30/05/2018 Rookie Scrim

DCRA never seem to have a quiet month and May was a particularly busy one for us; we played our first game in the 2018 British Champs T4WN; we marched and waved our rainbow flags at Durham Pride AND we hosted our first ever Rookie Scrim. New recruits to the Angels are like buses – nothing for ages and then 6 (!!) come at once! 

Pavlovs Dodge started with us back in September 2017, and progressed very quickly to our ‘big girls’ sessions on Thursdays and Sundays. Pav brings a huge amount of determination to every session, and her Jammer Focus Face is pretty much the best in the business!

Hezzabelle Lecter skated in a previous life – no seriously! After 4 years off skates, she contacted DCRA at the beginning of 2018 to ask if we wanted refs. But then after one session back on wheels, the stripes have been put on ice and she is well and truly back in the game.  

Here are their accounts on the preparations for their first Rookie Scrim:

Pavlovs Dodge

Back in August 2017, I was sat in my office chatting to a colleague about whether or not I was brave enough to go with her to a “Learn to Play Roller Derby” session. It was something I had looked into before, but as the kind of person who would run away from the ball in football and would volunteer to be “deep fielder” during rounders (because, who can really hit the ball that far), I was convinced it would be far too scary for little old me.  session.  But when that message came back that a place was reserved for me, I was so unbelievably excited. I had not long returned to work after having my second child and I realised that I did absolutely nothing for me. Nothing. And everything I did do, I had at least one child with me. This was something for me. Something children weren’t allowed to do and something my husband couldn’t tag along to as DCRA are a women only league (although he has since decided he might like to find a men’s team he can join!).  I felt ready to unleash my inner badass. 

When the day came and we both strapped on a pair of skates, some borrowed kit, I set off like bambi on ice. Little did we know that 8 months later we would be competing against each other in our first Rookie Scrim!! During the months leading up to that scrim I trained as much as I could. There were things I felt I picked up so easily and things that felt impossible. Backwards skating was my nemesis and I spent many a training session facing “anti-derby” and not bloody moving! Oh, and jumping.  Oh my God, that jumping! Jumping over nothing I could do. Jumping over the lines painted on the floor I could do. Jumping over those bricks, something I could actually fall over, and my feet just would not come off the floor. But over time, and with the help and support of the Durham City Rolling Angels and my fellow Cherubs, I passed my minimum skills and was “scrim ready” (not exactly the words I would have chosen!).

So the day came. Thursday 31st May 2018. I hadn’t felt too worried over the week leading up to it. It was just for fun. It was a rookie scrim so we would all (hopefully) be as bad as each other. But sat there in the hall, getting my skates on and watching the Angels, off-skates and in NSO-grey, loading score boards and lining up a penalty bench, the adrenaline hit. I don’t know if it was excitement or terror but I didn’t have much time to think about it as Clairey Psycho did the loudest whistle I have ever heard and called “skaters on track”.  There were 6 of us from DCRA, three from Durham Roller Derby, and three from Newcastle Roller Girls. We were split into teams and it was then that I realised the person I had been contemplating joining with all those months ago, the now aptly named Cherry Snakebite, and I would be playing against each other.  

I would love to be able to tell you all the ins and outs of the game but it went by so quickly!  When the whistle blew for half-time it felt like we had been on track for about 10 minutes and when the full-time whistle blew I was not ready for it to end.  What I can tell you though, is that it felt AWESOME. Awesome to finally play, awesome to not feel like I played absolutely rubbish, awesome to see the grins on the faces of all the players and officials there that day, awesome to be able to put all that training into practice. Regardless of the final score (we won BTW, which also felt awesome), everyone on track that day did an amazing job, as did all the Angels who were there off skates (who I’m sure were desperate to be on skates). 

So to any of you reading this who are nearly or newly mins passed, and stressed to death at the thought of your first scrim, it really isn’t as bad as you think it will be. Go for it and have all the funs.  And to those of you reading this who aren’t sure if derby is for you, give it a try – you’ll probably surprise yourself, get fitter, and make an awesome group of friends along the way. 

And to all of you lot at Durham City Rolling Angels… When can we do it again???

Lorraine, AKA “Pavlov’s Dodge”


Hezzabelle Lecter

We’ve wobbled our way around track and put literal blood, sweat and tears into acquiring our minimum skills. Having passed the last few loose ends of them only a week prior, this was now IT! The rookie scrim! The cherry popper! An actual game! For reals! 

There were many unofficial gatherings of very nervous cherubs in the corners of the sports hall in the weeks leading up to the scrim… The pressure was on to get the last ticks, please the coaches, get our scrim tops ordered, make our skate names and numbers all official.  
I have done all of this before, but it wa
s a VERY long time ago – 4 years to be exact. I thought my playing days were behind me. I initially joined DCRA to offer my services as a referee, but seeing the intense training sessions brought it all back, and with a little bit of gentle persuasion, I have found myself jumping into game preparation.  
The cherubs were all nervous/terrified as IT approached. We made lists, then some more lists, we tightened our nuts, we packed, checked and repacked our skate bags. One thing is for sure, we were all pretty sure we were NOT ready for this and that we were probably going to die on track! Or at least vomit/soil ourselves in public!
Thursday arrived and all too soon the sports hall was bustling. We met our lovely fellow rookies from the other teams courtesy of Durham and Newcastle. In my eyes they looked so confident and ready! I’m hoping I looked equally as together as they did despite quaking on the inside!
Next the teams were picked and the whistle was about to blow! 
This was it! 
The big moment! 
Do or die!
For the first jam, I managed not to be picked, (being smaller has its advantages sometimes!) so I relaxed a little, but then tensed as the jam ended and knew I wasn’t getting out of it this time!
2 helmet covers were presented and I picked the one with the star on it!  
I lined up. 
The whistle blew and……
I can barely remember a thing that happened! 
As far as memory recalls, I think I managed some points for team black! But maybe white did too? Either way I survived the experience so, bonus!! And truth be told it was fun!
Jam after jam came. I jammed, I blocked, I was a pivot, I walled up, I braced and I got knocked down. But I got up again. I did my best to communicate and keep eyes on multiple team members at once and, despite a few trips to the sin bin, before I knew it I was thoroughly enjoying the experience!
I mean this is the point of all the work I’d put in, right? This is what we were all aiming for? Actually playing and doing alright… As the first half came to an end after what felt like at least 2 hours, it dawned on me to look at the score! Team black were well in the lead by a big margin!  I wasn’t too surprised as my team mates were doing amazingly and looked super confident and together during the game! But team white were too, and they completely capable of reversing the score!
As the second half came round I was so ready for it. I felt great. I was buoyed up by great feedback from both benches and my teammates and just gave it everything I had. I was proud of my power jam and felt elated when the final whistle blew (after what felt like 5 minutes this time). Team black had won but that was irrelevant! All of the players had overcome nerves and gone out there and gave everything they had! Much celebratory sweaty hugs ensued with players, and refs, and coaches, and NSO’s and I left my first game on a total high. 
This is what roller derby is all about! This is why I train and yeah, it was only a rookie game, but I cannot wait to play alongside my team now and take on what’s out there in derby land!
I am so proud to be a part of this hardworking league! 
Bring on the game!