Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Derby and Fresh Air...Do They Mix?

I just came back from one of the best trainings I've been to in a while; it was hosted by the Kill Devil Derby Brigade, and they brought Getsome Athletics to the area for a great invitational and skills clinic opportunity.  I was excited, because it sounded like a lot of fun, and both Carmen Getsome and Shorty Ounce are amazing skaters.  Yea!  Derby training!  But as I was reading all of the exciting things we would be doing, I realized that this clinic and tournament would be held outside.

Uh, what?  Outside?  Madness!  There's sun
Photos by Glenn McGregor
out there! North Carolina isn't extreme with its weather, but  I mean, I know that "back in the day" Gotham skated in a parking lot because they didn't have enough people to rent a rink, and I realize that other leagues have skated in games outside, but it seemed like skating outside was not something most leagues did on a regular basis.  Of course I asked around, and everyone just said "That's where they skate."  Really?  What if it rained?  How bad would my skates get beaten up on the concrete?  Damn.  Rain?  Are they taking this training situation seriously?

It turns out, that yes.  They definitely were taking the training seriously.  Even though it rained the two nights we were there, both the tournament and the training went on as planned.  It was great! Getsome Athletics did an amazing job training us, and the tournament was a blast too. The Kill Devil Derby Brigade made sure there was plenty of water and hydrating drinks on site, and they really were the perfect hosts.  This whole experience really changed my mind about playing derby outside, but I had some follow up questions about why this league was practicing outside.

I asked Blazin' Cajun to explain why and how the Kill Devil Derby Brigade started skating outside, and how they dealt with all of the crazy things that can happen when you don't have a roof over your head and the wind in your face.  My comments are italicized. 

Yes, I'm wearing a sun shirt. Yes, I'm the whitest white woman ever.
"Aviation Skate Park is owned by the Town of Kill Devil Hills, NC, which has been incredibly supportive and good to us. It is a public space for the citizens to use. It was originally built for roller hockey, and the space is free to use. The only indoor track was owned by a church and the derby team was not welcomed to skate there."

"Being located in a resort area, the real estate is is very very expensive; the 2 or 3 buildings that might have been available on the beach were not large enough for a track or in good condition The Outer Banks is a peninsula so the amount of land available is very limited also. We would have to go inland to find a building. In the beginning of KDDB, we only had ten skaters,  so funds were very low. Due to those factors it was decided to make the best of what was available."

"The obstacles we face are all brought on by Mother Nature. You (speaking to me) got to see first hand what rain or a heavy mist will do to the track. We have gotten pretty good at drying it the best we can!"  Boy, they are good at drying the track, by using towels, leaf blowers and a giant squeegee.  It was quite impressive!

"We skate there year round. We have delay practice by an hour a few times in the summer due to the heat; with the heat index, it is not unusual to skate in 98 to 103 degrees. We get a lot of guest skaters in the summer due to this being a tourist area. The guest skaters are always shocked and affected by the heat. We stay hydrated as much as possible and yes there has been some puking on the track due to heat more than once. We are very good at monitoring each other, and we let a teammate know when they are looking like they need a break. We have skated there for almost 3 years. It is very hard to schedule teams here due to only having an outdoor track. I don't blame a team for not wanting to commit the travel time, money, etc and then it rains and they are out all of that." The sun is what got to me.  I was sunburned the first day and trying to stave it off during the second day.  If you're going to skate outside, I recommend some serious sport sunscreen, the water proof type!"
Blazin' Cajun at summer practice. Photo by Roy Edlund

"Our track is very hard on gear. There is several of us that have skates that are only 1 to 1 1/2 years old but if you look at them,  they look five years old. Our pads wear very fast too. The hardest thing to get used to is the hardness of the surface when you fall When we travel and skate on indoor tracks it is like falling on pillows. You really have to be aware of how you fall, make sure gear is good condition, and stay in derby stance to avoid impact injuries due to the concrete. We practice 6-8 hours a week (weather permitting) so your body takes a beating at times." She's completely right, because my body felt way more sore than it normally would after that amount of skating.  I was also mourning the grinding down of me toe stops; that rough surface was having its way with them.

"The past year our team has gotten a lot of great exposure so I hope that will led to some opportunities for an indoor facility."  Thanks Blazin' Cajun!

How hardcore is that?  I know that there are other teams that practice outside, but it just seems amazing to me that they can keep it up year round in crazy Carolina weather.  These ladies are dedicated to derby, and they make me feel kind of wimpy when I bitch about our practice space issues.  Obviously, the Kill Devil Derby Brigade ladies have shown the world what a lot of determination and a little thinking outside of the track can accomplish.  So, what's keeping you from getting your butt to league practice?


  1. My league has the Travel Team practice outside on a basketball court. It is a huge difference for falls. We are also in Texas, so hydration is a huge concern. But. It is a free spot and the nice days are awesome. Old indoor wheels are the best thing I have found for the surface.

  2. My team practices outside all year long too. And in Florida. The heat and rain make summers miserable. But we got used to it and it actually makes our endurance that much better. If we can practice and scrimmage in 100 degree weather, we will come and kick your ass in the AC ;)

  3. Kill Devil sounds like they have run into the many of the same issues we had here at Miami's Vice City Rollers. We don't have an adequate indoor facility in Dade County, real Estate is expensive etc etc. So we also use an outdoor Roller Hockey Rink at the Golf Course(?! Go figure- it used to be a Tennis Court). Weather is always a bitch and Practices are at night due to the Sweltering heat and humidity. We have had to cancel a couple of games due to weather as well (did I mention the parts of the Track Swells up and blisters? ), which in turn causes us to redo our home schedule in the "Dry" season and do Away games when during rainy season. But in the end it is all worth it. Our skaters are dedicated to Roller Derby and show up to get it done. I amazed at the endurance and stamina they have, and it comes into play when they go to and indoor rink with AC and "Soft" floors.

  4. Blazin Cajun is a beast! We had the pleasure of her visiting our league in Louisiana a while back and she was a wealth of knowledge. We skate indoors and I recentky played my first outdoor bout down south (and it was co-ed ) and I hurt in completely different places than I do after an indoor bout. Outside ain't no joke!

  5. A local ref in our area (Wilmington, Delaware) has started organizing a monthly outdoor scrimmage that is free and open to all skaters (women, men, banked track, flat track). The scrimmage is played under WFTDA rules and has been a great experience. It has been a great way for local leagues to interact and build relationships. He won't be doing them year round since we may get ice and snow, but anyone traveling through Delaware starting again in April 2014 should keep an eye out for a "First Friday Hootenany" on Facebook.

    Plus, when I was on vacation last year in the Outer banks I tried to skate with KDDB but practice was cancelled due to the excessive heat. A few laps on the track was all you needed to sweat out all the vacation foods.

  6. We skate outdoors year round. We typically adjust our practice times due to the weather (10am Saturdays in the summer, 11am in the winter). We have had multiple people throw up during the summer nights practice (I am known for this lol) and we have also had our water freeze during winter practice. The difference from practicing outside to bouting at indoor venues is crazy! We are a small league and unfortunately the local rink refuses to let us skate in their spot. We don't pay a fee for our spot and we have made it our own.

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