Friday, May 15, 2009

Cramming for Carolina

I’ve certainly learned a lot about myself as a skater since January, but what I’ve learned in just the past few weeks leading up to this first bout of mine back with the All Stars is somewhat mind boggling. Also leading up to this game, I’ve had an array of emotional responses that make me think I may be derby schizophrenic. This caused me to ask myself why these two things were happening – what’s different now? I think the answer is that my mind is fully in the game, I’m able to assess my strengths and weaknesses in a fairly accurate manner, and I care much more about my performance now than I ever have before.

Two weeks ago when I realized Carolina was two weeks away, I panicked. My first thought was, “I’m not ready – I should tell someone to keep me out of the game.” Luckily I didn’t act on that thought, because the immediate fear quickly passed and I was able to convince myself that I would use this game as a learning experience. Still not all that comfortable with my new teammates in my new positions, I went into the next scrimmage practice and did what I’ve always done come game day – choke. Being so worried about doing something “wrong”, I didn’t attempt to do anything definitively right. I was there, I was in the pack, but I wasn’t doing anything.

Feeling incapacitated by conflicting thoughts of what I should be doing right now and orders being barked at me by the Pivot, I got confused and couldn’t do anything at all until it was already too late. A long lunch over Indian food with Chairman Meow, who’s been watching me from the sidelines and giving me feedback after each jam, helped talk me through the confusion, as we mapped out several different scenarios I’d be facing in my new positions with my new teammates. That night I went into scrimmage practice poised to make quick decisions and act on them, communicating them when possible. The result was a pretty damn good night of scrimmaging and a newfound confidence. Not only do I think this game against Carolina will be a good learning experience, but I also think I might be able to kick ass in it as well.

After what is still a hellish work schedule (and a project launch date that’s been moved from May 15 to sometime in June) prevented me from getting in my runs (wow, that sounds like an intestinal issue), I made running a priority this past week and have ran four times outside practice. I can’t tell you how much regular running makes a difference for me. Having learned about how running impacts my body isn’t the only factor about which I’ve recently become acutely aware. Perhaps it’s because I really want to maximize my athletic ability, but I’ve been able to pay more attention to and learn those little thing that help and hurt me.

I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I just learned this about myself, but hey, better late than never, right? I am the type of player who needs to be really warmed up before playing a bout. I mean REALLY warmed up. This is difficult on the road. You’re in an unfamiliar venue, the bout timeline may be different than you’re used to, etc. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do to get myself warm and ready to play. I think it’s going to be a 10-15 minute run outside the arena tomorrow before we have warm-up time on the track.

I’ve also learned what I should and shouldn’t eat before a game, which I’ll enact tonight and tomorrow. Carbs and protein tonight (burger and fries), followed by water, water, and more water. Tomorrow, I’ll get up early and hit the diner with my sweetie for some QT and a breakfast of champions: a fried egg, cheese, and bacon sandwich with a huge side of hash browns. It will keep me full until 2 hours before the game, at which time I will eat some granola and cereal with soy milk. Can I tell you, for comparison, that my theory behind nutrition and care for myself before my first bout ever was: “Do what you would normally do, and you’ll be fine.” That meant I went on a drinking binge the night before and didn’t get to sleep until 4am! Surprise, I played like shit!

Although I still feel like there’s a lot for me personally riding on this game, I’m much more calm than I have been, and I’m really excited to be able to play with my teammates against another league! Coincidentally, I found out several days ago that I’m on the roster to skate against Detroit at ECE, which makes me squeal with pleasure.

Tomorrow, following the Carolina/Charm City All Stars bout is the Carolina/Charm City B-team bout, in which I’ll also be playing. I’m excited to be able to get in a double header, since that’s something my teammates have been doing for this entire season so far. I’m curious how my endurance will be affected, but I predict that I’ll do better in the second game if only because I’ll be fully warmed up, with a mind fully immersed in derby. I swear to you that I’m most prepared to play a game after a 3-hour scrimmage practice – gotta work on that.

Tomorrow on the van I plan on sewing my patches on my jersey, going over our strategy packet, and writing out some possible game scenarios, so I’ll be reminded of what I should be doing in both positions and when.

It’s been a long road, but it’s also been a really short time frame when you consider that I’ve only been playing with the All Stars since February and back on the track in full swing since January, a mere four-and-a-half months ago. I’ve had tons of help from coaches (Dolly Rocket, Holly Go Hardly) and bench coaches (Chairman Meow & Mr. Pistol) during that time, and I hope I can make them proud with my performance tomorrow!

You can check out the bout preview on DNN here.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

One of the best parts about watching the Carolina bout, it was either your first or second jam, was watching you practically use your opponent as a chair around the track. There was no way in hell she was getting past you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your blog. As a person new to derby (I started in Sept 08) I'm always second guessing myself and getting nervous that I won't be able to help the team. Reading your blog really helped me feel better about myself and realize that I'm not alone.

I practice every day (either at a sched practice or on my own) to make sure that I get better and more confident with my abilities, and its really nice to see other girls working really hard and feeling like i do. Helps me to not want to give up.

Oh and I must say I love Chairman Meow, I met him in Vermont when he came to watch our team play and give pointers. I'm hoping that he'll come down to a practice and I can ask him for advice.

Thanks again, good luck and I hope to see you kick arse at ECE!

-Anita Cookie, #350
Long Island Roller Rebels