The Darlings of Derby Ink

You would think the students of Penn State would be used to my ice packs by now.

My small, polka-dotted cooler (which is usually filled with Herbalife goodies and greek yogurt) is stocked today with ice packs which I am rotating between my two knees as I blog in the coffee shop before my Advanced PR meeting. You know my mood is killer when I’m swinging my shoulders to a disco tune that’s playing on the radio.

My team mates and I have dubbed this the “Rogue High”. It is the inexplicable joy that is radiating through 16 women who got to be part of Team Rogue at the Derby Ink Invitational tournament this past weekend.

Derby Ink

The weekend was highly anticipated by the entire derby world. Could a small MADE league out of Philadelphia transport a bank track to Harrisburg, coordinate a men’s AND women’s tournament while also juggling merchants, a tattoo convention, an indoor skate park, bands and more?

Rogue was a mish mash team that took on many incarnations since this past January. Meeting up at Love City’s track, we learned the rules of the Modern Athletic Derby Endeavor (MADE) while fighting the physics of a bank track and conquering the fear of the rail, slope and edge of the track. You may have seen previous posts about this!

The first breakthrough of team work and awareness came Easter weekend when Rogue invaded Penn Jersey’s warehouse in a sketchy part of Philadelphia to test our mettle against some MADE all stars as well as the Penn Jersey Hooligan’s.

We were skating together for fun. All of us would have these huge smiles on our faces as we went up and down on the bank track – even when the boys were kicking our butts.

Team rogueee

So we arrive at Derby Ink. Here is our roster:

Renegade Raven (retired) & Skate Edge (HARD) – Bench Coaching
Russian Bayou – Dutchland
Treasure Chest – Dutchland
Jocelyn Bassler – Dutchland
Merry Khaos – Dutchland
Bam Bam Brawler – Rocktown
Rainbow’s Revenge – Harrisburg
Neve Cannibal – Harrisburg
Buster Skull – Salisbury
Raven Darkhold –River City
Spry Icicle – Maine
Grim D Mise – Maine
Damage Dahl – Philly
Ally McKill – Steel City
Nash Villain – Retired

We knew we had a strong line-up. We knew we had a team that could get things done on a bank track. We didn’t realize that we were going to all click during the first half of the first game. This was the first time we had all been on the track together. This was some kind of magic. We were all happy, excited to be there and our first bout was against the MADE All-Stars … a great place to really test what we were made of.

Our team work: awesome. Our communication: spot on. Our awareness: top notch. Our joy: through the roof.

The advantage to not being super familiar with a rule set is that you cannot get angry when called off on a penalty, since you honestly don’t know whether you did it or not. Same with when the other team ISN’T called on a penalty!

Something magic happened during that bout….The entire crowd fell in love with us.

I do not know how or why. Maybe it was because we were a bunch of flat track skaters that seemed to exude happiness just at the opportunity to play roller derby in a new setting and with our friends. Maybe it was our adorable cluelessness as we went to the box for touching people. Maybe it was just because the talent level and moves of our jammers and pivots and blockers were undeniably entertaining.

From Thursday to Sunday, there was a lot of frustration at the Derby Ink Invitational. Scattered between the debacles, however, were wonderful games and athletic feats. All the skaters were showing off the battle wounds of the track (new Masonite and a splintered edge to the track made for a lot of scars) and talking about the amazing moves they made against some of their derby heroes.

Photo by JPaden Photography. AMAZING.
Photo by JPaden Photography. AMAZING.

I’m going to skirt over the controversy and bad feelings that came up during the weekend, but let me just say that the tournament heads were not very well equipped to deal with a team being mad about the seeding situation. Team Rogue had won both of our games in the prelims by a margin of +266 … And were seeded #1. This made the other flat track super teams (overall) very unhappy.

At the end of the argument, we got our #1 seeding.

WE WERE SEEDED OVER TEAM BIONIC. JOY. Unbelievable. A team of misfit flat trackers who are having the time of their life actually was top of the pile. What?? Amazing!!

PS I would not have made it through this weekend without my supply of Hydrate, LiftOff and protein bars. Holla.

So on Sunday we went on to beat Penn Jersey in the semi-finals. Those ladies hit HAAAARRRD….even though the score was very heavy in Rogue’s favor do not think that Penn Jersey (or any of the MADE teams) did not try. They were brutal competitors. And instead of high fives – we got hugs at the end of the bout!

We made it to the finals of this tournament. At that point we had dubbed ourselves winners. Even before playing that game, every one of us in a Rogue shirt had been approached by fans, refs and other skaters – each of them telling us that they love us and that they’re cheering for us.

Rogue had become the Darlings of the Derby Ink tournament. The group that came in as the underdogs had won the hearts of the crowd and the other teams.

Ok, so it goes without saying that we got our butts WHOOPED in the final by Team Bionic, but I’m ok with that. It was amazing seeing the smiles of my team mates as they skated the track. It was amazing to hear our friends cheer on the sidelines. We each came back to the benches with little victories and new bruises to show off.

Joc v Rangeon

Thanks to Kimberly Bassler for the Bionic photos!
Thanks to Kimberly Bassler for the Bionic photos!

For me? Successfully holding back Bonnie Thunders for half a pass. Taking Sandrine Rangeon to the rail. Pushing Stella Italiano off the track to end the jam. Outrunning Fifi Nomenon and Psychobabble to maintain control of the front of the pack. Offensively, and successfully, blocking Sexy Slaydie so that Buster Skull could break the pack. Little victories!

Other moments I won’t forget?

The look on Stella’s face when Russian Bayou broke the pack as pivot directly behind her for the third time. Jocelyn Bassler getting lead over Rangeon AND scoring three points. Damage Dahl taking out Hockey Honey.

