The Secret Life of a Crossover

No, not those kinds of crossovers! 

If you skate with a league lucky enough to have more than one team, you also probably have crossover skaters: Skaters who play for both the A and B team or the home team and the travel team.

Being a crossover has its own unique challenges and benefits that you just don’t encounter when you’re only on one team.

As such, I decided to interview a few crossover skaters I know and asked them to share their knowledge, tips and advice for fellow and future crossover skaters.

 


This skater chose to remain anonymous.

Q: How long have you been a crossover skater? 

A: I can’t remember exactly but it’s been under a year. 

Q: How long have you been on the B team?  

A: I passed my mins in November 2014 and made it onto the B team sometime in the Summer 2015. 

Q: What position do you play? Is it different on each team?

A: I’m usually a jammer for the B Team so that’s what I’ve been focusing on. I have done a little bit of jamming with the A team but they have a really strong jammer pool at the moment so competition is pretty stiff. 

Q: What has been the biggest challenge since becoming a crossover? 

A: Theres a couple. First off: So. Many. Meetings. There’s pre-game meetings, post game debriefs, new season meetings, team building stuff. Then times that by two. I try to go all of them where I can to show willing and commitment but it can be hard practically, and sometimes you will have to prioritise one over the other. 

The other major challenge is mentally. You go from being a pretty solid member of a B team, that probably gets decent track time to the least capable/least played skater on the A team. That can be a bit of a Headf***. Especially when you go to all the meetings and watch the footage and try really hard at practice, you’ve probably got a slim chance of being rostered or getting significant time on track. You almost have to keep your goals high but your expectations lower (or at least realistic). 

Being a crossover helps teach you to be more mentally resilient. The great thing is you will get to learn from the best skaters on your team – so you essentially get like 11 extra coaches to help you!

Q: What are the major differences between the A & B team? 

A: The pace of a B team can be a bit different – there’s varying levels of competitiveness and dedication to Derby whereas the A team have very competitive goals and drive because they’ve been working at that level for so long. B teams are a little more transient as you get post mins moving up so you have to adapt to new people quite frequently.  Things are so fast on the A team – you’re expected to make decisions faster, to do more reps, to watch more footage. 

Q: How do you manage your time being on both teams? 

A: It used to be difficult as I wasn’t initially confident to just put myself with the A team for drills/scrimmage, just used to end up staying with the B team all the time. It can be difficult knowing where to spend your time. In the end, we ended up with a rota so we have an A team week and a B team week which seems fairer for everyone. 

Q: What are your goals as a crossover skater? 

A: Of course I eventually want to be on the A team. Several of my fellow crossovers who started with me have already moved up. That’s difficult to take, as you’re happy for them doing well but it reminds you how far you still have to go to make it. My goal is to be a strong high rotation jammer for the B team, and a reliable relief jammer for the A team. I’m also going to focus more on blocking as well so I don’t narrow my skill set too much. I really want to get track time in the A team games coming up. That’s a big deal for me. 

Q: How has being a crossover improved your skating? 

A: It showed me that on the B team you need to still bring your A game and the hustle and effort that goes with that. The A team work takes so much more of my mental and physical energy. I get things wrong more than right (which is learning, right?) but I definitely think I’ve gotten stronger as a jammer as you’re pushing against absolutely solid walls. The things that work for me as a B team jammer do not work as an A team jammer. You have to adapt. 

Q: Do you have advice for anyone who is/will soon be a crossover skater?

A: Be realistic. You are unlikely to achieve crossover status and then get rostered for all the A team games. Be prepared to sit on the bench. Be prepared to have your jams dropped so they can play power lines. It doesn’t always get easier but over time those few jams here and there will hopefully add up to progress. 

It can feel at times like you’re in a weird void – not one or the other – I would say you need to stick with your fellow crossovers and support each other. It’s a weirdly uniquely place to be and I get a lot of support from talking to my crossover league mates about any difficulties or challenges I have. 

Q: What has been the best thing about being a crossover? 

A: Even though track time has been small, I have had the chance to jam against Team Wales and Rainy City All Stars. It was super hard but it shows you the level of the teams you’re up against. I try and consider those opportunities. 

Having time with the A team can only be good for me as a B team skater and being better for my team mates. 


S’katie Perry #9 Central City Rollergirls

Q: How long have you been a crossover skater? 

A: Since transferring to CCR, around 5 months or so. 

Q: How long have you been on the B team?

A: I transferred to CCR around June/July 2016 and got placed as A/B crossover when I passed probation in September

Q: What position do you play? Is it different on each team?

A: I play as a blocker on both teams. 

Q: What has been the biggest challenge since becoming a crossover? 

