Backstage with the All Star Reserves

Cirque Du Slay #23  

I was already well into my game day when the audience watched the Auld Reekie Roller Girl All Star Reserves take to the track for our first jam against Granite City’s Northern Fights on Saturday. As usual, the team had met in our changing room hours before to start the process of preparing ourselves mentally and physically to be the most in sync, super-gelled, teamiest of teams.

This transformation involves a mixture of long-running ARRG traditions, season-specific Reserves rituals and one-off activities. So many of the anecdotes, in-jokes and rituals that gel teams together and make game days so special come from this period. I have bonded with various ARRG teamies reading anonymous nice comments they’ve written about me, constructing a web of (imaginary) wool to symbolise our (not imaginary) combined strength, playing with balloons perilously close to a row of shower heads and wildly waving my teamies’ arms around in a sort of charades by proxy (the clue was “winning”, obviously).

The masterminds behind all this excitement – i.e. the leadership team, spend hours rolling out this program of activities, corralling 15 people, doing their own game prep and trying to keep their cool when the umpteenth person asks them what’s the time/what time is the warm up/do they have time to go to the toilet? On Saturday this fine team consisted of co-captains Puke and Doom, Bench Coach Collie and Line Up Manager McPain, who kicked off Organised Team Fun by way of positive post-its. Everyone wrote their name on a post-it and their teamies filled it in by describing them in one word … beginning with the same letter as their name. In case you were wondering, this is quite hard, but it did produce some wonderfully creative and unconventional compliments (always lovely to hear your pal thinks you’re “civilised”).

The Reserves’ Biggest Fan Award trophy made an appearance: a beautifully constructed work of art and mechanical engineering which functions on occasion as an actual fan but has sadly proved poorly suited to the jet-set life required by our recent game schedule. It allows us to tell a teamie at each game who did something particularly awesome that We Are Your Biggest Fan! and would afterwards be handed over to an incredibly deserving new winner.

Next came the warm ups, off skates first and what better way to warm up than Strip the Willow? Even if it was far scarier than the roller derby – for my partner at least, pre-game adrenaline seemed to inspire the same wild zeal as the drunk finale of a ceilidh – but miraculously we all made it to the end of the music in one piece and pretty warm besides. Then in full kit, we continued to warm up our bodies and our brains, increase our communication and raise our aggression levels ready to play at 100% from the very first jam.

After being fired up by a final pep talk from Captain Puke, followed by our properly inspired team chant (Chant! Chant! Chant! HUH!!!), it was time for the first jam. I then played a bloody amazing game of roller derby as part of the most in sync, super-gelled, teamiest of teams and we won by 179 points to 99. Cos we were prepared and stuff. It was pretty fun.