2014 MRDA Champs Preview: #1 Your Mom Men’s Roller Derby

Your Mom is coming.

Your Mom

Two time MRDA champion, Your Mom Men’s Roller Derby is a collection of some of the most talented skaters in the world who also just happen to be phenomenal at roller derby. Disclaimer: I talk about roller derby pretty real at a couple points in this blog. This is not meant to make anyone #butthurt (as Elektra Q Tion would say), but if a blog about derby can’t say it, who can?

Your Mom is known for fast skating, and intense walls. When you watch them, they are not hard hitters – they don’t have to be. Their non-verbal communication and self-awareness is so sharp that if they rarely have to hit opponents to contain them. Their work is smooth and effortless. Hits are not short strikes, but rather elongated motion that carries the intended target out of bounds, or drives the target behind the blocker’s hips. Edges, edges, edges. Study it. Their bursts. Their control. Their awareness.

Against Mass Maelstrom at Spring Roll. Photo by DeFord Designs
Against Mass Maelstrom at Spring Roll. Photo by DeFord Designs

Your Mom knows what you’re going to do before you know what you’re going to do. They aim for where you’re going, not where you are, and they rarely have to catch the jammer, because the jammer is so commonly ensnared in their net.

How do you know that their blockers are interchangeable and their rosters fluid beyond measure? Think about this: Who are their big hitters and which jammer has the best differential? Sure, Seahorses Forever and Sugar Boots stand out because of their height. Yes, everyone knows Frank NotsoHotra. Otherwise it is hard to picture any skaters that are exceedingly more important than the others. On every other team you can look at a line up and pick out ‘key pieces’. Sure, every team SAYS they don’t have any players that are more important than the rest, but we all know that’s not true.

Close the gap. Photo by DeFord Designs
Close the gap. Photo by DeFord Designs

Double Excel. Magnum PIMP. Jonathan R. Szabo. Dilly Dally. Speed Dealer. Cozmo Damage. Shreddy Mercury. Richard Gaudet. Wes Turn. Sutton Impact. Reaper.  Keith Rucker. TJ Binkley. Are these the only players that matter on their teams? Absolutely not! Do you want to beat that their teams would be a tad concerned about overall performance if one or both of these skaters were missing from the line up? Yes, I honestly think so.

On Your Mom they don’t have to worry about it as much. No Cleveland Stever? You’ve Dirty Larry. No Tony Muse? You got Dante Muse. No B Stang? You got Rollomite. No Sugar Boots? You’ve got Seahorses Forever. No Lily Pad? You’ve got Suicide Snow Cone. You getting the idea? There is no one on the roster that Your Mom can’t respond to with a “But we’ve got these 5 people that CAN do it”. And they have up and coming skaters that they’re training so that the tradition of winning continues.

Frank Notsohotra - commonly referred to as "The fastest man in roller derby." Photo by DeFord Designs
Frank Notsohotra – commonly referred to as “The fastest man in roller derby.” Photo by DeFord Designs

“But Khaos!” You say, “You can’t really appreciate Your Mom.” (giggle) “They fly in all their skaters!”

Untrue.

There are 3 remote skaters that I know of. And by “remote” I mean living more than 3 hours away. And even if there were more, so what? Charm City, Philly, and Tampa Bay Men’s (for example) all have skaters that travel upwards of 3 hours to play with their teams. Those skaters could play for Charlottesville, or Suburbia, or Brevard Area Men’s, but they have chosen a different league and has made a commitment to the league of their choice. It is a hobby, we don’t get paid, so why should anyone feel that they are not allowed to play with the league of their choice? Why do we not hear about the skaters that travel across state lines to be a part of PRG or CCRG or TBMRD?

Because they’re not world champions.

As soon as a team starts winning division titles (Oly) or champs (YMMRD), suddenly it’s an issue. Jack Hammer’d lives in South Carolina (everyone in the MRDA knows that he moved, so I’m not exactly revealing a scandal). He is here with Maelstrom this weekend. Why? Because he fulfilled the attendance requirements set forth by his league, and thus qualified to play at Champs with Mass Maelstrom. Here is your tiny bit of beeswax so that you can mind your own.

And guess what? We saw from the WFTDA championships in previous years that sheer talent doesn’t win titles, teamwork, and practice time does. Your Mom Men’s Roller Derby has teamwork, communication, and ‘synergy’ (that’s for you, Austintatious). That doesn’t come from a bunch of people randomly showing up on bout day and not ever practicing with one another.

Positional control. Photo by DeFord Designs
Positional control. Photo by DeFord Designs

This weekend is going to be tough for teams to oust Your Mom as champions. Many of the men on the roster are very accustomed to a sticky hardwood floor like that of the Tacoma Armory. Several of the skaters were GLOWING at the opportunity to play Champs on such a surface.

Every team that faces Your Mom is going to have to bring the strongest walls, the ability to multitask, awareness like woah, and the endurance of a Champion.

Check out YOUR MOM (giggle) on Facebook to get continually information about them. They play Denton County Outlaws in the opening bout of the tournament at 9a PST on Saturday. Yes. That means in about 9 hours. Get some rest, and if you’re not in Tacoma check it out on WFTDA.tv! Thank you DeFord Designs for all the photos in this article. Hey Photogs! YMMRD needs more pictures taken of them next year. #JustSayin #BloggerinNeed

2013 Mid-Atlantic All-Stars

I know my friends within the Mid-Atlantic Region have been antsy for this list, so I’m going to publish this one first. The Mid-Atlantic included any Maryland/DC/Delaware teams. All voting was based on where the skater PLAYED, not where they LIVED. As long as they played as an active member of a team from the region in that season (regardless of rule set) they were eligible for vote.

