23rd April will see the two Scottish teams in Tier 3 North face off as Fierce Valley Roller Girls, on home ground in Grangemouth, take on Dundee Roller Girls. Ahead of the fourth meeting between the teams (Dundee currently lead the head to head 2-1), we spoke to the captains, Laura Liston of DRG, and FVRG's Thump'her.
This will be the fourth meeting between DRG and FVRG; does knowing the opposition like this change how you prepare for the game?
Laura: I think it helps in some ways - knowing the biggest threats and the wall structures we'll face is a big asset. On the other hand it does mean you sometimes freak yourself out a bit knowing how skilled the opposition are. Thump'her: No, we have prepared for this game the same as any other. Of course it helps to have some knowledge of how the other team play and to know their strengths and any weaknesses but if we are to win on Saturday then we need to focus on playing our game and to our strengths.
What, if anything, makes Champs games different from other games?
Laura: We go into Champs the same we would for any other game - we always aim to do the best we can and have an enjoyable time as a team, rather than focusing solely on the win. That being said, having a league table for champs and being able to see how we're comparing does bring out our competitive side! Thump'her: With Champs there is a little more pressure to perform at our best as so much work has gone into organising it. It's a massive competition and a fantastic opportunity to show the roller derby community what we are capable of. Plus, who enters a championship if they don't want to win it?
What have the team, and you as captain, learned from the Champs experience?
Laura: I think we've learned about the need to be flexible as a team. We've played such different opponents each game, so have had to change our plan each time. As a captain I've learned that the most important thing is that we as a league take something from every game to build on, and that we focus on just enjoying being on track together doing the best we can. Thump'her: Champs has taught us the importance of having a strong team bond, we are a small team but we know each other so well and that is what has carried us through it so far. We have all got to meet a lot of amazing people because of champs and it is one of the best aspects of it. Personally, I've had the opportunity to be captain to the best group of girls I've ever met who give it their all in each and every game and for that I am extremely grateful and proud.
How have you prepared for the upcoming game?
Laura: We have looked back on our previous games and discussed what we have done well and what we need to work on. Hopefully we can put it into practice. Thump'her: We've prepared for the game the same way we do for any, by focusing on our strengths and continuing to work on any weaknesses we may have spotted from previous games.
How does this season compare to last seasons champs experience?
Laura: This season feels a lot more structured for us - we've got a more consistent roster and have had a bit more time to plan properly for each game. We had a good season last year so we're keen to keep that momentum up. Thump'her: This season is a lot harder than last, we've came into this tier as an underdog facing some really good teams. We are looking forward to the challenge and the development that will come from playing such games.
Who do you admire from the opposing team?
Laura: Calamity Jen - she's such a solid all round skater and really leads her packs on track. Thump'her: It has to be Milky, she's came back so strong since her injury and that has to be something to admire. The whole team are strong and work incredibly well together so it should make for an exciting game!