We're beginning a brand-new feature - a short "get to know you" from a PRR skater! Victoria Amazonica (also called Amazon, Zon, Zon-Zon, Zonnie, and many more), is PRR's Freshmeat Coach and Sponsorship Coordinator.
How did you get involved in roller derby?
Where I come from, roller derby is not a thing people know about. I first saw derby when I went watch a friend play in a bout here, in the Palouse. While seeing skaters bout, I wondered if I could still skate (I used to figure skate on quads) and told that to the friend I had gone watch play. She invited me to come to one of the practices, and 'just skate around to see if you still can skate'. While I was 'skating around', one of the skaters invited me to join the group, since I was already there. I told myself 'sure, just for this time'. Well, that obviously, and luckily, didn't work.
What was your "ah-ha!" moment - when you realized you wanted to stick with derby?
When I was invited to join the other skaters in my first unexpected practice, I completely fell in love with derby. I don't consider myself a super competitive person, but I do enjoy challenging myself. Derby was just perfect. It was such a balanced combination of game complexity, strategy, technical skills, creativity, athleticism, body awareness and social interactions, that I just couldn't not do it! I don't meditate, but I often think that derby is my meditation activity: when I play or practice, I have to empty my mind to be 100% present and aware, and to be able to have my body do what I train it to do. All that was already there in my first 'practice', and all that hooked me right the way. That, plus the fun!
What's your favorite thing to do on the track? (Like hits, particular defensive or offensive tactics, etc?)
When one-on-one, I really enjoy all those little escorts/drives and recycles. They are very 'democratic': with right form, anybody can do them. They are also very effective and kind of soul crushing for the jammer (sorry...). My heart gets also all happy when I'm part of a strong wall, with on point communication, and owning the jammer for years. But the top of the top is probably being able to sneak some unexpected offense and get our jammer out of the pack.
What is your skate gear of choice?
I skate on Riedells 265 and Rollerbones Turbo wheels (and getting an Arius Platinum plate very soon!). I wear 187 killer knee pads, 187 slim elbow pads and 187 wrist guards. I protect my brain and teeth with an S1 helmet and a SISU mouth guard.
What has been your favorite derby moment thus far?
Becoming aware and using our team power at the Spudtown championship game, in Boise.
What is your advice for brand new skaters trying our roller derby?
1- Feel and listen to your body.
2- Don't let your brain tell you that you can't and that you suck. That's never true.
3- Have fun!
— Victoria Amazonica, #282
Legend of the fig: I love cheese, especially when it comes in plateaux!
Oh, French, the language of love! You’ve probably already heard and sighed hearing some French speaker say ‘amour’, ‘coeur’, ‘trésor’ or ‘fromage’ (OK, that last one has nothing to do with love, but I bet you sighed too when you heard it pronounced by a French speaker)… But see, there’s this other French word you may have also heard, and that one is what this post is about. Let’s talk about ‘plateaux’!
Some months ago, I realized that I was getting stuck in my skating skills and started experiencing what people call a ‘plateau'. You know, you can kind-of do stuff, but you can’t seem to improve any further. At the same time you realize that there is SO much more to learn, that you get overwhelmed and start trying to work on everything at the same time, what means that you aren’t really improving in anything. Well, now visualize myself in all that. Great, right? In fact, it was very frustrating, since I really wanted to expand my skills. After several weeks of disappointment with myself and with my slow improvement, I decided to change my approach… which turned out to be the right thing to do.
So, what was the magic trick? Well, there’s no magic trick, really, it all turned out to be a matter of goals, planning, and organization…
First, I asked for advice —talk to the wise! I went to the coaches and asked them what they thought I should work on, what I needed to work on. I was ready for criticism, and I asked for it, and I tried to embrace it. This helped me reduce my infinite 'to do' list to a couple of more attainable and precise goals.
Second, I watched my team mates' styles, and decided to use them as models. On the same line, I watched derby, and found skaters that I wanted to emulate. This let me clarify in my head what I wanted my 'long term' goal(s) to be. I realize that I may never get there, but I decided that it's good to have those goals as they inspire me, push me forward, and make me realize that I like this derby-thing.
