Making Team Wales: My experience

On the run up to the first round of Team Wales try-outs I was apprehensive, excited and intrigued all at the same time. I didn’t know what the Team Wales squad would look like, what calibre of skating there would be, how the massive expanse of mountainous Mid Wales would affect the amicable arrangement of training sessions for both north and south, or whether I would be a good or worthy fit for the team.

But just before the first try-out, all of that was wiped completely from my mind.

Just before Christmas 2013, my father was taken seriously ill while on holiday in India. Just before New Year he passed away in New Delhi. To say that it was a shock would be an understatement. And to say that it was difficult trying to get him home and deal with the fall-out would be a gross understatement.

My first instinct was to withdraw from the Team Wales try-outs, but in the midst of dealing with such a devastating situation that I had so little control over, I took the decision to go through with the try-outs as much to just keep myself occupied as anything else.

Needless to say, when I rocked up on 4th January 2014 my mind was of limited capacity and I feared the very real possibility that I might just burst into tears if someone hit me too hard… As it turned out, it was the best decision I could have made.

Once again, roller derby proved to provide me with a mental safe-haven and gave my brain a well needed rest from the upheaval at home. In addition to this, the other girls attending the try-outs were all so positive and friendly that any apprehension I may have had just melted away.

I can’t say I remembered much else from that day - including how well I performed - but it couldn’t have been too bad as I managed to make it through to the second round of try-outs.

Thankfully, the second round of try-outs were not until a couple of months after the first and this allowed me some time to regain some control over my home life, deal with my grief and get my head back in the game.

With everything that happened I decided that life is way too short to hold back on things, and I went along to the second round with a clear head and a solid motivation, determined to secure my place on the squad.

The second round was an even more rewarding experience than the first, with a generally high standard of skaters from all over Wales (and some from England, with Welsh descent). The drills were challenging and scrimmage was a blast, and I honestly could not say how the decision on the final cut was made.

Thankfully, the squad charter was announced relatively quickly after the second round and I was super pleased to find that all of my TBB teamies that had tried out had also made it onto the team.

Team Wales training officially began on Saturday 5th April and while it is clear we all come from very different strategic backgrounds, I have absolutely no doubt that we will be well oiled and putting up a decent fight come December and the World Cup.

This first quarter of 2014 and my journey onto the Team Wales squad has certainly been an experience – some of which I wish had never happened, but some of which I wouldn’t change for the world.

Cymru am byth!

The most belated ‘year in review’ award goes to…

It’s been a long old time since I last posted anything on here, and even longer since I did a real home grown blog.

Things have been… interesting (?) / experiential (?) / unexpected (for sure) since my last post, and it as taken me a little bit of time for me to get my head together. Less of that for now though - you’ll have to wait or this years update to read about that. However, for me, the whole of 2013 was in fact a bit of an emotional roller coaster, but I’ll fill you in on that as we go.

So anyway, 2013 saw the launch of the new WFTDA rules set and I had my first real experience of this at the UKRDA Sur5al tournament at Tattoo Freeze in January. And it wasn’t as scary as I had anticipated.

Being a skater who had previously been pretty clean but who had often picked up the dreaded 3 minors, I was pleased to find that the new rules set appears to suit me quite well and during the Sur5val tournament our TBB team did ourselves proud, coming 2nd out of all teams and in fact scoring the most jam points overall!

The next big thing that happened was a coaching visit from the lovely Ballistic Whistle and the AMAZING Juke Boxx!! Yeah, you read that right - Juke Boxx. I have to say I actually felt a little but sick when I saw just how skilled that woman is and to top it all off she is also nice, beautiful and funny. No biggy (yeah whatever, Jolly!). Anyway, they covered some super useful and revelatory (yeah I said revelatory) stuff and I found my skills subsequently took a nice little boost as a direct effect.

Following that, we did what had previously seemed impossible and somehow won a bout against the previously (and since to date) unbeaten LRG B Team, Brawl Saints!!! Needless to say that was the best start to our official bouting year and the sellout game was followed by lots of dancing with the LRG crew, including some of my favourite derby personalities, Stefanie Mainey and Raw Heidi. Such a good day!

