Getting to Know Power of Scotland

This weekend will see Birmingham host the 4 Nations Roller Derby Tournament. This weekend’s extravaganza will feature Team England, Team Wales, Team France and Team Scotland.  I managed to wangle an opportunity to speak to 3 members of Team Scotland’s Power of Scotland; Andy Morris, Skate Plissken  and Chris Mathieson, mainly I wanted to be nosy about how the Power Scotland have been preparing for the Wold Cup in Calgary. Since starting this blog piece, I have been informed that Plissken and Chris Mathieson have been voted in as the captains of Power of Scotland,  huge well done!

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Left to right: Mathieson , Plissken and Morris (photo credit Nikki Morris)

So, in the style of many tv hosts, I kicked off by asking a bit more about the individual skater, their history with sport and team affiliation.

First up was Plissken.

How long have you been skating for?

Come January, 3 years, with no real prior skating experience…

Which team do you currently skate for?

Nottingham Rolled Derby’s Super Smash Brollers!

Do you have a history in any other sports?

Yeah, I grew up playing rugby, then moved on to American football for a little while when at uni…

Next up was Chris Mathieson, also known as Pudz and ‘that guy who scored the first points in Power of Scotland vs Team USA in the 2014 Mens Roller Derby World Cup’.

How long have you been skating for?

I have been skating since July 2011, so just under four and a half years

Which team do you currently skate for?

Granite City Brawlermen from Aberdeen and Power of Scotland

Do you have a history in any other sports?

I used to play football as a kid but I wasn’t great at it, other than that a little bit of street hockey when I was 10 but I sprained my ankle once and never put on a pair of skates again until I tried roller derby.

And my last victim for interrogation was Andy Morris.

How long have you been skating for?

Since the Brawlermen started in November 2013, I did my first scrim in December 2014 after the Womens World Cup.

Which team do you currently skate for?

Granite City Brawlermen

Do you have a history in any other sports?

I played Rugby at school, I snowboard, Surf, Cycling, Motorbikes I’m a petrolhead!
Pre Selection

So then I wanted to learn more about the selection process for Power of Scotland.

When did you first try out for Team Scotland and did you try out more than once?

Plissken

There were 2 try out selection dates; I could only make one as SSB were playing a game on the other, so I went up in May having no idea what to expect. A little nervous to say the least! But after 4 hours of skate drills, derby drills and an hour scrim I felt good about how I had performed… followed by the news I had made the 30-strong selection squad!

Mathieson

I attended both tryouts in April and May 2015, and then we had to wait a month or so for the decision. It felt like forever between tryout and selection which is understandable as the quality in Scottish roller derby has increased so much since the last tournament in 2014.

After making the 30 we had to train as a team for the next 4 months in the run up to a selection bout hosted by the lovely Dundee Roller Girls. The 30 played against each other in this game showcasing the best talent in Scottish men’s derby. It was a high pressure game but with a score tied until the last jam it showed how well the teams were split which made it even more exciting.

A week later we found out if we had made the squad going to Calgary. I found out the news just as I was flying to London for a weekend away so a fair few celebration drinks were had and maybe even a wee visit to Double Threat Skates to get sized up.

Was there a long wait before you knew about being on the top 20 squad?

Morris

The email for the final 20 came through a week after the PoS vs PoS game, that was the longest week ever.

Plissken

Once I had made the selection squad I knew I had to work hard, so I went to the 4x training sessions and 1x Scotland v Scotland (two teams made up of the selection squads) and took everything I could from each session, going back to my home league with something to work on. We were told in the first week of November if we had made the final 20, news I was very relieved and excited to hear. Now we have our final 20 we are working towards what we can take to the world cup and showing the world we the Power of Scotland can do.

We then went on to discuss how selection for the Mens’ Roller Derby World Cup had impacted their training regimes. I’ve seen various skater training videos (and some montages) going around on social media, so I wondered if this was typical behaviour and the guys did not disappoint.

Have you changed your training regime since being selected?

Plissken

Absolutely! There was no way I was going to meet other world class teams without stepping up my game. I joined a gym (not been in years), started eating better, and am currently well on the way to quitting smoking! At the gym I have been working on strength training, HIIT training (if you don’t know it, check it out) and over all endurance. This is to help strength, balance, speed and recovery time between jams. I’ve cut out take-outs, pop (well, mostly 😉 can’t beat a pre-game irn-bru) and snacks (and I tell you, you don’t want them as much as you think you do!)

Morris

I attended the gym on the run up to the PoS vs PoS game and pre tryouts quite a lot and since then I’ve taken it easy, come January I’ll be back to 5 -6 days a week. My diet hasn’t really changed a huge amount, I eat a lot of protein otherwise I don’t have the energy levels to play my best.

