A few weeks ago, we had another full weekend of Team Ireland training, only this one was really special. This weekend included a double header of Team Ireland taking on both Team Wales and Team West Indies. In the weeks running up to the day, I knew that the Team Ireland training squad was to be split into two, with one half playing Wales and the other West Indies. I would have been happy playing either team, not only was I getting my first international cap but I also had fellow London Rockin’ Rollers on both teams. Then the squads were announced and I was to play in the roster going up against Team Wales, the team that includes one of my best friends Blaze of Gory. The lead up to the game included lots of fun smack talk between us. With the annual London Rockin’ Rollers intraleague tournament I was used to playing against my friends and team mates, it was fun! As serious as the want to win that coveted knuckle duster trophy is, the intraleague gives the LRR a chance for a bit of friendly rivalry and with teams called Neanderdolls, Voodoo Skull Krushers and Goldie Lookin’ Chain Gang it’s fairly obvious it’s mostly for fun.
Then the moment arrived in the Ireland vs. Wales bout where mid jam Blaze and I came literally face to face. The moment was odd. This wasn’t fun and games intraleague, this was serious stuff! Honestly it felt like time stood still as we caught each other’s eyes and shared this moment of panic where neither of us quite knew how to react. Then, just like that, the moment was over. It was weird, and honestly, I didn’t like it. As is the way with roller derby there were hugs all round come the final whistle, and we even shared dinner that evening. All was right again.
Skating in that bout was the proudest moment of my derby career to date, and what made it extra special was having my dad there to witness it. In all the years I have been playing, my dad had never once shown any interest in what it is I devote so much of my life to. He has never asked what exactly the sport entails, he’s never wanted to come to a bout and any mention of it was met with grunts of indifference. Then I told him I made the Team Ireland training squad and well, that was a whole different ball game. “Team Ireland you say? World Cup you say?” Now I had perked his interest. It just so happened that the training weekend in Dublin coincided with a family holiday we were taking to stay with family on the other side of Ireland in Galway. It took a surprising lack of arm twisting to persuade my dad to stay in Dublin for a couple of nights and come see what I’m always fussing about. I thought he’d hate it, I didn’t think it would make any sense to him (let’s face it, the rules aren’t exactly simple and the game play can be very confusing for a first-timer), but he loved it! Not only did he enjoy it, he seemed to even kind of understand what was going on. I sat with him for the second bout of the evening when Team Ireland played Team West Indies and was pleasantly shocked when he commented on the game play in ways which made sense, one example being “they should come back and give their jammer some offense now the other one just got out”. Huh?! You get this?! Sweet! Talking after the games my dad surprised me even further by telling me how he used to skate all the time when he was younger. Years I’ve been skating, years! Never once did he think to tell me he used to be pretty nifty at it himself. Will he now be a regular at all my home league games? Doubtful, but I don’t think it’s implausible anymore. Although getting my first ever MVP award for that bout might mean he has to come to all my games now whether he wants to or not!
So what’s next on this exciting adventure? We have another weekend of training coming up in a couple of weeks, this time in Birmingham where we’ll be going up against Birmingham Blitz Dames and Central City Roller Girls. Sadly, it clashes with LRR’s next home game and as much as I wish I could split myself in two, it’s just not possible. I spent a lot of time deliberating over what to do. As much as I’m enjoying the international derby adventure I didn’t want it to be at the expense of my home league. In the end I decided I’d be heading to Birmingham, the final 20 roster to be playing in Dallas has yet to be finally decided upon and I need to give everything I have every time I can. I
mentioned last time that I wouldn’t be devastated if I didn’t make it, and this is still true. What would be devastating is the not knowing. “Would I have made it if I had just gone and played those bouts? What if that bout I kicked ass and had my best game ever?” One thing is for sure, life is too damn short for ‘what ifs?’ so the next point on the road to Texas is via Birmingham. If anyone coming to those games fancies holding up a board updating me with the LRR scores I’d be forever grateful ;)