Hannah WillKillSome

The Nine Month Injury: Thoughts on Roller Derby and Pregnancy

Written by Hannah WillKillSome

Disclaimer: This piece is about personal experience.  It should not be considered advice, as everyone is different.

Hey all, soooo…  I’m out of derby on 9 month injury leave.  That’s right, I’m pregnant.  When I found out, one of my thoughts was, “What about derby?  I’m rostered for a couple games!”  So I got on Google and searched for info on what was okay to do and not do.  I was able to find a bit of information on contact sports and general fitness, but it was really hard to find information on derby.  I found a few people’s posts in random message boards.  Some women stopped skating right away.  One said she skated right until the end!  Some played games while pregnant, others didn’t.  Because I was only 5 weeks along at that point, I decided that I’d be okay to skate until I saw my doctor at the end of the week.  I let my captain and coaches know that I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to play in the upcoming games, but didn’t tell her why at that point.  I told them I’d know at the end of the week.  I looked up my league’s policy on pregnancy, and it basically said that anything I chose to do after finding out was at my own risk, and I should inform the board (would be kept confidential until I decided to tell people) as soon as possible.

When I saw my doctor, I asked her about skating, and participating in a full contact sport.  I told her that I was scheduled to play some games over the next couple weeks, and I needed to know if I could still play.  She said that I would be fine for the games as the baby was still very small and well protected by my pelvis (DO NOT take this as medical advice!  This is what my doctor said for me.  Everyone is different).  I decided that I would play full contact until my last game, which was at 8 weeks.  Many of the posts I found on Google said that the girls just faked an injury until they were ready to tell people.

My doctor had cleared me to skate until I started losing my balance, as most of the risk of skating while pregnant is if you fall on your belly, so most women are okay to continue with it until that point.  After my last game, I told our athletic director that I was pregnant, and would be claiming that my old knee injury was acting up.  I participated in everything except for contact drills because I “didn’t want to risk an unexpected trip/fall and tweak my knee.”  Luckily, I actually do have a pre-derby knee injury that occasionally acts up, so no one suspected anything.  The hardest thing was staying hydrated enough for practice.  You get really dehydrated when you’re pregnant!  I also ended up telling another one of my coaches that I was pregnant.  It’s really hard for me to turn down games when I don’t have a legitimate excuse!  I’m a terrible liar.  It was often frustrating because I couldn’t do contact drills, but still felt totally fit and didn’t look any different.  I just didn’t want to risk it, and I knew I wouldn’t be playing any more games anyways.

I told everyone at 11 weeks.  I continued going to practice and participating in what I could.  I found that it was very difficult at first because some people were scared to even touch me or skate to close for fear that I might fall and break the baby or something.  It was incredibly frustrating at times.  I’m pregnant!  Not made of glass!  There’s tons of research on exercising during pregnancy now, and my doctor had cleared me to skate in non-contact drills.  Once the girls got used to me being pregnant, and could see that I was still skating well, they were okay.  I found this incredibly frustrating in every aspect of life.  Many people were suddenly treating me like I was very, very fragile.  Some of my co-workers were very concerned about me lifting things.  This was a problem, as I work in child care and have to lift toddlers quite frequently.  Luckily I have many good squatting muscles from derby!  Squatting is good for lifting, and good for pregnancy in general.

5 and a half months

I have a long torso, so I haven’t been showing as much as most people do.  I was able to keep skating until the end of the season (about 7 months along).  I gradually toned down my level of intensity and participation.  I would do similar things on the outside.  When they were working on endurance I would go slower than before.  Sometimes on the track, sometimes to the side.  When doing partner work like jumps and deeks (juking), I would often use pylons and do similar things around the pylons, so I was keeping up some of my skills, and using similar muscle groups.  I could still feel productive and involved.  During scrimmage portions of practice I would help “ref” (I put that in quotations because reffing is very difficult and I’m not very effective at it).  I would primarily be jam timing, and I “jam reffed” a couple times.  My version of jam reffing is calling lead, and kinda attempting to count points.  Watching for obvious penalties.  Luckily we usually have a ref or two at practice, so they would catch the big things that I missed.  I don’t think I’ll ever be a ref.  It’s too hard!!!!

The new season is starting up now, and it sucks that I can’t skate.  I’m continuing to do a lot of committee work for the league until I have the baby and drop off the face of the earth.  But I will be back as soon as I’m able.  Hopefully it won’t take too long for my skills and fitness level to return, and I’ll be back to playing games as soon as I re-benchmark!  My goal is to play in a game by the end of the season, but since it’s my first baby I have no idea how long it will take me to get back to derby, or how much time and energy I’ll be able to give to derby after the baby comes.  I tried coaching at a scrimmage in December, and that went fairly well, so maybe I’ll do some more of that this season.

