Khaos Travels Europe part 1 / Holland.

My trip was planned around roller derby. Playing, reffing, announcing, coaching, playing more, and maybe playing as well.  🙂 When you have been out of the sport for over a year with injury, and are given the go ahead, it is hard not to get excited.

In a previous blog, I had written about coming back from injury, and one of the sections was ‘Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD’ and I wish I had taken my own advice.
I practiced with Parliament of Pain on my first day in the country. I am still easing back into full play and testing my footwork. I got to practice my bravery. The following day, I was convinced to go to Utrecht to practice with the Dom City Derby Girls. I arrived after a very cold journey to find that their venue was outdoors.
I was not prepared for a 40*F night time practice with a breeze. I was unhappy in general (I am from Florida) and I should have thought about a weakened right leg. I did an off skates warm up and then cardio endurance without a problem, but then we started standing in lines and doing drills designed for fresh meat. I should have exited. Instead I stayed on my skates, determined to participate and get to scrimmage in hour 3. However, at the end of hour 2, my legs were very cold. My legs are weaker than they once were to begin with. I threw a light offensive screen to the outside, and when I extended my left leg, hear two cracks on the outside.

At Utrecht

I went down and knew immediately something was wrong. I de-geared. I started stretching immediately. It did not swell right away, and I could walk on it right away, but it felt very very familiar. It felt weak and damaged.

One of the girls not scrimmaging was nice enough to take me to the train station (I had a 45 minute train journey ahead of me with my gear… I was not looking forward to steps, and the rocking of the train).

Dibsy was a dear and met me at the Den Haag Centraal station. From there we had the adventure of trying to find an ER that was open (we went to one that was closed first). Once we were seen, the doctor did the stability test and said ‘it could be meniscus. It could be MCL. It could be ACL. Could be a strain, or a tear. We can’t help you. You should stop doing anything strenuous until you’re back in the states.’

left knee swelling

With a full 5 weeks of derby planned, I decided to tap into my 2012 self and I accepted that I would spend the majority of my time in Holland with my leg elevated, playing on my tablet. Which sucks. A lot. I did not go to the beach. I did not go to Eindhoven to visit Left Turn Skates. I did not go climbing. I elevated. I did PT. I massaged. I walked now and again. I stayed off skates at practice the next day. I took myself off of the scrimmage roster for the weekend. I alerted my HR that I might not be able to ref. 

With self care (and a couple Stroopwaffles), I was able to gear up that Saturday. I did not have footwork. I did not have maneuverability. I was able to IPR the first game, and then took my skates off to bench coach THE WORLD against the Parliament of Pain Queens of Pain. Bench coaching is a thing I love doing but haven’t had a chance to do much of. I got to practice my calming control of the bench, I got to work on my time management, and the way to handle ORs.

Me and Dipsy

Note: Through talking with other refs that also bench coach, a new perspective on Official Reviews has come up. Now I not only look at what I should review, but also WHICH ref I think would be able to overturn the call/no call. Granted, this is not the way I will approach ALL ORs, but it is something I am keeping in mind moving forward.  

The training in the Netherlands was surprising to me. Not every team in the states is all bizness all the time, but it has been a while since I’ve met teams that self-proclaim themselves as a ‘Drinking team with a derby problem’. Cross-training, it was later confirmed in Belgium, is new to this part of the world. It’s only been an embraced concept for a season or two. Training in general was more relaxed for skaters and on skates officials than I am accustomed to seeing. The desire is there, but they really are a couple years behind the American derby curve. It was really interesting to observe.

This ended my Holland derby experience. Lots of hugs, new friends, a raucous after (and after-after) party, a lot of food & love for the volunteers, and a hangover day of eating the leftovers sent me to Belgium with a belly full and a heart overflowing.

Onto the next!

About the author:

Merry Khaos is a member of Tampa Roller Derby and part of our #skateforsteaks team.
Find out more about her on her STEAKS skater profile page

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