The First Roller Derby Bootcamp In Estonia

Three Days of Peipus

Situated on the sandy shore of Lake Peipus, the fifth-largest lake in Europe and a border lake between Estonia & Russia, lies the tiny fishing town of Mustvee. The area is known for its piquant onions, and now, roller derby. The first Estonian roller derby bootcamp took place in Mustvee Sports Center on 26.-28. of July 2019 – three days of sun, roller derby training and fun.

Peipus Roller Derby Bootcamp was the brain child of Tartu Roller Derby‘s team captain and long time promoter of roller derby in Estonia, Quad Eat Quad (Karl Väster). “We had something in mind to have joint action between Tartu Roller Derby and Tallinn Roller Derby in the beginning of summer, when I got an advert from the venue. I was a little afraid since it was in the middle of the summer and pretty much in the middle of nowhere. But the bootcamp far exceeded my expectations! And we did it all together.” Quad Eat Quad is the founder of both Tartu & and Tallinn Roller Derby leagues and has been actively working with wife Katre to promote roller derby in Estonia since 2014.

The bootcamp also ended up being the first international bootcamp of Estonia, as word got around in social media and was picked up by Kallio Rolling Rainbow‘s C-team Piritorin Ässät. “The bootcamp was a great opportunity for our newer players who might not have the chance to go to a travel game yet. Everyone was excited to travel abroad, learn new things and meet new people,” Kallio’s player & Jammer trainer Kuutti (Ilona Ikonen) told us. Kuutti also graciously volunteered to direct some of the bootcamp’s training, sharing tricks she learned in other international bootcamps.

Flat Track, Short Track and… Sand Track?!

After getting to the venue late Friday afternoon, the first day of bootcamp commenced with marking the track boundaries (both WFTDA & Short Track) and introducing the use of Track Daddy. 20 skaters from three leagues (Tartu, Tallinn & Kallio) were in attendance. The main attraction of the evening was a game of Short Track Roller Derby, following the latest rule set published by Rolla Skate Club. This was a first for every participant in the bootcamp as the game format was created only in early 2018.

After a quick rule overview and some initial questions (“But… what about star passes?”) the game was on. After a few jams the players were already adjusting their pack strategies to the flow of the new rules. Some confusion resulted from the unfamiliar verbal cues for penalties, yeilding and points, but overall everyone agreed it was a good and easy way to get some gameplay on quickly. Post-game swim in the calm waters of Lake Peipus and everybody was ready to hit the hay in the Sports Center.

For Saturday the jestfully named “Sand Track” off-skates scrimmage on the beach was canceled due to an unexpected heat wave. The weather was perfect for a slow day lying on the beach but we had come there to practice derby, so that’s what we did. (And a bit of lying on the beach on the side.) Training inside the venue ranged from drills to re-enacting WFTDA Casebook scenarios to jam starts with NSO practice. The night concluded with a roller disco and freeform mingling.

Sunday saw a continuation of drilling and scrimming, and finally the end of the bootcamp with a lot of enthusiasm to come again next year. The weekend was such a success that some of the skaters expressed their wish to come for a week next time!

What we learned

A lot of firsts for roller derby in Estonia were achieved in those three days, many of which have been described above. But there were many personal firsts for the participants as well – yours truly had the experience of refereeing scrimmages on skates for the first time for example. The experience of organizing a bootcamp was a first for us as organizers as well. We know we learned a lot, and believe our skaters learned a lot as well.

“For me the bootcamp was a great experience as a coach and team leader,” the bootcamp head coach & Tallinn Roller Derby’s coach Anaestesia (Anastasia Parmson) agrees, and continues: “I definitely learned a lot as a coach as well – about structuring a multi-hour training session and incorporating drills into game situations. Everyone was eager to learn and help each other grow and give their all, I could not have asked for more. It was also a huge bonus to have our friends from Kallio there to offer their experience and good cheer. I am sure our team benefited a lot from having some more experienced skaters on track with them.”

“My most vivid memory from the bootcamp was the moment I got goose bumps watching my team put freshly learned skills into practice during the last scrimmage. That’s when I knew the weekend had been a success,” Anaestesia concludes.

“I learned a lot, about roller derby and organizing,” Quad Eat Quad also considers. “I learned about pack strategies of the game and building up the schedule. It was planned quite busy, but it turned out happy and relaxed which I really enjoyed. We got so much encouragement to do it again from people’s feedback.”

“The venue was very cool and convenient, the beds comfortable. At first I was worried about having regimented meal times, but it was actually good to have some built in breaks throughout the day because otherwise we might have gotten too excited to eat properly,” Anaestesia ponders.

“I would do the bootcamp again next year in a heartbeat. Next time I would like to have more guest coaches, with a focus on some specific area or their expertise. Hopefully next year we will also have enough participants to include a separate registration for Officials so they can practice different referee positions throughout the weekend and do some ref specific drills,” Anaestesia envisions.

Quad Eat Quad has next years plans laid out already: “We will use the same venue again next summer, on the 24th to 26th of July. Save the date! Maybe next time we could have a mini skatepark or some obstacles outdoors for people to have more fun on skates. We might even have some training there over the winter.”

All of the interviewees and yours truly agree, it was an amazing chance to meet new people and have a great time with friends and family. We thank Mustvee Sports Center, the cafeteria cook Iive and all the lovely skaters and volunteers who participated. See you next year in Peipus Roller Derby Bootcamp 2020!

Author: Barbarossa (Antti Kiviranta)

Barbarossa was “shanghaied” into roller derby in late 2016 by his older sister Tahma, the then Head NSO of Oulu Roller Derby. This “on-again-off-again career NSO” strapped skates on his feet for the first time in February 2019 at Tallinn Roller Derby (previously known as Tallinn Roller Girls) and has since been working towards becoming the budding league’s Head Referee.