I am writing from the perspective of 2013, keep in mind! Most of the people on these lists have had pretty incredible seasons thus far as well. With all of these articles, remember – maybe not everyone gets a picture. Sorry. You have no idea how much time it takes to find photos for 60 skaters that are 1) good and 2) from a photographer I have permission to credit. ❤ PS THANK YOU ALL PHOTOGS FOR THE HARD WORK YOU DO!!! You are awesome, we love you, and I highly suggest that everyone who reads these articles check out the photogs listed [and buy things from them].

RESERVES:

Serious Snowflake – Salisbury Roller Girls

Long of leg and strong of hip, Snowflake uses muscle to get by her opponents. She’s not afraid to jump an apex, but often you’ll just see her push right through a blocker (sometimes with a pirouette just to be sure she gets by). Snowflake is one of those skaters that brightens a bench; always excited to learn and play more. She got a chance to try out the bank track on the East Coast Outlaws this season versus the Penn Jersey Hooligans, and her skills have earned her a spot on the Maryland All-Stars.

Uvetta Work – Charm City Roller Girls

This woman is terrifyingly gorgeous on the track. I love watching her be a rock in front of jammers and when she jams for her home team I can’t help but giggle (and be glad I’m not the one bouncing off of her). She is a critical, dominant piece of the Charm City blocking core.

T – Free State Roller Derby

You’ve gotta be good to have your derby name be just a letter. Almost pixie-like in her jamming, T is around you before you realize she was there to begin with. The apex is nothing more than a small obstacle to jump over for her, and before you know it, she’s back around the track and taking your point.

O’Chit (Rebecca Simon) – Charm City Roller Girls

Power. That is Chit. Watch her hit someone. Chit has mastered a bursting pop that will take girls off their skates. Her control with her edges is amazing and her positional blocking is nothing short of pure intimidation. Watching her jam is fun simply because of the amount of strength she can put into her wheels to cut back and forth and through walls. It’s no wonder she’s a member of the Maryland All-Stars.

 

ALTERNATES:

Jackie Treehorn – Free State Roller Derby

Standing 6’Forever on her skates, Jackie is still considerably new to the sport of roller derby. The amazing thing about Jackie is not her ability to take up half the track or her booty blocking – it’s her adaptability and her eagerness to learn. She is a Maryland All-Star who once was top heavy with blocking, but no longer relies on her shoulders for strength. She understands that her hips are where the magic happens, and is a rock in any wall.

 

Thee Mighty Isis – Mason-Dixon Roller Vixens

Isis makes an impression whenever she is on the floor. Like Treehorn, Isis commands attention in a wall and is a leader on the floor. Far more agile than teams will give her credit for (before the bout), she is able to recycle through packs to punish jammers. With the star she is a battering ram who also can roll off of hips and duck past opponents. She is a secret weapon in the Maryland All-Star arsenal.

 

Isis and Treehorn work together on Team Maryland Photo by Keyesboard
Isis and Treehorn work together on Team Maryland
Photo by Keyesboard

ROSTER:

13. Warren T Voider – Harm City Havoc

Still relatively new to the sport, Warren is a key jammer in the Havoc roster. While other jammers on his team rely on pure agility, Warren is able to jam like a blocker to get through heavy walls. His footwork is just as good, and as a blocker, he is starting to become a real leader in the pivot position.

Photo by Jason Walter
Photo by Jason Walter

 

12. Battery Operated – Charm City Roller Girls

“Bops” (as she is known to her team mates) has been an important player in the All-Star line-up and to her home team, The Modtown Mods. As a blocker, she is a leader on the floor, a strong piece of wall work, and has the feet to always be waiting for a jammer at the front of the pack. She is also a wonderful team mate – serious and pointed when the time calls for it. Joking and laughing when given the opportunity.

 On the Mobtown Mods. Photo by Tyler Shaw

On the Mobtown Mods.
Photo by Tyler Shaw

11. Dual Hitizen – DC Rollergirls

Dual is another skater who can blend into the crowd sometimes, because she is so good at her job when she’s blocking that you don’t notice her. The jammer just can’t get through. When she jams, she doesn’t even do anything too magical. She simply gets by you. No no, don’t worry it’s not you. It’s her. She’s magic that way.

 

10. Sin Diesel – Harm City Havoc

This man has been around for a while; he was one of the founders of MDC, Harm City, and has coached for several women’s teams (including Team Maryland). He has always been strong in blocking, and quick footed with the star. Being a member of the Cinderella Team Argentina at the MRDWC leveled him up. Before he was a part of the pack, but now you can see him play as a pack member. Regardless of the experience of his pack, he no longer takes all the responsibility onto himself, but rather directs and trusts those around him. Harm City has benefitted from Sin’s experience and leadership far beyond what I can express in a short paragraph. He looks like a new skater. It’s really awesome to watch.

