KRG at WFTDA D1 playoffs in Malmö

website-tourney-logos-malmoA group of KRG league members travelled all the way across the pond and then some to Malmö in Sweden to witness some high level roller derby at the WFTDA division one championship playoffs. The tournament was being hosted by the phenomenal Crime City Rollers and would feature some of the highest ranked roller derby teams in the world!

Brute 66 (aka Jon), KRG head coach and bench manager, and Kent Mens Roller Derby skater, agreed to share what he took from the experience with us…

 

This past weekend a selection of KRG members made their way to Malmö to watch the first ever WFTDA D1 playoffs to be held outside of North America. This monumental event was being hosted by Malmö’s very own Crime City Rollers, and what brilliant hosts they proved to be. A slick well organised event in a wonderful venue, of which teams in the U.K. crave, with. Friendly atmosphere and amazing halftime entertainment including cheerleading, international skipping champions and a drum line.

21544211_10155725077734111_1410272805259502161_o
The KRG gang in Malmö

The tournament bracket meant we would get to see some of the best teams within the WFTDA, the highlight for most would be watching Gotham Girls in the flesh. However the tournament bracket threw up the possibility of, for me, the most mouth watering clash. If Rainy City could beat Calgary they would face London in a clash of the Brits, a game that only had a 40 point differential at Anarchy this summer.

d1-playoffs-malmo-bracket
Image from wftda.com

The tournament started with a high paced games between Kallio of Finland and Detroit, who turned out to be my favourite American team to watch over the weekend, and from that moment the action never stopped. We were treated to some of the best D1 action, with ferocious walls, gravity defying jammers and world class officiating. It would be impossible to retell it all, you’ll need to watch the footage for that, but special mentions have to go to the Jammer Rotation of Stockholm, with Lil Slinky standing out above the crowd, Helsinki Roller Derby for putting on an amazing show, the aforementioned Detroit who were brilliant despite the bum deal that meant they had to play Gotham 4hours after their opener, and of course to the finalists Denver and Gotham. Denver fought hard and have some amazing skaters, Akers showing why she’s Team USA, and of course we know of Scald and Brawn, but a special shout out to #4 Leah who was dominant on track. Of course the winners were Gotham, who looked lethal on track, a dominating unit who were not feeling the lack of a certain Thunders as Maven, Space Invader, Giles (VRDL transfer) and Short Stop racked up the points, whilst V-Diva and crew dominated the pack. Gotham are on the Hydra Hunt.

Finally you will have noticed I haven’t mentioned Detroit coming up against Gotham four hours after their winning start in game one. Terminal City were the stand out team of the Canadian participants with Arya Ready providing some mean jamming action.

The gold medal match was Denver vs Gotham and as expected Gotham came away with the gold. However Denver put up a fight, the arrival of Scald Eagle and Brawn Swanson has really bolstered their game with Tracey Akers standing out from their roster. However there was no stopping Gotham, they were a disciplined imposing unit all weekend and show no signs of feeling the loss of Thunders. Space Invader, Maven, Giles (VRDL transfer) and Short Stop (MVP) racked up the points whilst Rocy Dallas, V-Diva and Co. dominated opposing walls all weekend. Gotham are on the hydra hunt people.

jon_playoffs
Jon outside the venue in Malmö

However, now we have to talk about THE game of the weekend. Rainy did indeed win their opening game and that meant a 10am Saturday showdown with London Roller Girls London Brawling.

WHAT. A. GAME.

Rainy took the first three leads, Alex Wilde showing why she could just be the best british jammer around right now. They started to stretch their lead, with both teams show wall work to be admired. Ruthless Philly, Faye Roberts, Banshee, Missy Rascal and Fairy Quake were all outstanding, though it is unfair to pick out any one Rainy skater as they were all playing their hearts out. The blocking was so good on both sides that the scores were kept low, but Rainy continued to edge ahead. Could Rainy do it? Could they be the first european team to defeat LRG?

Suddenly there’s a power jam and Rogue Runner put 23 points on the board and then the game is tied 101-101, everyone drink. The game went to the wire and I have no shame in admitting I was screaming myself hoarse looking for the Rainy upset. It came to the final jam, and though Wilde got lead she couldn’t overturn the final 5 points and LRG came away with the win. In all their big game experience showed and lead by the ever phenomenal Kid Block who was a jammer magnet all weekend they progress to Champs along with Gotham, Denver and hosts Crime City. This game was the most nerve wracking experience of roller derby in my life. Between us we cheered ourselves stupid and drank far too much for 10am just to calm the nerves.

