This month's monthly diary for Fierce Valley Roller Girls is from a long-standing member, who's contributed to the league in many ways since joining up. This month, we're throwing a Monkey Wench into the works!
What first attracted you to Roller Derby?
My good friend Claire Brunton (Chaos Faerie) has been involved in FVRG since the early days and suggested that I should try it. After a few months of her persuading me I signed up for Fresh Meat in June 2011 and have never looked back! I always loved skating when I was a kid so thought this might be the sport for me!
Who are your derby heroes?
There are some amazing skaters out there who are such an inspiration. We’ve got some fantastic skaters in Scotland who are so generous with their time and are always so helpful when they guest coach or when you see them at bootcamps/events. I love watching Alma Geddon skate, she’s a derby machine!
Derby names are an important aspect of the sport, especially when you're starting out. How did you choose your name, and how does it reflect your personality on track?
My husband (Duff McKegger of The Jakey Bites and Capital City Roller Derby) has always called me Monkey for some reason, probably because I’m cheeky! I’m a big Foo Fighters fan and there was a night at FVRG where I needed my name written down (might have been the start of mins siting) and Chaos shouted out Monkey Wench! It’s totally stuck although most people just call me Monkey now. I guess it suits me on track, I like to have fun with derby, I might not be the strongest player but I always do my best for the team and have a laugh while doing it!
What was your biggest initial difficulty?
Initially it was the time, derby took over to be honest. But it’s worth every minute and I love spending time with my new FVRG family and our extended family in the derby community.
Lots of roller girls find it hard not to spread the word about their new sport. How have you been spreading the word?
I just chatted about derby non stop to anyone who would, and those who wouldn’t, listen! It pays off though as I’ve managed to recruit Camelon Diaz, Wiggy Stardust and Duff McKegger to the sport! I also try to help out at any promotional events FVRG do which is great fun and has it’s perks – last summer we met Mark Beaumont at an event.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt/ done this month?
This month we’re working on our tactics and skills, so it’s good to go back to basics and just work on everything in your toolbag! On a personal note I’m continuing with my volunteer work for Marie Curie and promoting the Great Daffodil Appeal 2013.
What were the most difficult and the best things?
I’ve recently had a non derby related injury and was off skates for the best part of 2 months which was really hard.It meant I wasn’t able to bout against the Wirral Whipiteres, in our first public home bout, which was disappointing as I’ve been lucky enough to be skating as a Parma Violent since our first closed bout, Candy Jam, in October 2011. I was also really worried that my injury might prevent me from being able to get back to being ready to bout/wanting to bout but I’ve now returned to fitness and have been selected for the upcoming bout against the Whipping Hinnies.
The best things about derby are the opportunities it brings about and the fab people I’ve met! I had the opportunity to floor manage the FVRG/Preston bout which was a great experience and I’ve been able to watch my girls bring in 2 home wins in a row! I was also Vice Captain of the T Stop Birds during the Summer Shovin Intraleague bout which was great fun!
What's new for FVRG this month?
We’re off to Newcastle to play the Whipping Hinnies on 30th March so we’ve got a FVRG road trip to look forward to! We’ve also got a super exciting social event coming up for our league which will allow us all to get to know each other a bit better by speed dating!
Being a mum is awesome! Don't get me wrong, it's not all breakfast in bed, and cards and chocolates. It's the hardest, most challenging job I've ever had - but it's also the most rewarding. 9 months of sacrificing all the fun stuff you love to do is well worth it - right? Well, I don't know about that. My first pregnancy was fairly short - 3 months to be exact. I was 26 weeks 'gone' with my son before we knew I was pregnant. So during that first vital 6 months of my baby's development I was blissfully unaware of his existance and was therefore doing all the 'wrong' things. Drinking, dancing, cycling, camping, eating tuna, peanuts and soft cheese (not together - boak), and just having fun. If I'd been part of a derby league at that time I would have been skating, and I wouldn't have been cautious about it, because I had no idea I was pregnant! Pregancy number 2 was quite different. I knew straight away (at about week 5) and although I had living, breathing proof that you don't need to wrap yourself in cotton wool during pregnancy, I was a wee bit more cautious.
This rather revealing insight into my private life brings me, tenuously, to the point of my Mother's Day blog - skating during pregnancy! During the 2 years I've been involoved in roller derby, all the pregnant skaters I know stopped skating immediately. I'm of the opinion that this is the sensible thing to do - after all, derby is a contact sport and no-one wants to see a pregnant skater get injured. Roller derby is one of those wonderful all-inclusive sports, so there's no need for pregnant skaters to disappear off the radar for 9 months. There are so many ways to stay involved off-skates that mums-to-be can remain right in the thick of things for the duration of their pregnancy. Bench, Line-Up, committees, baking - you could well wonder how you ever had time to skate pre-pregnancy!