 

Sin Diesel Photo by Down N Out Photography
Sin Diesel
Photo by Down N Out Photography

9. Susy Pow – Charm City Roller Girls

A member of Team Australia, Susy Pow made her way onto Charm City All-Stars easily with fast feet and agility in her blocking. She made the biggest splash when CCRG made their way to Salem, OR and used Susy as a primary jammer. Susy’s jamming style is unusual: she is light and fluid when she takes a hit, but extremely solid when attacking a wall. She also jumps apexes like it’s her job. Maybe it is! In Salem, she jammed 41 times over the three games. Her lead jammer average was 61%, and she scored 146 points during the tournament.

Susy Pow isn't concerned about blockers. Photo by Tyler Shaw
Susy Pow isn’t concerned about blockers.
Photo by Tyler Shaw

8. Frightmare (Stephanie Griffith) – DC Rollergirls

I love Frightmare: hilarious off the track, aggressive as hell on the track. She doesn’t care who you are, she’s getting past you. And you’ll just have to learn to live with it. When she pivots, she commands her pack. When she hits, she is able to nail those little nerve spots with her hips and shoulders; she is able to stop the blockers that look like they should blow her up. I love Frightmare.

Frightmare Photo by Tyler Shaw
Frightmare
Photo by Tyler Shaw

 

7. Lady Quebeum – Charm City Roller Girls

(It’s pronounced ‘Kaboom’) Here is another skater that makes me happy to be on the track. “LQ” has been around CCRG for a long time, and the all-stars have utilized her long legs and head for strategy effectively. She is able to keep skaters focused on the track, and is amazing at following direction from others. Her leadership on Team Maryland helped the skaters grow as a unit quickly. CCRG is happy to have her back on her wheels too – at the end of last season she suffered a tib/fib fracture. Cleared to skate again, her tenacity will surely get her back on the All-Stars quickly.

 

6. Truth Hurtz – Harm City Havoc

Feet of fury and will of fire: this is Truth Hurtz. A critical piece of the Havoc jamming crew, but powerful in a blocker position, Truth’s footwork is blinding. He is able to squeeze through cracks in the wall you didn’t know were there and can outrace opponents on the outside line all day. He’s menacing at his least, he’s impossible to handle when in his groove.

Truth Hurtz Photo by Mr McWheeley
Truth Hurtz
Photo by Mr McWheeley

 

5. Buster Skull – Salisbury Rollergirls

If you’ve read my writing about Buster Skull in the past than it’s no secret that I am a fan. Buster is absolutely tenacious on the track, whether blocking or jamming. Her work as a blocker within the pack has evolved significantly over the years; now she is able to trade blows with the biggest skaters without flinching. When she jams, she fearlessly attacks walls and has an ability to break packs without looking like she’s putting in much effort.

Buster Skull Photo by Jim Rhoades
Buster Skull
Photo by Jim Rhoades

 

4. Hittsburgh – Charm City Roller Girls

Have you ever been hit by truck? If you would like to be, Hitts can provide that experience for you! Solid on the track, her can-openers can easily put the opposition on their ass. Backwards or forwards, getting by her with the star is challenge, her mobility is top-notch, partially because she is excellent at working within pairs and diamonds. Her blocking has also been super useful to the ranks of Team Maryland. When she wears the star…well… she likes the edges. It doesn’t matter if I tell you that though: she’ll still able to tip toe past you.

 

3.Nuckin Futz – Charm City Roller Girls

 The woman is made of vapor (very, very quick vapor). A student of herself, Futz was able to study her own patterns and make huge leaps in 2013 in her jamming. The Salem WFTDA Divisional playoff had no idea what it was in for when she stepped to the line. She found the smallest crevices in walls, patiently waited for her blockers to create a little chaos, and juked behind teams of blockers so quick that they weren’t sure where her hips even were (much less know where she was going). You want to study a jammer who can be lighting quick to the side and then stretch her stride long out of the pack? Go study some Nuckin Futz.

Nuckin Futz doesn't worry about blockers. Photo by Tyler Shaw
Nuckin Futz doesn’t worry about blockers.
Photo by Tyler Shaw

 

2. IM Pain – Charm City Roller Girls

Co-Captain of the All Stars, Pain is known for her strength in jamming and effortless ability to rack up points. With a background in speed skating, it’s no wonder that she can outrun most of the blockers she comes against, and has extra-sensory vision for the inside line that reveals holes that the rest of us mere mortals cannot perceive. I watch her and wonder how she gets through packs sometimes. She makes everything look effortless. When faced with injury at the end of the season, Pain shifted her leadership role to one off track. Her persistence and dedication also earned her a spot on Team Maryland.

 

IM Pain helps Holly Go Hardly on Team Maryland.  Photo by Side Track Studios
IM Pain helps Holly Go Hardly on Team Maryland.
Photo by Side Track Studios
IM Pain has no time for blockers. Photo by Tyler Shaw
IM Pain has no time for blockers.
Photo by Tyler Shaw

1. Holly Go Hardly – Charm City Roller Girls

Not everyone understands Holly’s level of dedication, drive, and determination of the 2013 CCRG co-captain. Holly is an absolute monster blocker on the track; I have never met someone who can hold her balance in such awkwardly appropriate ways while still being completely effective against opponents. When her walls are as strong as her, she is solid block that doesn’t move. When her team is not as experienced, she can arrange blockers into walls, and direct and brace as the game progresses. Her body awareness also allows her to use her hips in ways that many people have not figured out yet. She is able to make herself long across the track as she drags opponents to an edge, or knocks them out of bounds with a bursting, backwards strike. Now again she puts on the star, usually for funsies, and she spins and maneuvers around blockers; always when they think they have her in their trap.

