Tag Archives: tiger bay brawlers

The Tiger Bay Brawlers representing: We Are Team England

We’ve already got together the Tiger Bay Brawlers who are skating for Team Wales. This week, we’re running a Q&A with the Brawlers who are skating for Team England. Go Brawlers!

Tiger Bay Brawlers - Team England by Simon Ayre

Tiger Bay Brawlers Team England representatives: Pip Gray (Pip), Lyndsey Boulton (Kid Block), Sophia Dos Santos (Dos Santos) and Lauren Robbins (Bloxie Blackout)  – photographed by Simon Ayre

Q. How and when did you all first get into roller derby?

Pip. I’ve been skating since the beginning of 2011 (I think?! Bloxie can confirm as she came along to try out at the same time as me!), I came along to a rec league session to learn how to rollerskate, and couldn’t even stand up on the first day! But I’m not one to let something get the better of me and so kept on coming along until we had a try out to become fresh meat (a session for beginner skaters who get to learn all the roller derby specific sides to skating such as blocking, stopping techniques and rules), and the rest is hard work and history! I can’t really remember the reason why I started, I’d just moved to Cardiff to go to university and was probably looking for a hobby and to meet new people, I’d never done sports before though so it was an odd decision now I think about how much I train! But the best one, ever!

Bloxie Blackout. It was 2011 – I had to Facebook stalk myself to figure that out! So, I started Rec league on sundays from jan 2011. Tryouts were in March to get into Tuesday beginner sessions, which we all (from rec league) did and got through.
I got into it because my sister was already in the brawlers and skated for the team, and she got me into it – she bought me derby stuff for Christmas 2010 and was basically just like ‘JOIN’! Before that I was a big fan and supporter of Tiger Bay, I went to all the games.

Dos Santos. Baaaasically In 2009 I went on holiday to California with Ava Assasin and a few other friends. Back then Ava just went be the name Naomi though (Pretty little mixed race girl with big boobs) We were in LA for a week and found out that there was a premier for the film Whip It happening. So we went along to the premier and hung out with some celebs. By that I mean we stood outside the Chinese Theatre, behind the barriers screaming at Juliet Lewis and commentating the red carpet. I don’t think any of us even knew what the film was about but It was out in the Uk a few months later so we went to watch it and thought it was pretty good. A girl I worked with at the time knew some people who were starting a team so Ava and I got ourselves a pair of shitty skates and went along to the recruitment day thingy. I can remember thinking this could possibly be the coolest thing ever. So I kept on going.

I had skated on inlines a bit when I was younger. Up and down the street and around the block. Ya know!?….nothing too wild. I definitely owned a pair of those Fisher Price skates that you attached to your shoes. If you can skate in them, you can skate in anything.

Kid Block. I’d never skated before the recruitment day, other than up and down the garden path as a kid, which I’m not sure counts. I joined at the first ever Intake in April 2010, I have no idea what compelled me to go other than I’d never heard anything like it before!

Being picked for our first game to be honest didn’t seem like a huge deal at the time, to me at least. On the day it did, but beforehand there was none of the competition to make the roster like there is now/ we had less skaters, less ‘pressure’ I guess. It was awesome and exciting but it feels a lot more exciting to make the team nowadays and especially for our newer skaters who get picked for a team for the very first time.

Now I know it was a big deal but at the time I was all ‘ah cool.’

Bloxie Blackout. The first game I was picked for was B team, I can’t entirely remember but I was very happy and excited to play my first public game.

I remember everything about the time I found out I made the A team, I was so so happy and excited and it felt like a huuuuge achievement, it’s what you work up to and what I’d been dreaming of doing – playing on the A team. I was in happy shock, and I phoned my mum pretty soon after finding out. I remember feeling a lot of pressure too because I would be replacing an already-established skater of the team and I felt they were taking a risk to put in a newer skater. I wanted to prove to them that they made the right choice to put me into the team and also felt pressure from myself to skate well enough that I got picked again! It was like the best challenge to be faced with, like I could do well but I had to really try for it, but if I did well then it would mean great things!

Pip. My first game was with the b team, I think I’d only just scraped in by the skin of my teeth and don’t recall a lot of it, I remember just falling over a lot in front of the other teams bench area and being mortified haha, but we won and it definitely fueled my fire to get as much bouting experience as possible so I started to take part in mixed team games and scrimmages in the area.

