Passing the Star, My Journey to Blocking Part 3

The last post in this series is focusing on how I adapted and whether I had achieved successes within a game situation as a Blocker, which is a role I played at our game this past weekend.

Humberstruck 2019 was Durham Roller Derby‘s first visit to Hull in a loooong time, we had been in our early days as attendees of mixed scrims as newbies and intermediate level players and it was so weird to see how our journey had evolved us not just as a team but as players.

OG DRD Crew in 2014

Humberstruck is a WFTDA sanctioned tournament, and first ever happened in 2014 (much like our first visit to Hull) so it was interesting to also see the growth and changes in Roller Derby in the past 5 years as well. Go check out the pictures on HARD’s (Hulls Angels Roller Derby) Facebook page from the event and you’ll be taken down memory lane!

Regardless, we were there to play – not as part of the main tournament – but as a part of an exhibition game against HARD’s B team. We’d trained hard and everyone had been playing in multiple roles to support our roster – so it wasn’t just me who was jumping into a ‘new’ role.

So how did it go? Well lets get the fact we won out of the way first and foremost. The game was really challenging, we had a short roster (due to some last minute illness) and we were a little bit nervous about how that would affect us on the day – but we used everything we’d practiced and even threw in a few new things that we’d caned since a recent coaching visit by Rainy City Roller Derby. It massively paid off and completely changed our head space in the game – we played like we owned the track (the weird floor also freaked a few of us out beforehand), and that confidence paid off.

Credit to Darryl Brooks Photography

So how did I perform as a blocker?
Well like I said earlier we had a short roster, so I ended up not just being fielded as a blocker, which I think actually forced me to not overthink everything – which is something I’ve discussed previously – because my brain had to reset and prepare for the next Jam and the possibility of not playing the same role twice in a row…

Aside from that, I think I overall played well – I did at times have moments of ‘huh?’ on track and have to then reset and remember what we had trained, as it’s not quite instinct at this stage. I did achieve my goals of successfully fielding offence for my Jammer and block successfully as part of the wall formation.

Credit to Darryl Brooks Photography

The feedback I had from my team mates was that I actually Jammed better, which I think is because I knew I wasn’t trapped in one role – I could say no to the star – Jamming is stressful and knowing that’s all I would be doing increases the anxiety for me. So being able to mix it up really changed my brain, although I did actively call off the Jam two or three times because my body was exhausted (Hull winded me a lot).

My Jammer and me (albeit silently, we both openly will admit we are rubbish at communicating to each other on track) both took and delivered successful offence – we’ll call it Bluetooth, because that’s the only thing we can equate it too at this stage – that or we’re psychically twinned!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still super uncomfortable in a wall – I think it’s still early days for me to feel like I’m not the weak link in a tripod, or other generic wall formation – but I’ve got a few months to work on and develop that before our 2020 season.

I followed the ‘plan’ which we were thoroughly discussing before every line-up, and even managed to chase down the Jammer a few times to do some one-on-one. I do still have issues with the capture and flat backed blocking, I actively try to reset my body every time, but as my brain settles into it I’m hoping it’ll feel more natural.

Credit to Darryl Brooks Photography

I do find it harder to be reflective when we’ve won – I learn more about how my personal abilities affected the points differential when we lose – when we win it’s because we had a hive mind, work together, and are confident in our plays.

So this blog isn’t quite hitting the nail I hoped it would, for this reason, but I also don’t want us to lose just so I can leanr – so I’m focusing on my coaches feedback for that one.

I have been told I will be fielded as a mixed player role over the rest of the year as my Bench team see how much it releases my brain and allows me to play my best. So either way I must be doing something right!

Credit to Darryl Brooks Photography

Next game is against Grimsby in just under two weeks – and that’ll be a wrap for us for 2019. Check out Durham Roller Derby’s Fb page for updates on how that one goes!