Holly is never afraid to push herself to failure. She falls. She’s struggles. She improves. She never goes 50%. She never backs down. Yes she can be a little intense and overwhelming when you’re in a high stress situation, but yes, I admit it: I may have a bit of a derby crush on Holly Go Hardly. And I’m super stoked that I got to play with her on Team Maryland.

Holly Go Hardly uses her assest, Hittsburgh is coming up to help. Photo by Tyler Shaw
Holly Go Hardly uses her assest, Hittsburgh is coming up to help.
Photo by Tyler Shaw

 

Backwards blocking is this thing she does VERY well. Photo by Tyler Shaw
Backwards blocking is this thing she does VERY well.
Photo by Tyler Shaw

Perspective Shift: Roller derby & shifting the way we look at training

Living in a house with powerlifters and bodybuilders, and going to a ‘sweat on the walls’ gym has opened my eyes about training in the last eight months. Not just training for personal gains, but the way roller derby, as a sport trains itself on the track and off. There have been many conversations breaking down the conventions of training in roller derby, and comparing to the conventions of other sports.

Along with rhetoric, I have seen my own progress jump dramatically since beginning a 5×5 powerlifting scheme. I was able to track a noticeable difference in a new league from January (first practices) to May (home team champs), and for me the proof is in the pudding.

Me powering past Allie B Back - a thing I could not do when I came to Charm City. Photos by Tyler Shaw - Prints Charming
Me powering past Allie B Back – a thing I could not do when I came to Charm City.
Photos by Tyler Shaw – Prints Charming

We are a new sport. We’re still trying to figure out how to play the game, much less how to train for it. I’ve noticed some habits and some structure about our training process that is not helping us improve ourselves and will not help the sport as we pass it on to our daughters and sons. I wanted to share some things, quickly, that I have been pondering. I’ll be doing expanded writings and I am restructuring the training book I was writing to reflect these new insights.

I think I’m going to get a lot of finger waving at the end of this article. We, as a community, have not be super stoked to hear that we may need to change things. We certainly don’t like hearing that there are ways outside of our league to look at training, business, or the basics of derby. Trust me. I have seen the wrath of derby girls faced with change. However, here I go again, putting my ‘radical’ ideas out there. Feel free to post at the bottom how much you disagree with everything.  😀

 

Background

When looking at our history, I believe the protocol of training today is largely based on what the women of 2008-2010 did for their own training. Stick with me on this one: This is when the sport started to boom. Suddenly, women of all ages and skills were coming into a rapidly evolving sport. At this time, the average age of the derby skater was PROBABLY between 28-32 years old.

Many of these women had never played a sport before; their way to train to improve was to simply skate more (and that definitely has to be considered in a training plan when you have no experience on roller skates).  Some of us caught on that we needed better fitness in order to compete with the women who already had a few years jump on us. This led many of skaters to begin using that derby buzz word: Cross training.

Most of us didn’t know what cross training really meant, or how to approach off skates training for roller derby. So this misconstrued system of Insanity training, land drills, and long distance running started cropping up as part of our system of preparation for bouts.

 

Myself and Trixie Twelvegauge were the first at HARD to hit the workout bandwagon. She was doing P90X, I hitting weight machines and cardio at the gym.
Myself and Trixie Twelvegauge were the first at HARD to hit the workout bandwagon. She was doing P90X, I hitting weight machines and cardio at the gym.

This brings up my first point:

We need to stop training for fitness

Most of the derby skaters I meet do their ‘cross training’ in the form of high fitness workouts (CrossFit WoDs 4x a week, P90X, elliptical training, Zumba, hours of yoga). Ok, before you get angry let me explain where I’m coming from:

If you are skating 3 times a week at practice, and then going to the gym and doing 2-4 days a week of high cardio work, you are really just burning muscle (and some fat) and [if you’re eating right] getting cut muscles. To look cut is rad, but does not help your explosive power or your recovery from one burst of power in a jam to the next (and it certainly does not help when you get slammed by that 200# blocker looking to take your legs out). Elliptical training does not help prevent bone injury. P90X won’t help you break a wall.

Training like you’re trying to lose the Freshman Forty is not the way you should train for roller derby to be successful in the long term. Training in a way that is purely fun or aligns with your social conventions does not make you better at any sport. These workouts that we’re talking about should be done as secondary conditioning and accessory work. They should not be your primary source of training off skates.

From my instagram in 2012: "Woke up early. Was slightly dehydrated from drinking last night. Went running anyway. Goal: Patrick Aitforce Base. There and back: 9.67 mi. One hour, 55 minutes. No one thought I'd do it." Though impressive .. WHY DID I FEEL THE NEED TO RUN 10 MI FOR DERBY TRAINING?
From my instagram in 2012:
“Woke up early. Was slightly dehydrated from drinking last night. Went running anyway. Goal: Patrick Aitforce Base. There and back: 9.67 mi. One hour, 55 minutes. No one thought I’d do it.”
Though impressive .. WHY DID I FEEL THE NEED TO RUN 10 MI FOR DERBY TRAINING?

