My derby journey began with MARD this past November. I came to recruit night and watched a practice before joining. I had reservations. Coming in brand new to the sport, and having not skated in many years, I wasn’t sure if I could hack it. While I am naturally thin, I also knew that I was out of shape.
I have never enjoyed exercising for the sake of exercise. I get no pleasure from going for a run or hitting the gym. What I was looking for was an activity that would help me get stronger, but that was also fun.
Enter the ladies of MARD and the sport of Roller Derby. Derby is the first team sport that I have ever felt was really team driven. All the ladies (and gents) have been nothing but encouraging. Every league member offers tips, tricks and just overall support. I have never been put down by anyone at derby. Knocked down perhaps- but not put down. Ever. (See the first rule of roller derby.)
Respect and obey the first rule of roller derby and your derby league will become your derby family. My derby league is my derby family.
Since November I have told anyone who will listen about this wonderful new world of derby that I have joined and the question I am asked most often is, “But aren’t you scared?”
All I can say to that is that I’m scared of only two things in life; losing one of my children and my bank balance. Truly that’s about it. But… derby players can be intimidating.
Scientists, graphic designers, electricians, school teachers, mothers- people transform at the rink. Much like Peter Parker or Bruce Wayne, the league becomes empowered as the derby gear gets strapped on. Everyone grows about a foot instantly and resemble linebackers all geared up. Many have piercings and tattoos and “don’t mess with me attitudes.”
But you know what- it’s liberating to let go of all the day to day stuff, to show a little aggression and assertiveness. My advice to those who are intimated is to tell Dr. Jekyll to step aside and let Mr. Hyde come out to play.
The second question I am asked as a newer skater is always, “doesn’t it hurt?”
Yes it does and as a matter of fact, I got my very first derby bruise last week! But the surprising thing about it is, it also feels really good. I do it twice a week, every week, for fun.
Intimidation and fear of pain factors aside, as someone who grew up skating I figured myself to be a fairly decent skater who would catch on quickly and easily- really how different could derby skating vary from rink skating?
Quite a bit actually. (Be prepared for derby stance. It burns, it burns, it burns!)
While at first I found the learning curve frustrating I quickly realized that it was OK that I had a lot to learn. Watching the scrimmages for myself I realize that I really need to nail the basics before I am ready to bout. I’m no longer in a super hurry to level up and I would say the same to anyone else joining derby or new to the sport.
Take your time and get it right.
Derby skating is about applying basic roller skating skills with the blocking and checking of football players, the leaping and twirling of dancers, and the intelligence and maneuvering of a chess player- in 2 minutes or less. To be good at any of these things, it takes practice, patience and time.
I push myself every week whether I am planking, doing hip checks, skating in a pack, practicing turning toe stops or jumps. I have been skating a few months and have so much I still need to work on. Every week I sweat and stink.
I’m proud of my improvement every week.
It’s hard to explain the satisfaction you’ll feel when you get hip-checked and don’t fall over, or better even, when you land a really good hip check and a league mate rubs her hip and says “that’s the spot!”
Learning and playing roller derby, while a team sport, is a unique journey. Be inspired by your league mates, ask questions, push yourself, fall and get back up. Seriously fall- a lot, you’re going to in a bout anyway so learn how to do it well and how to recover quickly. Don’t be discouraged if it takes you longer to master a skill than someone else, take pride in your individual accomplishments.
Oh- one last thing, take a good look at your bod, your butt specifically when you start, it is going to look even more fantastic in a few weeks!
Does this sound like something you want to try?! We have a meat and greet this weekend at Silver City Sports Complex! Come say hi and get to know the ladies of Mass Attack Roller Derby!