VRDL Roller Derby Bootcamp

Posted on January 12, 2012 by


Last Friday, I jumped in Daisy Wallbanger’s car with five other derby girls and headed off on the nine hour journey to Melbourne for a two day Victorian Roller Derby League (VRDL) master class.

VRDL are insanely good and their classes reflected that. The first day we spent four full on hours on skates over the day, as well as an hour and a half doing off skates work. By the end of the day I was feeling an exquisite combination of exhilaration and exhaustion.

Sunday morning, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through the day. During the warm up, I was distracted by the pain from a blister and felt so old and stiff. As soon as the classes started up again, though, I was sucked in to what they were saying and soon forgot about the blister and any soreness. Day two involved a lot more discussion of strategy so wasn’t as physically demanding. My head did start to spin by the end of it all as I tried to compute all the variables related to strategizing. Just when I was starting to reach mental overload, scrimmage time started.

I was incredibly nervous about scrimmaging. Then I realised that we had just been doing a drill where we had gone around the track as a single un-assisted jammer taking on wall after wall of four defensive blockers. At least for the scrimmage we would have offensive blockers on our side.

At first the VRDL girls let us bench coach ourselves. About a quarter of the way through they started to prompt us with questions like “what approach are you going to take on the next jam? Why?” or “what strategy did you use last time and why did it work/fail?”. Halfway through the scrimmage the VRDL girls started joining in the scrimmage. That’s when it got really fun! For one jam, I was jamming against VRDL player G Banger and I scored more points than she did*

My absolute favourite jam of the day was the last one I was in. I was blocking on the track with Kitty Decapitate. I was physically exhausted and functioning mentally on the level of a cavewoman on skates: “Me blocker, me want hit jammer… what these round things? Ohh, wheel” Kitty, of course, was in fine form. She was directing the plays by yelling things like “here”, “stop”, “wall!”, “come back”.  I must not have been responding quickly enough or getting exactly where she wanted me so she started grabbing me roughly by my tank top and dragging me into the exact stop she wanted. You might think that would be annoying but it was the exact opposite. I had absolute faith that she was making the right calls. By being wrenched around like a rag doll I was no longer a lone (small) blocker on the track but the integral part of a wall. At one point we held G Banger back for a handful of valuable seconds. I can’t describe how much I felt like part of a team during that jam. There was no mental space or time for ego or even emotions like regret or frustration. I think that for those few seconds I understood what fish in a school feel like. As an individual I was just a person moving erratically over the track but combined with Kitty’s movements we were like a flowing mass moving for a single purpose.

If you get the chance to do a VRDL training camp – take it!

If you’d like more information on the technical content of the training camp, check out my article on Roller Derby AU.

*disclaimer: G Banger was actually sent off before the first pass for back blocking Power Ranga.

Posted in: LimboLand