 

We need to redefine ‘beauty’ within our sport

Oh yea, roller derby loves say that “every shape is beautiful.” Our at home ‘lose weight’ training mentality shows that we are more generally more concerned with 6 pack abs and long, lean limbs than any of us realize. We are fighting the conventions of beauty, especially those of us over 30; we get easily concerned with the myth of a slowing metabolism and how our younger team mates, or the folks at the pool of ECDX will view us. We are more concerned with society’s vision of beauty than we are with what it means to be strong and at low risk for injury in a contact sport (ie having some cushion and mass).

And it’s not just women. Men are not safe from these social norms of beauty and sex, and I have many friends that end up questioning themselves over it, regardless of their strength or abilities.

At RollerCon, there was a very short challenge bout with shirtless men: Magic Mike v Chippendales. On social media sites, admittedly, I was part of the sexist storm of commenters. (One, it’s fun. Two, men in our sport is still pretty new. As a derby-obsessed, straight, single woman of not as many years – it’s nice to be able to turn the male gaze away from the sexy derby girls in fishnets and pigtails and put the female gaze on the shirtless men sweating and hitting each other.)

 Side note: I was just excited to see an all-male challenge bout. The shirt off thing was just an added bonus.

The men of Magic Mike and Chippendales (and there was about $1000 raised for charity too!) Photo by Jill "Jilljitsu" Dickens 2014
The men of Magic Mike and Chippendales (and there was about $1000 raised for charity too!)
Photo by Jill “Jilljitsu” Dickens 2014

Leading up to it, I had several men contact me asking if there was any way to adjust their fitness or nutrition to get better abs in the couple weeks leading up to RC. (I had to disappoint them and say, “unless you want to do some drastic changes and not drink before the bout, there’s no magic pill to shed all the fat in a week”) After the bout, I was asked a question by a skater who is arguably one of the top 5 male skaters in the world: “Did I look gross out there? You know, with my shirt off.”

**Mouth Gaping Open**

First of all – do you know who you are? Are you sure? Secondly, yes, you look great! (I was trying NOT to look too much, actually. I know many women who did NOT restrain themselves.) I wanted to yell at him: “You may not have the photoshop-crafted abs of an Ambercrombie ad, but that’s ok. Know why? DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE?” Seriously! That bout was sexy in every way, but mostly because highly skilled men were playing roller derby. They could have been playing in parkas and it would have been an amazing bout (though you’d probably have to burn the parkas afterwards due to all the sweat).

The men of Magic Mike v Chippendales - all shapes, sizes, but all beautiful and skilled. Photo by Jill "Jilljitsu" Dickens
The men of Magic Mike v Chippendales – all shapes, sizes, but all beautiful and skilled.
Photo by Jill “Jilljitsu” Dickens

We need to release the ideals of Western beauty and embrace the awesome of each of us. If you’re skinny: fantastic! If you’re not: fantastic! If you’re jacked naturally: great! If you have skinny arms: that’s cool! Now let’s lift some heavy shit, flip some tires, put on our skates, and hit each other without worrying about being judged by our team mates about our body.

I have written about this before. It’s a struggle for me big time. I’m single in a growingly co-ed sport. I also powerlift. I am trying to be highly competitive at roller derby. I had the internal conflict months before RollerCon: do I want to look awesome in my bathing suit, or do I want to be able to get past Tink on the track?

There was a moment where I thought to myself, “Oh wait.. it is hella sexy to be able to get past Tink on the track. So, in theory, if I accomplish THAT, I will look AMAZING in my two piece, because it’ll be ME.” (At least that’s what I keep telling myself)

When I really think about it, beauty conventions vs training modes may be our biggest adversary.

 

Also, friends don't care what friends look like in bathing suits. Right, Icewolf?
Also, friends don’t care what friends look like in bathing suits. Right, Icewolf?

 

We need to start training for a contact sport

No football player is doing 5000 burpees to prep for the season. No rugby player is only doing yoga to prepare for the pitch. No hockey player is trying to cut to a ridiculous body fat percentage mid-season. Roller derby is a brutal, physical sport. We need our training to reflect that physicality and hardness.

A Conditioning day at CrossFit is awesome. Remember that time the smallest team kicked everyone's ass in tire flips? I do. Joc and I did 115 of the 154 on our own. BOOM.
A CONDITIONING day at CrossFit is awesome. Remember that time the smallest team kicked everyone’s ass in tire flips? I do. Joc and I did 115 of the 154 on our own. BOOM.

Like any other sport, there are a variety of pieces to the training puzzle. I am not implying that anyone should cut their WoDs, or their yoga, or their P90X completely. To be successful, the incorporation of weight training and conditioning must be included in our system of norms as the primary ‘cross training’ piece, with the other stuff as accessory work. We need to train for strength, not weight loss.

Side note: Many skaters come in, as I had said, with no athletic background. Many come in overweight and out of shape. For many skaters, fat loss does need to be a part of their training consideration. Too much weight in a roller sport means extra strain on knees and hips, and the higher probability of injury. However, let’s not get obsessed with getting from 23% body fat to 19% body fat [like I was].

 

Was I proud of my 135# runner body? Yes! Could I survive a hit? NO.
Was I proud of my 135# runner body? Yes! Could I survive a hit? NO.