21753351_2075346042698558_6075652920642800002_o
KRG amongst the crowd watching the nail biting game of Rainy vs Brawling

Rainy may feel hard done by but they have made so many fans and now find themselves ranked 11th in WFTDA, this from a team ranked 99 in december 2015. The rise of Rainy is something all teams should admire, applaud and be wary of. 2018… the year of Rainy.

Thank you Crime City for an amazing D1 experience. Until the next time.

Brute 66

Kent Roller Girls Head Coach

 

If you’d like to see more photos and info about what happened in this crazy weekend of Roller Derby, see the WFTDA website.

Advertisements

Open Day Stories #4 – Rebecca’s story

KRG are holding our next open day evening on September 3rd at our home track, the Bay Arena in Herne Bay. To celebrate we’ve asked previous open day attendees to tell us their stories…

What (if any) other sports do you play?: Currently none, I used to play Airsoft regularly with my team but haven’t been able too since moving to Canterbury. I do pole fitness and like going to the gym but never got into any other team sports.

How did you find out about KRG?: I saw an advert on Facebook for a home game in Herne Bay, it was the week before the open day so I figured I would go along and check it out.

21039528_10155625397141703_1847509318_n
Rebecca at our last open day (she’s wearing the black helmet in the centre of the frame )

How long did it take you to figure out how the game works?: I would like to say I know how it works after watching a few games and practise runs in training, but I am sure I have lots more rules to learn.

Do you want to be a blocker or a jammer?: Being a blocker seems to be more fun, but I can still barely stop myself, let alone anyone else! I do however like skating at speed, or at least the idea of being able to skate at speed! So I feel I may end up aiming for Jammer.

Is there a story behind your derby name/number?: I wanted to be a Palaeontologist since before I can remember, unfortunately life took a different route but my dinosaur obsession remains. I figured the T-Rex would be the most intimidating dinosaur to use and Beckysaurus Rex sprang to mind, to be shortened to B-Rex. Someone at work suggested the Wrex to be more “intimidating!”.

21013370_10155625397681703_337360423_n
Learning how to fall

Toughest skill you’ve learned/trying to master?: My original skating experience comes from skateboarding, so to have wheels on separately feet was a new experience as they don’t like to work as a team. More recently I have been trying to get skating backwards but my legs just refuse and I am currently relying on gravity!

Were you nervous coming to the open day?: Yes. My anxiety had me sitting in the car for a good few minutes before excitement took over and I decided to go for it. The second I walked through to the changing room I forgot all about my nervousness, and dove in. Loved it ever since, even on wobbly days!

First impressions of KRG?: I honestly wouldn’t be able to pin it down, other than the fact they are patient and full of encouragement. KRG is made up of so many different people, with different skills, abilities and backgrounds.

20988019_10155625397506703_850160393_n
Learning from our A team skaters

What skates/pads do you have/like?: I currently have some second hand Riedells which are great, but I could do with some wider skates so will be looking to upgrade to a wider brand soon.

Any tips for newbies starting their roller derby journey?: Have patience! In yourself, in your kit and in your fellow newbies. You may take to derby straight away, you may not find your inner skater until you have the perfect skates and wheels. Stick with it though, as the simplest changes can make the biggest difference!

 

If you’d like to come along to our next open day, check out the Facebook event or send us an email at recruitment@kentrollergirls.com

Open day stories #3 – Sam’s story

KRG are holding our next open day evening on September 3rd at our home track, the Bay Arena in Herne Bay. To celebrate we’ve asked previous open day attendees to tell us their stories…

Sam’s story:

Hi, I’m Sam and I discovered KRG about a month before I finally plucked up the courage to give it a try myself. I got handed a KRG leaflet during the Fresher’s Fair at the Uni I work for and was instantly intrigued. I googled Roller Derby and ‘bam’ that was it – I knew I wanted to do that too. Trouble was I hadn’t actually skated in years and didn’t know anyone else that wanted to come with me, so, I spent many days and nights hovering over the button on their Facebook event to say I was actually going…

Sunday 23rd October 2016 came around and it was finally the KRG open day – eeekk! My nerves were all over the place and I was so incredibly nervous but filled with so much excitement at the same time. I sat in the car park for a while to pull myself together and then I headed inside. As soon as I walked in I felt the excitement take over and my nerves were pushed to one side. There were skates and cakes everywhere, and lots of chatter among the regular skaters going on, and it was really great to be part of the buzz. I signed in and then sat down with some other newbies waiting for our turn to get ‘kitted up’ and go into the hall.