The first time I made the a team charter was much more memorable, I hadn’t been picked to play, I was a sub, but it was against the London Rollergirls intraleague team the Ultra Violent Femmes in February 2012(?), who were the biggest opponent we’d ever faced then. It was my first experience of training for the a team, and though I didn’t get to play, being part of that team that day made me feel so proud and excited for the future and a time when I would be skating on track with the people I looked up to so much.

 

Q. The Brawlers are considered one of the most formidable teams in the country. How does it feel to be part of that?

Bloxie Blackout. I’ve always felt that if I wasn’t a Brawler, I’d wish I was a Brawler, and that makes me feel really happy that I’m where I’d always want to be. I think it was easier for us being unknown underdogs almost, we thrived on being underdogs and proving ourselves, so getting ourselves out there and high up in the (unofficial) European rankings was a big change. However I really like that our credits as a league seem to be recognised. There’s so so much time and effort going in to each person’s respective role, league-wide, and that is why it works. So I’m proud to be part of that. And we’re all somehow really nice people and just polite and decent humans (if I do say so myself..!), which for me is a big deal too. I’m very glad to be on a sportswomanly and kind, professional team.

So yeah, I’m super proud to be a Brawler to the point that it almost frustrates me when “real-life” people don’t know who the team is (or roller derby in general) because I want everyone to know! It’s such a big deal to me.

Pip. It’s the kind of thing that hits me when we do things outside of the league liked mixed games and scrimmages, and recently more notably in the Team England pick, where we were the second highest represented team out of the hundreds of leagues and thousands of skaters in the UK. It’s a testament to how much everyone puts into the league, in a volunteer run sport such as roller derby, you really do get out what you put in, and without the drive to really strive for the best in every part of how the league runs, from coaching and skaters training outside of training hours to our committees for everything from merch to finances, I definitely don’t think we’d be where we are today. It’s a league wide effort. I’ve totally gone off track there! But yes, I’m very proud to be part of a league who is competitive and strives to be the best, in all aspects. Winning is fun! And I’ve had so many great opportunities through it to meet so many amazing people around the country and Europe, and soon America!

 

Q. You definitely all put a lot into the team which is totally evident from the team’s success – would you say that roller derby becomes your life?

Kid Block. I think everybody’s personal relationship with derby is very different and it is totally true that you get out of it what you put in. If you want it to be a casual love affair that helps brighten your life but in no way hinders upon your other interests etc, I believe you can do that. However, those people appear to be few and far between as it really is such an incredible sport and lifestyle that it’s hard to not let it willingly consume your life!

Personally – derby is my life – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Pip. Definitely! (She says whilst responding to brawler emails) My whole life is basically roller derby, especially since moving, all my friends are part of the league and everything I do outside of work is derby related. I’m a bit of a sad case haha. League involvement is very important to me, I’m a coach (So I help run drills, make decisions about our training and a range of other things), help out with our merch team and I try my best to help share and promote TBB stuff through social media. Outside of stuff for the league, I study other teams footage and what they’re up to, workout and eat as best as I can as well as trying to get involved with as much stuff as I can, watching other teams play, taking part in mixed games and going to bootcamps. Since my life has been more focused on derby, my priorities have changed a lot, and I think I’ve changed a lot too, for the better. I’m stronger in all senses of the word, and I have derby to thank for that. *emosh*

 

Q. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a sport that has such a strong community around it. Would you agree?

Bloxie Blackout. We often say it’s like another family or network and it totally is. Everything I’ve been through since derby has been supplemented by support from the brawler network.. Sometimes even people you’re not/weren’t necessarily close to can offer support because they recognise or have been through similar things.

It does take over quite a lot, I welcome off-season because it can all be so derby-intense sometimes. I think it’s important to actively make time for “real life” stuff at the sacrifice of derby stuff you’d otherwise be doing.. otherwise it gets to be an unhealthy balance and you can risk alienating yourself a bit from long-time friends. I’ve put lots of people and things second to derby lots of times but you can’t do that all the time, so it’s making the right choices for different double-booked events in your calendar – of which there are too many!! And making up for your absence, most people are supportive and understanding though which helps x100! I think derby intensifies everything and makes you live fuller.

Dos Santos. Aww guys. What beautiful responses! And Pip you’re deffo stronger. So far I don’t think I have seen you cry once this year!

I was also going to say about it being like another family…I see it as, you’re all like my sisters who occasionally annoy and frustrate the hell out of me but I love you all and would never not want to be around or skate with you.

