I do not believe I have talked much about my experience playing roller derby, or really much about the fact that I am even involved with the sport. I’ve been playing or rather, practicing roller derby for six months now. Fact is, even after six months of being with my league, I have yet to even play in a game. I participate in my first scrimmage at the end of this month. On one hand I am so excited and cannot wait, yet on the other hand I’m trying not to barf on the sport court. As you would have it, roller derby is hard. Like really, freaking, hard.
My roller derby experience or now way of life, started back in February, literally days after my husband left for deployment. I was always interested in the sport, in fact to me, it seemed almost glamorous. Well that was a lie. That crap is brutal, and exhausting and more challenging then anything else I’ve attempted in my life. Anyway, I signed up for bootcamp cause even in my already hectic life, I wanted something that was 1) fun and 2) got my mind off of deployment. I found both of these things and more in roller derby. When I go to practice, I try my hardest to only focus on being there. I don’t think about the time or if my phone is going off. I mean, I’ve even missed phone calls from the my deployed husband while at practice.
Doing anything new is hard. Most of the time anyway unless you are like a natural born genius. Which I am not. There were so many things I’ve learned from derby about derby and just about life in general.
1. Have a Positive Attitude – When you have a positive attitude, it simply makes things easier. When you are in a crappy mood, everyone around you feels it, including your team mates. When you are learning or always trying to improve, there WILL be days that you just plain ‘ole suck. Oh well. We all suck on occasion. If we were all awesome all the time, there would be no point in killing myself/yourself at practice for hours at a time, several times a week.
2. Get Rid of Negative Self Talk – I believe this goes hand in hand with having a positive attitude. You can’t have a positive attitude if you are constantly beating yourself up. Check that crap at the door. There are so many times I have beaten myself for my performance and it doesn’t do you or your team mates any good. Instead, acknowledge where you can improve and work on it. Please keep in mind that becoming skilled at roller derby, isn’t going to happen over night or even in a few weeks. I think this can be applied to learning any new skill. I know it is cliche, but practice makes perfect.
3. Lose the Ego – There is no way that you are gonna be some roller derby superstar coming out of bootcamp. Sure, there will be girls who its comes naturally too. There will be girls who extrememly struggle with getting the basics. But no one comes out of bootcamp ready to play on the All Star team. Welp, maybe there are a few exceptions, for the very rare who grew up roller skating their whole lives on sport court or did dance skating. More than likely, you will graduate bootcamp somewhere in a spectrum of ladies who are still not bout worthy.
4. Your Gear Is Important – If you don’t have gear, you aren’t playing obviously. But you wear your gear constantly and takes so much wear and tear so ensure sure you buy quality gear. Unfortunately, quality gear can be expensive. I started with Wally World pads…in fact six months I till use those but the fact is, they need to be replaced. I had to buy new wrists guard at 4 months because they had completely fallen apart. There are so many places you can buy used quality gear, so keep that in mind. I’m currently on the hunt for some new knee pads.
Second issue with gear….what you started with probably won’t end up being what you skate with in the long term. What do I mean by that? Are you having a really hard time with weaving, or cross overs or lateral movements? More than likely, you are having an issue with your wheels, plates, boots or trucks. You either need to adjust them or replace them with a different product. In my case, I needed completely different wheels. I struggled with sliding, EVERYWHERE, and falling. Lots of falling (thank you floor for always being there). Getting comfortable with the all the basic moves is also finding the right combination of gear, and that can take time.
5. Have Fun You Skatin’ Fool – Do you remember why you joined roller derby? Or any sport for that matter? I bet you thought at one point, it would be fun. And more than likely, you do have fun and get a lot of enjoyment out of it. So strap on those skates and don’t take yourself too seriously, laugh and joke with your team mates.
Learning how to play a sport, bake or change your oil probably isn’t or wasn’t the easiest the first time around. Have a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at yourself, you will save yourself some tears. Seriously, I’ve cried after practice. The point of learning something new is because you have an interest in it and it should be FUN, and it should be challenging because duh, its new. If you made it through bootcamp and continued on to join a league, that is a big deal. Even if you don’t play your first game for 6 months to year later. Skate those laps. Do those grapevines. Yell in your head how much you hate suicides…. it only makes you a better player.
Written by: Spring 2014 Bootcamp Graduate, Juicebox