The other skaters were whizzing around doing lots of cool stuff and I thought to myself – yes! I definitely want to do that, let’s do this!

 

Us newbies were in our own little area of the hall and we started off skates learning how to fall properly – yes, I said falling. This is a really vital basic skill to get right so that’s why it’s the first thing to learn, I fell a lot to start with but that’s the learning process and you have the protective gear on anyway, so I just got back up and tried again. We had a go on the skates too and I didn’t want the session end, it was over way to quickly!

 

sam1
Sam (front, right) taking her place in the wall

I have now been a reccie skater for 9 months (wow time really flies!) and can 100% say that KRG is the most amazing place to be and they are like family. The encouragement, support, laughter, friendships, and team spirit is just wonderful. I come away each Sunday night with a real buzz. I even have my own snazzy skater name and number, yes that’s a thing you get to do and when others skaters use your name you do feel pretty badass. Mine is Glitch #8 (as in Vanellope von Schweetz from Wreck it Ralph).

Each week you practice loads of different skills and sometimes you get to play sock derby. That is the coolest game as you get to play out a mock bout off skates and get to try some jamming and blocking skills in a game scenario, it’s awesome. I have a few more skills to nail and then need to get those laps to reach tryouts. Passing your minimum skills – which includes a rules test and laps, means you can graduate from rec league and enter main league and can go compete in rookie bouts – I know how cool right! I really can’t wait!

sam3
A rabble of reccies!

I am also part of Team NSO. These are the people who help officiate the bouts – non skating officials. We do things like penalty box timing, line up tracking, score keeping and jam timing. A scrim can’t happen without NSO’s and Ref’s so learning to be an official is also a really cool skill to do while in rec league. Plus it really helps with rules test stuff and you get front row seats to the action on track!

I have had the most amazing past 9 months with my new teammates. I’ve travelled to Birmingham for a minimum skills bootcamp with them as well as taking part in a charity event called Walking out of Darkness in London.

sam2
“Skating out of Darkness” in London

Seeing where I am now from those first few training sessions is something I am really proud of.

 

Why not come and join us in KRG and start your amazing skate journey too – it’ll be one of the best decisions you ever make trust me!

Glitch out –xx-

 

If you’d like to come along to our next open day, check out the Facebook event or send us an email at recruitment@kentrollergirls.com

Open day stories #2 – Amy’s story

KRG are holding our next open day evening on September 3rd at our home track, the Bay Arena in Herne Bay. To celebrate we’ve asked previous open day attendees to tell us their stories…

Amy’s story:

“After being with Kent Roller Girls Rec League for the best part of 8 months now, I have confidently come to the conclusion that Roller Derby makes EVERYTHING hurt! So “why join?” you ask? Well, for whatever reason I had decided to watch “Whip It!” with my husband one evening and whilst watching it I decided “yeah, I could have a go at that!”. The reasons in my head being: I can hit hard I reckon. I’d ridiculously forgotten about strapping 8 wheels to my feet and trying to maintain some centre of gravity!
So with that, I then searched Google (other search engines are available) to see if there was a roller derby league near me. There was! KRG. I was really bloody nervous about the open day. I even put off asking about it for maybe two weeks. I’m not fit, I’m a rather large human, a bit rotund I suppose, I get nervous around new people and do an internal fear vomit. But I needed this. I needed something for me. I messaged and do you know what, I’ve never had someone put my fears to bed so quickly. I felt wanted, I felt needed and I didn’t feel ashamed.

amy1
Amy at the open day

Leading up to the open day I was so nervous. I bought myself a cheap mouth guard and was ready to go. It was here, 23rd October 2016. I picked up my buddy and off we went, we both got there, crapping our pants in all honesty. I looked at the windows by the reception for The Bay and there were 3 faces looking out, smiling and genuinely pleased to see us. They came and met us at the door, introduced themselves, said hello and guided us to the sort of “check in” point to sign waivers and kit up.