But what about those who want the best of both worlds? It's well documented that remaining active and fit during pregnancy is a good thing. In fact, the NHS encourages mums to be to keep up their normal physical activies and sports for as long as they're comfortable. If skating is part of your normal physical activity, then with a bit of caution, is it necessary to stop straightaway?
I recently had a chat about this with Irn Bruzer from Nasty Nessies who is currently 17 weeks pregnant.
First, huge congratulations on your pregnancy! How did your Nasty Nessies team-mates react to the news?
They were all over the moon for me which was great. I was mostly worried about telling Bee-Yatch and Nat-orious Red as we have all been together from the very start and was worried how they would react. They were so happy for me though so made it a happy time :)
Have you done much research into skating (recreationally or derby) while pregnant? If so, has that helped influence any of your decisions regarding on skates or off?
I have spoken to a few other skaters who have become pregnant but they have all stopped straight away The only person that I know so far who has continued to skate was an American skater. I understand why the others stopped and I understand how people will feel that I have not, but everyone is different. I do not have a time scale when to stop, I think I will know when it comes, but not yet. I'm not trying to prove anything, I just don't feel that I need to yet. I am not doing any contact or on track, I am not putting anyone in danger and I am very aware of my surroundings. My midwife knows my plans and I was told that starting new exercise routines or sports are not reccomended but just toning down what your body is used to is fine. Well my body is used to skating, and so will my baby hehe.I know you're very passionate about Nasty Nessies - how will you be applying that passion to an off-skates role? And what off-skates role (if any) will that be?
For now, I am helping with our fantastic newbies and with coaching. I will take on any role off-skates that I can do in the near future, Hopefully I will bench manage our first bout sometime but time will tell ;)Have you given any thought to when you'll return to skates?
Do you think you'll still be able to commit the same time to derby as before?
I hope to be able to commit as much as I can, I mean, babies sleep a lot right? And you can do lots online and via laptop. I don't think I can plan how much I can do, best to just take it as it comes, but I still plan to be a very familiar face within the team whatever happens.Have you chatted to any other Scottish "derby-moms" who have recently given birth? If so, have you been given any good advice that you'd like to pass on to others?
I have spoken to a few of the girls from Dundee who have had babies, just really how they have kept committed to the team and went back when they are ready which is good. I expect there have been many pregnancies in derby where the girls have never gone back from some reason or another and I will make sure that doesn't happen to me. Even if the worst happens and I cannot skate competitively again, I will still be involved somehow, its too much part of my life now to give up.Do you have any Scottish "derby-mom" heroes? (Skaters with kids, that still find the time to help run a league, train, coach and bout?) What makes them so inspirational?
I think the one that seemed to do the most up until birth and now back on skates is Crown Jules from Dundee. I went to a bout in November and she was Bench Managing while heavily pregnant. Definitely someone to admire.
I'm aware there may be mixed reactions to my interview but I feel that everyone is different and what works for you and feels right is always best. But each to their own. I would never put myself or my baby in any danger and I don't feel that being on skates out of everyone's way is doing that. Also I'm a clumsy oaf, I can get into more harm walking down the stairs! Also I have a very supportive partner and fantastic team! :)Whatever your feelings on skating during pregnancy, there's no denying Bruzer has really thought this through. And I think that's the key. Life is a series of risks - some you can control, and others that you can't. By thinking through the risks you can control and being open and discussing your plans with your league (and your midwife!), then maybe recreational skating is something of a third option. I don't think anyone would be able to skate for 9 months of a pregnancy - just putting your skates on in the third tri-mester would represent a significant challenge, but in the early days of pregnancy, tentative laps around the track while others are kitting up might be a way to "wind down" your exercise routine. Next time: I'm looking for skaters who are returning to the track after having a baby. If you'd like to share your story, then please get in touch. In the meantime - Happy Mother's Day :-) Enjoy the day with the weans, whether they be kids, cats, dogs, guinea pigs, chickens, fish ...
But who are the elusive Team Steve and what are they all about?
Team Steve was founded by Scottish Derby skaters who tried out for the word cup and made it to the top 30 but didn't get selected to play for Team Scotland. Originally there were 10 and 4 more were invited to play in their first bout against Team Scotland.
Team Steve is essentially a for the skaters by the skaters team. You must be selected and invited to play, there may be a number of skaters put forward but essentially a vote will decide who makes the team should a space become available. You have to be Scottish to be on the team; although not an official National body we are still a nationally based team. The girls who skate on Steve represent a variety of leagues across Scotland coming together for the love of the sport and of course a good time.