Roller Derby is such a huge part of my life But I agree with Blox that making time to see non skating friends and doing non derby stuff is important. Roller derby is by far the most physically and emotionally demanding sport I have ever played so its good to have a balance. Its definitely hard though.

Dos Santos. That’s not the only reason to have a balance. I also really enjoy hanging out with my non derby friends!!

 

Q. During derby season can you talk me through an average week? How much training do you do? And is any of it off skates?

Pip. So we have two training sessions as a league, one is focused on drills and the other is a scrimmage session where we practice the strategies and skills we’ve learnt. On the run up to a game we usually have an extra a team session so we have some extra preparation, and a chance to focus on the a team line ups. Hall space is expensive so we make the most of what we have available to us, so we meet up after training too to discuss the upcoming games, and do a lot of our strategy talk online. Off skates we have a fab session with Aspire Fitness in Canton who run a session focusing on strength and form, they’ve been so helpful in pushing our fitness up and also preventing injury which is really important for us being a full contact sport. Most of us also have our own off skate fitness routine outside of that too, and everyone has their own thing that works best for them.

Bloxie Blackout. Lately I think most of our Saturdays have been open games or closed scrimmage, but that’s way more than normal. usually its about one Saturday a month. Sundays are always drills + scrimmage regardless of Saturdays. In fact, the coaches try and have it so that we have an intraleague game the day after a ‘real’ game. Intraleague is where we split all the skaters in the league into teams and play in a real game format against each other.. this is so we can practice 100 per cent two days in a row for tournament preparation. And now we have one Team England practice per month for the year on a weekend day And hopefully will get to watch some other UK games on some free Saturdays.

This week is just training today (two hours), Aspire gym tomorrow (one hour, optional), Closed door scrimmage against Croydon on Saturday (two hours) and training on Sunday (three hours). Oh and footage viewing and bonding afterwards for the A team.

I usually coach the juniors on a weds too for 1 hour before our session. I do my own gym training too – it all varies depending on .. mostly my personal motivation, what personal derby goals I’m working towards and what games are lined up..! I really feel the benefit of off-skate training and I can really feel it in my skating if I haven’t been training in the gym for a while, especially my endurance – rubbish breathing is my first tell-tale sign if I’m not doing my off-skates homework.

Pip. Yeah I totally forgot about Saturdays, I have just essentially blanked off all weekends leading up to June now haha, just a whirlwind of derby!

Kid Block. An average week consists of Wednesday (two hours) and Sunday (three hours) on-skate TBB practice (we used to have a Tuesday session as well but unfortunately we had to shut it down as we couldn’t afford to keep it running.) We would love a lot more on-skate training but unfortunately with lack of available hall space, and the price of it when it is available we are limited to what we can do. This means that I’ll look to practice on top of this as much as possible – bootcamps/mixed scrimmages/free skate/practice with other teams (the local men’s team ‘SWS’ are very welcoming and I try to attend as many sessions with them as I can – it’s always an invaluable learning experience.) I currently coach roller derby part time as my job, so I am always out and about coaching leagues across Europe (which I absolutely love), so I also have extra on skate time then. However, this is a lot more of a mental work out than physical of course.

Off skate we have one session a week with Aspire Fitness as a team where we focus on strength and conditioning – those who attend regularly have seen a massive improvement in their on skate performance. I attend every Thursday and also try and fit in one extra session a week. My bike is my favourite off skate work out tool, and I try and cycle as much as I can during the week also – cycling is great for derby as it works so many of the leg muscles that we need to keep fit and strong.

 

Q. So let’s talk about Team England – what were the trials like?

Bloxie Blackout. Very tough, very fun. I liked that I had Brawlers there both times, it was nice The scrimmages were fun and the girls there are always really nice and friendly. You get to know lots of them over time, various games and things. The last tryouts were brutal in that they did a cull halfway through and those people had to take their skates off and were released from trying out, that was quite tense hearing the list being read off.. *shudder*. And then not hearing your name was just like being lifted off the floor for a second.

It was nice to really want to prove yourself but also like, scary because you just can’t screw up or take your foot off the gas.

Ha fun story, I felt sick in the first tryouts because I drank this stupid canned coffee drink that I just so happened to forget makes me feel pretty queasy.. and I couldn’t tell if I was actually going to be sick or if I should go get it out my system to continue, and then the drills were SO intense and never-ending but I didn’t want them to think I was bailing out or flustered from the drills. But yeah I was fine anyway, I think the feeling went after the first hour.