I couldn’t ask for a more positive team to skate with in a mash up setting. For all the missteps of the tournament organization it was a blast like I can’t even describe.

So here’s to the Derby Ink! Here’s to Team Rogue! Oh, and “Fuck Cancer!!” – Team Rogue donated half of our $2000 second place prize to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Damn, we’re some classy broads.

Now pass me my 24 Restore and Rebuild Strength!! My knees are all kinds of messed up from this weekend. *limp limp limp*


Photo by JPaden Photography
Photo by JPaden Photography

When a flat tracker attempts the banked track

Even athletes get sore to the point of not being able to move. Even athletes training within their sport are able to change it up enough to make even the strongest parts of their body hurt in ways that they haven’t experienced for years.

Enter the banked track.

It will be your friend and your enemy
It will be your friend and your enemy

Love City Roller Derby has a banked track on Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia, and their league has decided to take on a huge venture by organizing the Derby Ink Invitational in Harrisburg, PA on April 19-21. Most of the teams that have entered into the Invitational tournament are not banked track leagues that play by M.A.D.E. rules – they are teams made up of flat track skaters that do tournaments as super teams for fun or they’re giving it a go for the first time.

Enter me.

Skating backwards on this thing is tough
Skating backwards on this thing is tough

I had tried pulling some friends together to put a team in, but I couldn’t get enough girls to commit and I didn’t know that there was a second team pulling at the same skaters. So, I let go of trying to put together my own team and (luckily) the team now calling themselves “Team Rogue” absorbed me into it as well. Well.. I mean we’ll see if I make the roster.

I felt like a complete newbie again this weekend. We had a two hour practice yesterday and then a two hour practice/one hour scrimmage today. With the sheer talent on this team, I would not be surprised if I got the boot on the final day. I am not as strong or as fast or as naturally talented as ANYONE else on this team. I am not being negative: I am being wholly honest with myself.

I am the weakest link. Goodbye?

Warming up with agility ladders. Somehow I could do it...
Warming up with agility ladders. Somehow I could do it…

If I want to survive, I have a lot of work to do and I plan on doing it. I will not be seen as the weak link 30 days from now. Now I just need to figure out the best way to train between now and then.

On a banked track, I am feeling more pressure on my right leg through the process of skating as opposed to my left leg (which takes all the force in flat track). Why? You’re fighting the slope of the track, and it’s that right leg that has to do most of the work. Also, the game play is at about 3x the speed of a flat track game. I’ve played some fast flat track; I would put this up there with Gotham & Philly speed of play.

With the different rules that I’m not used to, it means that I am not responding quick enough physically OR mentally. Luckily, I am not the only one that let a pivot by them or wasn’t able to follow through on a hip check to the inside.

Today was exceptionally hard because my legs were all wobbly from two hours learning drills and fighting the uphill slope for the first time. When we began our cardio/paceline drills I was waiting for my muscles to tear in half, to be honest. I couldn’t dig, I’d slide when I would crossover in the corners and (in general) I feel like I made a complete ass out of myself. I was the slowest person on the team, far and away. It would have been fine if I felt strong enough in drills to take people to the rail.

I couldn’t.

You want us to do what?
You want us to do what?

Ok, so enter the awesome part about being on a team like Team Rogue. We’re all there to have fun. We don’t have an official coach. There is no real pressure. Sure there are prizes in the tournament, but other than wanting to be able to compete against skaters on Team USA, Team Canada and Team France… we just want to have fun!

The encouragement I got from my team mates as I slugged my ass around the track was amazing. These are all skaters that I admire and feel like I am not even in the same league as and they cheered and pushed me. (Thank goodness my legs warmed up and I got the hang of things a little better later.)

Sunday Practice!
Sunday Practice!

Wow, this is how you know my brain is mush! I don’t ramble in a free write style often! I TRY to keep my writing reigned in!!

So, yesterday we had a bunch of people (and not all of them are necessarily on the team for April – I honestly don’t know what the roster situation is so don’t assume that any of these people are or aren’t skating then… this is just who I skated WITH). I got to skate with Nash Villain, Renegade Raven, Russian Bayou, Jocelyn Bassler, Treasure Chest, Miss USA-Hole, Pixie Bust, Damage Dahl, Antidote, Spry Icicle and Grim D Mise. Today, Raven, Nash, Bayou, Spry and Grim came again and we added Eileen U Scream and Buster Skull! It was awesome. I had so much fun. I felt so challenged.

It’s rare that you can have a practice that makes you feel so useless and yet at the same time, makes you feel so amazing. I feel stronger and faster than ever before. I feel focused and determined to build a routine that will change me by April. Today though, the hot shower was amazing and my hip flexors, hamstrings and abductors are sore to the touch. Even little movements cause a ripple of pain through my legs. Flat track practice should be interesting tomorrow night.

Practice! Agility ladders and friends and laughing!


And as a side note, in scrimmage against a couple of the Love City All Stars … I did take a jammer to the rail. 😉
Today, my food has looked like this:

8am Formula 1 chocolate shake with personalized protein powder.

16 oz of water before leaving, had half of my peach tea/aloe on my way there.

9:30a Soy Nuts and a bite of Cookies n Cream meal replacement bar

10a Practice started, 24 Hydrate happening! 32 oz of water during practice plus some nibbles of meal bar.

Noon: Beverage Mix w/ H3O before the hour long scrimmage. Then another 16 ounces of water

Rebuild Strength for recovery, end of the Cookies N Cream bar; another half of the peach tea and aloe on the way home

Got home, had some grapes, 2 boiled eggs and spring mix with fresh salsa. Another 64 oz of water.