Kitting up, well…. not being small, I already began to get nervous, count myself out. I remember saying that I could just watch but inside I was dying. But they didn’t give up. They didn’t let me sit out. They told me they needed me. This meant the entire world and after searching and trying on several pads and being disheartened, they found me some that fitted. I didn’t have to sit out, I wasn’t counted out. They’d already won me over.
We went into the hall, there were probably about 15 of us for the open day I attended. We did some warm up stuff, jogging on the spot, stretches, you get the idea. Then we did some off skates skills like how to fall safely with one knee, two knees, falling small. (things like that will make more sense when you come along.) Truth be told, I was already knackered. Things (I cant call them muscles at this point) were burning, I was sweating out. Then came the skates. Everyone else put them on fine, stood up, sure a few people fell or wobbled….ME? I couldn’t even get off the floor. I simply wasn’t fit or strong enough. I was crawling around the floor like an adult baby in all honesty. I could not get up. I was struggling. I was doubting. I was beginning to quit. “I cant do this, maybe I shouldn’t try, why did I come here?” All those feelings of being the fat kid at school who was picked last for P.E were coming back.

Then came Helen. She gave me a pep talk, looked after me, held my hand, literally. She was as determined to get me off the floor as I was.

After many “I can’t do this”-es I was up. I was standing!! (note: don’t get over excited as you will fall on your bloody bum!) I was back on the floor. I was flipping tired. I’d used muscles i didn’t even know I had and they were burning. I got up maybe a couple of more times but I had to admit defeat. However, I felt like I’d had a small victory. Getting up was a massive deal for me.

amy2
Getting ready for a hit

It was time for cake, you will learn, derby = cake. There was all sorts, vegan, non vegan, gluten free, sprinkles! All were made but the existing league members for all us coming along to the open day. There was black and gold bunting, some merch.. I was completely overwhelmed but in the best way. Then us newbies all sat down and they went round and we all introduced ourselves to each other. I felt accepted as I was and completely welcomed.
Scrim time!! WE GOT TO WATCH A SCRIM! This was all very exciting, we got a brief introduction to the rules and who’s who etc. It was great to watch. The gang at KRG are so fierce. So hard working and completely determined. It was inspiring to watch.
I went home, sunk into my sofa already wishing it was next sunday…30 minutes later I went to get up… EVERYTHING HURT! I had butt ache?!! I didn’t even know that was a thing, I had aches on aches on aches. I made weird noises when I sat down, i couldn’t get up… This went on for 3 days so take this as a warning! However when Sunday came around, I wasn’t nervous anymore, I was so excited. We got there, we were remembered, kitted up and put into groups depending on level so no-one is asked to do anything out of their level…
Now remember I said I couldn’t get off the floor? Well, inevitably I fell, managing to stay upright for 30 seconds was brilliant but now I was down, I needed to get back up! You know what!? I only went and did it! I got off the bloody floor!!

 

With the support and guidance of all the coaches, main leaguers, other reccies and my new little family, I am actually half way through my level 2 minimum skills.

 

There are 3 tiers of skill levels you need to pass before you can try out for the team. I never even thought I’d make it through level 1!

amy3
A well deserved award for Amy

If you’re looking for something that will test you, emotionally and physically, because doing things out of your comfort level is hard. If you’re looking to make new friends who will have your back, push you, look after you when you’re having a bad day. If you’re looking for something to do whenever you can fit it in or want something to completely commit to. Roller Derby is definitely for you. It is one of the best things I have ever, ever done and it’s changed so much about me for the positive. Not just my mind or my attitude, but most brilliantly of all: It gives you a cracking bum! Come along and try it out!”

 

If you’d like to come along to our next open day, check out the Facebook event or send us an email at recruitment@kentrollergirls.com

Open day stories #1 – Rachel’s story

KRG are holding our next open day evening on September 3rd at our home track, the Bay Arena in Herne Bay. To celebrate we’ve asked previous open day attendees to tell us their stories…

Rachel’s story:

“I’d been aware of roller derby as a concept for a while, but had assumed it was largely an American sport and dismissed it as a possibility. After seeing an advert for another UK team in the programme at an NFL game in London, my interest was piqued, and following a bit of internet searching, I came across Kent Roller Girls. They had an open day coming up, so I decided I’d go along. I’d done a lot of sport growing up, and did fencing whilst at University, but since moving down to Kent for work five years ago I had become quite sedentary.