All the emails and stuff always came through really promptly too which made it feel really well dealt with and organised. It was cool to be part of it all!

Pip. The try outs were brutal, I really enjoy skating in an environment where you can push and test yourself to your maximum capabilities, but despite the competitive element, I still felt that due to our training with the brawlers, working with other skaters with different playing styles and strategies was fun and a great learning experience, and a testament to how adaptable we can be. The endurance drills were so intense, they have inspired me to really amp up my training, I was totally knackered after minutes in some drills, as they were written by the coaches who are also London Rollergirls coaches, who are the number 7 league in the world, we’re about 100 places below them in the world wide rankings! So having access to that level of training was a real privilege and set the benchmark

We found out who had got through in a public Facebook post, I was so nervous, I knew I’d done the best I could on the day, and that I had the experience of the try outs to take back with me, so was happy I’d got that far considering my personal derby journey. But the excitement when I saw our names on the list when they posted was amazing, I’ve never been so proud of anything in my life! To be able to say I’m training to represent my country is such an awesome thing, and to be picked alongside such talented skaters was a real honour. I’m looking forward to the next year and what it brings!

 

Q. What’s the Team England training been like?

Kid Block. Incredible! Getting to train regularly against such high level skaters that you admire, and have sessions run by such smart coaches is an amazing experience. Every single practice I have attended and game that I have played with England thus far has been a huge learning experience. Roller derby is an ever changing game and you need to adapt and grow with the game to avoid becoming stagnant… so getting to play at this level really keeps you on your toes and keeps you hungry to improve and continue to expand your knowledge base.

 

Q. What’s your favorite song to listen to pre bout? To get you ready and hyped up?

Bloxie Blackout. I feel like I could tell you a song each of us listen to (esp. Soph, her pre-bout music habits are all our habits, its pretty much enforced :p). I listen to whatever, something happy or sassy does the trick the best I need a positive and/ or (happy-)sassy mindset. I play better when I’m peppy than when I’m too calm or aggro!

Dos Santos. Cher – Believe!

Kid Block. Before games and practices, I like to listen to all manner of things really – movie quotes and songs that make me happy, make me feel confident and ready to work hard! (‘Work Bitch’ by Britney was my song for last quarter – that gives you a great insight into my personal taste – you’re welcome.)

 

Q. Lastly … do you have any advice for any girls looking to get into derby?

Kid Block. Do it! Connect with your local team and ask if they have recreational sessions or if you are able to go and watch a couple of scrimmages. I find that those people even slightly remoted in derby are drawn to it for certain reasons (not always just for the skating) and if you have that nagging twinge of ‘hmmm I like the sound of that’, then you owe it to yourself to check it out.

 

 

Thanks Brawlers! Just in case you missed our Q&A with the Team Wales Brawlers, make sure you go read it here: We Are Team Wales. Big thanks to Simon Ayre for the great photographs, and visit the following links to keep up to date with all your Brawlers news:
Tiger Bay Brawlers website
Tiger Bay Brawlers Facebook

NB: Since this interview, Kid Block is now skating for London Rollergirls. Best of luck Kid!

Do you play for a local Cardiff team? Want to be featured on this blog? Get in touch! wearecardiff@gmail.com

The Tiger Bay Brawlers representing: We Are Team Wales

Okay, so I bleat on about the Tiger Bay Brawlers a lot. But I like roller derby, and our local team are great, so you’re just going to have to put up with it. They’re so great in fact, that there are members of the Brawlers that have been picked for the Team Wales squad! We put together a small Q and A with them to see what life is like representing your country in your chosen sport!

Tiger Bay Brawlers - Team Wales by Simon Ayre

Tiger Bay Brawlers Team Wales representatives: Jen Moseley (Jen-Clawed Van Slamme), Christina Jolliffe (Jolly-Pop) and Laura Haman (Haman) – photographed by Simon Ayre. Also in our Q&A are Amie Gardner (Fearne Rotten) and Laura Kemp (Kemp).

 

WAC – How did you all end up in the Brawlers? Can you talk me through your journeys to get there?

