On Saturday 19th November, Dundee Roller Girls opened their doors to the public to come along and learn about roller derby.
The league received a lot of interest at the recent Sports Union Fayre in Dundee University and at Dundee College. To keep enthusiasm up before their next Fresh Meat intake in February 2012, Cilla Block organised an Open Day at the DISC to let potential new skaters see a mixed scrimmage in action, ask the Silvery Tayzers their burning questions, and get a chance to try on a pair of skates and have a roll about the hall.
Skaters from Dundee Roller Girls, Fair City Rollers, Glasgow Roller Girls, and Fierce Valley Roller Girls took part in 3 sets of 20 minute scrims from 1:30pm, with the event volunteers explaining the game play and tactics to the crowd. They certainly seemed to enjoy what they saw - there were around 30 names on the sign-up sheet for DRGs Fresh Meat Mailing List by the end of the day!
As well as getting the chance to meet skaters from some of the Scottish leagues, there was also lots of team merchandise for sale and the customary cupcake stall to buy tasty sweet treats.
Photo of Ella Bella Bang Bang by Zenspirations Photography
Ella Bella Bang Bang will be a familiar figure to many readers,Ella's legendary fairness,impartiality and knowledge of the sport make her a highly respected ref,Alongside fellow Arrg zebra, Cherry Fury ,Ella will be making the trip to Toronto to officiate at the World Cup.We managed to secure a little of her time for a chat...
What is your background in Derby?
I found roller derby by accident one day while looking at things on Myspace of all places! I stumbled across the Glasgow Roller Girls page and had a look at what roller derby was. I thought it looked like a lot of fun and instantly I wanted to be involved. I was unsure about joining GRG though as I didn't think I knew anyone and at the time I was pretty shy with new people. So I searched to see if there was an Edinburgh League. As luck would have it there was one just starting out and I got in touch and asked how I could be involved. As I knew I did not want to be a competitive skater due to having spinal surgery as a teenager. So I have been involved in ARRG since its very beginning.
Yours must be one of the best Derby names,how did that come about?
Thank-you. Again that was another happy accident. My friend at Art School wrote a comic about me called Princess Alison-Ella and I always really liked the Ella part of it, not so much the princess part ;). So I just tried to build a name around it and that is how Ella~Bella Bang~Bang was born.
Why did you become a ref and what do you love about it?
As I said earlier I knew I didn't want to be a competitive skater as I had spinal surgery as a teenager, so I can be a wee bit protective about my back and although as a referee I need to be able to fall and take hits and I do have massive wipe-outs during bouts (sometimes) I felt that this was the safest way for me to be involved in roller derby and get to skate too. I am glad I made this choice as I do totally love being a referee and I have met some wonderful people through this. I have also learned a lot about myself and I feel have become a more confident person as a result. I don't think I could pin point what I love most about being a referee. I just like being part of something as amazing as Roller Derby.
What makes a good referee?
I always think someone who is willing to learn and act on constructive criticism makes a good referee. In my eyes we need to constantly learn the rules and improve our skills. I never want to get to the stage where I think I have made it, or that I know it all. As for me if I ever got to that stage I would no longer able to develop as a referee and therefore I would not be getting any better. I was told when I started out as a referee that the better you get at refereeing the more of your mistakes you will spot. That has always stuck with me and its true! I remember my first public bout and thinking well that went okay. I have never thought that again! I am forever pointing out my mistakes to myself afterwards in the hope that I won't do them again.
Most skaters have skating heroes,do you have any skaters or refs you look up to?
I look up to and respect every referee I have ever worked with as each and every one of them has taught me something and helped me develop further as a referee. I have always respected the opinions of Brutally Frank and Three Majors. I admire Cherry Fury's determination to be the best she can. Ballistic Whistle helped me out a lot when I started and I think I would aspire to be as fair as Miss Trial.
How does it feel to be reffing at the world cup?
