Last week Kallio All Colours brought home gold from the 2018 WFTDA Continental Cup — Europe held in Birmingham, UK on 26th-28th October. During the weekend our All Colours played three exciting games, defeating Middlesbrough Roller Derby, Tiger Bay Brawlers, and Dublin Roller Derby.
Having a clear focus on the game was key to winning, says All Colours blocker Katti Schrödinger.
“In all of the games we tried to play our own game on our terms and not get swept up by what the opposing team was doing.”
Schrödinger was happy with how the games went, apart from the difficult first half of the first game against Middlesbrough Roller Derby.
“I don’t know what it was but for the first 30 minutes everyone on the team was just going, ‘What’s happening?’ We were unable to get our handle on the game and everything felt difficult.”
After a rocky start the All Colours found their stride, proving once again that they are a second half team. Schrödinger struggles to pinpoint what exactly changed during half-time.
“Perhaps we just decided that less is more and focused on slowing down the jammer and drawing back from the jammer line. Then we found it. It was such an amazing feeling when everything just clicked. At that moment there were really good vibes spreading through the whole team.”
The sudden shift in the team’s performance didn’t go unnoticed by people watching. All Colours jammer Sara Gilbert was amused by how many people came to ask them about the team’s half-time pep talks.
“I just told them that our bench coach Niina asked us to play our own game and get less penalties. Nothing special.”
The last game against Dublin Roller Derby was incredibly close all the way, containing several lead changes and showing off the amazing talent in both teams. In the end Kallio was slightly stronger, finishing the game with a final score of 175-152.
Ultimately it came down to experience, says Gilbert.
“I think that what counted in the end was that we had more experience of playing really tough games under pressure.”
Schrödinger was awarded the MVP of the tournament, receiving special praise for her ability to tie together the Kallio defence and for serving only four penalties throughout the tournament. Schrödinger says she was shocked to hear her name called.
“This was my first MVP award since 2015 when I was playing my first games with Kallio’s C-team Piritorin Ässät. I always assume that no one outside our team even knows who I am. To get this kind of recognition from the WFTDA level feels amazing.”
European Continental Cup was also a watershed moment for the team since it was the last tournament of Gilbert and coach Poppers, who have been key figures in the team and the entire league. This last tournament was a testament not only to Gilbert’s exceptional jamming skills but also their positive attitude on the track. You could often see them playing with a grin on their face and even cheering for skaters on the opposing team.
“In every game and tournament I have wanted to show that I enjoy this game. I can play really hard and really physically but also have a laugh. And I can be sincerely happy for other people’s success,” Gilbert explains.
The positive attitude has not always come automatically.
“I was really close to quitting a few years ago. I was not enjoying playing anymore because I took it so seriously. I was just angry all the time, to myself and my teammates for not performing well enough. I was a really shitty teammate, I was shitty to the opponents and I was especially shitty to NSOs.”
Gilbert decided that they had to either radically change their own behaviour or quit. Fortunately, they chose the former.
“Then I was somehow able to bring joy into my game.”
Gilbert hopes to see even more support for opposing players on the track in the future.
“If someone does something cool on the track, it is not away from me. We should cheer them on. I think roller derby needs even more of this. We are all friends when we leave the track, so why can’t we show our admiration to our opponents on the track?”
Photo by Roller Derby on Film.