Gael Force is an Irish equivalent of Team Steve, you have to be Irish to play but those keen eyes may recognize a couple of our own homegrown players with Irish lineage. Chemikill Hazzard and Lilo and Stitches will be bouting with Gael force as well as a couple of Gotham girls to boot. Their line up is undoubtedly impressive and this bout promises to be a proverbial clash of the titans.Birmingham this Sunday. Gael Force are holding a series of boot camps down there this weekend (check their event page on Facebook for tickets) and rounding off with the Team Steve bout. If you have the chance to get down to Birmingham this promises to be a bout that will not disappoint and a chance to see some of the best skaters in Scotland and Ireland compete for the love of the game.
http://www.facebook.com/events/204490849693423/ (GAEL FORCE VS. STEVE)
Steve is a team for the people; starting out as the underdogs they have made a name for themselves as a fun-loving and skillful team who always give their competitors a cheeky run for their money.
WE BELIEVE IN STEVE!
Up until the past couple of years Roller Derby has been a sport ‘rolled’ out on a predominantly female playing field. There have always been men around, be it in an official capacity or those of the infamous derby widow - ship.
However those who wished to play on a competitive level have taken the proverbial bull by the horns with Merby leagues are popping up all over the UK. Scotland in Particular has no less than 4 up and coming all male leagues. Their collective bouting team the Jakey Bites have been established for over a year now.
The arrival of Men’s Roller Derby has been met with mixed reaction on roller derby scene, some embracing it fully and others feeling a little put out that the male specimen are perhaps trying to steal our feminine thunder………God can’t they let us have anything!?
Being part of a league who have taken to Integrating with open arms, I have had a fantastic opportunity to skate and compete with the some of the Jakey Bites in the past year, skating in the Uk’s first ever CO-ED derby bout with The Jakey Tayzers last September.
As a result I have become a keen supporter for CO-ED and men’s roller derby. The thought of this might seem a bit overwhelming for some but I believe it can make you a more rounded and skilled skater in the long run. I have skated for 2 years now, predominantly in all female training and bout situations and I thought I would take this opportunity to answer some of the questions or allay some of the fears people might have about Male and Co-Ed roller derby.
DO THEY HIT HARDER?
I hate to emasculate anyone here but the answer to this is not really. I have found that taking a hit from a guy is no different from being hit by the girls. The fact that they don’t really have hips takes a bit of getting used to but the impact of the hit isn't as scary as it might seem. Put it this way, if you have ever been hit by Cider from Auld Reekie then you have nothing to worry about and are fully prepared…
ARE THEIR TACTICS DIFFERENT?
Whenever we first started training for the CO – ED bout this was definitely one of our questions, in all honesty we thought for some reason they were going to be all offence and no discipline (not sure why, guess we were stereotyping). This wasn't the case at all; for the most part their tactics are exactly the same as what we are doing on the female side of things. They are definitely very skilled and know their stuff; I didn't find it any different from skating with my female team mates. They have had to adjust to the new rule set exactly the same as we have. From watching various Merby bouts last year there really wasn't much difference in the tactics played and there certainly wasn't any less glitter surprisingly.
IS IT AWKWARD?
As we all know, roller derby can be a very 'handsy' sport, it is full contact and I suppose it would be normal to wonder if it gets a bit awkward when playing CO-ED. This one is really in the eyes of the beholder to be honest, I personally haven’t ever felt awkward or anything likes that whilst skating. Whether that comes from knowing them quite well or from being in the zone on track I’m not sure but it certainly has never been an issue. You know the bond you have with your team mates on track, well that bond is completely possible in CO-ED as well and it is a pretty gratifying experience.
ARE THEY BETTER THAN US?
The answer to this hangs on the word better; it’s not so much a case of better as different. Roller derby caters for differences; it’s one of the most appealing aspects of the sport which is known for celebrating individuality. In some cases they may be a little stronger and taller than us but……being a big player or a hard hitter isn't the be all and end all if you are smaller and faster. In truth they are as varied and unique as we are on the female side of things. Tall, small, fast, strong, hard-hitting, positional and/or agile everyone has strength it's just finding out how they compliment each other.
ARE THEY JUST A BUNCH OF “LADS?”
Cracking dirty jokes and messing around? As for the dirty jokes I know some female skaters who could make them blush……….But in all seriousness the answer here is no. They are 100% dedicated to the sport and the progression of their regional leagues, the passion they have for the sport is no less than we have in the female leagues and the drive they have shown in starting from scratch has been nothing short of impressive. As a female skater they have always been nothing less than welcoming and supportive of me and since skating with them I have seen a real improvement in certain areas of my skating.