“The improvement of performance in athletics over the past few years has been phenomenal. For example, twenty years ago the average football lineman weighed 250 pounds and ran a 5.2-second 40-yard dash. This was considered to be nearing the genetic limit for a player. Now running backs that weigh what the lineman used to weigh are running 4.4-second 40-yard dashes! Strength training has made the single, most positive contribution to this type of improvement. Today strength training influences every athletic program in the country, no matter what the sport – male or female. Athletes now find it necessary to lift weights and participate in conditioning programs to better prepare themselves for the competitive rigors of the athletic season.

Just a short time ago, most coaches thought that strength training would cause athletes to become muscle-bound and would be counterproductive to good technique. Now it has been proven that athletic performance depends either directly or indirectly on qualities of muscular strength. We must remember that strength builds the foundation for ALL other athletic qualities. For example, if you do not possess great relative body strength (strength in relation to your body weight), you will never be able to run fast. This is due to the fact that all aspects of proper running technique require high levels of muscular strength. In other words, if you can’t achieve the proper knee drive, arm swing, posture and push-off, you can’t be fast.” (DeFranco)

 You call it extreme, I call it "what it feels like 185# on my back"

You call it extreme, I call it “what it feels like 185# on my back”

Let’s be real honest here: Weight training isn’t fun. It’s fun when it’s over. It’s fun when you successfully lock out twice your body weight on deadlift the first time. It is fun when your friends tell you that your arms are awesome (Your derby friends will say this, of course. Your lifter friends will comment about the improvement, but will never imply that you are at the pinnacle of your journey). Not every hockey player likes to lift weights, but they do it because it is necessary for improvement. Every player of every competitive sport lifts weights because it is necessary.

“But Khaos! We’re on roller skates. Look at how successful all the speed skaters are in our game. They don’t lift weights. If we just spend more time on our skates, we’ll be successful.”

speeed

Weight training for speed skaters is not all that different from what you see in other athlete strength programs. The key for skaters is to build up strong legs and core. They also put quite a bit of emphasis on balance. As for the legs, squats of several varieties are important, as are leg extensions and hamstring curls (and so much more). The upper body work is also important and typically includes a tremendous amount of midline work. It is typical to see these athletes utilize some basic strength programming including supersets and dropsets in different capacities and arrangements.”  Read the whole article here (it’s got a lot of good training tips in it!!) (Chasey)

Also, can I make a note that the top men’s team in the world, Your Mom, does not spend all THAT much time on their skates? They don’t have to train their skaters how to do crossovers, they can do that on their own time (and I’m talking the none speed skaters too, folks). And Gotham? They have weights in their warehouse so they can make weight training part of the weekly program. The focus is more on the strategy, the training, the understanding of the game than it is on using practice time to go over 360 turns.

 

We need to properly warm-up and cool down for practice time

A 2 minute dynamic stretch is not enough to get our bodies primed for the hell we put it through on roller skates. We are not teaching our new skaters how properly warm up before activity and subjecting all of us to the probability of injury. On the other side, it is rare that I have been a part of a practice of any league that has a proper cool down.

Full Commando is disappointed at your lack of cool down.
Full Commando is disappointed at your lack of cool down.

When I was with Harrisburg Area Roller Derby, we had an amazing volunteer who was dubbed Full Commando. He was our Yogi. At the end of each practice, we would spend 15 minutes doing yoga designed to bring down our heart rate, stretch us out, prep us for bed (Harrisburg practices ended at 11:30p), and prevented future injury. When our sister-in-arms, Stella Stitc’Her broke just above her ankle, she had minimal ligament damage. She told us that the doctor had attributed to the flexibility developed through skating and yoga at the end of practice.

 

We need to understand that sometimes, less is more

I came from the P90X-obsessed mentality of “If I’m not wasted at the end of my workout than it wasn’t a good workout”. I have come to learn that you can put in excellent work, and an appropriate amount of excellent, hard, teeth-grinding work … and sometimes you feel like you have more to give at the end of the workout. And that’s ok. In theory, everyone should be running a specific program (do what the numbers on the sheet tell you – don’t make it up as you go). Programs are designed for certain things on certain days. Deload weeks in weight training may be boring, but they allow your body to rest so that you can perform stronger the following week.

This also touches on the subject of CrossFit. Those of us who have done work in a CF box may have the thought ingrained that you have to go until failure. True progress does not [always] require that. Look, imam just leave this editorial (written by a certified CrossFit coach) RIGHT HERE about the “keep going” culture created in CF gyms. There should be pain and struggle and a question as to whether you’ll finish your rep, but having been lifting for a while now – that last set of 10 pause squats feels SIGNIFICANTLY different than that last 5 minutes of “Super” Angie.

The CF mentality. While kind of funny, and kind of motivational, when you look at the core: it's scary. You're EXPECTED to pass out. There is a difference between pushing to limits and pushing to unsafe measures.
The CF mentality. While kind of funny, and kind of motivational, when you look at the core: it’s scary. You’re EXPECTED to pass out. There is a difference between pushing to limits and pushing to unsafe measures. PS I know not all CFs encourage that culture. But a lot do.

If I didn’t get enough people riled with that section, let’s see if I can stir the pot with:

 

We need to restructure our season

And in turn, how our rankings are created. Have you ever encountered any sport where athletes train 11 months out of the year?

Roller derby athletes do not have the benefit of the pre-season/season/post-season/off-season structure that other sports have firmly in place, that determine their intensity and type of training. Derby is forced to ignore the season and mash all of their training, as best as possible, into each week of the year.