Third, based on the coaches feedback and my long-term goals, I tried to make a short- (ish) list of precise things I needed to start working on if I wanted to reach my short and long term goals. My list consisted of skills, not really "being awesome" or stuff like that.
Once I had that list ready, I chose some of the skills and started working on them. I tried to work on my own but also asked other skaters if they would help me and give me feedback, if I felt that’s what I needed. For the skills, I started slow until I would get the form right and then increase speed andforce. Luckily for me, it turned out that at the same time that all this was happening in my derby life, we started having free-skate practices, what let me concentrate on what I wanted to practice. If we hadn’t had that extra available time, I would have started to go somewhere else just to work on my goals.
It turns out that once I started applying those simple actions, my skating started to improve... a lot. Not that I became incredible or anything, but I felt pretty quickly that I was becoming a far better skater than I was when all this plateau-thing started. Looking backwards, I think that getting out of the "I want to learn everything at the same time"-attitude was key. It let me organize the skills I wanted to work on and made goals reachable, which was also rewarding when I got there and kept me motivated.
I don't know how other people go around their own development as skaters, but I feel that this really helped me, and so I decided to share my experience with others that may be stuck in the same situation I was some months ago (and maybe I will reread this in some months, when I get stuck again :P).
PS: I originally wrote this several months ago, but guess what? I’m back visiting the French language… Plateau, get ready, I’m coming for you!
— Dixie Derailer, #40oz
As January 1 rolls around, so does a new season for the Palouse River Rollers. While off-season is the ideal time to get reacquainted with your family, loved ones, and other hobbies you had before roller derby sat on your life, it’s also a time to bang out some incredible goals and set your sights high for the following season. Season 3 baby! I’m #bleedingteal all over the place.
1. You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.
I’m lookin’ right at you, 27-in-5. When skating consistently for five minutes at your best paced sprint is the only option you have in order to pass WFTDA Minimum Skills, you best have a strong mental game to push through. Some skaters find comfort in aligning their breath with their strides, and cranking it out like an eight-wheeled machine. I prefer to think about anything — absolutely anything — other than what I’m doing. Vacation on the beach? Sure. Folding my laundry? Totally. What I’m going to eat for dinner? More often than not. We play roller derby because it is hard, and there’s a wicked beast inside all of us that loves to be beaten to a pulp on the flat track Friday night and wake up to do it again early Sunday morning. Always choose to be strong.
2.Work smarter, not harder.
I like quotes that are short and sweet. Skip the frills and gimme the meat – even though I’m a vegetarian. Whatever. But anyway, the concept of working smart is pure gold. I’ll just go ahead and lay it on you: Drink water – you’ll feel better. Figure out a good warmup that works for you and do it before practice. In the few minutes before practice, work one-on-one with someone you respect and trust. Ask for their feedback and use it. Keep a note with your goals on your phone to review before bouts. (I personally keep a pic of Stef Mainey in action on hand for big inspo…did you SEE her evasive and powerful jamming last season?) Looking at photos of skaters I respect gets me so amped, and keeps me focused on my goals. Find your groove this season with a focused and dedicated approach, and what was once difficult will soon be a cake walk.
3. The darkest hour has only sixty minutes – Morris Mandel
Sixty minutes you say? Well…that also sounds like the length of most conditioning practices and off-skates workouts. While it feels so easy to turn and burn from a hard and heavy practice to sweatpants on the couch, we have to remember recovery is key. After a dark and liberating hour of conditioning, sprints, strength training, whatever it is, end it by giving yourself a good stretch. Experts say a cold bath can dramatically speed up muscle recovery, but I hate being cold so screw that. If you’re a weenie like me, think about getting a foam roller or a tennis ball to roll around on and loosen up tight muscles.
4.It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.
