Roller Derby? Not for me…or is it? Part 3

Today we come to the final installment of ‘Roller Derby: Origins Stories’ (oh, how that would have been a better title). In these last interviews we have included some of our experienced skaters. It’s often tempting to think when you see skaters whizzing around the track, completing one footed, 180, apex jumps that they were born with supreme excellence, but the truth is, every skater starts with those awkward bambi steps and through sheer hard work eventually learns to be a better skater. Here are their stories:

Weston Super Clare (A Team Skater – Central City Rollergirls)

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Weston: From Rookie to Advanced

Did you know about Roller derby before you joined? 

I was aware of roller derby, as is standard nowadays, thanks to ‘Whip It’. I had assumed it was a mystical made up sport until I googled it a few days later and found out that not only was it real, there was a well developed network of leagues already existing in the UK! My first impressions of the sport was that it looked fast paced and dynamic, and very different to any other sport which I would get the opportunity to take part in.

What made you give it a try?

I was just starting my third year at university and I really wanted to start a team sport that wasn’t netball (sorry netball). I also wasn’t doing a lot of exercise (i.e. none at all), and I wanted to get fitter whilst having fun. Roller derby seemed to fit the bill, so I went along to an intake session.

How was your first session? 

I was very excited before my first session, but wasn’t really sure what to expect. I arrived, put on my hire skates, stood up, and promptly fell hard onto my bum. Not the best start. However, I got up and carried on (ignoring my blushes) and spent several hours learning (ironically) how to fall over safely, basic skating skills and some derby basics. Afterwards, I felt very accomplished, determined to improve, and I ached literally everywhere. I could barely walk the next day. And my bum hurt.

How have things changed since you joined in terms of your skating? 

I can actually skate now! I have gone from being unable to skate (illustrated by the aforementioned falling-onto-arse story) to happily zooming around the track as a member of the A-team travel team squad at CCR. However, there are always ways to improve, new skills to learn, new tactics and honestly, that’s one of the main reasons why I love the sport; it’s so dynamic and constantly changing meaning that there’s always something new to learn.

How has roller derby changed your life in general?

I am more confident. I have much more respect for my body and the things that it can do. I am even at peace with my weird, lanky, flaily extremities. I take care of myself a lot better and I am the healthiest I have ever been (better nutrition, tracking of my mental state, and plentiful cross training outside of derby have all contributed). I have MANY jazzy leggings. And I am proud of myself, and I feel justified in that pride. It’s a good feeling. I have also had amazing opportunities for travel including travel to Ghent, Stockholm and locations all over the UK. Finally, I have an ace group of women and guys in my life who are not only good friends, but who I know I can rely on for criticism, development and to push me to be the best skater and team mate I can be. #Squadgoals and all that.

Bri Hard (B Team Skater – Central City Rollergirls)

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Did you know about derby before you joined?

I had NO idea about roller derby before I joined, but had heard good things about it purely through word of mouth!

What made you give it a try?

I needed a sport, a team sport, something difficult but also eventually stimulating. All gym classes are hard but the technicalities of roller derby make you forget about your burny achy muscles as your too involved with the strategy and foot work required.

How was your first session?

My first session was so much fun! I was super nervous but realised there was no need to be at all as there was no pressure to be an amazing skater and the other girls made me feel so welcome! Before I went in, I wasn’t sure what to expect at all, but after I left I knew I wanted to know more! It was just so good to get back on my skates after having no skated since I was a kid!

How have things changed since you joined in terms of your skating?

I have become more confident to try new things on my skates and certainly my ability to skate has vastly improved. Now I can start using the skills we are taught at practice, rather than just hoping to pump into a wall or find a patch of grass! But also I can do so much more than I ever imagined, like jumping and turning at speed. The best thing about the sport is that two years in, I am not bored as I still have so much more to learn an there is so much more to progress with. It’s like a career!

What makes you continue to come? How has roller derby changed your life?

The most important thing for me was having something to dedicate myself to outside of work that would help with weight management. Now I go to the gym because I need to strengthen my body to get better at the sport, so even the gym became more fun! I am now on the B team and have made new friends and am really enjoying being involved with a team sport for the first time ever. CCR in particular have a lot of extremely dedicated players which encourages me to work my hardest. We also have some of the best skaters as or coaches and it totally makes you appreciate how good they are technically further driving your ambition!

Ghouldielocks – (A Team Skater – Central City Rollergirls)

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Did you know about Roller derby before you joined?

I had an idea of what it was but didn’t really know what was involved much past it was full contact and on rollerskates. That and the chicks who played it looked pretty bad ass.

What made you give it a try?

