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August 26th, 2014

03:33 pm - VRDL
So that was fun. Went all the way out to Reservoir to MC a bout for VRDL. Great big crowd, as it was the Gender Defender. Boys v girls!

Victorian Vanguard, a pretty new male team, against Australia's best - the VRDL Allstars. As usual though for VRDL, it was a Sunday arvo double-header, with Paradise City coming down from the Gold Coast to play against the Queen Bees.

Suprising number of familiar faces there, but I shouldn't be suprised; SSRD has, over the years, lost a slow trickle to VRDL as skaters get restless, move house, or feel they aren't as challenged. South Sea is trying to address the challenge aspect, but as of now, the VRDL Allstars are the only team traveling and playing on the world stage.

This can be pretty enticing to a younger, very athletic skater who has fewer or no family commitments.

Got a ride with a couple of skaters, it seemed to take forever to get out there. The trip is unlike going to South Sea; where's it's freeways for most of the way.

After some initial confusion about whether we'd have two or three MCs, I settled down next to K-O from PCRD who let me know she lived in Melbourne now and we figured out her partner is doing the same first-year medicine course that Hilary is. Small world.

It was a cracker of a bout - PCRD led for most of it, chased hard, the Bee's got up in the second half before Paradise City inched ahead by 14 points. So easy to call those kinds of games. Had a lovely time with K-O and a bit of a laugh covering for her during the start of the second half when her taco took ages...

I think that I expected the headliner bout to be a little closer - Vanguard got something like 59 points to the Allstars 200+, which is actually still fairly respectable, considering how terrifying the VRDL skaters are. But it was such a great pleasure to be able to just sit and watch a bout, especially to be able to just look away, for longer than 5 seconds, and not worry! It's actually been a while since I've done that.

And to sit with my darling wife! It was really lovely.

So that's another one ticked off. I remember going up to Puckhandlers in 2009 when VRDL played there to capacity crowds, and seeing those guys on the mics calling the match, thinking... 'I could do that.'

Now I've called for VRDL. Nice feeling. 

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June 30th, 2014

10:47 pm - Kakaw
Been aaaages since I updated since there's not much derby life happening right now. Had my head down being a Dad and husband and taking care of things 'cos Hil is flat out studying. But then nights, once the little chap is in bed, are basically free - however we're going through a bill-heavy period and childcare rebate ran out with a few weeks left until EOFY so even petrol money is a bit tight.

I'd love to go down to South Sea to catch up with everyone and do some NSO-ing and keep my hand in, and hopefully I will get to do that soon - travel time is also nasty. I can see why Polly Alloy decided eventually to swap to VRDL - she's up in Yarraville, and she stuck with that heinous travel for 6 months or more, because she loved the league so much, until something had to give.

But I want to do it. I feel like I am missing seeing up and coming skaters, getting an eye on the new talent. I feel a deep affinity with the league, having done so many bouts for them. And love their efforts at TGSS, even if they went out the first day.

One thing I will say about my long-term behavior and performance for the league is that none of my costume choices have raised the kind of furious ire that Guy's Indian Warbonnet did at TGSS. Wow.

The funny thing is I explained to a friend, I was aware of the whole thing with warbonnets - read about Pharrel William's magazine cover and the flack, about a Kardashian and the flack, about chicks at Bonnaroo and Coachella and the flack, but completely unconsciously never connected Guy and his bonnet, just thought, 'Shit, that looks cool, good job he's sitting next to me, we are going to look ace' and gave him a pass - never once connected it. He was racism-invisible to me because I loved him so much. You know I probably would call him out if he started shitting on Asians or something, but the feathers were magnificent and blindsided me.

Then things exploded on facebook and so on, and I for one, thought 'This is a perfect time to troll white people who are guilty about being white and culturally appropriating from races we feel guilty about destroying and stealing from.' AND I DID. I completely understand the general sacrilege of appropriating really important tribal symbols, I get that, but I also think there are so many more things to get really angry or sad about, like what we are doing to real people and families trying to get here by sea, right now

So then I thought about borrowing Guysy's warbonnet and heading off to a VRDL bout but I reckon that would have resulted in a scalping. Still toying with the idea.

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May 27th, 2014

11:50 pm - Just got a 'random' friend request on facebook
From a skater, obviously.

Thought she might be a freshie or levelled skater from South Sea. Asked if she was from SSRD. Nope.

Sale City!

  • Ardy Wally

    Did you friend me for a reason? Have we met? Not being weird, just asking.