Amie Gardner – Thanks Helia! It’s really exciting!! Well I have been skating with Swansea City roller derby since its set up in 2010. By the end of 2013, as much as I loved the team, I felt like I needed a bigger goal. I felt like a big fish in a small pond and didn’t feel there was any more I could learn there. TBB have a reputation for being very committed, athletic and professional so I wanted to push myself. Not only that but my buddy Kemp had transferred and Haman was moving to Cardiff. I thought it was the perfect opportunity

Jenny Moseley – I started out with TBB at their first intake in April 2010. At the beginning of 2013 I decided to prioritise my commitment to roller derby over other interests and see how far I could take it. Making it on to Team Wales is my most exciting achievement to date!

Laura Kemp – I started skating with Swansea in early 2011. In fact my first ever open bout was against Tiger Bay’s B team! I decided to make the move to TBB last year after a few issues within my old league ended up becoming unresolvable. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to join a team I’d always admired and respected. I’ve always had a serious outlook when it comes to my commitment to roller derby, and have always considered it more than a hobby, so to be part of the best league in Wales and now the National team is a very exciting time!

Laura Haman – I used to play for Swansea city roller derby and I moved to Cardiff as my boyfriend was offered a job, so moving to tiger bay wasn’t only a logical choice because of the city move but it was something I wanted to do for some time, who wouldn’t want to be involved with the Brawlers?! And now I’ve been selected for the training squad for team wales is just the cherry on top.

WAC – You must all be absolutely chuffed to have made it into team Wales! What were the tryouts like?

Christina Jolliffe – I joined the brawlers in the first in take in 2010 on the recommendation of my friend, now known in derby as Boba Fettish. Initially I was just going along for a bit of fun as I already did capoeira as a hobby. However, I gradually found myself doing more and more derby and less and less capoeira until I had to decide to focus on just one in order to progress. Looking at my time on the Tiger Bay A team and now getting on the team Wales training squad I think I made the right choice.

The first team Wales tryouts for me were a bit of a blur as my dad had died the week before but I remember being really pleasantly surprised by the friendly atmosphere and positive attitudes and having been a bit reserved about it all, that day made me certain that I wanted to make the team. On a personal note, that day also really helped me to take my head out of a really stressful situation for a few hours – something I find that derby does a lot for me generally.

WAC – Oh man – that sounds really tough. My sympathies. I guess that’s the good thing about being involved in something that’s so physical. Also the derby community seems so supportive.

Christina Jolliffe – It is for sure! (sorry to put a downer in there – that was just my circumstance at the time).

WAC – Not at all – that’s life, isn’t it? Have you all found that the derby community are supportive? Not just in cases like this, but all round? There’s never any shortage of fans at your bouts.

Laura Kemp – I’ve found the Brawlers to be a great support system. Both as team mates and personally. I’ve honestly never been around a group of women so passionate about supporting and empowering each other.

Laura Haman – The tryouts were intense. There was a combination of nerves and excitement, five hours for each tryout was tough though! As for the community … yes, there is a huge one. Not only from a player’s perspective but personally… it can be something as simple as having a bad day at work you’ve got people to talk to and then you’ve got that very physical edge during training to let off steam.

What I feel really that’s what brings everyone on a team like Tiger Bay together is that passion to succeed and constantly improve, not only yourself but the collective league.

Christina Jolliffe – I think the wider community too. For instance we get a lot of support from skaters from other more advanced leagues who feel passionately about developing newer leagues / skaters to improve the sport as a whole. We’ve had a lot of contact as a league with skaters from the USA and Canada and also London Roller Girls. I think that has a lot to do with how far the brawlers have come in such a short time.

Amie Gardner – The try outs were crazy … so inspiring. I genuinely believe that the training the brawlers gave me in the two months before the second round of try outs, got me through!! I agree with Kemp everyone is so positive!!

Jenny Moseley – The try outs were a great chance to meet new people from other leagues too, as people came from all over the UK. Skating with people outside your league is a great way to develop your skating and I was happy to be there just for that! I hadn’t really given it much thought beforehand, I think I just dismissed it as “not for me”. But Pip (Team England) said that she was thinking about trying out because the opportunity to represent your country in sport wouldn’t come around often again, especially with the increasing popularity of the sport and rise in skill levels. That made me seriously consider it and I ended up applying when they reopened applications, just a couple of days before the first round.

WAC – Good job you did Jen! So it is a pretty big deal, representing your country in a sport … Is that something any of you ever thought you would do? Were any of you particularly “sporty” before/as kids?