Mathieson

I’ve been focused on making the Calgary squad for the last year, so have been hitting the gym since January, including some 5am sessions. There have been a few blips in the training regime and diet along the way but since making the 20 I’m back properly at the gym in preparation for 4 Nations. I also cut McDonald’s out which used to be my standard post game/training meal, which is tough seeing as there’s at least 4 between Grangemouth and Aberdeen.

I then wanted to find out more about Team Scotland training.  The roster for Power of Scotland features skaters from Scotland and England and as small as the UK is, so it can’t be easy gathering everyone together for training. Team Scotland training takes place once a month in Grangemouth Leisure Centre, from 2016 this will increase to twice a month in the run up to the Mens Roller Derby World Cup.
I wondered if this regular travel necessitated taking time off of work.

Plissken

It’s a 700mile round trip for me but I generally don’t take time off.  It’s travel up, train for 4 hrs, travel back down, all within about 30 hours…and the rest!

Mathieson

We’ve been training monthly pre final selection but are ramping it up to twice a month in the new year. We train in Grangemouth which is about a 5 hour round trip from Aberdeen. It’s a long journey which I’ve sadly gotten used to and am currently looking into the options of a timeshare there with Momo. No time off work, but maybe just a little tired the next day.

Morris

We’ve been training once a month but from January onwards its every two weeks. I think there will always be things getting in the way of training even more so for the guys down south, cost has a large factor.

Taking a team of 20 plus bench and lineup and management is expensive no matter where you go but Canada is pretty far away and flights are not cheap. Next I quizzed the chaps on what they are doing in order to raise funds for this amazing opportunity.

Mathieson filled me in on Power of Scotland’s fundraising activities.

We have a few fundraising events on at the moment, there are 3 skaters fighting it out to raise the most money to avoid losing their beards, craft fayres and some guest coaching sessions all over the country. I’ve just been up to Elgin training Helgin Roller Derby and Inverness City Roller Derby, which was a pleasure, giving some of them their first experience in wall and pack work drills.

We also have a general fundraising page, which if anyone has a few pennies to spare to help the team it would be greatly appreciated.

http://gogetfunding.com/allpowernobull/

We are proud again to have our uniforms sponsored by MP Locums. MP Locums place Hospital Doctors and GPs into locum work matching your experience and qualifications to your professional goals and ambitions. As a preferred supplier to NHS Scotland they have a variety of locum positions short and long term available throughout Scot

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land.

And finally we got onto the subject that so many of us as looking forward to, the Mens Roller Derby World Cup 2016. The Men’s Roller Derby World Cup 2016 in Calgary will be a first time for Morris and Plissken with Mathieson making his second appearance.

What part of the World Cup are you most looking forward to?

Morris

The atmosphere at the last one was incredible, I can’t wait for that excitement again

Plissken

To be honest, challenging myself against other national skaters, I know it’s not going to be easy but how good is it going to feel if I can get lead on Johnathan R? We can all dream.

Mathieson

Other than going to Canada, which is number 2 on the list of countries I’d love to visit, I’m looking forward to the challenge of our group stage. It’s been described as the ‘Group of Death’ but I think we can come out of it strong and it will make for some exciting games.

Which Team are you most excited to play against?

Mathieson

I’m looking forward to us playing the USA again. Last time we managed to score 40 points against them which was a big deal and I think with the team we have this year we will show them how far Scottish roller derby has progressed since then. Goal – first blood!

Plissken

All of them

Morris

USA, that’s the dream but I’m sure its everyone on the team has the dream to be selected for it.

If you could be in any other bracket, which bracket would you choose and why?

Plissken

I wouldn’t! we have a great set of teams to play, and we have the 6 teams instead of 5 so we get loads of games to play, plus I get to go against the giants, Team USA.

Morris

I don’t think I would chose any of the other brackets, the bracket we are in will be the one to watch ☺

Mathieson

I’d go into the Orange group so that we could play against Argentina, they were the heroes of the tournament last time, El Pibe <3!

This will be Mathieson’s second time representing Power of Scotland in the Men’s Roller Derby World Cup. I wanted to find out if this had had an impact on his 2016 training regime.

You played in the World Cup in 2014, are you doing anything different this time to prepare?

The last tournament was one of the best weekends of my life but on the lead up to it I was studying for my professional exams so I had to juggle the two with derby sometimes taking a back seat. This time around though this is my main focus and I’ll be putting everything I’ve got into it, attending as much training and scrimmage as possible. I’ve watched the footage of myself in the last world cup and although I scored the first points against USA it’s a horrible jam to watch, so many falls. But watching it back gives me the drive to do better this time round, upping my game and upping my fitness.

And finally I asked for their predictions for the World Cup…

Mathieson
Scotland to lift the trophy!

Plissken
There’s going to be a lot of talent, so I predict a lot of cheering (please!)

Morris

USA for the win, Canada/England for second and third and I think Scotland defiantly have the potential to better the last world cup position, it’s a very strong team!

A huge thank you to Mathieson, Morris and Plissken for taking the time to answer my many, many questions.
Wishing Power of Scotland all the luck!!!

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