The Road to Rollergirl How I Stopped Being a Roller Wannabe and Started Being a Rollergirl


Confession of a Fresh Meat

Our Lady of Roller Derby

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.

It has been about three months since my last trip to the gym. I've sinned against my body and my team. You see, I've tried to do my best, but after a dalliance with a fundamentalist cult (Crossfit), I lost my faith for a little while. I dedicated my time to roller derby, the god of my idolatry, and tried to use skating to fulfill all my needs.

I accept responsibility for my sin of omission - I could see the indictment written across the face of the woman at the front desk when I checked in at the gym. My guilty eyes tried to avoid her accusing gaze: it's been a while, hasn't it? And then laying sin upon sin I lied. In my shame, I told her that I'm skating with a roller derby team and working out with them, so I haven't really had time to come to "this" gym.

But we know that a half-truth is a whole lie. Sure, I've been skating: three, sometimes four times a week. But then other times it's been twice a week. I could have gotten up an hour earlier to squeeze in a little bit of cardio.  I could have visited the weight machines and the kettlebells.

But I didn't. Why? Because it's boring. Derby is an exhilarating and intoxicating muse, and nothing else can compare. I realize the error of my ways, and I've undertaken the Roller Derby Workout Challenge to try to make up for it in some measure. Because there can be no derby without fitness. Without muscles supporting them, my bones and ligaments are weak and vulnerable. I owe it to myself and to my league to be the strongest I can be, not only in time for my first bout, but at every single practice. For every time I've hit the snooze instead of hitting the gym, I am truly sorry. Mea maxima culpa.

I pardon the fool. For your penance, a half hour on the elliptical and a Zumba class. Now go forth in peace, sucka.



After the last practice that I wrote about I had a little bit of a ... moment. It turned out that the "package" was delivered C.O.D.:  I had rolled my ankle hard enough to force me to skip a practice. Much better now, thank you, but at the time I panicked and called a friend. Basically, I was a little worried because pack work was so difficult and it's such an integral part of the game. How the hell am I supposed to play if I can't skate in a pack?! What is going to happen when people start hitting me if I can't even stay on my feet?! #@%#*&!!!

I think we have all had that experience with someone who just doesn't understand your values/anxieties/perspective.  Her response was just the teensiest bit lacking in social skills. Basically, she said "it can't be that hard, don't let them get you down." Of course, when you're off skates, "it can't be that hard" means "you just suck too much," which is more than enough to throw anybody into a tailspin of self-doubt.

Then, in rapid succession, I had a few of revelations that really helped set my attitude back in the right direction:

  1. One of the girls that I had been practicing with over the summer remarked how different Fresh Meat training was from the very basic skate training we had been doing before. Even though it was run by derby girls and had derby in mind, it was very rudimentary and focused on building from the ground up one block at a time. We covered skills at a much slower pace, doing them over and over, whereas FM is more fast-paced.
  2. One of the vets on my team, whom I consider to be really speedy, told us that we were doing a good job and that when she started out, she was always the last girl in the pack. Now her footwork is so quick and she is one of the fastest girls out there!
  3. I was randomly reading information about tryouts and came across the following nugget of wisdom: Push your limits as you become comfortable so that you are constantly teetering between comfortable and uncomfortable. This is how you know you are progressing!

This last thing really made it click. As far as the individual basics of skating are concerned, I'm in a fine-tuning stage -- I can always reach deeper on crossovers, or stop quicker on t-stops and plows (or not fall on my ass during a tomahawk!). But as far as working as a team, pack awareness, and interacting with other players doing unexpected stuff, I'm just at the beginning. It's getting harder because I am doing well and the bar is being raised, and it will probably be like the for the entirety of Fresh Meat and likely even my rookie season. It only gets easier by plowing straight through it.

So for you beginners reading along, don't get alarmed if it gets harder before it gets easier. And for the vets - hey, if you have any lived-experience advice on close skating, I'll take it! Especially if you had a moment where you were like "OH! THIS is what I'm doing wrong!"


Fresh Meat Life (with Gear Chat!)

Now that it has been three (three!) weeks since my last post, I thought it would be a good time to look both back and forward at my Fresh Meat training.