Carrnage- Team England Try Outs Pt1

You might know Carrnage as a skater for the Crash Test Brummies but he is also one of our lovely customer service staff here at Skate Hut and has recently taken a huge step in applying for Team England Men’s Roller Derby.

Here is his run down of everything from the application process to the first try-out.

When the announcement was made about Team England try outs my first thought to myself was “maybe next time”.  I haven’t been doing this for that long and I felt as though I was still too new to derby and didn’t “deserve” to try out for my country. After many, many, many conversations with my team mates and friends they convinced me that I should at least try out for experience.  So I eventually plucked up the courage and booked my place (Many thanks to Robert Quadriguez for that final push).

Then came a lot of panic in trying to find my birth certificate to prove my eligibility but finally I had my confirmation- I would be taking part in the southern try outs. As in, I was actually going to try out for Team England (gulp). The big day was almost upon me, I checked I had all of my kit packed and ready to go. I then checked again 20 minutes later just in case I had imagined 2 elbow pads when there had only really been one there. I was determined to have an early night and be well rested ready for the early start in the morning but my nerves had other ideas so finally got to sleep about 1am despite going to bed at 9pm.

I woke up ready and rearing to go despite the lack of sleep. I checked all my pads and then double checked again. While waiting for my lift, I ate some breakfast and then checked my pads one last time.  During the 2.5hour drive down to the try outs I had mixed emotions of excitement and nerves with a dash of confidence and a little bit of sheer panic.  Thankfully, Jelly was driving and had seen the 2013 try-outs so had a few pointers on what to focus on and how to prepare.

Upon arrival at the venue I made my way in through the main doors and spotted the signs- TEAM ENGLAND DERBY TRY OUTS THIS WAY. That is when it all became real. I kitted up but hadn’t put on my face paints I had told myself I wasn’t going to do it. As the time drew closer and nerves grew I caved in, I went to the toilets and painted up. Whist I am a good skater as I am… CARRNAGE is far better than me. I become a different person, I become confident and unafraid. As I rolled back in to the changing room I felt great about myself and I was ready to get the day under way.

We had some free time in the hall to get used to the floor. It was great, just the right amount of grip. Anyone that knows me will tell you…. I can be very clumsy. Before the tryouts had even begun I lost my footing and slid along the floor giving myself a huge friction burn down the length of my calf just by playing around and warming up. Once the tryouts started I quickly got my footing, we started with drills, the first was a solo drill with Rob B G calling out  instructions for us to follow. I can do everything that was asked but under the pressure it all felt as if the impossible was being asked. Then came the pair work, the drill was to laterally steer your partner off track which as a jammer was really good practice for me. The final drill is where I really felt at home. Everyone split up in to 4s around the track and each person took a number. 1 skater left the wall to jam their way through all of the other walls until completing a full lap of the track back to your own wall at which point you re-joined your wall as a blocker until everyone had jammed.

Now the bit everyone wanted to get down to- SCRIM TIME!!!!!!! An hour and a half to show the selection committee what we all had to offer, our individual skills and style plus our attitude and how we work with other people.  I jammed 1 on 1 off for the first few jams and I felt amazing. I kept up the pace for most of the first half until a cracking hit from one of the current Team England skaters gave me a complete dead leg just as I took off for an apex jump. Upon landing I couldn’t even feel that I had put my foot down- it was completely numb. I sat out for a few jams to get the feeling back in my leg before getting back at it.

Every time I came off track I was wondering if I had done the right thing during the jam. Did I call it off at the right time? Should I have tried to get a few more points before calling it? Did I chase down the other jammer fast enough? During the break I realised how hot it was in the hall, I had a drink and sat there and just thought… thought about my run up to this point. How crazy everything had gotten and how quickly things changed for me. A year earlier I had played my first real bout, as a jammer for the Crash Test Brummies. The year before that a was riding the vert ramps of the UK and didn’t even know what roller derby was and now I was sat at the Team England tryouts playing with some of the best skaters in the country and holding my own.

So the second half started and I continued to give it everything I had, the adrenaline and nervous energy started to build up so I agreed to block while I got my energy back to jam.  It is worth noting that I am NOT a blocker, it just isn’t a position I have ever played however I was so in the zone by this point that I felt like I knew exactly what I was doing for once. After a couple of jams I was ready to jam again. And gave it everything I had for the last 20 minutes until that final whistle went.

The session ended and we gathered in the middle of the track to have a debrief, we were told it would be about 2 weeks until we heard back as to whether we had made it to the next round. At that point, I realised that I had given it everything I had but there was no more I could do- I just had to wait.

I stayed to watch part of the next session before heading back on the long journey home. The whole way back I couldn’t think of anything other than how it had gone and whether I had done enough to make it through to the next round.  Despite an 8 hour round trip and the try out I had CTB training and with a busy bouting schedule I was determined not to miss it so I went straight to training, kitted up and got on a tough session, by this point the adrenaline had worn off and my body was hurting in places that had never hurt before, after close to 8 hours of skating and despite the fact that my body was hating me I felt amazing I was so proud of my performance and thought I had given it my all and just had to wait for the email after the northern try outs had finished.

While the aches and pains disappeared I found myself repeatedly checking my emails all day, every day to see if any information had come through. The one day I didn’t was the day it came through. I had been busy at work and it was lunchtime when I finally checked my inbox and saw the email. It took every bit of strength I had to bring myself to open it. I really didn’t know what to expect or what to do with the outcome. It said that I had made it through to the next round of the try-outs. I logged on to Facebook to see statuses from others who had made it through the first cut but my inbox had already filled up with messages of congratulations from people who had seen the announcement.

So that is my journey so far and it won’t be the end… The next stage of Try-outs takes place on the 14 th June so I am hard at work preparing for that.

Spectator tickets are available for the next round of try-outs. All information can be found on the Team England Men’s Roller Derby Facebook page or website here

Photos courtesy of John Hesse