Answers by Menace – Rainy City Roller Derby
How would you describe your team?
#team awkward. A bunch of loveable weirdos who just so happen to all be extremely talented at playing roller derby. We have good vibes in our team, thanks to our shared interest in snacks and fun socks.
How would you introduce your team to the audience?
We are Rainy City Roller Derby from Manchester, UK! We bounced into division 1 last year after a great performance at Beach Brawl, and showed the derby world that we intend to stay there at the D1 playoff in Columbia. We are an ambitious league on and off the track, and are taking on the organisation of some big events this year, including the WFTDA roller derby world summit in April and the world cup in February 2018. It’s going to be a really exciting year for us!
Tell me some fun facts about your team that can’t be googled?
We listen to some pretty weird music during our warm ups, we oscillate between x-rated hip-hop with dirty bass-lines and the rudest lyrics you’ve ever heard, and 90s ballads, think Shania Twain. If I pick the music it’s 80s power ballads for hours.
2016 was your first playoffs – how was it?
Incredible, although for me it didn’t really sink in until afterwards. We knew we deserved to be there, but to be able to translate that belief into action on the track in such a high-pressure environment was a big challenge. The tournament environment is a unique catalyst for learning, and we are able to make changes after each game to help with the next one. Our coach Mick Swagger was amazing at spotting those weaknesses and helping us to make those fixes as we progressed. Overall we did a great job and learned so much from the experience, it gave us a long shopping list of things we wanted to work on as a team.
How about rankings development in the past – what kind of problems have you faced regarding funding the travelling?
In the past it was essential for us to travel to the states in order to play sanctioned games with the potential to boost our rankings, there were so few high ranked teams in Europe that we had no other option. So it wasn’t cheap and we had to do a lot of fundraising to help with this, our bootcamps are our most successful fundraisers as we have a lot of roller derby teams in the UK who are keen to learn, a lot of excellent coaches within our team, and our own venue which keeps costs down for us. We also have some pretty hot merch designs thanks to our amazing bench coach Michael Watson, and they always sell out quickly. Get there early to the merch table at the FINvitational! We’ve also hosted other events, scrimmages, raffles etc. and we’re really grateful for all the support we’ve had. The reality is that we still had to fund ourselves individually too, it’s bloody expensive getting to America!
Luckily this year we are able to stay in Europe for the tournament season, thanks to the increasing numbers of high-ranked euro teams, but we are still fundraising hard in anticipation of hopefully competing at playoffs again this year.
Upcoming fundraisers include our legendary Beast It bootcamp in May which covers all aspects of being a top performing team player. It’s a blend of on skates skills, drill and strategy, and off skates sessions with focus on mental toughness and nutrition. We will also be hosting a fundraiser scrimmage which is always a lot of fun, keep an eye on www.rainycityrollerderby.com/events for tickets and dates.
Do you ever feel like you are competing with the same teams again and again? Is this an advantage or a disadvantage?
Not right now, we have some brand new opponents coming up this year and some games against teams we haven’t played for a while, as well as some games against teams we played last year and are really looking forward to playing again!
I can see how it might feel like this for teams who have been in D1 for a while, especially in Europe. In some ways you could use this to your advantage, you become more familiar with a team’s style of play and can adapt your play to counter their strengths, but the challenge of playing a team you have never played before is so valuable, you learn things that you could never anticipate. Being a D1 team also opens a lot of doors to play teams you would not have been able to play before, so we intend to make the most of these opportunities.