  • Yannon Baker
    well not in person but i am a big fan of your work. i've been to many a south sea bout and always enjoyed your commentary

Yeeeee! Famous.

Okay not famous, but recognised. So sweet of her.

Nice to know I'm doing a decent job of it.

My policy on skaters is not to friend them. Friend only when I need to actually make a contact for a real reason. I really don't want to come off as some creepy dude who's in it for the perv. Funny thing is that is what got me into this sport - ladies in undies smashing the shit out of each other. Now I understand it's a burgeoning, real sport, full of strong, dedicated women, trying to get fit and build something. So many career women and mums going forward into a sport.

But if I friended everyone who wanted to friend me, shit would get out of control. However I had to give this one a pass because

a) She flattered me, and

b) I'm not friends with anyone from Sale City and it would be a good idea to learn what's up with that league.... for whatever.

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May 4th, 2014

12:52 am - New partner
I always learn something from MCing with a new partner and tonight was no exception.

Guy called in sick just before noon on bout day and this left me with about six hours to find a replacement. All candidates who'd previously expressed interest were either skating or reffing - especially Titasaurus, a recent fave.

South Sea value us as MCs; they feel it's a big drawcard of a bout to have engaging and entertaining MCs, who will add to the experience of a bout. I didn't want to diminish that by making a poor choice.

Tristan is the husband of a bouting skater, I've known him around the traps for ages and have gravitated to him because I think we're similar, liking nerd shit and cool stuff and generally being a very genial, lovely person.

There was a bunch of suggestions and a few expressions of interest, then Flux, Tristan's wife, fronted him as an option; he said he'd do it if no-one more suitable was available. Very quickly I decided that he was the best choice. While he admitted he didn't know the rules very well, I knew this was selling himself short as he's the partner of a bouting skater and has been watching bouts for 3-4 years.

I already had a rapport with him and knew he was a witty and warm person. I tapped him in the hour after Guy's message.

He asked me for coaching. I tried to keep my tips brief - call what just happened, not what's about to happen, and I will talk if you're not talking, so you better talk. There was some more, but that's it in a nutshell.

I guided him through the intros, and the first half. Hand signals for more energy or faster. Throwing to him, off-mic suggestions to say a certain thing.

No problem; then he carried on during half-time and did a bang-up job of half time entertainment.

Then second half I didn't really need to do a damn thing. He'd found his slot and we just clicked. Both of us talking to each other, commentating the match, making room for each other.

And the thing he did that opened my eyes was he saw a bias in himself, (and me too) that we concentrated on triumphs of the trailing team over the killer performance of the leading team. He made a point of it to laud and highlight the premier performance of the team in front - while still getting excited about the underdogs coming back at it.

This opened my eyes. I still commentate the performance of the leading team, but often I underplay it as if they're already in front, who needs to cheer them?

A beautiful moment of self-realization. Those ladies are winning. We should celebrate that skill. It was a tiny thing, but shocked me.

When having a conversation about who to choose, a lovely woman said that sometimes inexperience can be an asset, and this is exactly what happened. Tristan being green to the whole thing added a new perspective that made the whole night golden.

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April 29th, 2014

09:42 pm - Update on KCR
Earlier in the year there was a big kerfuffle regarding a 'mass' defection to a new league, the Kingston City Rollers.

Something like 7 skaters from South Sea and East Vic announced they were leaving, all on the same day.

It was pretty obvious it was orchestrated, and at the time nobody knew quite was happening, but KCR appeared in the weeks following.

Which was suicidal, in a way. KCR operates right in the heartland of South Sea, which is based out of Frankston primarily and draws skaters from North, South and East in the area. The South-East suburbs are sprawling, as you are aware.

But there's not too many rinks left to train at! Rink space is vital, obviously. The space is built for skaters and the surface is ideal. East Vic and South Sea already shared a roller hockey shed at Dandenong Showgrounds, and South Sea has Peninsula Skateworld so sewn up that they've got their logo painted up on the back wall, five metres high....

That leaves Skateworld Mordialloc, and that's where Kingston City ended up. Basically in enemy territory.

Why did they split? Numerous reasons. Personalities butted up - which is always going to happen when you put 20, 40, 60 strong, intelligent women together to make decisions, meeting two or three nights a week. And coaching ideologies was the real driver - KCR wanted to do it different. A prominent husband-wife couple wanted to do it different.

Fair enough too. If it is impossible to change it from the inside then maybe new territories are the only option.

