Taking the First Step
by Hermione Danger
I would have said yes to anything in 2012. Macrame. Rock climbing. Space exploration. After devoting myself to a marriage of 17 years that was now at an end, my attitude was, “Stuff it. I’ll do something for myself for a change.” It was just luck that the opportunity presented to me was roller derby. I had an acquaintance who was a derby girl, and now Mike, the manager of my son’s footy team was telling me I should give it a go. I thought the idea was slightly crazy. I’d never even watched a game. And 39-year-old mothers-of-three don’t take up full-contact sports on skates. But within a fortnight, I’d purchased my freshies pack, laced on skates for the first time in 29 years, and well and truly found out what it feels like to fall on your ass.
My first skates
I’ve since discovered that the decision to take up this amazing sport is not as cut and dried for many people. You may have come to many bouts or none. You may be 18 or 50 or anywhere in between (one of my favourite competitive skaters is 51 and shows no signs of retiring yet). You may have dreamed about playing roller derby but let inconvenient facts (like “I can’t skate”) stop you from taking the first step. You may have had to put your derby dreams on hold for other major life events – babies, PhDs, travel. You may have listened to people who don’t fully understand the sport (“But it’s so dangerous!” (it’s not), “They’re really violent!” (we’re not!)).
The fact is, the derby community – both inside WSR and beyond – is an amazing group of people. Encouraging, uplifting, helpful – everything you want in a second family. Most retailers will give you a discount on your starter kit – skates, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, helmet and mouth guard (get some toe protectors for your skates and a tailbone protector while you’re at it). The reason is, derby retailers know how great the sport is, and they want to help you on your way to finding your inner derby player.
Sample Freshies pack from www.rollerderbyheaven.com.au
What most people don’t know about roller derby training programs, is that there’s no contact until we’re sure you’re safe on skates and can handle it. We have various assessments you undertake during your derby journey to ensure you’re ready for the next level. The first step is teaching you stability, balance and basic skating techniques. We take you through different ways to stop, maneuver, skate fast, skate slow, and stay stable. Once you’ve mastered the basic skating criteria, we introduce you to tiny baby hits. They’re more like nudges actually. But, with the basic training you’ve already received, you’ve got all the skills you need to remain stable while people are trying to move you out of the way (and vice versa). This is the point where we teach you hip checks, shoulder checks, juking and walls – the derby basics. And from there, it’s just a matter of time and practice until you become an All-Star.
There are no guarantees in roller derby – but then there are no guarantees in life. But with WSR’s newest Wheels In Training program just starting, we still have a few spots for new skaters and we’d love to help you unleash your inner derby player. If it’s something you’ve always been curious about, why not drop us a line via our contact page? We’d love to hear from you and, if it’s right for you, open the doors to this amazing sport for you.