By Manic Panic :: All Star jammer, Dutch Mens’ Team coach & all-round power house!
I’d never played a tournament before…
It was December 2015, and I played my very first roller derby game with the B.ADD girls. Since February of this year I have had the honor of playing with the All Stars and have played three games with them so far. It was very different than the games I had played with the B.ADD girls. Stronger Things Tournament, hosted by Lille Roller Derby was going to be my very first tournament and I was so excited and nervous. What do I take? What do I eat? How do I prepare?
Our first game on the Saturday was against Zurich Roller Derby. I had never seen them play before and was eager to see what they could do. Since we have a lot of jammers, I was on the bench for this game, but still on skates and ready in case I was needed. It was so early that morning, up at 7, be ready at the hall for off skates on time because our first game was at 10 a.m. Ssoooo sleepy, but there we were, ready for that first game.
The first jam is always the most nerve-wracking but we still managed to grab the lead! You might think it frustrating to be sitting on the bench for the first game, but there’s something nice about actually being able to observe your teammates for a while. I could see how they deal with offence or really fast jammers, consequently I could help my fellow jammers by supporting them and telling them they were doing great. Also, stupid as this may sound, it was kind of nice that there was no pressure on me. My teammates were doing amazing and won by nearly 100 points!!! A great start to this tournament and now we had several hours to chill out, talk things through, eat and watch the competition.
Our second game was going to be against Vienna Roller Derby. Lucky for us they had another game against Zurich, so we could see how they played and see who their strongest players were. Oh wow… that number 23, such a strong skater, look at her back muscles… how am I ever going to play against her? There were some very inspirational skaters on track and my palms were getting so sweaty. With one jammer suffering from a cold and another hurting her knee, it was going to come down to a three jammer rotation for this game: Bruise Li, Boney Bragger and myself. Luckily we had some blockers that could help out with jamming just in case. ARD vs. Vienna Roller Derby, third jam was my first one, had I eaten too little or too much, I wasn’t sure. My blockers were amazing holding their jammer back! I kept pushing and kept skating and at the end of that jam I had a sore throat and 22 points! Did I just do that? It was so awesome to have our supporters there cheering for us and at the end of that game we had another win.
Day 2: my poor arm, my poor shoulder, my poor back… And I wasn’t the only person saying that. “That’s normal for a tournament” I heard someone say. It was Sunday, so happy we could sleep in this time, get some breakfast, pack our stuff and just take it easy. Our game was going to be the final game of the day at 4 p.m. against Toulouse B, I was so nervous. People told me just do what I did yesterday, I hoped I was able to. These teams had such strong tripod formations, I felt like I was lost without my offence. Every jam again I sat with my line and asked where they were going to wall up and who was going to be my offence. Sometimes I got stuck for what felt like forever. One jam I didn’t even get through at all, it was so frustrating and I was so exhausted, I didn’t even know what to do anymore. It really helped to have calm teammates on the bench after that, telling me to shake it off and focus on the next one. And before I knew it there it was, the final jam! We won! This was so exciting I couldn’t believe what just happened, I couldn’t stop smiling. I kept saying it to my teammates, I can’t believe we won the tournament!!!! I was so proud of us and can’t wait to do this all over again in November at our next tournament in Belguim.