A whole massive mix of emotions. I am nervous and excited and terrified and thrilled all a the same time. I feel that this is a great thing for the progression and development of Roller Derby in general. But on a personal note I feel that this is a great opportunity for me to develop further as a referee. I think I, along with will all the referees involved, will learn a lot about officiating. I hope this will boost my own level officiating and that it will help me feedback into ARRG and help to boost our level of officiating. I am really please and thankful to have been given this opportunity.
What do you think the World Cup will do for Derby in Scotland?
As I have said I think the World Cup will help the progression of Roller Derby as a sport. I think it will do a lot to promote the sport and will help generate more interest in our sport. I think having 2 Scottish referee's going and 7 in total from Europe will also have a positive impact on the general standard of officiating as we will all be able to feedback to our own leagues and will also in turn be able to impart the knowledge gained to all other referees we work with in the future.
Any advice for anyone who is interested in becoming a referee?
Read the rules, a lot. Watch Roller Derby, a lot. And talk to referee's. We in ARRG have quite a few newer referee's who have been developing their own skills and knowledge through fulfilling Non Skating Official roles and all have had positive things to say about their own experiences. Although this is not how I started out, I would highly recommend it for anyone considering being a Referee.
Many thanks to Ella Bella Bang Bang for taking the time to do this interview and to Zenspirations Photography for permission to use the photograph
ChefXecutioner RPRG Essen Rockdog BCRD Ludwigsburg
Every nation has a few famous skaters, who have brought a large influence on the development of roller derby. For Sweden, arguably one of the most well known is Swede Hurt, who has a strong involvement in both of Sweden's leagues in Stockholm and Crime City, and is coaching Team Sweden to boot.
We caught up with her to get her opinions on the state of modern roller derby, with a slightly European perspective.
The avid Facebook users among you may already have noticed a new arrival recently. Lothian Derby Dolls are Scotland's newest Roller Derby league and will be operating in the Edinburgh/Lothian area.They have just secured a regular place to practise and are holding an open to all skate session on Friday the 25th of November. Contact them at their Facebook page,or by email for more details.Or just wander over and say hi. They are also on the lookout for new members,so if you are female,18 and over and think you want to give Derby a go,why not drop them a line.
With the first ever Roller Derby World Cup just weeks away,we caught up with Knuckles, Team Scotland's Bench Manager, for a chat
What is your background in Derby?
I started with Glasgow Roller Girls just over 4 years ago before they had their first bout. Starting out as an NSO and then starting to Ref.
I became the Head Ref for Glasgow and was a Referee in over 30 bouts
How did you get involved in bench managing?
I decided that I had had enough of being a referee and was thinking of leaving, but prior to leaving wanted to try bench managing. This was last year and I got the chance to bench the one of Glasgow's home teams the Bad Omens. I really enjoyed it and from their got the opportunity to bench for Glasgow's travel Team ,The Irn Bruisers. Since I started benching I have been lucky enough to bench for two different home teams in different seasons , GRGs travel team and a couple of games for the Maiden Girders. Obviously I have done the two Scotland games as well.
Towards the end of my Ref days, I was starting to become disillusioned by the game but have started to really enjoy it again as a bench manager. It is totally different and you feel a bigger part of the team.
What makes a good Bench Manager?
I don't know what makes a good bench manager, but I can tell you what I do and what works for me. Their are a few different ways that bench managers operate but in my opinion the captains decide on the strategy and I help them implement it. I tend to work with the jammers try to assist on when to call etc and advise pivots and captains of what strategies the opposing team are using.
Trust is a big part of it and you have to gain the Skaters trust, that your instructions are the correct ones for the team. It takes a few games before the Team really trust your decisions but I have been welcomed into the role by everyone and we seem to be working well. Obviously the transition was slightly easier for me due to my rules knowledge as a Ref.
You have to keep an eye on points and ensure that the correct number gets attributed to your team, you also have to keep an eye on penalties, to inform the line up manager so they can do their job. I am a big believer that we are all one team and we have to ensure communication is excellent on the bench.
I also like to give the Skaters encouragement if they have done something well and suggest some things if it's not going so well. If you have been to any bouts you will know how vocal I am with the team.
