One Year Ago…
….we were training hard for our very first bout. Our league had 20-25 members and was still new to roller derby. Our very first bout was on 13 August 2011 against our good friends, the Essen Devil Dolls of Germany. When we started out, hardly knowing how to skate, the Devil Dolls opened their derby hearts and training facilities to us, so it was only fitting for us to play our very first game against them. With our brand new bench coach Hurricane Hayles leading us into our first bout, we didn’t know what to expect. We were pretty overwhelmed when it started, I can tell you! Not only because of the excitement of the bout, or Gina Gasolina’s jamming, but we were positively overwhelmed with the amount of support we got from all the Dutch fans! In the second half we picked up our game and played our hearts out, making the score 165-83 at the final whistle.
Picture by Branko Colin
When it was over, a lot of us needed a moment to recuperate. Not because of the excitement, but because after almost two years of hard work, blood, sweat and tears, we finally did what we came to do: WE PLAYED ROLLER DERBY! But we didn’t recuperate for long, as we needed to get ready to take on new fresh meat. At this point, our league had evolved into a pretty solid organisation with three trainings a week (league practice, fresh meat practice and ‘advanced’ practice). We welcomed new fresh meat three times a year, starting off with a fresh meat day where new skaters get a chance to see what derby is all about and whether they are interested in joining us. (If you’re interested, e-mail us at email@example.com).
In November 2011 we had our second bout and our very first fly away bout! We flew to Ireland to play against the Cork City Firebirds. First of all let me tell you how much fun it is to fly to another country with 18 derby girls, a ref and a medic — it’s madness! There was ref dancing at the airport and fun and laughter all around.
The bout itself was an awesome experience. At our first one we knew quite a few of our opponents, but in Cork we didn’t, which pretty daunting. Dealing with the tiredness after a full day of travel and having to deal with frustration was also new to us. And, oh my, how we learned! It was a super exciting bout and we had loads of fun!
Picture by Sound of Photography
Another thing we started over the past season….. Dutch roller derby has been growing like crazy recently, with no less than 15 leagues in the Netherlands!
As the first league in the country, we felt like we needed to share the derby love and make sure smaller leagues had the opportunity to get some scrimmage practice, too. Since we love to scrimmage, we think: the more practice, the better.
At the end of 2011 we started a monthly scrimmage practice that was open to everybody who was scrimmage-ready, and we’ve had no less than 9 scrimmages this season. It started out with just a few skaters from other leagues, but within a few months it got busier and busier. Skaters were showing up from all over the country, with incidental visiting skaters from Germany, the US and Austria.
Of course, the scrimmages have not just been a practice for skaters, but also for referees and NSOs (Non Skating Officials). All of us need practice, and refs and NSOs like skaters don’t always have the chance to practice their skills within their leagues, as some leagues just don’t have enough players ready to scrimmage. At the monthly scrimmages, all the refs and NSOs got the chance to learn. Even our photographers learned how to shoot roller derby pictures, something new for them.
I know what you’re thinking: this is pretty much a win-win situation! And well, you’re right, because it is!
Roller derby is so much more than just a sport, it’s a community. And these past months you could see the Dutch roller derby community really come together during our mixed scrimmages. Having skaters, refs and NSOs from no less than 7 or 8 leagues come together once a month and have an amazing learning experience benefits all of us in so many ways: I have seen friendships flourish, Dutch derby meetings have been held, there have been a lot of ‘scrimmage cherry poppings’, and some derby love all around.
We would like to give a shout out to all Dutch roller derby leagues (make sure to check out the nearest derby league near you!) and a very special shout out to the people who make sure we can play: all the officials! We couldn’t do this without you! We hope that all the friendships and collaborations between Dutch skaters and officials will last for a very long time. See you all next season!
We started out the New Year with our very first home bout on 25 February 2012. It was exciting, as we were finally able to play in front of our friends and family. But as president of our league, I was curious to see how we would do as a league in organising this bout. Every member within ADD did an amazing job putting this together! Like all starting leagues, in the beginning, a lot of work seems to come down to a few people, and it’s hard. People can get overworked to the point were they might not even enjoy derby anymore, but not with this bout. All the committees did what they were supposed to do and it was just a complete joy to see it all coming together. To top it off, our bout was sold out and there were about 600 people at our very first home bout, which was also the first roller derby bout of the Netherlands. The cherry on top was that we also won our very first bout against the Roller Girls of the Apocalypse from Kaiserslautern, Germany. We had a great day!
Only three weeks later we had our fourth bout against the well-established Hamburg Harbor Girls. And what a bout this was! The level of hits was something we were not used to and it we needed to adjust. The crowd was INSANE! There were hooligans and even a streaker! When I saw the Hamburg fans, I could only hope that in a few years the excitement of the Dutch fans will be at that level at all our bouts, too.
Photo by DirtyJob
In the meantime we have had two new batches of fresh meat and we were getting to the point were we could actually pick people to play a bout instead of having people that had never played before. We didn’t have a solid team that played the whole season, which I guess is logical when you are just starting out. However, it was nice to see the growth in our league and see a lot of new eager derby girls that wanted to get in on the action. We formed a B-team, but it wasn’t a solid team of only B-team players: it was a mix of a few A-team players with mostly B-team players. This B-team made history when they played their first B-team bout against another Dutch team. They took on the Eastside Rock’nRollers whose first bout it was as well. It was a very exciting game for them, and the first half the B-team gave it their all. Unfortunately in the second half they lost with a few too many power jams against and the Eastside Rock’nRollers won with 208-88.
Picture by Dennis Stempher
Season 2011-2012 comes to an end
The final bout of the season was our A-Team bout against the A-Team of Rainy City Manchester. Another fly away bout, and again so much fun! Travelling with derby girls is just a lot of fun, especially when one of your girls brings a long a TDK boombox! The crazy dancing had already started at the airport meeting point. This was the most intense bout we have ever played. Rainy City is ranked on the Euroderby.org website in Division 1 and we are ranked Division 3, so we knew this wasn’t exactly going to be a easy bout… Being so new at bouting, we didn’t know exactly what we were getting ourselves into when we got the invitation to play against Rainy City, but we like a challenge, so we took it up!
We played our hearts out. It was a high skill level bout and we got hit harder than ever. They used tactics we had to counter without ever having dealt with them before. And we did amazing! We did everything right, we were a solid team, but we were also a little out of our league… So we got our asses handed to us in points, the final score being 390-55. But again, we played well, no matter the score. It was a great bout and an amazing learning experience.
So this has become a longer story then I intended when I started writing it, but so much has happened this past year. We started bouting, we played a total of 5 bouts and one B-team bout. We grew from 20-something into 70 (!) members. We have had injuries to deal with and we had to say goodbye to beloved teammates moving away and welcoming new ones.
I’m just so terribly proud of our league and what we’ve accomplished. And I cannot wait for our next season because we have exciting stuff coming up. We will finally be setting up a proper A and B team and two home teams!
We will start practicing more and harder, so that the Amsterdam Derby Dames will be ready to kick some serious ass in our second season! We have many bouts planned and our very first tournament . For the Skates of Glory tournament we be playing at least two bouts and if we do really well, we might play another for the finals.
This season was just the beginning of an epic journey we call the Amsterdam Derby Dames.