I hope that people find this helpful.  You don’t have to completely stop everything.  Just follow the advice of your doctor, and you’ll be fine.  Stay involved with your league in non-skating ways.  NSO and do other volunteer activities like committee work.  It’s actually been really good doing committee work while on maternity leave as I can now send emails during the work day.

Have any of you been on 9 month injury leave?  What did you do to stay involved and keep fit?

Saskatoon Scrimmage Aims to Keep Cheapshot Dot’s Derby Vision Alive

The Rebelles Recreational Roller Derby League is based in Saskatoon, SK.This coming Friday (March 28th, 2014), they will be hosting their first invitational scrimmage. But before we talk about the scrimmage, I would like to tell you a bit about the history of the league.

rebelles logo 2

Dorothy “Cheapshot Dot” Woods founded the Rebelles in 2011 along with her friend, Lorrie Rusnak. Dot’s goal was to create a team that was fun and light-hearted, so no one would ever want to quit. Everyone could learn the game and enjoy it, with no pressure. Lorrie says, “She was all about bringing people together. She planned everything, and together we built a wonderful team.”

In November of 2011, Dot went missing.Her friends, family, and team mates devoted themselves to finding her. Soon, derby players from across western Canada were showing their support, and helping to hang up flyers.CWRDA (Canadian Women’s Roller Derby Association), derbylife.com, and even the Blood and Thunder World Cup shared the story of her disappearance.Unfortunately, her remains were found just outside Saskatoon in January, 2012. She was a loyal friend to many inside and outside the derby community, and a very loving and devoted mother to her two children and step-son.

One of the many fliers that were made and circulated all around Western Canada to find Dorothy Ann Woods.

One of the many fliers that were made and circulated all around Western Canada to find Dorothy Ann Woods.

Lorrie loves leading this team, “I have kept the team going for Dot because I know how much it meant to her. We have such a great group of girls that come out to skate.I know they are proud to be Rebelles, especially now that we have Dot’s brother skating with us. I want the team to continue on in her name, and to be able to continue growing. It has been a struggle, but now by bringing Curb and friends on board, the team is only going to get better.”

Enter Curb Stompin’ Coleshaw. This year, along with coaching the Saskatoon Junior Roller Derby League, and skating with the Saskatoon Roller Derby League, she has been helping Lorrie out with the Rebelles. I asked Curb about how she became involved with the Rebelles.

“Lorrie had asked me if I would be interested in coaching the Rebelles. I told her I didn’t have the time to commit to another derby practice every Friday night, but I would help her organize coaches so she could become more involved in practice and work on her own progress. Essentially, it’s almost always a different skater each week to coach the Rebelles, which makes it fun, different, and exciting because you never know what drills you’ll be doing or games you’ll be playing.”

Over the last three months, the Rebelles have been training hard with the goal of benchmarking, and participating in this scrimmage. After advertising on facebook, they quickly had skaters signing up.Curb and Lorrie had to cap it at 32 players, even though there was more interest, simply to make sure that everyone would have a decent amount of track time. They have skaters from both the junior and senior leagues in Saskatoon signed up, along with about 7 skaters from outside Saskatoon.

Photo courtesy of Adrienne Starks.

Photo courtesy of Adrienne Starks.

Hang 11 from Saskatoon stepped up to organize refs for the game, and Quantum Chaos will be organizing the NSO’s.The ref crew is full, but if you would like to be an NSO, you can contact Quantum at quantum@srdl.ca.

The scrimmage will be on Friday, March 28th at the Cosmo Civic Centre in Saskatoon, SK from 8-10 pm. Admission is free, but bring a bit of cash, because there will be Rebelles merchandise for sale, and the Saskatoon Roller Derby League will be running a small concession to fund-raise for their trip to play in a tournament in Spokane, WA.

The Rebelles will also be holding registration on Friday. Their next session runs from April 4th to June 27th.It costs $100 to join.

WillkillsomeWritten by Hannah ‘Willkillsome’ Wilkinson

Social Media Coordinator for Derby Frontier

The Long, Long Road to the “Roster”

WillKillSomeWritten by Willkillsome

Submitted to Derby Frontier

The other day one of my league-mates was upset because she hadn’t made the team after working so hard for so long. I told her about some of my experiences, and she said that it helped her feel a little better, so I thought maybe it could help someone else out too.

See, as roller derby grows, I’m starting to see a problem.  Most leagues here on the frontier have one travel team.  They’re only big enough to support the one team, so that’s fine.  But at the same time, there are only 14 players on a roster.  So what happens to the people that don’t make the roster?

