Monday, September 1, 2014

Fresh Meat Experiences


Parts of our current Fresh Meat Class. Top: Portia, Bobbijean, Front: Maya, Annie, Denise, Simone, John, Courtney.

For many skaters, the Fresh Meat program is a terrifying experience. Try-outs and that first day of practice are very much like that first day in High School. You are standing around with other freshies, feeling rather unsure of yourself, but having heard of it before, or read about it. You might know someone who has been there for a while, but since they are “upper classmen” you will not mingle with them for a while, and are left to try to find your own way in this crazy new world. The first week is always rough, filled with new people, new environments and sore brains (muscles, in derby). You wonder what the hell you have gotten yourself into, you feel confused, overwhelmed and those scary SATs (assessments) everyone is already talking about already thinking about and preparing for feel like an insurmountable, terrifying hurdle you will never be ready for. First week of derby feels almost exactly the same way, only you had to go to high school, you CHOSE derby. For some insane reason, you decided that voluntarily working yourself to death, smelling like a dead skunk and falling on your ass twenty times in a practice was a good idea. Many others will think you have lost your mind.

The thing is though, for those of us who have gone through fresh meat, it was one of the best decisions of our lives. Yes, it is smelly and incredibly difficult, but you make friendships to last you a lifetime and become stronger, physically and mentally and you learn to do things you never thought was possible. This week, to give you an insight into the world of fresh meat, we asked our current fresh meat class about their experiences. This is what they said:

Portia: I grew up spending my Friday night & Saturday nights at Rol-A-Rink in High Point. It’s where some of my favorite memories are just hanging out with friends, playing video game like frogger, donkey kong, pole position, drinking suicide drinks, grilled cheese sandwiches with a hershey’s bar melted in it, trying to get put in the penalty box so you could make out with boyfriend, staying up for the “all night skate”… Once I got to high school it wasn’t cool to go skating anymore, so I stored my skates in my old purple skates case loaded with 80’s hair band name in it. My skates come down very rarely for a kid’s skating birthday party and it always made me smile. Last year one of best friends tried out for the Charlotte Roller Girls team, I didn’t even know roller derby existed. Over the past year I cheered her on trying to make the team and kept up with her posts about it. She was having so much fun and making new friends, so I decided to swallow my fears and try out for the Greensboro Roller Derby. Fresh Meat try outs was a scary day full of doubts. I was really afraid I’d be the oldest one and make a fool out of myself. Turns out I wasn’t the only one that felt that way and there were others over 40 and 50 years old, Thank God! So I strap on my old skates, which by now are pushing 30 years themselves, and hit track. We’re asked to skate around and do little drills. I realize quickly this is nothing like skating at the Rol-A-Rink and how did I get so tired so fast? I can do most of what they’re asking, it’s not pretty, but I’m hanging in there. After we skate around and finish the drills we’re given the good news and the bad news. We passed!?! I’m nervous, happy and scared to death all at once. After fresh meat try outs I hung around to help with 2 scrimmage bouts. Wow! I can’t believe what I’m watching. I’m in a new world, I feel lost and excited at the same time. They look fierce and intimating! The longer I’m there the more comfortable I feel. All the girls are friendly, even the opposing teams are nice to each other. I’m in my 7th week now of fresh meats. I’m getting better and enjoying this new adventure. But my favorite thing about derby, is the new friends I’ve made that I probably would have never met!

