Not Sorry Laurie – My World Cup Journey

Photo credit: Wicked Shamrock Photography

My Roller Derby World Cup journey begins appropriately enough at the time of the last World Cup, in December 2014. I remember being with two other skaters, streaming the action from Dallas and learning as much as we could from what we saw. We were each relatively new to the sport. I’d begun learning to skate a few months earlier with my hometown league Roller Derby Leicester, and was at the stage where I was brave enough to begin attempting transitions (a 180 degree turn), but was well short of the ability or finesse to pull one off. I’d seen our A team skaters performing transitions and felt I would die happy if I ever managed to perform one successfully.

Amongst the three of us watching, myself and Wiggles were eligible for Scotland and Lisa for South Africa. We joked about one day skating for our nations at the World Cup, and I for one had absolutely zero expectation that it would ever happen for me.

Fast forward 18 months and not only had I achieved my life goal of performing a transition but I’d now spent the best part of a year jamming for RDL. Our league had also received a message from Team Scotland asking if we had any eligible skaters interested in the upcoming tryouts for the World Cup training squad. I’d never skated at a level higher than British Champs Tier 3, in which we were now most of our way through what proved to be a winless campaign. But, I was progressing as a skater, and fancied seeing if I could turn the likelihood of skating at a World Cup into something more than just a joke.

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I made the journey to Glasgow with fellow RDL skater CanTankerous with no idea what to expect. Knowing the standard would be unlike anything I’d faced before allowed me every reason to just throw myself at the opportunity, and by the time an afternoon of skills, drills and a scrim had finished I felt like I’d smashed it! A fortnight later I was doing my evening shop at Morrisons (rock ‘n’ roll!) when the long awaited email from Team Scotland came through on my phone saying I’d made it into the 30-strong training squad. Had I been at home when I received this news I would’ve celebrated with greater exuberance, but with vegetable section etiquette to observe a gallant fist pump had to suffice.

Monthly training sessions in Grangemouth, the Road to TBC tournament in Cardiff and an away fixture against Belgium swiftly followed. With each exposure to international level derby I felt I was returning to Leicester a whole new skater. A squad selection game in February 2017 would then be our last chance to prove ourselves worthy of one of the 20 spaces in the final World Cup squad. This game wasn’t my best but it turned out I’d done enough to make the final 20. This time I was at work when the good news came through, leading to a muted celebration with colleagues in our corner of the office.

Team Scotland was one of the first nations to announce its final squad, doing so almost a whole year before the World Cup itself. While there are potential downsides to this approach, I’m glad we opted for it. Straight away our training sessions gained a new intensity. Now they were being held fortnightly, and freed from uncertainty over our places in the squad we were each able to concentrate solely on preparing as a team for the tournament itself.

With each Scotland training session my appetite for playing at a higher level was growing. RDL were now back in a winning groove and by summer 2017 we’d won promotion from Tier 4, but the time had come for me to move on. The lure of Central City Rollergirls had become increasingly difficult to ignore ever since RDL’s captain Brooks had made the move across the Midlands the previous year, and now it was my turn. Brooks is and always will be my derby hero (I tell her this frequently enough that she must now be long since past the weirded out stage), and she had only the most positive things to say about the people, the setup and the standard of play at CCR. I’d heard the same from others too and once I’d experienced my first session here my decision to move was made.

I quickly felt at home with my new league, and with the increased exposure to such a high level of derby, my game inevitably gained new dimensions. My fellow CCR jammers are a dream to learn from and try new skills out with, and our blockers make walls that leave us constantly needing to rethink ways of getting through. It’s now been over 6 months since I joined, and the contribution this time with CCR has made to my own World Cup preparations has been invaluable.

Photo Credit: 2nd Shooter

At this point I also need to name-check Moji AKA Super Eagle AKA Mother Knows Best for getting me down to the gym on those early mornings when I’d seriously prefer not to. Moji gave me a lift to my very first newbie session with RDL and is now with CCR too. She’s been there to see me develop from the flailer I was at the time of the last World Cup (a flailer retrospectively described as ‘dangerous but not in a good way’ and ‘sh*t’), into a skater now competing at this World Cup. Also, just because she’s currently holding a knife to my throat oughtn’t taint the fact that she is without question the woman behind my success.

For the largest chunk of my life, playing at a World Cup in any sport was something I’d never imagined minutely possible. Family, friends (especially Hateh and Skiddo) and my awesome partner have all played their part in this journey, and it’s been the greatest part of my life skating alongside and arsing about with everyone at Roller Derby Leicester, Central City Rollergirls and Team Scotland. It may have blocked out my weekends for the past 18 months and depreciated my car’s value by 15,000 miles, but the journey to this week’s World Cup in Manchester has been so much more than worth it. I’ll be incredibly proud to take to the track to represent Scotland, and equally proud of the rest of the CCR contingent who are representing our league as skaters, coaches, officials, announcers and volunteers. Let’s make this World Cup the best yet!

Did Ye, Aye?!

CCR sends our love and support to all those playing and working the Roller Derby World Cup! Big High Fives go straight to our members representing!

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Event: Get Your Skates On! January 21st!

Get Your Skates On!

Come Join Our Team!

As we welcome 2017, we all look for a new challenge.

