In June I moved from Leeds to Cheltenham and I saw that I’d just missed a roller derby game being put on right near my new house.
I already knew a little about derby through a friend who plays with the Skateful Dead in Halifax. He refs, takes awesome photos and once accompanied me to a Leeds Rollergirls’ fundraising show of Whip It a few months before I moved to Cheltenham.
I kept an eye out, and lucky for me, there was another match put on in August. So I went along to watch and it turned out to be a number of matches being played from teams local to the South West. Severn Roller Torrent – the Gloucestershire league – were advertising a new skater intake in September.
Intrigued, I decided to don some safety pads and give ‘this skating thing’ a try on a set of kids’ Rollerblades I’d picked up for a tenner.
I was terrible, gave up and went home to sulk.
However, unfortunately I’d already sold myself on the idea of trying derby, so I put on my bravest face and went along to the taster session anyway.
After about an hour, the crushing fear and dread had barely begun to lift, and there weren’t many other newlings, meaning it was difficult to disguise my bambi impression.
The league’s 12-week fresh meat programme started soon after, and determined not to be as embarrassingly bad, I kept practicing outdoors on my cheap inline skates.
Look, ma – a crossover!
By week 4 of fresh meat, I’d picked up a pair of entry-level quad skates, as well as some soft wheels I could use to practice outdoors.
Last week, I started going along to a roller disco in Cheltenham to get a bit more practice on an indoor surface. I learnt that children have no fear, and seem to have inbuilt, invisible safety pads allowing them to bounce straight back up when they fall.
As of now, I’m around halfway through the 12 week fresh meat programme. I’m finding it a struggle to keep up with the new skills we’re learning every week, as well as absorb so much information about the game itself. However, I’m hoping that as long as I keep practicing, things will begin to come together…