Three Majors gave me some tips he had seen the Montreal Bench use in terms of hand signals and this has been of great assistance. I also got to meet Sonic Boom from Toronto and picked up some stuff from him as well. You can always improve and I try and take in as many pointers as possible and see what works for me
How does it feel to be involved in Team Scotland and going to the World Cup?
I am a fan of Derby as well as being involved and getting the opportunity to work with skaters outside my own league is amazing. To get to work with Crazy, Alma,Fight Cub etc. and to watch them skate with the best from the other leagues is magic. Crazy and Whisky as your back two, what team wouldn't want them in their line ups?
To get to go to the World Cup and represent Scotland is the stuff of dreams I am about to burst out singing to BA Robertson, 'We Have a Dream'. It's hard to put into words how much this means to me but it really is a privilege to work with this team and I hope we do well in Toronto.
This is going to be something that I will look back on in years to come and think those were the days
How are you preparing for the World Cup?
Watching a lot of Derby and listening to Viper (my wife) working out strategies. I don't think a day goes by that we aren't talking about some aspect of the game.
Usually Viper is watching some tactic on DVD and playing it over and over whilst she breaks down the play.
Canada and the USA aside,which teams do you think will be good competition for Team Scotland?
I really want to play Brazil or Argentina, I just think that would be fantastic
But the game for me would be Scotland v Germany.
Both Glasgow and ARRG have played Stuttgart recently and I think that Scotland v Germany would be explosive Germany are really coming up in the rankings with both Berlin and Stuttgart playing great games. For me this would be the challenge it would be a hard hard bout but I believe our Scottish girls could win it.
What do you think the World Cup will do for Roller Derby in Scotland?
It s great for all Derby players in Scotland and I think that by the time it comes around again the try outs will be even bigger. The Skaters that do go will also pick up plenty of skills and contacts to take back to their parent leagues.
Also if you watch the improvement in Skaters that have been involved in the Scotland trainings you can see its a good thing. For example Psychomilly from Dundee Roller Girls has been outstanding and seems to have improved in such a short space of time. She obviously has benefited from training with the Scotland team and will be one to watch in the future.
I hope that it unites the country and everyone watches online and sends in their support.
This sport will be here long after we are finished in it and as far as I am concerned this Scotland team should be in the Derby hall of fame. They are the first Scotland National Derby team and in years to come new skaters will look up to them as the forbears of this sport.
In fact they are officially Derby Royalty :) after this.
Many thanks to Knuckles for taking the time to do this interview and to Dave McAleavy for providing the image
Team Roster Swede Hurt - Head Coach + skater (ex of Gotham Girls Roller Derby and Rat City, now Stockholm Roller Derby, after coaching Crime City Rollers) Mad Maloony - Assistant Coach + skater (ex of Copenhagen, now Stockholm Roller Derby, after coaching Crime City Rollers) Sloppy Boggins - Assistant Coach (GTAR (Toronto), exStockholm) Alotta Riot - Crime City Rollers Ankefar - Crime City Rollers Barbara Barfight - Crime City Rollers Becky Lawless - Stockholm Roller Derby Bess I’rv Cold - Stockholm Roller Derby Fenix Fortsomfan - Crime City Rollers Firebird Steele - Crime City Rollers Fisty - Crime City Rollers HussInsane - Stockholm Roller Derby HyperNova - Stockholm Roller Derby Jazz Ass - Stockholm Roller Derby Jo Evil Eye - Crime City Rollers Kit Kat Power - London Rockin' Rollers Kix deVille - Stockholm Roller Derby Knickerblocker Glory - London Rollergirls Ninja - Crime City Rollers Twist’d T - Stockholm Roller Derby Vix Viking - Crime City Rollers (ex of London Rollergirls)
As is plain from the roster, Team Sweden draws almost entirely from the two Swedish leagues, Stockholm and Crime City (Malmö). As with many of the national teams, however, they have a smattering of impressively sourced coaches and head skaters, of which Swede Hurt, who has previously played for East Region champions Gotham Girls Roller Derby and for Rat City (including a trip to West Regionals), and will presumably be bringing her intimidating experience to her Head Coach role.