So KCR got training and spruiked for established or bouting skaters. They weren't ready for fresh meat, no program yet. Just trying to get disaffected or curious skaters over to see if the grass was greener.

And this happened - I talked to a bouting skater from SSRD who skipped over after Kingston City was established, and she said that very thing: 'I wanted to see if the grass was greener.' Fair enough too if your only experience is with a single league. But she had come back to South Sea. 'It was not,' she said, flatly.

It was never going to be easy for Kingston City. The tyranny of rink choice, and that the principals still lived in the area, meant they had no choice but to dwell in South Sea lands.

So recently I learned they had been described, cattily, as 'the boutique league that flopped'. Pretty harsh, but maybe true.

I first got inklings when I saw posts that were stating they were doing open scrimmage. Scrimmage is a trial bout - you're doing jams and everything is as official as you can make it, minus the trappings of audience, music and MC's. But 'open', meaning, anyone could come along - any higher level or bouting skater, boys or girls. KCR were desperate for numbers, and possibly because they didn't even have the numbers for proper scrimmage themselves. What's minimum numbers? 10 skaters, I guess, your barest of the bare.

I learned a real talent, a mid-20's athlete who'd been a ferociously fast and agile jammer for South Sea, was now 'taking a break' from derby.

From what I can tell of another's facebook page, she's got no posts about derby, and is into pole dancing now (for fitness!!)

Things are looking a little dire for Kingston City and now I can't really feel happy about that, despite their seeming transgressions about how they started.

They're doing fresh meat intake finally. Maybe that will breathe a little life into things. Because as another skater explained, she felt sorry for those girls who weren't bouting yet, and swapped over full of hopes for a new thing, and may never get to bout, at least, not with KCR.

At least, not for years. Seriously. It took South Sea something like eight months to a year to get numbers for bouting. Their first bout was half guest skaters from VRDL and country leagues. And SSRD were operating in a fertile land! The only other league nearby then was VRDL, up in the North.

So Kingston City really have some cards stacked against them; some of that they did to themselves, and some of it couldn't be helped.

The problem is that if it had been approached a different way; and the primaries had informed leagues they were doing this prior to the mass orchestrated defection, their reputation may not have been so tarnished. It's happened before. Northside Rollers were born of a South Sea skater leaving to form her own league, with other like-minded women. South Sea itself was formed because women down the coast were tired of driving!

Neither of them poached half a dozen skaters in a synchronized plan. and everything is amicable between those leagues.

Some bad decisions were made, and Kingston City is unfortunately suffering the fallout from them. 

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April 13th, 2014

12:07 am - Hmmm
If I didn't know better I'd swear East Vic were trying to poach me. Get to the bout, I am given a giant glittery blue gift bag. Inside is a plastic pocket with a sheet on run times, sheet on all the things they needed me to say, and covering 85% of the standard questions I normally ask by wandering about and checking up on (late changes, raffle prizes, announcements) AND a pen, just in case I am a chump MC who doesn't bring one, and four mini Creme eggs.

I will mark them down on saying they'll have a rules demo and not having any text to read, leading me to hurriedly dot point it from memory and doing a very roughshod job of it freestyling it. I'll mark them up knowing the limitations of their venue and having a walkie talkie to handle comms from the floor to the very insulated announcer booth, and also mark them up for not only doing the standard pizza at the afterparty, but also including a generous esky of free booze.

Say what you will about EVRD, they're a plucky league who struggle to keep a strong lineup due to the vagaries of injuries and being just another one of the Melbourne leagues, of which there are many, who lose and gain players on an equal amount, but they've gotten their bout production down to a fine art, in a short time, and for me, that is a great pleasure.

The only thing that pained me is that they lost by over 200 points, and as the home team, with a crowd of around 200 people, many are friends and family, but some are blow-ins, strangers, locals, etc. There's utterly no guarantee the latter half will return if that home team get beat all the time. Some of the reasons they got beat were out of their control - late dropouts, etc, but other reasons they can fix, and that's ramping up the standard of testing and training. That will take time, and awareness. Some bootstrapping into 'if we want to compete, we need to be more competitive'.

The nature of derby is falling away from home bouts to interleague, as it should. Competing against other crews. The standards get higher and higher.

But I get away from myself. I think they really enjoy having me/us there (tonight I worked with Titasaurus, bouting skater and coach from South Sea, with whom I have done it once before and am falling into great rhythm), and I think they let us know with the gratitude of the gift bags. Extremely thoughtful.