Strictly home team players are the only ones that [seem] to get any kind of break from gameplay, but it is the travel team skaters that you want to be fresh. January through June is when most travel teams smush most of their game play into, right?

But now with the new WFTDA rankings, more all-star teams are pushing their seasons later into the fall to be sure they maximize the equation in place currently. Plus, if you do make a divisional tournament, your now have an extra 3 game week of intense play put onto the end of your season [a month or two later]. If you make champs, you again have another intense weekend ahead. If you play on a home team (which most leagues require of their travel teams), then you have extra competitions layered into your already intense season.

2014 WFTDA Divisional Post-Season Photo by the WFTDA
2014 WFTDA Divisional Post-Season
Photo by the WFTDA

Men are running into this too. The MRDA ranking system is still shaking out its bugs, and as of right now the majority of rankings come from the January – June season. However, July and August are the months where you get your final shot to break that Top 8 for champs. There are teams playing tournaments into these months for a shot to increase their rank. Then? They won’t play until October.

From what I understand, USARS has a similar schedule for their championships. Oh, which some flat track teams have been participating in. Add one more piece of your season in. Then there are also the extra tournaments…

The last couple years we have another element to think about:  mash-up teams. All-Star mash-up games and tournaments are being placed in the only off season that organizers can find: the winter. This means that players on your top tier are never resting. Their only chance for a recovery period is if they actually injure themselves.

Battle of the All-Stars. State Wars. World Cup. All extra tournaments played by top tier athletes on non-ranked teams.
Battle of the All-Stars. State Wars. World Cup. All extra tournaments played by top tier athletes on non-ranked teams.

This is a real problem. This is seriously going to hinder our sport from achieving maximum levels of top competition. We are destroying our athletes. This needs to seriously be taken into consideration. We are the only sport I have found where ranking competition can (and does) take place in any month of the year.

Recently, I took a couple weeks off to start to heal up my ankle. I skated a scrimmage here or there, but really nothing major. I was concerned about getting to RollerCon and having no idea what I was doing. They say you lose it a bit as you stay away from the sport. You know what actually happened? 7 out 9 bouts I felt on top of my game like never before. Coincidence? Maybe. Rested? Definitely.

SUBTOPIC: Rest is cool

In general, derby doesn’t like to rest. #NoRest. But recovery in your weekly routine is critical for healing, progress, and injury prevention. Teams that play a 4 game event on Saturday/Sunday and then turn up for practice on Monday BECAUSE IT’S REQUIRED are at a greater risk for injury. Your muscles need to a chance to rebuild after a game. Teams really need to look at their practice schedule and include ‘deload’ time before a game (like not scrimmaging), and recovery time right after a game (like canceling practice or doing a couple days of non-contact, lighter skills, and team work basics).

 

We need to stop encouraging a culture where unhealthy eating is cool

That’s great that you got cheese fries and a beer after practice. It won’t help you recover. That’s awesome that you’re taunting your friend who is drinking her shake for the first time that you’re eating a burger while they’re trying to limit saturated fat. You’re making her feel bad for a healthy decision just because you don’t want to make it.

Not everyone is going to be into eating like an athlete, and I understand that. But can we please stop this culture of “Doesn’t bending over for a cupcake count as a squat?” No. It doesn’t. It’s fine that you don’t want to be at the peak of your game, but don’t mock others for their athletic nutrition. And if you do mock? Don’t be offended when they lap you during cardio, start getting more play time on the team, or transfer to a better league because the current league has encouraged the bully culture.

The sad thing is that it’s usually our friends making the jokes. They think their being funny. It’s not funny.

One more thing to make me unpopular… our AFTER PARTIES. Can we please talk about not encouraging our athletes to drink copious amounts of alcohol, while providing fried bits of vegetable-like substances, and dinner rolls? Can we talk about an after party that is for the fans, not for the athletes so much? You can try and tell me (and yourself) all you want that beer is a fine post recovery drink, but guess what? It isn’t. Plain. Simple. It doesn’t count. Here’s a short read for you.

 

Final thoughts

Ok, this blog ended up being WAY longer than intended, but I needed to start putting these things out to the universe. I feel very strongly about starting this health and strength revolution, and I’m glad to know I do have some other people on my side. For our sport to get to the next level of athleticism, and to be one step closer to professional play, we must take a hard look at our training: How it is structured, why it is structured that way, the culture that supports/negates it, and our behavior to our fellow skaters. We need to put these things on the table within each league so that, one by one, we can revolutionize roller derby for the betterment of the sport and our athletes.

 

Strong, unafraid to have guns, eating healthy, lifting weights. Watch out WFTDA.
Strong, unafraid to have guns, eating healthy, lifting weights. Watch out WFTDA.

 

My name is Merry Khaos, I am a member of DNA Coaching and a health and wellness coach with Derbalife. We are currently booking boot camps for the next 15 months. Send me an e-mail at DerbyAmerica@gmail.com to get the ball rolling on having us come to your league. Want to incorporate a “how to train for roller derby” day? Let’s do it! I am also available to help you piece together a nutrition plan and training schedule so you can smash through your goals. Let’s work hard together!

 

Atlantic Coast Derbalife Domination: Week 2!

Well, I’m on day #14. Officially 2 weeks of travel, training, coaching, vending and derby. There have been ups and downs, it’s absolutely true. It looks like my time in New England is going to come to an end quicker than anticipated, so Friday or Saturday I will be heading back to the New Jersey/Philadelphia area. (So if your team practices Friday and you’re looking for a guest coach let me know!)