Bobbijean: I had been watching Roller Derby for two years, and from the first time, I saw it, I knew it was something I wanted to do . . . I had to do. When my life took a dramatic scheduling change and time opened up and my husband and children cheered me on, I knew the time had arrived. When I showed up to try-outs I had only been on roller skates maybe 10 times before. I am not athletic or tough and tryouts alone nearly killed me. But I was committed. I am still committed. Once training started, I was sure I was going to die. One night I dry heaved for about 20 mins in the grass, only to get back in the warehouse to skate again and then run into the bathroom to actually vomit, then got back on the track. Did I mention I am not athletic or tough? I am really not. But I lay in bed at night and I dream about walking into the warehouse and them showing me a skill and when I try that skill, I am amazing. This dream keeps me coming back to training. I am sure that there is something out there that I will learn and it will click and I will be amazing. So far the closest I got was when we learned to “slalom.” I could feel my body click and find the rhythm needed to do this. It only took three tries and I had shaved off nearly a full second from my first time. I then ended my third and most glorious attempt with a failed plow stop and injured my tailbone. People outside Derby and outside my home are amazed when I tell them I am planning on going back once I heal. It’s hard for me to explain that at my age this is the first time I have spent quality time with my body. I don’t know my body. I don’t trust it and I don’t have any idea of what it is capable of. At first I wanted to do Derby because it looked amazing and I had such high esteem for the women I watched play it. I am still star struck, like a little girl, by all of them, even my friend who started playing last year. My reasons for wanting to play now are still those but all something different too. I want to play now because I like how I feel when I am doing it. I like the culture of body acceptance. I like these dates I go on with my stranger body, where we get to know each other for the first time. It’s hard! It’s so hard, like dry heave, vomit hard and everything I have ever done or tried to do has come easy to me, because I am outgoing, hardworking and friendly. The track doesn’t care how outgoing and friendly I am. It just wants me for my skills and my hard work. I respect that. I want to give the track that and the little girl in me still gets giddy when I think about being a teammate with all of these super stars.

Maya - Acceptance. That’s how I can describe GSORD. From the 1st day of freshmeat training they accept anyone straight, gay, white, black, purple, green, blue. That’s a plus because you can’t find that anywhere else. You get to meet people from all walks of life. It’s a great experience. I am still a beginner skater and fresh meat is 50% physical and 50% mental. Weaknesses I have are my backwards skating ability is nonexistent and my speed. What I can say is last fresh meat I couldn’t even do crossovers or any of the basic skills. Committing and working towards getting better and getting better at a skill is bitter sweet. It’s taken me a year of roll a bout and skate land trips and falling down. I never played a sport growing up, I was a theatre kid. You have coaches, vet skaters, others in fresh meat that push you to your abilities that make you a better skater and a better person. I’m currently in my second round of fresh meat and I won’t give up I love the sport and the people involved and still have so much to learn!! I like that its always changing it makes it fun and exciting. It helps you off the track as well I mean I have killer legs now and a nice bum. It’s also interesting to see how this sport is evolving and to be part of this is amazing. When I tell anyone I’m in fresh meat they will say oh so you are beating people up and it’s the exact opposite this sport is involving this not an act we are all athletes I mean there is so much necessary training to prepare you. I say we want you! If you’re looking to be a part of something that will change your life on and off the court to definitely come out. Everyone’s accepted and that’s pretty damn fantastic. I’ve pushed my body to breaking points. Derby effects the mind body and soul. I still have a long way to go as an athlete. Attitude is a key thing. In my first fresh meat class believe me if I say I can’t do the 27/5 I’m not going to get it. If I say I can’t learn to tomahawk stop or backwards crossover I will fall and that’s that. I’ve changed my attitude to I will learn this, I can do this

Denise - Me, being a Freshie has given me such positive experience carrying over to other parts of my life. For me it has come later in my life but most perfectly because I can be dedicated and focused! I skated back in the 70s and had a Dyno-Mite 8 track of Boston that I skated to in my garage! Cemented floor. Then it was roller disco! I always wanted to try derby. I love most about derby is the vets dedication to teach us something that we so admire. For me it's living a dream. And each member of the team is there to make you stronger! I'm still struggling getting a good plow stop. I love derby so much I would practice every day, I'd die but... Lol. Freshies need to condition our body like an athlete would which means on off days to workout doing something you like. I treadmill. For another person it could be yoga... But you can't take for granted the benefit of good health! I love that the vets push limits! They work my ass back in shape I haven't seen it in 20 years for real! I have total butt envy. On a more serious note I think it can empower young girls athletically! There are strong woman in derby! Thick strong women! I hope young girls are empowered by seeing strength in numbers of all sizes and ages. Derby has no limits other than what you place on it for yourself! I love it so much! I also know it has made me mentally stronger. It is a real adrenaline rush at times also! An amazing sport!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Derby Gift Guide

People!  The holidays are upon us!  Or they're like three months away.  But anyway, there's no time like the present to start thinking about presents.  And people have birthdays all year round, of course, so I'm sure you've been stressing about what to get for that special derby enthusiast in your life.  Never fear!  Greensboro Roller Derby is here to help.

via rhodyart
First up, you'll need a card.  Etsy has millions, including the one featuring that classy dame to the left.  Come to think of it, Etsy is a superb place to look for a derby-themed gift.