Be the person with an infallible attitude — with strength, sportsmanship, and pride that just won’t quit. That’s it. Be the one with endless high fives and booty slaps and hoots and hollers and remind everyone why this sport is so fun.
5. Respect yourself.
Getting burned out is real, and it happens to skaters of every skill level. When you feel yourself getting burned out, you’ve reached a point of critical mass, and you need to either move forward or move back because change is necessary. Sometimes that means you need to prioritize yourself for a few hours on a weekend and sometimes that means you need to take a month away from roller derby. Both options can be real solutions, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for either one. This sport is amazing, but it’s a sport that requires a lot of time each week, a hefty cashola investment, and takes a toll on the body. Be balanced and do what you need to have the most fun and success this season.
6. And one bonus quote to trash for 2016: “The penalty box: Pissing off skaters everywhere 30-seconds at a time.”
I found this on a random bumper sticker online, (thanks, Google). But, yo, why you gotta be like that? Of course referees can be frustrating, especially when we feel like we’re not at fault for the penalty (or penalties) we’re given. But they’re most likely volunteering to make your game happen. Without them, you wouldn’t be bouting. Without them, this sport would be pretty friggin’ chaotic. Without them, we’d lose an element that makes the game what it is — a competition between two groups of skaters employing awesome strategy and bangin’ athleticism. Respect your referees, tell them thank-you at the end of the bout, and remember just how hard it is to remember when to call a “no-pack” and “out-of-play” … they do that all day long. If you really want to show your referees some love, register for our Zebra Love Referee Appreciation Day event and get in on some scrimmages and a Rules Review with WFTDA-certified Rat City official Sir Osis!
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— By Don't Care Bear, #27 - League President
As we come into the off season I would like to take this time to remind everyone that PRR takes pride in our athleticism as a team. It's something that sets us apart from other leagues and is the reason we have an off skates practice. If you plan on taking some time off from skating to pursue other activities remember to keep active and workout. We retest minimum skills every year in January so make sure that you keep active enough to complete the 27 in 5. Even if you don't plan on taking time off from skating November and December are the perfect opportunity to get in some cross training and come out fitter in January!
— By Oliver Fist, #5
As skaters, people often ask us, “Why did you join roller derby?” The answers can span anywhere from I was looking for something new when I moved here, to I have always wanted to try it. Every single skater has a different story about why they decided to join, a different background coming into it, and different perspectives on what joining roller derby has done for them. But a lot of us tend to have a similar “Fresh Meat” story.
Being Fresh Meat is very exciting, slightly scary, hard work, and so much fun. It’s hard to believe at first, but every single skater in the history of roller derby was also just joining for the first time. Every single one of us started somewhere, just like you.
My experience as Fresh Meat was all of the above. I was so nervous before my first practice. I showed up freakishly early, tongue-tied and unable to form full sentences as veteran skaters helped me find gear. We learned falling, stopping, and propelling my first day. I considered not going back to the next practice because I thought maybe this was too intense for me. But I kind of liked that I could say, “I’m sore from roller derby practice. Because I play roller derby! I feel like a badass!” Needless to say, I went back and never regretted that decision. I have been hooked ever since.
The Fresh Meat program is structured so that you can learn at your own pace. Your coach and the Fresh Meat committee (a handful of friendly and helpful veteran skaters) will help you through your journey to roller derby badassery. They will teach you the foundation level skills you will need to pass what’s called the WFTDA Minimum Skills Test. This test covers basic roller derby skills to ensure you’re safe on the track to play roller derby. Not every skater passes the test their first time (in fact, it is very irregular that a skater does), so it is important for new skaters to know that it can take time to develop your skills.
The Palouse River Roller Fresh Meat practices are held every Sunday from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at Gladish Gym in Pullman, Wash. We have used gear to loan Fresh Meat at these practices, but gear is on a first-come-first-serve basis (so get there early!). Anyone in the Fresh Meat cycle can attend Open or Teams practices. Check out the Practices page on our website for the detailed calendar, practice times and locations.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com with any questions about joining the league! Don’t forget to find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!