I went to the open day alone, and was quite nervous. I’m not the fittest, or most athletically built, and was worried that I wouldn’t fit in, or would be judged for my appearance and ability. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

rachel3
Rachel (in the green helmet) at the open day

From the moment I stepped into the gym, I was greeted by friendly faces, everyone seemed welcoming and genuinely wanted to help and share their sport with all the newbies. After getting kitted up, we started off by learning how to fall safely, then progressed to basic skating skills. It struck me how varied all the other skaters were, and also how they all seemed to be smiling and encouraging one another. No one was left behind, and everyone was encouraged to participate as fully as they felt they could. After skating, we had a discussion about roller derby, and everyone introduced themselves.

There was then a chance to watch the main league skaters scrimmage, which gave us our first taste of Roller Derby action. I was hooked.

 

Fast forward four months, and I can’t believe how much skating has changed my life. I’m still not the most athletic, but I have a stronger core, better muscles, and I feel much more confident about my appearance than I have done in years. I’m signing off skills regularly, am half a lap short of my ‘27 in 5’, and am looking forward to working more on hits and blocking skills.

rachel1
Lacing up the skates for the first time

I’m improving my stamina by skating as much as I can in my spare time, which is improving my fitness in other areas too. I’d like to progress to main league, and get involved in the B team as soon as possible.

I’d like to become a bit of a double threat, as both a blocker and a jammer.

 

I’ve met so many like-minded people since joining KRG, and made many lifelong friends. I’m getting involved in the social aspects too, attending events, promoting the league, and supporting our team at games whenever I can.

I’m also learning to NSO, which is helping me learn the rules of derby. I’ve also picked my derby name. I’m Grazed Anatomy #133, after the TV show, but apt because in ‘real life’ I’m a veterinary surgeon (I also fall over a lot, so the ‘grazed’ applies more than it should!). My number is a tribute to my Mum, who was always my biggest supporter.

rachel2
Loving a bit of sock derby during a Recreational League training session

The thing I think has struck me most about KRG though, is the sense of camaraderie between the members. Everyone supports one another, and we all celebrate each other’s successes. After every training session, people thank the coaches, and congratulate other skaters on their achievements. No one is too busy to offer pointers, or lend a hand if needed. The league motto ‘Hustle, Unite, Commit’ definitely applies.”

If you’d like to come along to our next open day, check out the Facebook event or send us an email at recruitment@kentrollergirls.com

Kent Roller Girls; seven years old and still going strong.

Ever wanted to know how to set up a roller derby league that will still be going from strength to strength seven years later? Well, I did, so I spoke to Demi Lition, the founding member of the Kent Roller Girls as they celebrate the league’s 7th Birthday this weekend.

So, can you tell me a bit about the story of how Kent Roller Girls came to be? What made you decide to go for it in the first place and how many people turned up for the first practice? 

I started skating in summer 2008 with Leeds Roller Dolls and moved back down south in late 2009. Stubbornness / stupidity meant that I refused to leave LRD and continued travelling back up every Sunday for a 2 hour practice so I could stay with my team! I managed around 6 months of the 500 mile round trip before I realised that I was just spending way too much time and money when I could just transfer to a closer league. Initially, I was going to transfer to London Rollergirls and started attending their sessions but realised quite quickly that I wouldn’t be able to make enough sessions to ever be able to skate for them, so starting a team in Kent was the only way to carry on playing.

Demi jamming for KRG in the 2017 British Championships.

In May 2010 I set up a Facebook group thinking that maybe within 6 months I would have enough interest to start looking at halls and I’d have a load of time to start figuring out how the hell you start a roller derby league! A couple of people had attempted starting leagues in Kent before but had never got past the “setting up a Facebook page” stage. Within 24 hours I had 400 likes and 30 people message me and it all became a little more urgent! Luckily the guys at The Pier Sports Centre in Herne Bay were on board with me hiring their hall for this crazy sport they’d never heard of and we managed to set a start date! The sports centre hosted a lot of skating events already and had their own skate shop along with tonnes of hire skates so we ended up in the best place possible!

