Last Friday afternoon, I hopped in a car with 3 girls in the first steps of an adventurous weekend where we would stare unknown competition in the face—we were on our way to a Fresh Meat tournament in Toronto. Little did I know that I would have so much fun, learn so many new things, meet so many great people and see so much fantastic roller derby!
I was travelling with Wry and Ginger, Sugar and Spite, and Tarawatt, and the general consensus was that we were crazy nervous and a little bit scared…but we were confident. The Dolls and our coaching staff have been training us, working us out, and strategizing with us for months, so we felt like we had the knowledge and training to get out there and give the other teams a run for their money.
If there was a theme to the weekend (other than the tournament theme), it was probably “Find Out How Much You Can Sweat!” It was hot and sunny outside and sweltering indoors. Just standing still indoors made me sweat from places that I didn’t know could sweat…gross but educational. After a quick warm-up and stretch outside, we made our way inside to gear up and pump ourselves up for our first game. At the tournament, our games would only be 20 minutes long each, so we knew we had to be quick and efficient in each jam.
The first game was a blur. We were evenly matched with the GTA Debutantes and we only collected a few trips to the penalty box. The second to last jam was a big point scorer for the Debutantes and we were 17 points behind going into what would be the final jam…we had to pull off something big to win. Before the last jam, I remember hearing the commentator telling the crowd, “Just one jam can change the whole game. It’s not over yet.” Early in the jam, the Debutantes jammer pulled a penalty, putting us in a power jam situation. Perfect! Immediately our Dolls clicked in to strategy mode and started ducking like nobody’s business. Our jammer, Angel Poison, took advantage and sped around the track, racking up an amazing 19 points, winning the game by a 2-point margin! Our entire team smothered Angel with hugs and sweat. We took our victory lap with pride and thanked the Debutantes for a nail-biting game.
Winning this game gave us a ranking of 7th out of the 14 teams who were competing that day and ensured that we would be up against another Toronto team—the TORD D-VAS—later that afternoon. At this point, we knew what winning felt like and we wanted to feel that way again. Getting ready for our second game, we re-outfitted ourselves in our still soaking wet sweaty gear and headed out to the track.
Our second game started out well. We scored a few points and the D-VAS scored a few, but again it felt fairly equal and both teams seemed to be fighting just as much to score and keep the other team from scoring. About 7 minutes in, our blockers started to generate penalties…lots of them. We were consistently short-handed on the track and the D-VAS took every opportunity that we unfortunately gave them. The D-VAS had two incredible jams when we were short-handed on blockers and our jammers just couldn’t get past their solid walls. We continued to fight as hard as we could, but in the end, the D-VAS claimed their victory lap with a score of 69-10. Heading off to our dressing room, one of the D-VAS complimented us on our skills, telling us that our score did not reflect the effort that we put in. Of course we were disappointed that we had lost during an elimination round, but it was also clear on where we had gone wrong during the game and what we needed to do to improve for the future.
After a quick shower and bite to eat, we made our way back to the arena to check out the merch tables and take in some of the final games. Some of the fresh meat talent was incredible to watch. Montreal and Guelph specifically had a very high level of talent on their teams and were impressive to watch and learn from.
Playing with teams that we didn’t know was incredibly enlightening for me. It allowed us to learn about new strategies and to play against people who had hidden strengths and weaknesses.
Coming back to town with this experience makes me incredibly excited to continue training with CCDD. I’m looking forward to pushing myself further and learning more strategy to improve not only my personal performance, but to improve our team effectiveness (especially when faced with challenges on the track).
Thanks to everyone who made this weekend what it was—the tournament organizers, our coaches, the Kingston girls who we combined with to complete our roster, the other Fresh Meat we met up with—and a huge thank you to our supporters at CCDD. Thank you for training us, coaching us, sending us your well wishes and congrats, and offering up some tournament insight. We hope that we made you proud as we represented CCDD in the big city. 🙂
Jen “Elizabeth Berserkley” Jarvis