Fresh Off the Grill
Its been an exciting weekend filled with anticipation. The Arizona Derby Dames held their draft to distribute the Fresh Meat amongst the league’s teams. The Bombshells’ roster got a much needed shot in the arm that increased its size by 50%. That’s gonna make a big difference for us as the season progresses. Our team Captains, Lady Lawless and Sho’Nuff, did an excellent job in drafting some great skaters to the team. This Fresh Meat class had a ton of talent and I imagine there a rookies being introduced to their teams this week that are going to give the veterans a run for their money. From a coach’s perspective, there are two reason why this draft is going to make our team better.
First, not since we started skating on the banked track have I seen my skaters so enthused about coming to practice and skating. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that my skaters aren’t enthused as it is. It was just that the energy, intensity and enthusiasm for the game was through that rusty warehouse roof last night at practice. The most telling thing about it was that the Bombshells were on the track, laced and strapped up, ready to go at 10 minutes till practice! Usually I’m blowing my whistle at the start of practice and there are still few of ‘em putting their skates on. The rookie Bombshells, as well as all the other rookies in the league, are playing an important roll on the team right off the Fresh Meat grill. When I saw how excited both the vets and the rookies were to skate with one another, I realized it: These rookies are reminding the vets of what it was like back when they were standing in their rookie skates; of the things they felt back when they stepped on to the track for the first time with their new team. The rookies gave the vets a much needed flashback of all the reasons they decided to join roller derby in the first place. I see it with Lawless and I deal with it myself on occasion, but after some time in the league, you become slightly jaded. After a while the excitement of doing something new kinda fades. You become comfortable in your groove, often turned off by the drama that comes with derby, and taking for granted all the little things that used to pump you up about the sport. But when the rookies took their first strides as Bombshells, they re-lit the charcoal briquettes that used to burn vigorously under the vets when they were rookies. There’s a new energy on this team, and just from the first practice I can tell that these rookies are going to make the team better physically, but more importantly, mentally.
The other reason I believe the rookies are going to make the team better is because it increases our roster size and creates an element of intra-team competition. I believe its healthy to have competition within the team. It keeps each individual skater on the up and up, which makes the whole much better. You see, when we only had nine skaters, all of them had to skate out of necessity and they were likely all going to get equal playing time, regardless of their attendance at practice and their attitude and effort at practice. Now that we have more bodies on the team, there are less spots available when we write out line-ups for the bout. If its me out there, and there’s a chance that I could lose my spot to a rookie, I’m gonna raise my game to make sure that doesn’t happen. I know that rookie is coming for my spot and for my playing time, so my effort at practice is going to take a positive leap. No player on this team is guaranteed playing time, regardless of skill and/or seniority. How much you give at practice determines how much you play. The rookies on our team are very talented. As such, I think they’re going to raise the bar for the vets. In the end, it makes the entire team better.
As I mentioned, Lady Lawless and Sho’Nuff conducted a successful draft for the Bombshells. They struck the perfect balance between blockers and jammers, each of them showing last night that they can crossover into other assignments. I want to welcome each of them to the team and share my first impressions.
Sweet Revenge #140 has an excellent awareness of what’s going on on the track and is excellent at taking direction. She keeps her head on a constant swivel. That awareness makes for an excellent foundation on which to build a solid blocker. She’s exhibiting a very reassuring desire to learn about the mental part of the game as well as the physical part of it. She asks tons of questions, which I absolutely love because I can tell when she’s sure about something that confused her before. Like the saying goes: She who asks a question is only a fool for a few minutes; She who does not remains a fool forever.
Dotti Danger #357 is a tenacious little skater with a lot of speed.
She’s as agile as anyone on the team and her recovery after taking a fall is impressive and lightning quick. That’s such a necessary skill for a skater of her size. Like most smaller skaters, she’s going to get bullied a lot by the larger skaters but nothing discourages a bigger blocker more than when they take a smaller skater off her skates and the little one is back up and in hot pursuit before the big one has finished reveling in her short-lived achievement. What stood out to me the most was her vocal timing. She’s constantly communicating with her teammates during drills, and she’s attentive and quiet in between. But she spoke up and addressed her team on a couple occasions when the timing was perfect.
Elizabitch Taylor #11582 is going to be a nightmare for other teams. Some of you might know a blocker on our team that goes by Ruff Ryder. She would cause opposing jammers and blockers to lose sleep before and after a bout. Well, I think she has a new protege in this rookie which should have everyone really worried. She’s got a great handle on her skates and knows how to lay a great block and throw a vicious hit. Whats more, she has aspirations of being a jammer. As a coach, its ALWAYS nice to know you have people on your team who WANT to be a triple threat. Visible goals always facilitate more effort; you’re consciously working towards something. We’re gonna do our part to help her reach that goal.
Holly Hood #623 has scores of talent.
She has triple threat written all over her right off the grill. I saw something in this skater in January that most people in the league didn’t see till late March, so I took pleasure in working with her when ever she had the opportunity. She’s skilled, determined, and quite simply, just wants to work. The rhythm skating skills she possessed before entering derby translate well into this game. She’s confident and has swagger on her skates. That kind of confidence can be felt by other skaters. What I like about her most is that she wants to know the who, what, when, where, and why of derby. She wants to learn and know ev-ry-thing. She’s got the physical part of the game in a tight grip with a lot of room for improvement. She’s going to become exponentially dangerous when she gets the mental game under wraps.
I imagine its a proud feeling to shake that tag of Fresh Meat and become a full-fledged skater in the league. I pledged a fraternity in undergrad and one of my proudest moments was when I finished that 10 week pledge program, shook the “pledge” tag, and was able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the guys that trained me to be a brother of Omega Delta Phi. I think that’s no different than the experience these rookies are having now addressing the skaters that once trained them as “teammates.” Its a great achievement and they should all be proud. But now, the REAL work starts.
Out of the frying pan, and into the fire.