Published on June 12th, 2013 | by Hale Yeah0
Ballistic Whistle by Wicked Shamrock
World Cup 2011 Retrospective: Talking with Ballistic Whistle, Team England
The site of the 2014 Roller Derby World Cup has been named: Dallas, Texas, USA. It is over the next few weeks and months that skaters, coaches, and referees will begin thinking (and trying out) to be a part of this incredible tournament.
To help give everyone a better idea of what this international event is like, we asked World Cup 2011 coaches and skaters to recount their experiences of the inaugural World Cup and extend some advice to those thinking about participating in next year’s effort.
First up, we talked to Ballistic Whistle, Coach of Team England 2011.
DL: During tryouts, what were the top one or two skills you looked for most from the skaters?
BW: Wow, that’s such a tough question. We had a long list of skills and each of the coaches valued different things higher than others, which actually made for a great cross section when it came to discussing players. For me, it had to be those that showed they had a good derby brain and an ability to adapt to new skills, while being able to quickly gain cohesiveness with players they didn’t know.
DL: Before the tournament, what did you find were the best ways of training so many skaters who were so far away from each other?
BW: The distances were definitely an obstacle, but we had arranged a few training sessions dotted around the country where the players were able to get together and work on our default strategies. We knew each of the players could play the game, so it was just a matter of getting everyone on the same page.
DL: How did you get your team to gel so quickly at the tournament? How did you handle any particular rivalries within the team?
BW: I never had a sense that there were any rivalries per se that needed to be smoothed over. Rather, we ended up with half of the team comprised of skaters from one league, so attempting to ensure that everyone felt equal was tricky, with many of the players carrying strong existing bonds. This seemed difficult for some players in that they felt that they had to “fit” with that half of the team’s way of playing. Most of the players, just by virtue of understanding the game, having good positional sense, and a willingness to play with their heads, appeared to have the players around them compliment their style and vice-versa.
DL: How did you decide on the strategy for your team?
BW: The coaching staff for the team as well as the captain and co captain had a discussion over email about various strategies and techniques for use during the various passages of derby play. Once we had comprised our opinions of what would be the most effective and easiest to train to the players with the resources we had, this information was disseminated to the team and we started training that way.
DL: What were your goals for the tournament?
BW: To win a medal. We got there…just.
DL: Looking back, what was your favorite bout?
BW: The game where it felt like the team just clicked the best was definitely the game vs France. Ireland as the first bout of the tournament was a stern and sometimes frustrating test. Playing Canada in the semi was also quite grueling, but a game that we were never truly in control of. I’d say, the game versus Australia meant the most to me personally. I am Australian after all, and it was for the 3rd place which added a little spice given the goal we set for ourselves.
DL: What advice would you give to people trying out for the 2014 team ?
BW: I would say to just showcase the player you are, skate the way you know how to skate, play the way you know how to play. Don’t change anything about your play because you feel that the coaches are looking for something specific. Playing for a national team is one of the highest honours an athlete can achieve, you’d be doing yourself and your country a disservice if you don’t play true to yourself.
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