In January 2010 I joined SRDL. At the time we didn’t have a fresh meat training program, so my goal was to benchmark in one year. I had to teach myself a lot of the skills because the senior skaters weren’t always available to help me.  I was benchmarked in August and began playing games with house teams in September.  Luckily the league had decided to try focusing on house teams that year so I was able to get some game experience right away, even though I was pretty terrible at derby.

In spring of 2011 we had our first recruitment weekend.  At the same time, the Killa Bees were formed.  I didn’t make the team, even though other girls who had been playing shorter time than me did.  I was kinda bummed, but, such is life.  After all, there are only 14 spots on the roster.  It worked out okay for the league because the Bees and the All-Stars were prepping for the game, so they couldn’t devote a lot of time to training the fresh meat.  For the first couple weeks I helped run them through some basic drills so the other girls could practice for the game.

For the next few months I just practiced with whatever skill level I seemed to fit with in whatever drills we were doing.  We didn’t do much team specific drills at that time, so it wasn’t too bad.  That summer the Bees had a game in St. Albert, and I made the roster. It was a lot of fun, and I felt like my hard work was starting to pay off.

SPOILERS: Hannah rostered with the Mindfox in 2013 and was part of their win at the Central Division Tournament.

SPOILERS: Hannah rostered with the Mindfox in 2013 and was part of their win at the Central Division Tournament.

At the start of 2012, the league decided to make rosters for the two travel teams that would stay pretty much the same for the rest of the season.  I didn’t make the cut that time.  It was really heartbreaking for me.  If I was good enough to play with the Bees a few months ago, why wasn’t I good enough now? It felt like no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t going to get anywhere.  I even thought about quitting. There were other girls who didn’t make the cut either, but at the same time, there were girls that I had taught basic skills to in the spring of 2011 that had been invited to play with what would soon be called the Mindfox.

In February of 2012 we got in a new group of fresh meat, and those of us that didn’t make the bees helped out with them.  Once they were benchmarked, we started a new travel team called the Rockettes.  Some of them quickly got pulled up to play with the Bees, and after a few short months, a couple of them were even skating with the Mindfox.  I was still a non-rookie on a rookie team. This was a really difficult year for me because I didn’t really know where I fit in. I wasn’t a rookie, but I didn’t feel like I was seen as a seniour skater either. I felt like I was just lost in the shuffle. I really seriously considered quitting a few times. I would jokingly call roller derby my abusive spouse because I would get bruises at practice, and even though I felt so low, so much of the time, I still wouldn’t leave (I read a stat in a textbook that said that an abused spouse will try to leave an average of 17 times before they get out of the abusive relationship for good).

In the fall of 2012, Bonnie D. Stroir came to Saskatoon for a training camp.  I talked to her a bit and she said that the frustration often boils down to the skater being too hard on herself.  For some reason, roller derby seems to attract a lot of alpha personalities.  People with high standards.  Unfortunately, we have the highest standards for ourselves. We can be hard on other people sometimes, but we are very, very hard on ourselves all the time.  I thought that maybe she was right, and I just had to be more supportive of myself.  So after every practice I started writing down three things I did well, and one thing to work on for next time.  I would write it in my facebook status, and sometimes teammates would give some feedback, or just click “like.”  It seemed to help some.

Fast forward to February 2013, and I finally made the Bees!  It may have taken me three years and a whole lot of work, but I did it.  I even got on the Mindfox roster for the “Centrals” tournament in Moose Jaw.  I’ve contiued to work with our fresh meat, too. Can’t seem to get away from that.  I really enjoy it though.

This is just my individual story.  I don’t claim to have all the answers.  I think that rostered skaters and the members of the board need to keep making sure that the non-rostered skaters are as involved as the rostered skaters.  Make sure they feel welcome at practices.  Make sure there is a place for them to fully participate.  Have a transparent process for selecting rosters for games.  The players that have worked for it should get a spot on that roster.  Just because someone is a senior skater doesn’t mean that they automatically get that spot on the roster.

In writing this, I’m hoping that if you’re feeling down because you didn’t make the roster, you’ll know that you’re not alone. Other people have been there, and other people will be there in the future.  As members of a growing sport, we need to be supportive of all the players in our sport.  That’s probably why I’ve continued to work with the fresh meat.  I don’t want one of them feel like they were forgotten, because sometimes, that’s how I felt, and it sucks.  If you aren’t on a travel team yet, keep working.  Play in as many invitationals as you can, and try to find a way to contribute your other talents to the league.  It might take a little while, but if I can make the roster, I bet you can too.