Brawlers take on the USA – 2 sides of a dime (Part 1: Heads)
So you probably saw (from myself and the rest of the Brawlers) all the hype over the last few months about the Tiger Bay A Team going to take on the U S of A.
Our invitation to ECDX on the back of ‘2013: A Skate Odyssey’ meant a whole heap of planning, fundraising and training in preparation for our American challenges. In the run up to our pilgrimage the Brawlers were busy implementing ‘Operation ECDX’.
Needless to say, with Operation ECDX underway (alongside my personal ‘Operation own it for Wales’), I got stuck in, trying to up my game in terms of stamina, skills and versatility.
I worked on my mental game, making real strides towards flushing ‘bad’ jams and instead taking them as learning opportunities. My confidence in myself grew, and through all of the bonding and training leading up to our trip, my confidence in my team mates grew as well. In fact, by the time we were ready to fly to the States I was the most confident I had ever been as both a jammer and a blocker.
Our first State-side sanctioned game was in Yonkers against Suburbia, and was the day after Aga, Mustang Mitch and I had flown out. I thought I would feel a little jet-lagged and would possibly struggle with the heat, but come game day I felt pumped and we were lucky enough to have our game in the evening and of a relatively cool day.
The first half of the game went well, with the Brawlers more than holding their own against the home team. There were a few points to adapt to, namely the style of reffing and, weirdly, the angle of the sun coming through the windows (but this was blinding players of both teams, and refs alike and so was no real handicap one way or the other)!
The second half unfortunately saw multiple trips to the box for TBB players and in conjunction with this we lost our lead and when the final whistle was blown, the home team had secured a win.
Despite our loss, however, we still performed much better than predicted by our ranking, and every last one of us felt we could perform better at the next game. It was following this game that Jen-Clawed Van Slamme awarded me with the ‘Spirit of the Pack’ (which I like to think was for positive mental attitude and team work), and this served to boost my confidence even further.
The Suburbia girls were wonderful hosts, putting up the whole team and demonstrating American hospitality in style. Aga, Mustang Mitch and I stayed with the lovely Rita who not only provided a beautiful and comfortable place for us to stay but provided a veritable feast for breakfast with fresh coffee, fruit, pastries, eggs and bacon. Omnomnom!
Game number 2 was an unsanctioned, closed-door game against Gotham’s B Team, The Wall Street Traitors. Gotham’s B Team!!! Rubbing elbows with Bonnie Thunders and OMG at the Gotham Crash Pad was pretty awesome in itself, but then we got to play some roller derby as well!
I was super excited to jam and block in good measure, and the whole team was emanating positive vibes and tight play for the whole game. We worked well as a team and ended the game with a 5 point loss to the B team for arguably the best league in the world. To say I was pleased would be an understatement.
In between our New York bouts we were also lucky enough to be able to fit in a bit of sight-seeing. I had a lovely wander through Central Park with Aga, Mustang Mitch and Ava Assassin, undertook a spot of education with a whole bunch of Brawlers at the American Museum of Natural History, and some shopping in Times Square with Kid Block, Dos Santos, Bloxie and Aga.
One Greyhound ride later, we found ourselves in Washington to face the DC Roller Girls. I will say fairly little about this game as I had either eaten some dodgy fish or picked up a horrendous tummy bug. Either way I was amazed that I was even managing to play, let alone worry about my performance or keeping a running commentary of how the game went! Again, we performed much better than the rankings predicted and although we would have loved to grab a win on that day, we knew that DC were a worthy team who played well on the day. You can’t really ask for much more than that.
The very next day we were on our merry way from DC to Philly – finally on the eve of the tournament. And we were EXCITED!!!
As the unknown British newcomers our predictions from both the stats people and ECDX spectators were not the most hopeful with the general consensus being that we would lose. Badly.
However, following the most inspirational speeches from our bench manager Neil Helado (where he pretty much made everyone want to cry), we played 2 extremely strong games against Garden State and . I don’t know if it was the atmosphere or the excitement but both games seemed to fly by with us owning each one throughout and emerging victorious! So much so in fact, that TBB were dubbed ‘Biggest upset’ of the tournament! Woooooooooohooooooooooo!!!! Not bad for representing British derby, eh?!Following our official games of the tournament, Jen-Clawed Van Slamme and I had been fortunate enough to get involved with a challenge bout against the Pensylvania All Stars (eeee!). Representing Team Wales in a World Cup mixed team called United Nations of Roller Derby we got to totally let our hair down and mix things up a bit. Obviously the established team won but we didn’t care as we had so much fun and got to meet lovely people from national squads including Portugal, Greece and Ireland.
And as if that wasn’t amazing enough by itself, ECDX was responsible for reuniting the Brawlers with their long lost and greatly missed, original head coach, Tui Lyon (aka BB Bombshell). That meant that as well as partying alongside a whole bunch of excellent derby ladies, including Helsinki and such derby names as Mick Swagger and Smack Daddy, the Brawlers also got to once again party with BB!
I have to say though, aside from all the derby amazingness and partying, some of my biggest highlights of the US Brawler adventure were catching up with old buddies (specifically BB and Garth) and feeling a little but closer to some current buddies, specifically Mustang Mitch, Aga, Hello Reeshii and Jen-Clawed Van Slamme. What a bunch of absolute babes!
I probably haven’t summarised this in the most eloquent fashion, but it is a basic (and over due) low down of all the goodness of the Brawler ECDX ‘big summer blowout’.
Now I’m just hoping to do it all again in December with my Team Wales buddies for the Blood and Thunder Roller Derby World Cup!
The night before Jolly’s Plank Challenge!!!
So I’ve got 4 minutes 30 seconds so far… can I do the full 5 minutes tomorrow?
I’m really not sure… unless I get a few more pledges… then I’m pretty sure I’ll make it.
So you know what to do… go here and show me your love!
Jolly’s Plank Challenge - Week 4 progress
So I managed a 4 minute plank yesterday. I have to say that I hated every one of those minutes but am pleased that I made good progress! :)
However, I tried again today (before our 2 hour mega scrim with Brawl Saints) and didn’t manage to improve my time. :(
I’m hoping that this is just because we (Tiger Bay Brawlers) have had such a crazy week of games / scrim that I was simply worn out and that a couple of days wind-down will help.
I am acutely aware that this last week is going to be the hardest, with not only the longest planks to do thus far, but also with the most time to catch-up if I want to reach my goal of 5 minutes.
Please help with my motivation by finding out why I’m doing this, here:
And making a pledge here:
Thank you in advance of your support!
Jolly’s Plank Challenge - Week 3 progress
At the end of week 3 (on Sunday 25th May) I got up to 3 minutes 15 seconds.
However, this week has been difficult and I am no longer quite on track with my 5 minutes in 5 weeks - but I am well ahead of schedule to meet my minimum of 3 and a half minutes!
I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather, or that my theory of getting exponentially stronger was just pie in the sky thinking, but the last 5 - 10 seconds of each increased plank I have done has completely wiped me out, meaning I have needed a rest day every other day, which in turn has slowed my progress.
The 6 sponsors I now have are keeping me going, but I really do feel that I would be a lot more pumped if I have a few more…
Please support our cause and show me that my efforts are not in vain!
You can make a pledge here:
If you can only afford a small amount, (like 2p per 5 second increase) that is totally cool – I just want to know that you’re out there. And of course, every little helps!