Laura Haman – It’s nothing I could’ve imagined! I’ve never found myself drawn to another sport, but I knew when I started I knew it was for me, and I haven’t stopped loving playing derby since. I used to skate a lot as a kid, and growing up with a big family, a majority being male. when it came to skating it was a keep up or get left behind situation, and I guess i’ve never let that go!

Laura Kemp – I was as a kid really sporty. I swam, danced and competed in gymnastics! So playing for my country was something I’d always considered from a young age. But I completely disengaged from sport as a teenager after a big knee injury which left me in a cast for months. Derby was the first sport that I got involved with since school, and it just clicked I knew there was no looking back after my first session. So being able to represent Wales in a sport that I have such a huge passion for is priceless.

Christina Jolliffe – I used to do track and field stuff in school (1500m and discus mainly) but not really team sports. I never thought I would have been part of a national team of anything!

Amie Gardner – I have never been interested in sports and have never been competitive. I was bullied a bit at school so I didn’t have much confidence in myself so never thought winning was a big deal haha. Not anymore though! ! Derby has brought out my confidence and my competitive spirit. I only got into it as a hobby and it took me sooo long to even pass my min skills. I was never a natural so I had to work hard. I never thought in a million years that I would get this far so it is a massive achievement!!! Its great to make your family proud

WAC – Derby seems to be one of those sports that really starts everyone at a level playing field and encourages those who may not have done well in sports at school. I wonder why that is though? There aren’t many sports that have that same thing? Do any of you have any theories why?

Amie Gardner – I don’t know … it is a weird one … haha I think that when I started I had no expectations. As someone thats never been into sports I thought of it more as a “give it a go” mentality. In the beginning you are very much taught that roller derby is for everyone all shapes and sizes all fitness levels etc which attracts women. women that thought they could never play a sport. For me it was the cliché. I saw Whip It and thought it looked cool! After a while then you see serious and competive (awesome) side of the sport.

Christina Jolliffe – I think it also has something to do with the fact that there is no expectation that new comers will have prior skills or knowledge. Most leagues are set ip yo teach people from scratch – literally teach you how to skate and fall before even going any where near the rules of the game or fancy skills. I think that makes it less daunting than coming into other sports completely fresh.

Jenny Moseley – I was fat and lazy before derby, and after a bad session I still think about giving it all up and going back to that lifestyle, but I don’t think I actually could. I did a martial art in my early teens for a couple of years but no team sports. I think the roots of the game lend it to inclusion- a bunch of women in Texas decided to start playing and wrote some rules. It snowballed and here we are today, just over ten years later. The best players in the sport still have day jobs, so there isn’t that pro/amateur divide. Anyone can rise to the top.

WAC – I love that about it! I loved Whip It too – such a great film how much would you say derby has changed you guys since you started doing it? Obviously there’s the fitness thing, but have there been any other effects?

Laura Haman – I’m much more confident now. And it sounds really cliche but I have a different side of me when I skate, since starting derby has made me more patient. I used to be so hard on myself that if I couldn’t do something first time, it was awful and I was useless, but its taught me that you need to stick to something and work at it… No matter how long it takes, it’s always worth it. There’s nothing more satisfying than working on something for so long and it clicking!

Jenny Moseley – I’ve learned a huge amount from it. It’s made me more ambitious but it’s taught me a lot about other people too- how to interact with and respect them, and the more you give, the more you get. I love the sheer variety of personalities I’ve met through derby.

Amie Gardner – Yeah its made me more determined. Mostly what jen has said! I have learned that I am good enough to do this and that makes me want to get better. It gives me belief in myself. I found as well that as much as I love winning, I learn so much from losing too!! I actually think I learn more from losing sometimes haha.

Jenny Moseley – That’s definitely a thing.

Amie Gardner – Not that losing is an option from now on

Laura Haman – What these ladies said too. Haha

Laura Kemp – As odd as this one is derby has taught me I can be friends with other girls! My friendship groups beforehand were largely male and I felt like I never really got on with other women. But since starting skating I’ve found a brand new appreciation for how wonderful women are! We’re funny, strong, ambitious and really I’ve found I celebrate myself and other women so much more now I’m involved with derby. I think that’s the culture within derby in general it’s kind of like we’re here, we’re awesome, we’ll kick ass and we’re hot!

WAC – Have you made friends in other teams?