The first session we had 17 people, possibly only 2 of which had been able to skate already. No one really had any idea of what roller derby was and I’d never done any sort of coaching before (or really spoken in front of groups of people before) but we all muddled along and people got hooked!

One of the Kent Roller Girls first training sessions back in 2010

Obviously there’s not much in terms of money and funding out there for roller derby, so what do you think has enabled the league to keep going for the last seven years?

In the early days a lot of the hall hire came out of my own pocket (and the pockets of other people in the league) as our numbers were never consistent and we couldn’t always cover the cost of training. We held a lot of fundraisers in the early days to make sure that wasn’t a problem for too long (and to pay everyone back!) and that really helped us to keep going. These days its mostly monthly dues that are covering all costs and helping us grow the league. Continual recruitment and regular open days have really helped keep those numbers up!

We always have plans to grow the league though so we’re always looking to raise more through home games, merch sales, fundraisers and sponsorships. It’s a never-ending quest!

How important has it been for KRG to set up a rec league?

The formation of the Rec League has been crucial in keeping KRG running and bringing up new skaters into the main team. We used to have a fresh meat programme which put a very limited time period on when you had to pass your skills by and if you didn’t, you had to wait until the beginning of the next one. The Rec League lets everyone progress at their own pace and its less pressure then having to pass within a certain time. And if you have no interest in playing full roller derby and just fancy learning skating skills every so often, its there for you too!

The Kent Roller Girls Rec League teaches the basics of skating and roller derby and is open to complete beginners.

Our Rec guys are the most enthusiastic, supportive group of people I have ever met and I love seeing their progress each week. They cheer on each other’s achievements, pick each other up when they’re down and are the best support system for each of our members. They’re all awesome!

What are you most proud of looking back over the last seven years of KRG?

This is always a difficult question, because there is just so much that we’ve achieved. Being promoted to Tier 2 in British Champs last year was amazing, and there have been a lot of games we have surprised people on. I do always look back at our first game and am amazed that we actually got to a place where we looked like we knew what we were doing! We were out there and we were playing roller derby!

Mostly I’m proud of the fact that we have managed to get 100s of people on skates! People who may not have ever thought about playing a team sport and who may not have exercised in years are taking this sport seriously and looking to be the best they can. And they’re doing a bloody ace job of it!

How do you think roller derby has changed in the years since KRG first began?

Ha! So much has changed! Roller derby is being considered as way more of a sport these days, less about the spectacle of girls in fishnets beating the crap out of each other. These skaters are athletes. They train harder than ever before and the level of derby and athleticism these days is incredible!

The rules have obviously changed a huge amount – no more minors, knee starts, poodling, two whistles (and trying to drag out that 2nd whistle) – and we all learned how to actually slow the game down instead of just whizzing around hoping to hit someone!

What would you like to see for the league in the next seven years?

Apart from world domination, that answer will always involve the word “Warehouse”! I would love for the league to have their own home. Somewhere we can base everything and skate whenever we like! I think it’s achievable within that time, but it’s just going to take a lot of hard graft!

Having our own home would mean we get to run a lot more beginners skate sessions and introduce so many more people to a life on 8 wheels!

If you would like to join Kent Roller Girls or possibly even buy us a warehouse then do drop us an email at recruitment@kentrollergirls.com. You can also follow us on Facebook, just click here to get through to our page and give us a ‘like’ to stay updated or follow us on Instagram.

KRG presents CartoonAPalooza – Skaters wanted!!!

Kent Roller Girls are proud to present CartoonAPalooza, a Rookie Women’s Sevens Tournament – 26th August, 10am–7pm at the Bay Sports Arena, Herne Bay.

18949049_10158664246725184_981309345_o
Six 90s cartoon themed teams made up of seven skaters each go head to head… there can only be one winner!

We are inviting rookie skater’s to join us on track to take part in this awesome event. All players are guaranteed 3 games, the entry requirement is that you are rookie level (eg. played 0-7 bouts) and are minimums skilled passed.

Tickets are £20 each (includes the price of your team shirt) and will be available from our online store from 9am, Friday 9th June.

Want to come and watch this exciting event? Spectator tickets will be coming soon – keep your eyes out here and on our Facebook page for details!!!