I’ve been out with an injury the last month. I was skating backwards during scrimmage practice, lost my footing, fell on my wrist and fractured it. When the doctor was fitting me for a cast, the first thing that crossed my mind was, “Great. Now I won’t be able to play roller derby for a while.” Instead of crying about it, I decided that while I couldn’t be on skates, I would focus my attention on the game, the rules, off-skates exercises, and giving support and feedback to my teammates.
What was one of the most inspiring moments for me (and no doubt for the rest of my league!) was when Punchy O’ Guts came all the way up from Portland to guest coach for us! I am a huge, huge fan of this woman. She is one of the founders of Maine Roller Derby in Portland, and has since retired to become a writer and guest coach for leagues across the country and even Canada and Australia! She has skated with all the greatest players of our sport including Smarty Pants, Sarah Hipel, Carmen Getsome, Quadzilla, and so many others. Punchy teaches at derby clinics and is so involved and knowledgeable in the sport that she made it a career choice. Whenever Punchy is hosting a clinic, skaters go out of their way to be there. She has a way of coaching that makes you feel confidence in yourself, trust in your teammates, and this willingness to learn and improve as a unit.
On Sunday, November 3rd, Punchy came to visit and we haven’t been the same since! We got right to work on defensive strategies and partnerships. Or I should say, my team got right to work. While they had their skates and gear on, I was geared up with pen and paper at the ready. Before every drill, we’d meet in the middle of the track so Punchy could explain it and left room for questions. I wrote everything down. She’d blow the whistle and everyone would erupt with such energy! They’d switch places, wall up, keep the jammer back, someone would spin around to brace the wall from moving forward, a hole would be made, someone would fill it in, and the jammer would not get through. It was like watching magic happen! After that first drill, we all met in the middle of the track again to discuss what just happened. Smiles were on every single face! Most of the girls were out of breath, but patiently waiting their turn to make a comment.
Punchy had us build more and more onto each drill, and by the end of our four-hour practice, my team applied everything they learned into scrimmage. It was phenomenal to watch! I learned so much from the center, and it really helped me to better understand the game. I feel like the skaters all bonded with each other on another level that really built the solidarity that we needed as a team. The best part about having Punchy O’ Guts at our practice to teach was that she left us all wanting more – and good for us, because she’s coming back! How cool is that? What’s more, my fracture has healed and I’ll get to join my team in all of the roller derby action!