Had another good practice last night. We added a new element to our off-skates warmup: 4 sets of 30-to-45-second hand stands, up against a wall. I've been doing handstands up against a wall (and sans wall, with somewhat less success) for just about as long as I can remember -- cartwheels, too. Evidently that's not true for the majority of the population, and I'm surprised to see teammates having trouble with the exercise. I found *I* had the energy to shout encouraging things to the group as the seconds ticked on and we felt like our eyeballs were about to explode. I've been very reluctant to take any kind of leadership in derby, so it was weird for me.
We moved into on-skates drills, including agility work and wall blocking (meaning 3 or 4 blockers stand across the track, forming a "wall," to stop the jammer from getting through). I'm slowly starting to feel more successful in this drill. As a jammer I was finding/making holes, and I felt pretty good blocking too. One thing we're being asked to work on is blocking with our upper-torsos pitched forward, so the jammer is only able to make contact with the pointy part of our butts (instead of the whole of our backs, which in theory would give the jammer more to push against). Fortunately that pitched-forward stance is one I'm really comfortable and stable in, and it makes me feel effective as a positional blocker. ("Positional" is when you block just by being in a space, as opposed to actively trying to hit someone. Despite being small, I am really good at getting in front of someone and staying in their way -- not so good at hitting. My intended hitting "victims" usually giggle as I bounce off them. Things to work on.)
Later in practice, we did some "drimmage" -- a drill that works on situational game play. This particular drill rarely leaves me with any sense of success. Whether I'm blocking or jamming, I usually feel defeated, confused, and stupid. Last night the jamming part felt pretty OK. Blocking is still a giant clustermess for me, though in one jam I managed to stay in front of L'exi-Cuter (one of our absolutely star jammers, and a lovely Bombshell to boot) long enough for another blocker to come up and help contain her. She eventually got out, which was bound to happen, but for a few seconds I felt effective.
I did find out I'm on the 16-player roster to travel with the All-Stars out to the Pacific Northwest at the end of August. We are playing 3 games against some of the top teams in the world, in Portland, Seattle, and Olympia. We can only play 14 women for each game, so I am hoping to get into a game or two. Sometimes people travel and do not wind up playing, so I'm prepping myself for that possibility as well.
Most importantly, last night was the last practice for the "boot camp" that starts with Minnesota RollerGirls tryouts in June (or was it May this year?) and ends with some of them getting drafted to the four MNRG home teams in August. There are about 24 hopeful bootcampers this year. Many of them were on Debs with me; a handful went through boot camp with me last summer; some were new Debs I worked with this past year. I count about 12 of them as very-close derby-friends, and one is one of my very dearest real-life friends as well. And only 13 or so will be drafted. It's so heartbreaking and gut-wrenching that I have a hard time remembering that a good chunk of them WILL be drafted, and I'll get to skate with them all year! The draft is on Sunday. Eeeeek!
Well it's almost noon on the most beautiful, perfect day. Time to get outside. Happy Friday!