My friend of many years Dee (Mosquito) used to skate for LRR back in the day and wanted to set up her own league in Croydon. I was working in a Rock pub at the time and she thought I was a good fit as I had a reputation for enjoying a bit of ‘excitable moshing’ on a Friday evening with the locals… She kept asking me till I eventually said yes and bought my first pair of skates!

How was your first session?

Our first session was pretty much the first session in Croydon Roller Derby’s history. We used to train outdoors in St Georges Walk (a bit like Fletchers Walk in Brum but with more chicken bones and ciggy butts). The concrete paving slabs were all uneven and I fell over a lot but it was great fun. We continued to train there till we had enough money to hire half a hall up in New Addington and the rest was history!

How have things changed since you joined in terms of your skating?

This is my 3rd season as an A team skater. I’ve seen a fair few changes over the years and I really have enjoyed seeing how the sport has developed and how it has allowed me to push myself. From minors to knee starts, seeing one of the first ever men’s games in the country and becoming inspired to join in co-ed games and having being privileged enough to travel all over the northern hemisphere to train at boot camps and tournaments, my skatings really come a long way in terms of experience.

My skating has also developed in terms of allowing me to become an increasingly more confident and physical skater as well as a tactician on the track. I’m also fondly known as ‘the gobby one’.

I keep training because I want to be the best that I can be for my team and the only way to do that is to train hard. I feel like I have a home in Roller Derby.

How has roller derby changed your life in general?

Quite dramatically! I met my lovely partner and all round excellent referee Metal Ed through skating. We decided long distance wasn’t for us and as a job came up in Brum first I relocated from South London :)

Rollin’ Rat (Referee/Director – Central City Rollergirls)

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Did you know about Roller derby before you joined?

I knew of it as I worked with three women that played the sport, and they had been involved with Birmingham Blitz Derby Dames and Central City Rollergirls leagues in Birmingham. It sounded like a lot of fun, a very exciting activity for women to get involved in, that was run by the members of the league. I thought it was brilliant as most sports have a very male heavy presence and coming from a sporting background I knew a little bit of how much work they must have to do to keep the league running. I didn’t get to watch until just after I joined though so I wasn’t too sure what it was all about as I had only been to a Birmingham Blitz Derby Dames fundraiser at that stage. I remember people explaining it to me as been a cross between Rugby and British Bull Dog but with no ball.

What made you give it a try?

Joining roller derby and Central City Rollergirls was in fact part of a bet. Years ago when it was all fish nets and miniskirts I was bet £7 by my colleague at work, who was a skater at the time, that I wouldn’t turn up to a CCR fundraiser in a skirt and fishnets. They were wrong, and upon arrival the seeds had already been sewn that I would join and be a referee. The fundraiser was on a Friday, in March 2009. I went to my first session on that Sunday and joined as a full member, then brought my kit a month later and never looked back.

How was your first session?

I felt pretty nervous. I had met a couple of people already at the fundraiser mentioned above but I hadn’t skated in about 14 years so was very apprehensive. My first session went pretty well. I think I only fell over a handful of times. I was taught by Twisted Mister the basics of moving, stopping and falling safely. I enjoyed it loads and everyone was really welcoming and invited me to the after skate social at the pub after so I was integrated pretty quickly.

How have things changed since you joined in terms of your skating?

In the last 7 years things have grown, and grown way past anything we could have imagined back in 2009. There were only a hand full of teams back then and now there are teams in pretty much every city in the UK and it has greatly expanded across Europe and the World. There has been UK and European Team Sanctioned Rakings. European Teams playing in the USA. There has been Women’s World Cup and multiple European and World Tournament. The acceleration of Men’s Derby has been amazing with them also having World Cup, European and World Tournaments

I am a Director at CCR so am heavily involved within my home league but it’s a great sport and very competitive. There are 100s of more games going on each year in the UK compared to when I started. And I love being a referee. I am not currently Certified by WFTDA but I have recently applied for Certification which I will find out if I have achieved by early February. I am currently a recognised referee both with MRDA and UKRDA.

How has roller derby changed your life in general?

Where do I start, Roller Derby is my life. I eat, drink and sleep Rollerderby. I am sure most people will say the same. Once you are in, you are hooked and this ride is incredible – I don’t want to get off.

One of the best points is that I met my wife through Rollerderby – how great is that?