Several sellers make cool cufflinks or jewelry from skate bearings.

For the more practical gift-giver, check out these toe guards to protect skates, arm band numbers, or a handy-dandy (and customizable!) skate leash.

And woah, can you beat these awesome custom portraits?  No,  you cannot.  Wicked.
Got a board gamer on your list?  Jammer Up is a board game based on the rules of modern derby!
The crafty derbylover deserves a nice selection from this collection of Roller Derby-themed fabric.
And for the bookish brawler there's Down and Derby.  (Reviewed on this blog here.)

And THE SHIRTS.  You can never go wrong with a shirt, eh?  Here are just a few of my personal favorites:


You can buy those bad boys here, here, and here.  (If you find that The World is Flat one for sale somewhere, please let me know so I can link up!)

But really, we all know that the coolest and best shirt is one that represents your own league.  Come to our next double-header on September 27th and stop by the merch table to see our beeeeeautiful offerings, especially those featuring our new Counterstrike logo!  If you just can't wait that long (and who could blame you?) you can order a home team or GSORD shirt online here.

Here's another idea: Take advantage of the Living Social deal going on for our September bout and treat that deserving loved one to a night of fast-paced, hard-hitting sportswomanship.

And if you really are thinking about holiday gifts already, consider the gift that keeps on giving: 2015 season passes!  Stay tuned here, on facebook, and at our bouts for more info about Season Passes.

Really, though, if you're lucky enough to have a player or ref or NSO in your family or circle of friends, your support is a GREAT GIFT!  Come to our events, support our fundraisers, ask questions about the rules and practices and stuff.  Tell us how much you love watching us play/ref/carry a clipboard.  We are easy to please and we love you!

Monday, August 4, 2014

4 teams, 2 incredible bouts, 1 very low price







Arrrrggghhhhh ya ready? This Saturday, Aug. 9, we will be putting on a double header with two travel teams coming to Greensboro and playing our A and B teams in an epic pirate themed showdown. First you will be treated to Greensboro Counterstrike’s first bout EVER! This is our new B-team, comprised from skaters from our three home teams, led by Sigourney Cleaver and C. Oswin. They will be taking on Daville Vixens Roller Girls from Fayetteville, NC. Also, check out what the Counterstrikers are wearing! Would you like to be wearing the same logo? Then head over to the merchandise table and check out the new Counterstrike shirts. 



Buster Licious and Betty Switch by Frayed Edge Concepts
The second bout will be one you don’t want to miss! Fresh from a spectacular victory against Richland County Regulators in South Carolina, our Gate City All-Stars will be challenging the Carolina Rollergirls from Raleigh, NC. We recently had a closed scrimmage against CRG, and both teams are eager for a re-match in front of a packed audience. Carolina Rollergirls is currently ranked 85th in the WFTDA official rankings and Gate City is ranked 155th. This is also Betty Switch and Buster Licious’ first appearance as the new captains of Gate City! We all know they are going to be incredible in the positions. 



 


As mentioned, this is going to be a pirate themed bout! Be sure to come decked out in in your finest pirate gear and win some sweet prizes during half time! Also, this time, you have a chance to get not one bout against a travel team, but TWO! And to make it even better, you can get it for half the price of our regular bouts. Yes, that’s right, twice the excitement, half the price! Check out this sweet Living Social deal, which can also be used for our September 27th bout. Prices at the door will be $10 for adults, $5 for kids and children 7 and below get in for free! But seriously, you should definitely be taking advantage of our Living Social deal.
 







