In a sport with no set recognised coaching qualification and no defined pathway, anything and everything is possible. While the lack of structure can often make starting out difficult, once you get going there are no limits and no expected routes to success. We spoke to Rosie Peacock, newly appointed head coach of Team Scotland’s Women’s national squad. She took us back over the last five years, from starting out as a new skater to coaching her team to being selected to lead her national team. Life moves fast in roller derby.
Peacock #50 currently skates for Auld Reekie Roller Girls (ARRG) Edinburgh, Scotland. In addition to her competitive skating career (she is just back from a tournament in Oregon, USA) she coaches the intermediate group of skaters in her home club, has been assistant coach for Team Scotland Men’s National Team, and also plans to try out for the Women’s National Team she is head coaching. She also, it would seem, has a day job.
If you’re interested in hiring Peacock as a guest coach, you can get in touch with her via Facebook. All her coaching monies go back into helping her travel costs to get to World Cup events.
You can also read more about Rosie Peacock at Scottish Roller Derby website.
So, basic first question, where did you start skating?
I started skating in 2011, with the Hellfire Harlots in Nottingham. It was “back in the day” and I passed my minimum skills by being persistent and insisting people watch me do skills as soon as I had them mastered. I played in a game 6 months after I started. I played with them for about 5 years.
I moved back up to Edinburgh the past year and have been skating with ARRG for 8 months now
When and how did you start coaching?
I started coaching about a year and a half after I started skating. I coached the newbies. Even though skating came quickly to me, it didn’t come naturally, if that makes sense? I had to work at it and think about how to do a skill, like where my weight was in my skates. This really helped when it came to coaching. I find that when skating comes naturally to people, they have a harder time breaking it down and resort to “well, you just do ii! because that’s how it worked for them.
After awhile, I moved on to coaching the advanced skaters and just kind of moved forward from there. I was a little bit cocky and put myself out there as a guest coach. I spent a lot of time actively learning about coaching. And people seemed happy with what I was doing, so I kept going!
With ARRG, I coach the intermediate skaters, our middle group. It’s got one of the biggest skill differentials. We have skaters who have just passed their minimum skills and are only just started to scrimmage and we have skaters who are nearly ready to move into the advanced group.
I find it a challenge but really interesting to find the drills and skills which will work for everyone in the group. But everyone works on the same skill, it might be at a different speed or intensity, but it will be the same skill and focus.
You got to where you are in coaching pretty fast then!
Haha – yes it’s really a matter of being in the right place at the right time. I’ve not really planned coaching like a career. I just really enjoy doing it.
I kind of fell into the role of assistant coach for the Team Scotland Men. I was on the selection committee initially. The assistant coach had to step down and they asked me to step into that position. So I did. And when the role came up as Head Coach for the national Women’s team, I went for that.
Roller derby doesn’t have a set qualification. WFTDA, which is who most of Europe skate with, they have reffing qualifications and officials certifications, but nothing for actually teaching the sport.
Basically if I get asked about qualifications I say “Well, I’ve been doing it for awhile and generally I get good feedback.”
What have you learned from your time assistant coaching with Team Scotland Men’s team?
The most important thing I have brought with me from coaching the men is that you have to include the team in the discussions and in the decisions. You can’t just take the best skaters in the country, all who know how to play good roller derby, and dictate what will work best for them.
The difference about coaching highly skilled skaters is that your role is more about helping to identify and maximise the strengths of the people you coach. I’m not going to tell them what wall works best for them because London (n.b. London Roller Girls) happen to use that wall. We give them what they need, time on skates together and focus to identify what works for them as a group of skaters.
You are head coach but you’re also a competitive skater and planning on trying out for Team Scotland?
Yes, there’s nothing that says I can’t be coach and skate as well! What this means is that I won’t have as strong a role in the selection process. We have put together a selection panel and they will be running the try outs. I have input into defining the criteria and helping give really concrete examples of what we are looking for. We want to be able to have good conversations with people after try outs. We want to be able to be really clear on why they were or weren’t selected and have evidence and support for those decisions. It lets them know that it’s fair. And it also helps them identify what to work on.
Time management – just… how?
What takes the most time is the travel. I have my own training with ARRG, then I have to get in the car and drive across the city to catch as much of the Men’s training as I can. And then again to go to a meeting to a Women’s team planning meeting. It’s a hard balance and I don’t get to attend as many of the Men’s practices as I would like. Unfortunately, by the time I joined, they had already planned their training sessions and they clashed with my own team training. I had to prioritise my team because that’s my first commitment. We had the Big O Tournament to prepare for and we’ve got a game versus Kallio (Finland) in June. But it’s worked out okay. I don’t tend to lead sessions for the men and I am there as much as I can be.
Luckily, with the Men’s World Cup in Calgary on July 21st – 24th of this year (http://mrdwc.com/) and the Women’s World Cup not until 2017, the work with the Men’s squad will be winding down as the Women’s squad ramps up.
Tell us about your management team for Team Scotland Women
Ah, they’re all great. We have Sylk (Sarah McCann) from Mean City as the assistant coach. If I make the squad, it will be Sylk that benches the team for games.
We have Hazzard (Hazel Mochan from New Town Roller Girls) doing Team Management. And then Rufi-Ohh (Erin Murphy) as line-up.
Rufi-Ohh was line-up for the last squad as well, so she’s the only member of the team that was there for last time. She’s really great for sharing how it worked before, but without thinking it necessarily needs to be done that way again.
What is your vision as Head Coach? What will Team Scotland aim to achieve in 2017?
I don’t want to go out with any assumptions. There was a time when you knew the USA would take it. It wasn’t a question. Team Scotland scored 2 points against Team USA in 2011 and that was a victory. But the gap is closing. You can see that England, Australia, Canada… Brasil! They’re all really strong.
In terms of what we want to accomplish, we want to be ambassadors for our country and our sport. We aren’t going to compare ourselves to other teams; I don’t think that’s healthy. We just want to show the world who we are. We want to play our game and play our strengths. We want to show them Scottish roller derby.