I have been lucky enough to referee all over the UK, Europe and the World taking part in various games but also have been a skating official at some great tournaments which include:

  • Tattoo Freeze- England
  • Track Queens Battle Royal – Germany
  • SKOD – Belgium
  • Womans World Cup 2014 – USA
  • Mens European Campionships – England
  • Mens European Cup – England
  • BEARDi – England
  • Mens World Cup 2014 – England
  • Mens World Cup 2016 – Canada
  • British Championships – England, Wales and Scotland
  • European Smackdown – Sweden
  • BIG O – USA
  • CCR’s Attack of the B Teams – England
  • West Track Story – France
  • Fantastic 8 – France

I will also be attending Rolercon in Las Vegas this year as well as getting over to Miami to watch or hopefully take part in Beach Brawl

Facny giving Roller Derby a go? Don’t worry if you can’t skate – we can teach you. Please email: ccrkitrequest@gmail.com for more details. First session is free and hire kit/skates can be provided if you don’t have your own.

Roller Derby? Not for me…or is it? Part 2

Last week we heard from three of our skaters about their first experiences with roller derby and Central City Rollergirls. Now we have some more skaters who wanted to share their experiences.

Madame Flutterby (A/B Team Skater – Central City Rollergirls)

Did you know about Roller derby before you joined?

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I’d never heard of roller derby. After seeing it for the first time, I was hooked. I didn’t understand it, I hadn’t a clue how to play but it seemed like the perfect activity I’d been looking for. As a mom of two young children I need some “me” time – a chance to be someone other than a wife and mother.

What made you give it a try?

I gave it a try as it seemed new, different and quite unique. A million miles away from the yoga, pilates and keep fit, all the other moms I knew where doing. Something outside the box and not the norm.

How was your first session?

My first session was nerve wracking, I didn’t usually do things without my husband or family by my side, so to go by myself was completely alien. Everyone was really friendly. I took part in basic skills with Twisted mister/ Chet Wisconsin, who showed my how to fall, glide, stop, weave etc. Luckily for me it came very naturally – for others who found it more difficult there was lots of support. I had fun and the nerves eased really quickly. I chatted with other girls and couldn’t wait for my next session the following week. My legs ached so much the next day but the more regular I went the easier it got.

How have things changed since you joined in terms of your skating?

My skating style has changed over the years – on that first day, I was comfortable on my skates and found it fairly easy to skate but I hadn’t a clue how to stop – resulting in lots of occasions where I would slam into walls! My most recent sessions have included how to do a one footed transition, forwards and backwards. There are always new skills and improvements to challenge you. I used to see CCR as a weekend hobby – over the years they’ve become my extended family – kind of like an old bearded Aunty that you love dearly but can’t escape her stubbly kisses. I’ve been a member of CCR for over 7 1/2 years. I play on both the A and the B team and am co captain.

How has roller derby changed your life in general?

Roller derby has changed my life and given me the confidence that I didn’t have before. I’ve got a much better social life and friends of my own – not just friends that talk to me because our children are friends. I’ve made some fantastic memories over the years.

 

Milly Idol (B Team Skater – Central City Rollergirls)

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Did you know about Roller derby before you joined?

I knew little to nothing, I had watched Whip It and remembered leaving the cinema thinking I could totally play that, it looks like so much fun! I eventually found CCR a few years later, after reading about roller derby in the UK in a magazine. My first practice – I can remember being really excited when I watched the pre-mins skaters and thought I cant wait to be able to skate like that, as I struggled to even roll on my hired disco skates!

What made you give it a try?

I wanted to do something different, meet new people and get involved in a sport but ultimately it was reading the magazine article – and I emailed a kit request AND phoned the venue within 10 minutes!

How was your first session?

Before I went in to the venue, I had been waiting all week for Saturday to come, I was so excited to start, I don’t think I was going to let anything, like nerves, stop me. Afterwards I just wanted it to be the following Monday so I could skate again and have a full kit by the following Saturday – I couldn’t wait to start minimum skills!

How have things changed since you joined in terms of your skating?

As a B-Team skater, just over a year and a half in, I still have the same excitement before practice, I still always want to do better than I did the last session, there is always so many ways you can improve your skating ability – I love it, and my league is the nicest bunch of people, so supportive and helpful, I don’t know what I did before with my spare time!

How has roller derby changed your life in general?

I think my confidence has grown, I always have a topic to talk to people about, I mean I’d never skated before and to be on a team now, is the best feeling, I’m forever telling people to join, it’s awesome.

 

TigerLibby (Rookie – Central City Rollergirls)

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Did you know about Roller derby before you joined?
I knew of roller derby before I joined but no more than watching on you tube or films. First impression, looks like fun, wish I was young enough to give it a go

What made you give it a try?
Sudden death of my father in law put life into perspective and made me realise the only thing stopping me was me.
How was your first session?