Jenny Moseley – Yes, and it’s awesome because you bump into each other at games and other derby events, and you’ve got somewhere to stay in these random places, and occasionally you meet on track and you’re quietly cheering them on even though you want to beat their asses!

Laura Kemp – Sure, I’ve made some great friends with girls in other teams. It usually comes from playing them then bonding in the after party!

Christina Jolliffe – Yeah, I even made friends with my friend’s sister (hope that makes sense?) who is living in New Zealand and we did a t-shirt swap and became online friends, which is something I wouldn’t really do outside of derby. She was skating for Pirate City at the time.

Laura Haman – Yeah you tend to make friends with people outside of your own teams, and more likely than not they become long distance friendships, so you know you’ve got somewhere to stay if you’ve got to travel to games.

WAC – Is there bad blood between any of the teams? Not just with the brawlers necessarily, but with each other?

Laura Haman – As for the bad blood, with there being this many women, let alone them being so strong minded involved, yes leagues do fall out and disband … But I guess it just depends on the type of league or team ethos you’ve got. Some teams do focus on quite a bit of the off track drama and bitchyness. But if you want to be part of a competitive and driven league then you tend to leave it all behind, and really focus on your team’s goals and achievements, rather than who said what behind someone’s back.

Amie Gardner – Ahh there is a question no-one likes to answer. In my time not with TBB I have seen splits in teams but that’s because many people have different ideas on how the sport should be played/taught/nurtured. Many teams want to be for fun, some want half and half some want to be competitive. I think though that the sport is coming together so much that it’s just not worth bad blood. Bad blood means to me being unsportsman-like … and no team wants to be seen that way … so it’s great.

Amie Gardner – Haman’s answer was perfect, hah!

WAC – Have you got any advice for new skaters? People who want to get into it but aren’t sure?

Christina Jolliffe – 1. No one expects you to be good at it straight away and neither should you – set yourself little steps for progression. Some of the best players took ages to get to grips at first. 2. If you are strapped for cash when getting your first set of kit then priorities knee pads / gaskets over everything else.

Laura Haman – Absolutely what jolly said… And to add to it don’t compare yourself to other skaters, we all have our strengths and weaknesses and although they may have picked up something faster than you for one aspect of the game they may struggle with something further along. (Or they might just very well not want to admit they’re having a hard time) don’t beat yourself up!

Amie Gardner – Yeah Jolly and Haman pretty much summed that all up for me haha!

Laura Kemp – I think I’d say do some core work! Your legs will come in time but you’ll fall over less with a strong core.

Jenny Moseley – I feel an obligation to say: watch footage! Watching games is incredibly valuable. Learn how to learn. In derby, most of the coaches are players themselves who are coaching because they feel they have something to give to other skaters. They may not have been skating as long as you or you might not always get on with them well, but if they an teach you something then you need to forget all that and appreciate what you can gain. Also, learning how to analyse your own movements and improve on them is valuable.

WAC – Also do you guys have any Derby heroes? People who have done really well in the game that you admire?

Jenny Moseley – Well Tiger Bay have a massive soft spot for Tui Lyon from VRDL (Australia) who was known as BB Bombshell when she came to us. She helped us become the league we are now an will always have a place in our hearts! Also the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls are good buds of ours, they were our mentors in the WFTDA Apprentice programme and came to train us after they won the 2010 WFTDA championships. We partied hard with them.

Amie Gardner – I really admire Stef Mainey… I remember when I first started I went to watch a game where it was all stars vs LRG. As soon as I saw her skating I was just like WOW! she was a fab coach when she came down to our team! the very same as ballistic whistle … he has such an awesome coaching style, and to be able to coach LRG so well is so impressive.

On a smaller scale, being from wales we do not have many bouting teams, and I have always admired TBB!! Kid Block is just awesome, and Dos Santos’ blocking has always wowed me.. kinda awesome that I am with TBB now!

 

***

Thanks Brawlers! And just so you don’t think we’re being nationalist … we’ve got a Q & A with the Brawlers who were picked for TEAM ENGLAND next week! Team Wales vs Team England … that’s got to be a match to watch, eh??

Thanks to all the Brawlers for taking part in the Q&A  and big thanks to Simon Ayre for the great photographs. Visit the following links to keep up to date with all your Brawlers news:
Tiger Bay Brawlers website
Tiger Bay Brawlers Facebook

And see you next week for our English sports heroes…

“If you can’t beat them…” – Lola

lola-coaster-web

My name is Lola and I have a problem. In fact my name isn’t even Lola, it’s Laura, and that’s testament to my problem. By which I mean addiction. By which I mean love.

