By Whippin Red Siren :: the fierce jammer ARD has been so lucky to gain.

October my first month as a member of Amsterdam Roller Derby (ARD) and I was trying to settle in to my new league. The transition itself went rather smoothly, with Rotterdam Roller Derby (RRD) waving me off with the loveliest of presents – money towards new boots, soon to be mounted on the Boss plates from Mota, which I won in a Facebook competition. Amsterdam welcomed me in their trainings with open arms. I had envisioned a smooth and propelling transition and it was becoming a reality.

Photo credit: NSP 189

During my decision to step up my game through a transfer to ARD, I worried about my body needing to deal with a higher level of gameplay. What if my body fails me? What if my knees can’t do it? October also meant my 45th birthday, so what if I am too old to handle it? These were not encouraging thoughts, and my body did start to fail a little. I busted my head against my team mate’s shoulder blade and had to skip a few trainings to heal. That’s when I realized I had to change my thinking and imagine myself successfully prepared for my first tournament with the ARD Allstars. Skate Around in Namur, Belgium.

Since we were going with only 11 skaters, I needed to be on top of my game mentally and also physically to keep it together. I knew how to prepare myself to make it happen.

Even though I am the new skater in the group, the team members aren’t all new to me. I have announced their games before, I have skated with half of them in team Netherlands, I have called some of them my friends for 7 years already. These factors made it a lot easier to become a part of the existing structure.

The practicalities of a new team in another city have appeared to be more challenging. Traveling the distance to training, different wheels for different locations, coming home after midnight after struggling on a train with a foldable bike. But also getting a uniform – not matching yet, temporary shirt arrived 1,5 hour before leaving for the tournament. Catching a ride to Belgium from another city – a flat tire, traffic jams creating delays and waiting in the wrong place. Late night WFTDA-patch stitching in a  hotel bar. Causing other people stress for getting me on the right WFTDA charter – I didn’t make it into the bout book and the game roster had to be adjusted an hour before our first game. My name didn’t make it onto the scoreboard that first game!

Photo: @blastart

10.30 Everything worked out and I was ready to play. Wheels adjusted to the slippery floor. Wearing my pink team shirt with pride (if you know me, you know my feelings about pink!). The head coach, captains and the jammer coach – first time experiencing a jammer coach – gave us speeches for that last jolt of motivation. It was one of the rare times I did not line up behind the jammer line for the very first jam.

Our opponent, Albany Allstars Roller Derby, was the first ever American opponent for ARD. Nobody really knew what to expect from them, but there was a good chance of mis-ranking, so we had a chance to win.

Third jam Bruise Li and Bony Bragger have already put points on the board and now it was my turn. Full of fire I busted through their walls time after time, while my blockers kept their jammer in the pack. To my surprise I scored 28 points and set a mark to beat for the other jammers.

We got lead 100% of the time. The blockers kept the other jammers from scoring, almost 100% of the time. Three points were given away…… by me. In the very last jam Bony scored 30 amazing points. Point wise it was a big lead, but we definitely connected with Albany. Hugs & congrats were warm and respectful.

End score Albany 3 – 575 Amsterdam

During our three game resting period I took an energizing nap in the coach’s car. I joined my team in connecting with Albany during their game against Namur. Yelling support to help them play their best roller derby. But of course also checking what kind of competition Namur could be in the last game of the day 😉 Checking and seeing a much smaller point differential. I learned about what wins and losses would do to our rankings and the ambition to win it all.

End score Albany 45 – 363 Namur

19.30 Meeting the tournament host on track means a home audience. But we had Albany. Right across from the rowdy Namur crowd, we had our new friends cheer for us. I needed a few jams to get into it – adjusted my mental game – but for the most of it, I felt like my game was on fire. I fought some hard battles against steady walls, but I also pulled off some really nice moves that are quite new to my repertoire. The blockers were showing amazing work, the team was doing it. We won the game and we won the pool, which meant the final game for first place the next day against Madrid.

End score Namur 101 – 264 Amsterdam

Thank you all involved, for making this possible! Photo credit: NSP 189

they lost their third game and they took it gracefully. They won us as fans instead. When you make new friends it’s a lot easier to buy their merch! Both teams were seen wearing each other’s logo’s! And Albany sure showed their support during the final. Running with the pink flag along the straight. Even though we had a relaxed morning, we made sure to cheer on Albany in the first game on Sunday. Although

15.30 Third game with Amsterdam. I still don’t have to start first. I bust and dodge, I push and duck. We start pretty tight. We fight a little harder. The penalties are plentiful for both teams. Nevertheless the blockers contain and reform to the frustration of their victims. The jammers twist and twirl their hips past the opponent. Points go on the board. Audience members have lost their voices a long time ago. Amsterdam takes the win.

End score Madrid 98 – 282 Amsterdam

ARD scored a total of 1121 points in the tournament with 202 points against. Three of those, my first points to give away as an Amsterdam Allstar, will always be remembered as a present. Albany Allstars, you are in my heart for always.

This was a fabultastic debut for me. I played fairly clean: 1-2-2 penalties. My body survived it beautifully. I know I bring value to these games. My new team feels like home now.

Just as I envisioned it.