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23 February 2013: Tiger Bay Brawlers vs Brawl Saints (LRG B) {Home} - TBB 204 - 135 BS LRG B

 This then set us up beautifully for the host of excellent bouts that followed:

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30 March 2013: Tiger Bay Brawlers vs Go Go Gent Roller Girls (Gent) {Away} - TBB 333 - 119 Gent  

31 March 2013: Tiger Bay Brawlers vs One Love Roller Derby (OLRD) {Away} - TBB 371 - 41 OLRD [closed door, released score]

Just before our off season we were invited to attend the European WFTDA Tournament: 2013 A Skate Odyssey, and being the only apprentice league to had been invited we felt that there were a lot of expectations on the team. Indeed, we were seeded 4th in the tournament which meant that every opponent we faced was a formidable one and without our usual bout prep time we were a little unsure of the impending result. It turns out that we needn’t have worried as we managed to win our first two games and proved our right to be there when we came in with a mere 3 point loss in the final! TBB ranked 2nd in the overall tournament after the following results:

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10 May 2013: Tiger Bay Brawlers vs Crime City Rollers (CCR) {Away} - TBB 242 - 212 CCR

11 May 2013: Tiger Bay Brawlers vs Helsinki Roller Derby (HRD) {Away} - TBB 168 - 165 HRD

12 May 2013: Tiger Bay Brawlers vs Berlin Bombshells (Berlin) {Away} - TBB 149 - 152 Berlin

Unfortunately I suffered several injuries between that tournament and our following games, damaging (what still seems to be permanently) my sacro-iliac joint and my AC joint, which resulted in a lot of time off-skate. I had assumed that this time would mean that I would be stepping off the A Team for the following quarter charter but as it happened the time off did me good, and although my fitness obviously suffered, my blocking ability / approach benefitted. Therefore, stepping away from my jamming role I continued to focus on this.

So, after a few months of recuperation, strategy assessment and training, Tiger Bay’s A Team had their return to bouting in September, following our formal acceptance as a full WFTDA member league. We met again with one of our favourite opponents from SKOD, Crime City Rollers, and after some tough game play on both sides, this is how it went down:

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7 September 2013: Tiger Bay Brawlers vs Crime City Rollers (CCR) {Home} - TBB 223 - 132 CCR  

Following on from this we faced some old foes…

26 October 2013: Tiger Bay Brawlers vs Leeds Roller Dolls Rebel Roses (LRDRR) {Away} - TBB 266 - 135 LRDRR

23 November 2013: Tiger Bay Brawlers vs Windsor Rollergirls Who Dares Windsor (WDW)  {Away} - TBB 305 - 175 WDW

And then onto some grudge matches…

Cover Photo

7 December 2013: Tiger Bay Brawlers vs Helsinki All-Star Ninja Turtles (HASNT) {Home} - TBB 171- 144 HASNT

8 December 2013: Tiger Bay Brawlers vs Brawl Saints (LRG B) {Home} - TBB 171 - 242 LRG B [closed door, released score]

Unfortunately my family life took a swift turn for the worse following this, but in terms of roller derby (and despite the injuries) 2013 was one to remember, and if I could have ended the year on that day of the Brawl Saints game I would have said that 2013 ended on a definite high.

Here’s hoping 2014 will blow 2013 out of the sky!

londonrollergirls:

feathersandwax:

From Derby News Network: After going up 100-38 in the first half, 4 seed London lost their whole lead in the second but managed to take it back and then hold off a fierce last jam rally from 5 seed Rose City to win 193-190. At the end of the game, emotions were running somewhat high, as captured by Dave Wood here.

single tear

:)

londonrollergirls:

feathersandwax:

From Derby News Network: After going up 100-38 in the first half, 4 seed London lost their whole lead in the second but managed to take it back and then hold off a fierce last jam rally from 5 seed Rose City to win 193-190. At the end of the game, emotions were running somewhat high, as captured by Dave Wood here.

single tear

:)

Look what the amazingly talented Brock’n Roller made from our bout at the weekend! 

WHEN I DON’T HEAR WHAT PENALTY I’VE BEEN GIVEN

rollerderp:

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Almost every scrimmage…

(via margaritakille)