightest by the move.

Hello! We now have almost all of our stuff at the new place, and Thomas even suffered through getting the internet hooked up. (I refused to deal with Comcast again!) Last week I was SO STRESSED from the move and a from a family health issue, that all I seemed to have time for was boxes, headaches, intermittent nausea, dizzyness, exhaustion, and… derby. So I’m taking another stab at writing this post on my lunch break today.

Getting myself to practice last Thursday was pretty rough, but in the end I figured skating, and hitting girls would probably be welcome stress relief. So I pushed pass my lethargy and car sickness, and drove the full 46 miles north from Tacoma to Shoreline. It was a good practice, and I got to work on some of the hitting skills I’ll need for my 1st scrimmage this Sunday. Though I was still super tough on myself all practice, I talked to the coach after who assured me that I’m doing great for 2 months (it’s actually a little less) of practices, so that was encouraging. Even though it really doesn’t feel that way right now… honestly, it’s hard to deny that I’m skating much better all the time. When I got out, I was due to meet Thomas at the old apartment to do some more packing and loading, and all I could think about was food. It’s been pretty chilly lately, and I was craving a nice, hot, comforting pizza, so we headed over to Mad Pizza. This is a large Over the Rainbow pizza with garlic & olive oil subbed for the garlic ricotta, and with vegan cheese. It comes with roasted tomatoes, yellow peppers, red onions, roasted garlic, and oregano. Totally hit the spot as I filled Thomas in on the night’s practice.

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Saturday, one of the girls from derby had a pumpkin carving party, and that was fun way to hang out with a few of them in a less stressful way. She had all kinds of fancy pumpkin carving supplies. I opted for sculpting out a bat shape instead of doing the traditional cutting and gutting. (Haven’t snapped a pic of the finished pumpkin yet!) In the end, the results of everyone’s hard work were pretty impressive!

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Sundays we have practice at 11AM. If you know me well at all, you probably realize what a labor of love this has been for me, and are probably in complete shock that I’m giving up partying on Saturday nights now in order to be in shape for a physical activity on a Sunday morning! Yes. IT IS REALLY DIFFICULT FOR ME. Yesterday might’ve been the worst morning yet, in fact. I stayed in bed until the last possible minute, but still managed to get my butt to practice. It was a hard endurance practice, but you know what?

I learned how to skate backwards quite a bit better. (Something I’ve really wanted to learn for a long time. I could barely do it for more than a few feet, super duper slow.) AND I was somewhat decent at skating sideways, so that a couple girls actually asked ME what I was doing. So there’s that. RIght now when it’s super hard and I get banged up or completely exhausted, these are the things that I’m focusing on. Not only that, I finally got to go out for brunch with a couple of vegan girls after practice!

We went to Wayward…

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Though I wasn’t super crazy about mine for an ironic reason.

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It tasted a bit too realistic. Eww, even during my meat eating years I never really ate sausage, and this tasted too much like real sausage to me! (Even though it probably doesn’t to a meat eater.) Luckily Thomas met up with us, so I was able to unload half on him. I usually get their tempeh bacon which just tastes like nicely seasoned tempeh, so this was unexpected, but I wanted that biscuit! The hashbrowns were awesome and cooked to perfection.

Afterwards we made a trip to the old apartment where I managed to get a bunch of stuff done before sitting down and falling asleep sitting against the wall. That’s right. Sitting up. Thomas was awesome, and did a lot on his own, and let me snooze for a bit.

Tomorrow I’m off and looking forward to finishing up all this apartment chaos. We’re also doing a Spa day in the evening for a derby social, so that will be a fantastic and well deserved indulgence. I’m hoping that more bonding with the ladies will help to build my confidence and sense of comraderie at practice. Thursday’s practice is dress up optional since it’s on Halloween, and I’m on the fence about going or not. Halloween is a pretty big deal in our house, so I may need to skip, even if it is the last practice before scrimmage. We shall see…

1st contact work & some Wayward

Published October 18, 2013 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

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WOO! I had derby practice last night, and I got to do my 1st contact work! We were practicing pack work like pushing each other to block a jammer coming up on the outside edge of the track, as well as steering them off the track with leverage. (Sorry, I’m still not sure of the actual names of these maneuvers!) SO MUCH FUN! And I’m so glad too, because I’ll be expected to participate in the next scrimmage on November 3rd, and I need some skills! I had to sit out the one this month, even though I had just joined the team, because I had only attended two practices: one was a fit skate, and one was on jam skating (basically dance skating), but they’re considered mandatory unless you’re sick, injured or out of town. Hope we get a lot more of these type of practices in the next two weeks!

Thomas rode his bike up to the Rat’s Nest (where we practice) after work and met me, so we were both pretty hungry and decided to hit Wayward Vegan Cafe on the way home. He got his usual, the Wizard, and I got a nice healthy Bikini Bowl, which I’d had once before and was totally craving. It’s on their gluten-free menu and is comprised of quinoa, steamed kale, mandarin oranges, diced tomatoes, citrus marinated grilled tempeh, and served with a side of chipotle tahini. So good. Totally hit the spot. I’m trying to do clean, protein packed meals after workouts lately so I can reap the benefits of all this exercise more fully. A little more challenging since I have less time to cook with all the skating, but I thought this was an excellent restaurant meal. Hopefully once we’re settled into the new apartment, I can start doing some smarter meal planning to compensate.

Speaking of the new apartment… we’re officially moving Tuesday. So if I’m a little quiet for the next few days, that’s why. We haven’t packed a thing, but since we have 2 weeks to move, our attitude may be a little too casual. Tuesday we’re taking the big stuff over with a moving truck. Hopefully this weekend we can get most of the kitchen/bathroom/etc. stuff over there in little trips without having to make too big a deal about it. I hate moving. Not that you would know by how much I do it, but I’m hoping that we’ll be able to stay in the new place for a couple years or so, until we can get into a house.

Have a great weekend!

Ty

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