But my allegiance is still with SSRD. They gave me the spot. For half a year there they paid me in beer. That's going to take some topping. Creme eggs just don't quite cut it. I brought them home and gave them to my wife.  

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March 26th, 2014

12:02 am - Work type stuff
Call at 10 am to group of Service Delivery Managers in the US office (dudes and ladies who rep for all the airports we provide service for) for refresher training. Lots of questions, 'Oh, I see' positive responses, and engagement.

At home for call and screen sharing to customers at Heathrow Airport at 8pm. Lots of 'OK, please send us ALL YOUR DOCO AND VIDEOS because they will be very useful'.

Sometimes I feel ever so grown up. Other times not so much.

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March 24th, 2014

11:35 pm - Smashed Geelong
You may have heard mention of some rivalry between South Sea and Geelong. Some bad blood. Somebody spat on someone, I don't know who it was, who was involved, even whether it was volitional. Maybe someone in GRDL spits, maybe someone was in the way. Primaries in SSRD look to downplay this rivalry, even though it is evident from anyone remotely involved in the league.

Here are the facts. I think back in 2012, South Sea 'crossed the bay' to play Geelong. GRDL won that. A good win.

At The Great Southern Slam two years ago, SSRD's travel team managed an amazing upset win, pulling forward in the last half of the second half to win against Geelong.

One for one, so far.

Then we had the Vic-Tas tournament last year. Stripping out regional leagues, knocking out Tassie leagues, the top three were South Sea, Geelong, and Vic champs, VRDL. In the semis, GRDL outstripped South Sea to make it against VRDL. Another rough game full of big hits, rough play, plenty of penalties. South Sea took third in the tournament.

Geelong up in the tally.

Then, because no-one really wants to play VRDL's insane talent, the recourse is to punt GRDL v SSRD - two of Victoria's premier leagues. An interesting match-up - South Sea is Vic's second biggest league, and for whatever reasons, GRDL is full of veteran players and tough-ass bitches who grew up in the rough town. Seriously, I don't know how GRDL do it - they're like a country town, but manage to find and keep warriors. South Sea do have their own subset of hardass bitches, but also have the advantage of a fine reputation and a bigger population to draw on.

So last weekend Geelong hosted a bout that set the Sirens, the SSRD A team against their A team, the Bloody Mary's, and in a second bout, South Sea's Banshees, the B team against their B's, the Virgin Marys.

SSRD clinched both bouts in a resounding manner. Sirens clawing ahead, but in a strong way, in the second half, and Banshees dominating.

Double win, and putting the premier travel teams on a two for two footing. So fucking happy. For South Sea to head over for a visitors match, and the visitors to crush the home teams, one can't help having a proprietary pride in that.

This is beginning of a lasting and epic rivalry. The stuff that legends are made of.

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March 20th, 2014

11:29 pm - Ankles and knees
I'm so emotionally invested in this league that every time I hear of a freshie, red, amber, green or bouting skater who has an injury that will take them out of the running for months, years, or permanently that I get this fucking pang of 'noooooo'. People I haven't even met.

Bouting skaters rarely do it. They're at peak fitness. All that infrastructure around the knees and ankles is in top flight condition. Strong muscles, flexible ligaments.

But all those women coming up, they're pushing so hard, learning new skills - crossovers, transitions, juking and weaving, they're pushing themselves to the absolute limit. Add that to nine other ladies putting their feet down, right in proximity, slamming into them, there are gonna be injuries.

It's like first year uni or second. Attrition rates. You take in a high number because you know only a smaller amount is going to push through to the next.

But it doesn't stop me from the feels, from seeing the forum or the FB group where yet another skater announces the bad news and I think 'There goes another one I'm not gonna see on the jammer line in 6 months, fuck.'

There are some untouchables. Some women, many of them from South Sea inception, who just seemingly are bulletproof. Good skaters, amazing humans. They are born for derby. Every busted knee highlights these athletes.

I'd prefer to see skaters drop off or fade away. Every time I see someone valiantly announce they're off for 6 months or for good because of injury, it hurts my heart because I know that bouting was a dream of theirs.

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February 18th, 2014

11:29 am - Wow
Also something I learned on the weekend was that a derby skater I know managed to embezzle ten thousand dollars from her league.

So that's pretty staggering. Obviously she's not... really doing derby anymore. Also her boyfriend dumped her after learning it.

So yeah. Wow. 

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