Want to get more active? want to try something new? Looking to find or build strength, meet new people or simply find a way to shift those Christmas calories.

Well look no further – Central City Rollergirls are offering an ABSOLUTELY FREE ‘Get Your Skates On’ Session.

Don’t have any skates? No problem! Email us at ccrkitrequest@gmail.com tell us your shoe size and we will have a pair of skates waiting for you plus all the safety kit needed for your session.

No matter what level of skater you are from complete novice to accomplished skater we have coaches and mentors on hand to take you from basic skating to learning about roller derby.
So who are Central City Rollergirls…
Central City is made up of skaters, referees, coaches, officials and volunteers who all love the sport of roller derby. We will have a variety of our members on hand to talk to if you want to know more about joining us or just about the sport in general.

Last year the sport took us all the way to America where our A team took on teams from the US, Canada and Europe. Some of our officials and volunteers also got to travel with us.

Even if you have never heard of the sport roller derby we urge you to come along, if you don’t fancy the contact element of the sport you can still be involved as we are always looking for refs and officials too.

Remember your first session is FREE including kit hire, sessions cost £5 after. You MUST email to request a kit to ensure we can have your shoe size ready. If you turn up without requesting kit you may just have to spectate.

Click here for the Facebook event link!

The Big Sleep Out

Big Sleep Out 2016

 

At CCR we occasionally have a saying #dosomethinguseful; it’s purpose, to motivate. Well, so it happened, this November, we decided to not just say it, but to actually put it into practice by highlighting an important issue that affects many cities and towns, including our own, Birmingham. Here Stormborn, one of our dedicated and brilliant NSO’s gives us a rundown of an important night on the town:

So, who are St Basil’s and what do they do? Basically, they work with young people 16-25 year of age who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless throughout the West Midlands. They can offer supported accommodation and support services to ‘break the cycle of homelessness’. I do St Basil’s Sleep Out because it’s a great experience and because I work with 16-25 year old myself and can understand how young people can find themselves homeless. This could be a result of family breakdown, overcrowding at home or leaving the looked after system. Some will need accommodation from St Basil’s in one of their many placements around the midlands. But St Basil’s also support young people with family mediation, they run a life skill programme all of which can help give young people the tools to build a brighter future for themselves, something I advocate for in my work life.

Our beautiful home!

On 25th November a group of CCR took part in St Basil’s Big Sleep Out at Birmingham Cathedral. This involved building a shelter out of cardboard, tape and plastic to protect us from the elements as we spent the night outside. This was my 6th year that I had taken part, it was the 2nd for Boots Manuva, Mad-Eye Lou-Bee and Gryffinbrawl and we were joined by two newcomers Sarah Farrell and Lakshnie Natasha.
This year we took our build more seriously and all lay on the damp grass to get measurements for our structure. Thankfully weather was on our side so no rain and only the odd gust of wind that had us chasing loose bits of cardboard that hadn’t been taped down yet around the cathedral. As you would expect half way through the building process we took a break to enjoy hot chocolate and cake. Once we were refreshed we finished our build and added some fairy lights, as you do! They were done just in time to go inside the cathedral for the St Basil’s presentation. So far we’d had some proper giggles but now we were reminded why we were all there. Some brave young people stood up in front of a large crowd and talked about the circumstances which led to them being made homeless and needing the services of St Basil’s.

 

Setting up our home for the night

After the service the 6 of us went back outside (at around midnight) and prepared to settle down to try to sleep. The experience wasn’t supposed to imitate what it is really like for anyone who is homeless, we were doing it through choice. We had home comforts that we had bought with us, we were protected by security and once it was all over we get to hop on the bus, or in the car and go home. The one thing I noticed though, was that it was very hard to sleep with so much noise around, revellers staggering home from a night out, no stop traffic and other ‘sleepers’ who decided not to be quiet. By about 2am it felt at its coldest but strangely enough, that when I managed to fall asleep, all tucked up all snug in my sleeping bag and sandwiched between 2 of my shelter sharers. At 5 in the morning we were all awake again. We demolished our structure and put it in the recycling. That was it, all over again for another year.
This was the first time doing the Sleep Out at the cathedral which made the experience feel very different but it showed how much the event has grown ,that the St Basil’s car park is no longer big enough to shelter the many hundreds of participants. Plus the scale of the stunning cathedral made our shelter look teeny tiny. The joy of returning to my own bed, it was peaceful, I didn’t feel claustrophobia from the many layers of clothes I needed to sleep out, it was soft and it was mine. I am so lucky to have one.
It’s been great looking back and watching all our sponsors roll it. So far, we have raised £1,124. If you would like to donate there is still time, follow the link http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=CentralCityRollergirlsSleepOutSquad&isTeam=true
Alternatively, I would urge you to find your local charity/organisation and see how you can help people in your areas. Many people are currently looking forward to the festive period but just remember some are not so lucky to have a home or family to share this time with.

Thanks to CCR friends and families for supporting us!

 

Finally, I just want to thank everyone who has supported us, to St Basil’s for putting on such a great event and my fellow CCR sleepers for sharing the experience with me. So same again next year???

StormBorn

More information can be found on their website http://www.stbasils.org.uk/

Photos courtesy of http://www.stbasils.org.uk/sleepout/