So what’s new with merchandise? Well, with a new team comes new merch! We have the new t-shirts with the new Counterstrike logo and also buttons and cozies! Watch out for the sweet Counterstrike package deal we will be offering; a Counterstrike t-shirt, button, coozie and a GSORD sticker for only $18. So show your new travel team some love and support and stop by the merch table! As per requested, we have also brought in Gate City coozies. Coozies can be bought for $3 or two for $5! We will obviously also have our regular merchandize, which includes the awesome poster pictured here above for $3. Older posters from every single previous bout are also available at the same low price. Our friendly merch team will be happy to help you with whatever you need! 


Image by Andrea Ros


The proceeds from the bout will benefit Partners for Healthy Youth. The bout will be held at the Coliseum as usual, in the Special Events Center East Wing, Hall C. Parking will be very busy this weekend due to other events at the Coliseum, so be sure to arrive early! The doors will open at 5, with first whistle at 6. Our second bout is estimated to begin around 7:30.  You cannot afford to miss the incredible deal we are offering and four great teams taking each other on. It will be the hottest place in town, so be sure to be there!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Derby Names

There are a lot of things about roller derby that we find ourselves explaining again and again:
NO, we don't elbow/punch/trip/bite each other;
YES, we wear protective gear;
NO, we don't get paid to do this;
YES, the game has actual rules.

But there is one thing that many people already seem know about from the get-go: Derby Names.  So if you've ever imagined yourself in any kind of roller derby capacity, you've probably visited the "what would my name be?" rabbit hole thought loop.

Gate City with names on display

In the earlier days of derby, every new skater had to choose an absolutely unique name.  You'd come up with something awesome and clever, then check the twoevils list to see whether it was already taken, then go back to the drawing board.  If a new player's desired name was even deemed "too similar" to that of an established player anywhere in the world, she would have to come up with something else.  Nowadays, roller derby is just too big for such formalities.  You can take your brilliant name idea to Derby Roll Call or just google it ("Tori Famous Roller Derby", "Holy Hanna Roller Derby", "Keira Fightley Roller Derby", etc.)  to see if there's already a player with the same or a very similar name.  If so, you can contact him/her to ask permission to share the name.  Generally it's not a problem if you live in different regions of the U.S., but it's still polite to ask.

Many skaters aren't keen on sharing a name, and it's no wonder.  This is a big decision, an identity marker you choose for yourself, and something that many of us put some thought into.  Take, for instance, this Greensboro Counterstrike captain:

C. Oswin
"I am a big nerd and a huge Doctor Who fan. Clara Oswin Oswald is one of the most recent companions to the Doctor and is one of my absolute favorites. I wanted to find a name that was unique, but still reflected who I was. I picked C. Oswin as a homage to Clara, and also realized that if you say it fast enough, it sounds like “See us win”. I did my research and found no-one else with a similar name in the derby world. My real first name also stars with a C. I almost picked Elli Smash&Dashwood for Elinor Dashwood of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, however, we already have an Ellie (Ellie Mae Crammit) and I wanted to avoid confusion. Apparently Grandmaster Bash desperately wanted to call me Ozzy when I got drafted to the Mad Dollies, however, most people call me Winnie."

Pants.
Like Winnie, almost every player has a derby nickname.  Just as most people aren't casually called by their full first and last names, teammates tend to shorten each other's names for easier communication on the track.  Your team's natural tendency towards abbreviation is another thing to consider when you're choosing a name.  Sure, Sisyphus might be a sweet derby name, but do you really want your pivot yelling "SISSY!!!" on the track?  Ok, maybe you do.  It's something to think about.  Of course, you can avoid the whole thing if you choose something short and sweet and awesomely original, like Pants.



A few other things to think about: 
-Do you want your name to be accessible to the general public or would you rather be known by some clever wink-wink-nod-nod jargon?  Having to explain your derby name does get old, but having a name that perfectly suits you is so satisfying that it might be worth it.   
-Swears can make you sound pretty tough and wicked.  But do you think you might want to be more mainstream?  Will you want to be on the news, where a name that isn't family friendly might not be welcome?  And you might have to tell your name, with a straight face, to your grandma and your nieces and nephews.  (Of course, thoughts about this vary from league to league.  Here at GSORD we tend to keep the names fairly clean.)
-Don't choose a name that is too similar to a famous skater!  You really don't want to be known as Suzy Hotbod in the derby world.

So what's your derby name gonna be?  Give us your short list!