I started my derby journey back in February 2011. We were at Dickerson’s (Barn) Event Center and it was quite chilly. The only gear I was wearing that was brand new was my wrist guards and mouth guard. My skates and helmet were bought at a thrift store and my elbow pads and knee pads were borrowed from other skaters. The skates were from the 70’s and one size too big. The knee pads needed obscene amounts of duct tape just to be kept on my knees. But even the best gear in the world wouldn’t have helped me that first weekend of boot camp because I had no idea how to skate. As a result: I fell on my rear about eight or nine times, which gave me the worst bruise of my life. Then, for some insane reason, I returned the next Sunday for practice… And the following Sunday… And so on. Most of the skaters in the league would come out to Fresh Meat practices and focus on a few basic skills at a time. I was finally becoming more comfortable on my skates and I could perform almost all the basic skills. However, practicing once a week wasn’t enough for one of the skills. I didn’t have the endurance to skate 25 laps in less than six minutes by the end of this Fresh Meat session.
Therefore: I couldn’t skate with the league.
Then I attended the second round of Fresh Meat in June 2011. And, even though I stayed on as a CCD volunteer for fundraisers and bouts during the time off between sessions, I hadn’t skated at all. This time around we had two practices per week. But for an inexperienced skater such as I, this still wasn’t enough skate time per week for me to pass the “25 laps” skill by the end of the session.
My fastest time was 6 minutes, 7 seconds.
It was at this point that I started thinking that maybe it’s not just me. Maybe my skates can take on a little of the blame. My first ones were too big and pretty old. The second ones, which were borrowed, weren’t good for someone as heavy as I was. (Nylon plates for someone over 200 lbs. are very wobbly.) I figured that if I really wanted to play roller derby, I needed to upgrade my skates. So by the beginning of my THIRD round of Fresh Meat in February 2012, I had a new pair of skates. They weren’t the best but they fit right and I was steady on them. Again, we had two scheduled practices a week. But this time around I tried to go work out on my own, outside of scheduled practices, on or off skates. After the first couple of weeks I could feel the difference in my skating. Then when we would unofficially time our 25 laps during practices, I was around the 5 minute mark! So I was just waiting for the final testing when…
I found out that I had the “Nine month injury.” The one only a woman can get.
I’ll admit that I cried a little because after two failed attempts at Fresh Meat, my third time was going to be the proverbial “Charm.” Nevertheless, I wasn’t going to let a 9 lb. baby keep me from becoming a derby girl. I was back on my skates the day my baby turned six weeks old (Doctor’s orders). It was still off season so I was giving myself an advantage by getting skate time in before my FOURTH (and final) boot camp. Even though I knew all the basic skills and was able to perform them, I didn’t slack off and just go through the motions. I gave 110% at each practice because I wanted to nail each and every one of those basic skills and push myself to the next level when I mastered that skill. I tried to help my fellow Freshies when I could and give encouragement when I saw them struggling like I did when I first started. So finally when it came time to test out of the Fresh Meat level… I did!
After 2 years of determination and 10 weeks of hard work: I am a proud skater of Crossroads City Derby.
Take it from a recovering Freshie! The keys to getting through Fresh Meat the FIRST time are:
- Skate/work out three times a week or more.
- Get to know more about your skates
- Boot (size, type)
- Plates and trucks (nylon, aluminum, cast, forged, etc.)
- Cushions/Bushings (hard, medium, soft, extra soft)
- Bearings (rating)
- Wheel (durometer, width)
- Don’t get pregnant.
-Rockit Bruise-ter #321