This season, we hope to offer fresh perspectives from all skating levels, training tips and advice, and point of view posts from individual skaters here on the LRB blog. Our first in this series is from Kate, a Hatchling (LRB’s nickname for our fresh meat) who keeps it real about why she loves skating, why it’s not always easy to stay focused, and why it’s important to keep trying. –Cali Floor’Ya
I Haven’t Passed Minimums…YET!
I started with LRB as Fresh Meat in August last year; it was the most terrifying fun I could ever imagine. I’m still a Hatchie now; it’s my second go at getting up to minimum skills standard. I can’t say that I have enjoyed every single moment of my journey so far, but would I change it? HELL NO!
Let’s start at the beginning though. Like a lot of people my first experience of Roller Derby was watching the movie “Whip It”, where Bliss learns to skate in record time, whilst partying with Drew Barrymore and Juliette Lewis in America. At the time I thought to myself, “Wow, that looks like fun” and indulged myself in a few daydreams about being able to skate like a demon, whilst large crowds of people cheered my name and threw tokens of their affection. But that was then. I was on track to get married and have kids at that point and there was really no need to learn to skate…
Fast forward a few years, my plans of marital bliss seem to have taken a permanent holiday to Siberia, and I am moping about generally feeling sorry for myself (something I would later come to learn is known as “being a fanny”). It is at this point that a good mate slapped me upside the head and ordered me to come to one of LRBs bouts (I believe it was the Glam Block one). I did, and it was AWESOME. In fact, by half ten on the evening of the bout I had already gone overdrawn buying a pair of skates and had emailed Grrrrrrr (our intake coordinator!) to get my name down for the next hatchies intake.
The months crawled by so slowly, I went to a couple of Roller Discos in Wigan and chicken scratched my way around the rink, I wore my skates around the house on evenings and weekends. I spent more time than is allowed at work Googling Derby and derby related stuff, my head filled with those “Whip It” daydreams. Except this time it was REAL (gasp), and came with a reality check. It’s not as easy as it looks in the movies.
The first day of training, lining up to get kit checked, shaking in my skates, nervously looking around to see how everyone else is feeling and inwardly screaming. Then you are off, you skate round the track, and get on with it. You learn how to fall on your knees, and you don’t die! It doesn’t even hurt (with the right kit it won’t, so get kitted up!!). In fact you feel all of the awesome. The day after you’ll hurt, but it’s that groovy kind of pain that you’ve earned. You will also be super hungry, no one warned me about the hungriness afterwards!
And the awesome feeling lasted for the first few weeks, and then I let myself get bogged down, I wasn’t progressing as fast as I wanted to, I had to miss sessions due to work and other life issues, and I started to be a “fanny” again. I considered giving up.
The thing with skating is, especially if, like me, you are not naturally gifted at staying upright on wheels, it’s not easy. Sure people on track – even in your intake – might make it look easy, but it’s not. Even the people gliding around the track backwards on one leg have had to overcome their fear at some point. It is a fear. It’s not irrational for your brain to say, “Holy Crap, this feels a bit weird, I’m a couple of inches taller than I am used to, and I have wheels on my feet!”
The thing with Derby is everyone understands the fear, and as long as you keep trying that fear will diminish. So you might not be the speediest skater, you might be the thud at the end of the hall every week, the thought of lifting one leg off the ground whilst moving might give you the screaming heebie jeebies, but you can do it! Your Derby mates will make sure of it. If you have a question, ask it. If you aren’t comfortable with a drill, say so. No one in the team is going to judge you or make you feel bad for not getting something right away, as long as you give it a try.
Personally, I find that there is a point just before I put my skates on when I get “the fear”. On the bus going to training – excited. Warm up – excited. Kit up – excited. Skates on….the fear!
It usually only lasts until I have stood up and made those first few tentative steps away from my bag and on onto the track. Then it melts away, to be replaced with exhaustion, sweatiness, and then elation. Derby will do that to ya!
So I am a Hatchie returning to Hatchies. I didn’t pass first time and I’m happy with that. For me the more time I spend getting confident on skates and becoming a super skater the better. I had a shaky start but I’m back now and ready to roll! It’s going to be hard work, but just as important, it’s going to be fun.
You are about to embark on a journey that will make you feel great. What has helped me is to only make judgments based on my own progress. Week to week you will find you get better and better at things you might have looked at as impossible before. Your team mates will point out areas that you don’t even know that you have improved in, and you will surprise yourself on a daily basis. Get ready to have an awesome time, ladies!
–Kate (skate name is top secret until Post Mins!)