A: Managing my time and switching between the different intensities of play. As rosters are not usually announced until quite close to a game for the A team, deciding when to spend time with my A team pack versus my B team pack was initially really difficult. Being a recent transfer too also added an extra level of awkwardness as I wanted to spend enough time with my B team teammates in order to properly ‘settle in’ and build the bonds and team work required seeing as this was my primary spot in the league. Chances to play A team games were very few and far between and there was no guarantee I was going to be rostered so deciding wether to give up valuable bonding time with my B team mates to practise with my A team-mates – when I potentially would not be playing with them for a long time – was always a hard decision to make/weigh up. Recently leadership have put together a rota for cross over skaters so we have designated time with both of our teams regardless of rostering plans. This had taken away so much headache and awkwardness and has really helped me focus my time during training. 

Q: What are the major differences between the A & B team? 

A: Intensity and focus. The B team has a mixed level of ability from just passed mins to been playing for years. Because of this the focus is always very middle ground and the intensity is usually a lot lower. Learning again alongside people learning for the first time is a great way to really confirm what you know and what you are good at as well as realising what you need to spend more time working on.

The A team is much more experienced so the focus and intensity is a lot higher, meaning we can work on more advanced play and ideas at a much higher/faster level. This is where my derby brain is most enriched!

Q: How do you manage your time being on both teams? 

A: As I mentioned above leadership have created a rota for crossover skaters meaning we alternate between A and B packs week by week. It makes it so much easier knowing this week I am with A, next week I am with B. Its even colour coded! In the lead up to games we go ‘Off rota’ depending on which rostered we are placed on. 

Q: What are your goals as a crossover skater? 

A: My goal is always to play to the highest level I can. So really my goal is to move in to a full A team spot, using every opportunity I get as a cross over to play the best I can at the A team level. When playing with the B team I try to work to the same level of intensity and ambition to help my team achieve the goals we set for ourselves.

Q: How has being a crossover improved your skating? 

A: Having the chance to play at a higher level has helped my own skating massively as its pushed me to skate harder, faster and smarter then I ever have before. 

Q: Do you have advice for anyone who is/will soon be a crossover skater?

A: Manage your time evenly. Make sure you get enough time with both teams – create yourself a time table if this is not something that is already in place! Pass on your experience and knowledge from training with the A team to your B team mates. Sharing is caring folks.

Q: What has been the best thing about being a crossover?

A: Being eligible to play ALL OF THE GAMES!


This skater chose to remain anonymous. 

Q: How long have you been a crossover skater?

A: I have been a crossover since January this year

Q: How long have you been on the B team?

A: I was put on the B team when I transferred in August 2016

Q: What position do you play? Is it different on each team?

A: I jam for both A and B

Q: What has been the biggest challenge since becoming a crossover?

A: The biggest challenge I have had so far is managing my energy levels and time. I live quite far away from where we train and I skate 3 times a week, 10 hours plus! That doesn’t include extra sessions leading up to games. I also try to fit in weight lifting sessions 3 times a week to ensure I get stronger! I have struggled with my confidence a little bit but I’ve been reading, “The Chimp Paradox” recently which has taught me a lot! It’s so hard not to compare yourself as well, I am constantly looking at other jammers wishing that I could just be at the level that they’re at now. I also stress out and really beat myself up if my A team blockers do offence for me and I’m just not strong enough or quick enough to get out, I get paranoid that they question why I am jamming for A. But, everything takes time (I am impatient as fuck but it’s something I’m working on…..it’s worth the wait) . I feel like I can take the pressure off a little when I skate with the B team.  I push myself so hard in A team practice and sometimes I feel that my performance suffers a little with the B team because I’m so exhausted by the end of the session. But since my off skates training and eating properly I’m feeling a bit better and balancing out my energy levels.

Q: What are the major differences between the A & B team?

A: With the leagues success over the past year it has become way more competitive. There are transfers waiting to join which is putting pressure on all teams massively to perform and to fight for a spot on the roster. I think the major differences I guess is the aggressiveness and the drive of the A team. They are so disciplined and focused, not that the B team isn’t but I feel A team are more so.

Q: How do you manage your time being on both teams? 

A: My life is literally all about roller derby. If I’m not skating I’m going to the gym to make myself stronger for roller derby. It’s hard because everyone is fighting for their roster spots so I can’t  justify taking any sessions off for ‘social’ type reasons. Unless it’s a birthday, wedding or something really super important roller derby comes first.

Q: What are your goals as a crossover skater? 

A: I 100% want to be A team. I want to go to playoffs, I want to be a strong, valuable, reliable main rotation jammer for A.

Q: How has being a crossover improved your skating?

A: Spending so much time on skates has definitely given me the chance to perfect some skills. I skate about 10 hours plus a week I get the chance to try a drill or a skill on A team and if I don’t fully get it I get more time to practice it in the B team session after at a slower pace. I am super awkward talking in a positive way about myself but some old team mates have said that I look stronger, more aggressive and my line work is tip top, which is very kind of them.

Q: Do you have advice for anyone who is/will soon be a crossover skater?

A: Always think about the bigger picture. Don’t compare yourself to anyone. Be nice and always be open to feedback. If you’re not getting feedback ask for it. Never give up..your time will come.

Q: What has been the best thing about being a crossover? 

A: I get to say that I’m part of one of the most successful dominant teams in the world and I am one step closer to my dream.