Team Sweden have played one public bout, against Team Finland, which they won handily. Since then, they have been engaging in regular practices to build team cohesion.
Team Sweden is sponsored by the SwedeVix skate store, which just happens to have been founded by two of their players, Swede Hurt and Vix Viking.
We'll be getting more information about Team Sweden in a later article, as I interview Swede Hurt on various topics.
European Roller Derby is a rising force, and it's as important to be a part of it as it is to get membership of WFTDA, in my opinion. The big European Derby meetup is the yearly European Rollerderby Organlsational Conference, which is hosted by Bear City Roller Derby in Berlin this year. The schedule will be split over the 27-29th Janurary, 2012.
There are separate registration for skaters and referees, and there will be masterclasses and other events for both officials and players.
This is an ideal chance for Scottish leagues to keep up with the European Derby scene, and it is perhaps especially useful for new leagues.
Plus, you get to see Berlin!
Registration closes on the 20th of November, so get in quick while you still can!
It's not just the Nasty Nessies that the Scottish Roller Derby Blog is following on a monthly basis. The Forth Valley's finest roller derby league, Fierce Valley Roller Girls, is also providing us with a regular update on their progress. Forgoing the privilege of going first, Grizabelta has selected Max Attaxx (501) as the first interviewee, so, it's over to her:
What first attracted you to Roller Derby?
It was a sport played on roller skates, in which you get to hit other people and have a crazy name – how more awesome can it get?!
What was your biggest initial difficulty?
Lots of roller girls find it hard not to spread the word about their new sport. How have you been spreading the word?
By talking about in incessantly to anyone who will listen – and a few people who didn't want to listen! :)
What's the most important thing you've learnt/done this month?
What were the most difficult and best things you've done?
The most difficult I would say was trying to catch up with the other skaters in my team! I started later than some so that combined with the fact I'd never skated meant I needed to really push myself every practice to do better! There's still so many things to learn though and get better at!
The best is now a joint win between two things – getting my 25 in 5 (Woop!) and my first bout! Both of which made me all the more convinced there's no sport better than Derby!
Roller Derby is a new sport for much of Finland,most of the dozen or so leagues in the country have been formed in the last year.Helsinki Roller Derby is their oldest league,dating back to 2009 and they were accepted in the WFTDA Apprentice Program in July 2011.The bulk of the Finnish team all and all the coaching staff come from HRD and have quite a bit of experience playing some big name teams,taking part in the recent Battle Of Nordic Light competition and a very narrow defeat to Stuttgart Valley Roller Girlz
Team Roster- Doris,Lizz Troublegum,Kati Kyyrö,Kata Strofi,KC Knucklebone,Trixie GrandBang,Liisa Saari,Suvi Hokkari and Page Disaster of Helsinki Roller Derby the Blizzard from Bristol Roller Derby Misty Muffdiviah from Crime City Rollers Pink Spanker,Udre and Only of Kallio Rolling Rainbow Bloody-HO-Mary from Tampere Rollin' Ho's Juicy Butther from Dirty River Roller Girls
Coaching staff-All from Helsinki Roller Derby Head coach: Estrogeena Davis Assistant coach: Tigre Force Manager: Claire Leah Threat
Team Finland have only been able to practise together a handful of times,so much of the training has been down to individual skaters and leagues.Although the assistant coach,Tigre Force,has been travelling around Finland,coaching the leagues involved and providing feedback to the coaching staff and other skaters. A fundraising warm up bout against Team Sweden in early October ended in defeat for Finland,the final score being 135-71.As far as i am aware this is the only instance of two national squads bouting before playing in Toronto.Although doubtless the bout would have served to gel the team together and provide an insight into the workings of Team Sweden,which may prove useful should the two teams meet again during the World Cup. Like several other teams in the competition,Finland are something of a dark horse,with their mix of experienced and newer skaters they could well prove a threat to many other teams, depending on their training and preparation.Only time will tell how much of their hard work will pay off in Canada.