From a personal perspective I am fully in support of Merby in the UK. I would urge everyone to support their local Merby league alongside their local derby league, Capital City in Edinburgh, Mean City in Glasgow, The Skelpies in the Central Belt and The Tayminators in Tayside. I have had the pleasure of knowing people from most of these teams and can tell you they are a cracking bunch of guys, we should be proud to have them as a part of the Scottish Roller Derby scene. I hope to see a lot more CO-ED action in the future with my Jakey Tayzers. The Skelpies League, Bairn City are already establishing a Co -Ed league so it is onward and upward.
If you want to make up your own mind or have a male friend you’d like to wrangle into taking up the sport, the Jakey Bites (Comprising of members from 3 out of 4 of the aforementioned teams) have a bout coming up against The South Wales Silures on April the 6th in Grangemouth. Check their Facebook page for event details and ticket sales. The venue only holds 100 so buy in advance to avoid disappointment. Bairn City men’s team will also be playing South Wales the day after on the 7th at the same venue, for more details and ticket sales check their Facebook pages.
http://www.facebook.com/events/122071404642449/ (SKELPIES VS. SILURES)
http://www.facebook.com/events/432929060108875/ (JAKEYS VS. SILURES)
Tickets are available on the door and priced as follows: Adult VIP - £12.50 (Includes Entry, MCRD T-Shirt and Sticker); Adult - £5; Child (under 16's): £2.50. Capacity at the venue is limited, but you can reserve a place directly from MCRD via their Facebook Event.
Although The Jakey's have played in a few bouts now, this will be their first Scottish Headliner! Their previous bouts have seen them travel to Newcastle in their debut; they opened Glasgow's Home Seasons Tournament in 2012 with a bout against The Inhuman League; and have also played in a co-ed bout with Dundee Roller Girls.Tickets will be available for £6 online - link to follow. Keep an eye on the Facebook Event for more details.
What first attracted you to Roller Derby?
I have Slayherella (GCRG) and Monkey Wench (FVRG) and their facebook status updates to thank for this one, their devotion to the sport was very clear and it had me intrigued. I was really interested in finding a team sport, and liked the idea of getting back into some quads, so following a conversation with my nephew I signed up for fresh meat with FVRG. I was hooked from then.
Who are your derby heroes?
In my early days of fresh meat it was all the trainers and helpers who were patient with me giving me hints, tips and wee confidence boosts, they are my hero’s, without them I would not be skating now. They made such a difference. Frocky Horror has a particular grace on skates and I envied her crossovers so much, the fact she spent so much time helping me to achieve a crossover was helpful. My heroes remain the same, the skaters around me who each week show determination and patience, both in teaching me and learning the drills.
What was your biggest initial difficulty?
See above – Cross overs. I really struggled with them. I read blog after blog and asked advice from so many different people. I even took to walking up and downstairs side aways so that I could cross my legs over into a lunge. Eventually it was just repetition, walking with my skates on and lunging round in circles in my kitchen, in my living room, in my garden. I was determined and practice got me there. I did let out a wee cheer when I achieved my first cross over on track.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt/ done this month?
Remembering to stay focused on what the goal is, whether that be on a personal level or for the team. I have also realised that there is only the one of me and sometimes you just have to say ‘No’. I want to add that I have just played my third bout representing FVRG in the bout against Preston Roller Girls, the feeling coming off at the last Jam and looking up to the score board, I just wanted to cry with happiness. That was an amazing feeling.
What were the most difficult and the best things?
The most difficult has been balancing derby life with non derby life. It is not easy and I am not sure I will ever get it right. Thankfully I have a very supportive and understanding family and an equally as awesome derby family, and I guess that is the best thing too.
What's new for the Fierce Valley this month?
In February we had a home bout against Preston Roller Girls. They were awesome to play against. At the end of March we are bouting away to Newcastle Roller Girls Whipping Whinnies.
Image courtesy of DRG
Dundee Roller Girls' Silvery Taysers host their first bout of the year against Rainy City Roller Girls' Tender Hooligans at the DISC Sports Centre,Mains Loan,Dundee on Saturday the 23rd of February. Entry is £6 on the door, or £5(plus booking fee) in advance.Doors open at 13:30 and the bout will start at 14:00. More details on the Facebook event page
As some will have noticed,this bout takes place on the same day as GRD play ARRG ,which presents quite a choice to make,whichever one you attend,it's bound to be a good bout.
Image courtesy of GRD
Glasgow Roller Derby's Irn Bruisers take on Auld Reekie Roller Girls' Twisted Thistles in their first bout of the year.The bout takes place on Saturday the 23th of February at The Arc,Cowcaddens Road,Glasgow.Entry is £6 on the door or £5 in advance. More details on the Facebook event page.