“ You are a strong, confident woman.” That was the pep talk my bff texted me, as I waited in the parking lot of the roller rink. I needed a pep talk because I was scared out of my mind! I had debated back and forth on the decision to check out the open training session used to recruit new derby girls.
I was really inspired by the movie “Whip It” and my first derby, so I was curious to learn more about this unknown subculture. So here I am in the parking lot (the only mini van in site- by the way) texting my bff for the extra push. I kept trying to rationalize. I’ve given birth. Twice. This can’t be as bad as getting a shot. I HATE SHOTS and/or visits to anyone in the medical profession. That was it. I had to go inside.
As I went inside I met a several people all shapes and sizes who were also checking it out. One was a mom who played hockey, another could skate really well so she wanted to check it out and another had a friend on one of the squads.
All of our leaders had tough derby names and an edge to them. They were nice but I wouldn’t want to get on their bad side. There are a lot of rules and regulations to be informed about. It is kind of confusing until you see it visually explained. After a LOT of paperwork and instruction we got to skate. We got suited up in helmet and pads. They are a requirement everytime you skate. We mainly worked on slowing down to stop. Keep in mind I haven’t skated in YEARS and I wasn’t that good to begin with. I have been perfectly fine holding on the my hubby’s arm as he wheels me around. So gratefully I didn’t fall down but I did have a lot of those unbalanced wobbles. I kind of did ok with stopping, not great but ok. My leader encouraged me by telling me that 90% of derby girls didn’t skate before. That gave me relief that I wasn’t the first to come in completely unskilled.
The next time we met together we went over more paperwork with rules and then worked on crossing over during turns. This was a bust for me. That skill has been haunting me since elementary. I know I should have mastered it then but I must not have been invited to a lot of skating parties growing up. I tried many times to cross over my feet as the majority of my group whizzed by me with ease. As we were skating on the outside of rink, the pros where scrimaging in the center. They were tough, fast, and stategic. Skating was probably the least of my worries. Luckily, you have to do a skills test to progress and I had no skills so I would not be in the lion’s den anytime soon.
Before my final practice we did have to wait outside for a skating party to finish before we could go in. It was to protect the kids or their parents from seeing the edgy derby girls. To be honest I haven’t been lumped into those crowds often so I kind off enjoyed being associated with the rebels.
I even had thought out my derby name-“Pretty Painful”. Apparently you have to see if the name you pick is registered already. That means a ton of the clever ones are taken. I do enjoy their creativity for their sassy titles. For example: Rosie RootCanal, Stomper Facin,Bette Mangler, Lucy Morals and Officer Pain to name a few.
We went over more of the handbook and then conditioned with the team. They all shared their derby names and led us through a series of ab conditioning along with other exercises. No doubt this sport is a good work out.
Unfortunately I could not attend all of the required practices due to a scheduling conflict out of town. So my derby days were numbered. I definitely need more skating under my belt before a serious attempt to join a team but I really enjoyed the experience of see the derby culture behind the scenes.
Want to give roller derby a try? Check out https://www.rollergirl.ca/misc/roller-derby-fresh-meat-file.html with tips before you get started and https://grandraggidyrollergirls.com/ if you live near Grand Rapids