In 2005 I moved to Cardiff from Swansea; a quiet, scrawny (not naturally) blonde girl who kept her head down in Uni and went back to Swansea every weekend to go back to the familiar; the comfortable. Seven years later I’m a confident, outgoing (not loud) person who has grown to love my abnormally-large-for-such-a-slim-girl thighs. And why the change in confidence and self-esteem? Roller derby, that’s why! (Oh, and living in Splott, where sometimes you have to be brave).

In early 2010 I was talked/cajoled/bullied into trying roller derby by a friend after watching Whip It. Now, I don’t know if you’ve seen Whip It, but it depicts roller derby as a sport played by scantily-clad girls who punch each other in the face and stab each other in the back. So no, I wasn’t overly enthralled by the idea of joining a new Cardiff league – the Tiger Bay Brawlers – to give it a try. But because then I was easily led and scared that I’d lose friends if I didn’t do as I was told, I tagged along.

I’m so glad that my weak-willed personality allowed me to go. I now find it laughable that I believed the Hollywood version – stupid, huh? (For the record, we’re all lovely, highly ambitious athletes with a huge dedication to furthering our sport. Yes, it’s full contact, but no; punching, kicking, biting are not allowed)!

Channel View leisure centre, Sunday 25 April 2010, was where I found roller derby (or where roller derby found me, because I feel like I’ve been waiting for something like this for a very long time). That first session was scary; not because I was walking into a room full of strangers (yes, over 50 of them!) but because suddenly, at the age of 23, I was strapping eight wheels to my feet and throwing myself on the floor and now, further down the line, at other skaters.

Almost two years later I have passed my obligatory minimum skate-skills test, bouted as a member of the Tiger Bay Brawlers A Team a number of times and am an active member of the team management committee. I’ve also Co-captained the B Team and one of our intra-league teams, the Merchants of Menace (the other team is the Bruise Birds)!

Roller derby has had a positive influence on me in far more ways than you’d think ‘just a sport’ would. It’s a huge aspect of my life now. Any spare time I have (or had) is spent doing derby; skating, watching, writing press releases, blog posts, just talking about it. It’s not something I begrudge doing because I get so much out of it. Not only have I met some of my best friends, but I’ve also become a much more confident person; my self-esteem has increased and I have become an ambitious athlete, concerned about what I’m eating, what I’m doing, how much fitness I’m squeezing in and how far I can push myself.

The Tiger Bay Brawlers are the longest-established and (though I may be biased) most successful roller derby league in Wales. We formed in April 2010 and have gone from strength to strength, playing ten public bouts in our debut year (we won seven of those), being accepted as members of the UK Roller Derby Association (UKRDA) and securing features on S4C, The Guardian and BBC Sport Wales to name but a few. We’re currently hoping to secure their own training and bouting venue this year, and we’re on the lookout for empty warehouses and suitable units – if you know anywhere, let us know!

We’ve also implemented a rolling recruitment programme comprising of a recreational league and freshmeat sessions, as well as working with Sport Wales and Cardiff Council to start junior roller derby sessions! AND we’ve just kick-started our second year of bouting and are bringing roller derby home again when we bout the London Rockin’ Rollers Rising Stars in Talybont on Saturday 31 March 2012.

Roller derby is taking the UK sport scene by storm at the moment, and we intend to be part of that emergence. You can be part of it too! If you want to come and see us play, then please do. If you want to connect with us then you can on our website, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook, and if you want to join us then don’t be scared. Strap on your skates and come to rec league. If that’s not your thing then join us in an off-skate capacity. It’s a really inclusive sport and there are numerous ways to get involved so don’t let anything put you off. I promise you won’t regret it.

Roller derby isn’t going anywhere soon, and neither are the Tiger Bay Brawlers. And you know what they say? If you can’t beat them….

Laura ‘Lola Coaster’ Joyce has been skating with the Tiger Bay Brawlers since April 2010. She is an active member of the league skating with both the A and B teams and, offskate, undertaking the league’s PR and Marketing. Lola plays as both a blocker and a jammer and is known for her pre-bout routine, including taking days off work and eating copious amounts of cherry tomatoes. She currently lives in Splott.

Lola was photographed at a Brawlers bout by Adam Chard

 

***