This last 7 days have been pretty intense. What has really helped is having a home base since Saturday. MikeOpathic and Wife-Opathic have been amazing hosts for me. They have the comfiest couch I’ve ever slept on and have been gracious enough to let me put my Herbalife on their counter and a few of my beers in their fridge.  Their cat, Socks, looks like my Wesley and has the temper of Abbey, but it’s ok.

I’ve gotten to do 2 outdoor skates (one with the Opathics and a 30 mile adventure with another Viking, Jack Hammer’d), I’ve coached three leagues (Mass Attack, Worcester and Bay State) and tonight I’m going to a co-ed scrimmage hosted by Mass Maelstrom.

A recap of 30 miles in Rhode Island!
A recap of 30 miles in Rhode Island!

The struggle this week has been to balance my eating with not being at home, my work with an unusual schedule and my knee after it popped during a demo at Mass Attack.

I will say this however: when my injury first started occurring and my knee would ‘pop’. I would be down and out for 2 weeks. Now, it pops and I’m back up in 10 minutes. Seriously. I ungeared at Mass Attack and by the time I was done taking my stuff off, I could put full weight on it. The next day I could straighten it completely. The day after that I had full range of motion again. Is it tender? Yea. But no more than it was before it popped.

Worcester Roller Derby are doing good stuff
Mass Attack Roller Derby are doing good stuff

Hell yes, good nutrition. While my first week on the road was not stellar for my protein count and vitamin intake, I have been really strict with myself this week. Vitamins and Herbalifeline, a shake a day minimum, at least 100g of protein and plenty of water. Boom. Injuries cannot stand in my way!!!

On the Derbalife front, I am trying to get the men of derby to pay attention, but getting them on my side is difficult. I believe it may simply be because they think I cannot possibly know what they need – since I’m a lady. So, I’m taking a new approach at Men’s Derby …

Hey men on wheels! Let me replace products you use already with the Herbalife equivalent for one month. See if you’re into what we have to offer. Whether it’s a pre-workout, post-workout, your Monster, your Gatorade, your Clif Bars or your vitamins: I have something for you. What have you got to lose?

Getting amped up for Rollercon too. A lot of details are still up in the air, but I am optimistic as always! Also, I will be heading to the Mohawk Valley Cup in a few weeks as a vendor for a men’s derby tournament.

Finally…. It’s happening folks. Team Rogue will ride again!! We are going to be playing the Penn Jersey Hooligans on September 29th on the bank track. It’s a double header that night, and guess what else is amazing? I get to play both bouts. I will be making my debut on the PA All-Star team that night as we take on the Penn Jersey She Devils. It’s going to be wicked. If you are anywhere near Philly, you have got to come to this!

Go Rogue or GO HOME
Go Rogue or GO HOME

Finally … if you are a Derbalife athlete with a health result or a before/after picture, we at Derbalife want you to be a part of our revamped website! Have you stopped using your inhaler? Cut down your lap time? Lost weight? Gained weight? Become the top jammer? Become the strongest blocker? Send Derbalife@gmail.com your story, derby name, league and who your coach is. Also include a photo of you (or a before/after if you have it!). We need testimonials from Derbalife Coaches as well!

If you are a Derbalife athlete going to a Divisional tournament, mention that in your message – we have swag for our tournament skaters. E-mail Derbalife@gmail.com with your name, league, which divisional and who your Derbalife coach is to reserve your swag.

Phew. That was a much longer update than intended. I hope you all are enjoying my updates. I may do another entry later on tonight or tomorrow. For now… Happy skating!!

At CrossFit Collective doin' work
At CrossFit Collective doin’ work

If you are interested in getting hooked up with Derbalife, or if your league is looking for a Derbalife Boot Camp opportunity, drop me a line at DerbyAmerica@yahoo.com!

Project: Wheels & Words

I have begun a project of motivational quotes and messages attached to derby photos. I found that I was tired of motivating people with photos that weren’t related to the sport that so many of my friends and clients relate to. The second part of the project is going to be a blog inspired by each photo. I want to talk about the messages conveyed and how each individual can use those messages for motivation and support along their journey.

In roller derby, we have a huge family. It’s a network of athletes that spans the globe, and a community feeling that is rarely seen in other athletic endeavors. I believe the underground nature of the game sparks the feeling of camaraderie among us (much like skateboarders, BMXers or rock climbers).  However, being so spread out can make us all feel a bit like an island sometimes. Even though we have our league-mates for support, sometimes it’s nice to know that the new skater in California has the same feelings as the 3 year vet in Maine.

Hopefully, we can continue to come together, share and support each other through the online community that has really helped to fan this spark of revolution. Flat. Banked. WFTDA. MRDA. JRDA. OSDA. RDCL. MADE. USARS. Renegade. We are all derby family, and I am proud to be considered a motivational leader among us.

 

If you have a motivational message, or a photo you would like me to include in the project, please send it to me at DerbyAmerica@yahoo.com … Make sure that you have the permission of the photographer if you send me a photo. I also would love to include your favorite quote, or even your own thoughts on the game. Make sure you include your name (real or otherwise), if you’re associated with a league, and if you’re an official or a skater. That way I can give full credit!

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*

{{GRIN}}

Photo by JPaden Photography
Photo by JPaden Photography