First session was nerve racking, exciting and excilerating all at the same time. I realised that after 20 years of not being on skates that I still had it in me. Afterwards I felt amazing mentally rather than physically as I couldn’t move for a week! ! I knew then that I would be back.
How have things changed since you joined in terms of your skating?

I am knocking on the door of level 2 (CCR’s minimum skills are broken into 3 levels), I can only come once a week and had some injury but I can do things on skates I never thought possible. At 42, I can skate better than I could when I was 20. I keep coming back because I love it, every session I am learning, improving and getting mentally and physically stronger. I come back because of the people, they are like family, we all support each other and look out for each other even when at times and for whatever reason we can’t skate. Real sense of belonging.
How has roller derby changed your life in general?

Yes derby has changed my life. Given me a sense of personal achievement. I am dealing with pre natal depression and mentally I am now stronger more self assured and confident in my own skin. Derby has helped in my work and in my personal life. I am fitter than I have ever been and just love going to practice. Having never been a sport fan..I am now.
Dodge Brawl (B Team Skater – Central City Rollergirls)
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Did you know about Roller derby before you joined?
No
What made you give it a try?
A friend from work had done a session and was telling me about it and it sounded really fun!
How was your first session?
I was quite nervous but the friend I was with is really out going and had already met people so I think that made it easier, though everyone was so nice I don’t think it would have been bad on my own. I had so much fun I was buzzing when it was over and could not wait for the next session and a month later I had got my own kit!
How have things changed since you joined in terms of your skating?
My skating has improved so much, it’s crazy to think that 2 years ago I could hardly stand up and now I can do one footed transitions! There is always ways to improve and I have so far to go I still crave the progression. I continue to come for the exercise, the sense of achievement and the people. I am on the B team.
How has roller derby changed your life in general?
I have met amazing people, I am fitter and I am happier.

 

If you like the sound of roller derby and want to give it a go, send an email to ccrkitrequest@gmail.com. Fancy watching a game first? CCR’s A Team will be playing London Rollergirls B Team March 26th. It’s going to be a corker.

Roller Derby? Not for me…or is it?

It’s the start of a new year and no doubt, the thought has crossed your mind that you want to make this year count. Perhaps you’ve decided it’s time to make new friends, or time to have more fun, or perhaps you want to finally shift those extra lbs you’ve been clinging onto. Well, Roller Derby is a pretty good place to start. We’re not guarenteeing it will change your life, but we’re also not guarenteeing it won’t!

Roller Derby is a grassroots sports which has a welcoming community. Those at the peak of their skating career can find themselves playing the top players in the world at tournaments such as the WFTDA Championships or representing their country at the World Cup. And for those who have just started, its a great way of meeting new people, getting fit, and being part of something quite special. But, don’t just take my word for it, we’ve had a chat with some of the skaters in our league and they would like to share their thoughts with you. Each week throughout January you can hear about different skaters and how roller derby has affected them.

The Notorious B.I.G.G.S (Rookie – Central City Rollergirls/Crash Test Brummies)

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Did you know about Roller derby before you joined? What was your first impression of it?

I knew nothing to be honest, an ex-CCR skater Nass used to be my housemate for a while and she…(I dont want to say nagged but I cant think of a better word :) ) for years. First impressions were it was loud, confusing but it looked like a load of fun!

What made you give it a try?

After going to see a few games locally in summer 2014 I was totally intrigued about the whole thing and wanted to not spectate but join in! So I made Nass a promise that in 2015 I’d give it a try.

How was your first session?

My first session was with Crash Test Brummies, I’d emailed them before and on the day Scurry (another friend of a few years funnily enough) met me at their training hall, fitted me up with a pair of delightfully awful (looking back on it) hire skates/kit and gave me a couple of hours of coaching, I had never put on a pair of skates in my life before then…..I kinda liked it.

How have things changed since you joined in terms of your skating?

I can hand on heart say my skating has improved 100% (from 0) I think back to how I could skate after a couple of months vs what I can do now and there’s just no comparison. I come because I enjoy the exercise and I love the people who do Derby, a nicer more dedicated bunch of people to the sport and each other you will be hard pushed to find. I’m currently at level two working to three (CCR break down their post minimum requirements into 3 levels).

How has roller derby changed your life in general?

If anyone ever asks me I always say this, Roller Derby saved my soul. Before it I was rudderless, living weekend to weekend and partying my life away for no good reason and was in a dark place. Derby makes me want to improve myself, it makes me a more confident person, I look forward to each session even if I’m tired, ill or just in a bad mood as I know at the end i’ll feel like a million bucks :). I’m fitter, happier and have gained a circle of quite frankly awesome friends who I’d walk over broken glass to help if they need it.

 

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Riotician (Rookie – Central City Rollergirls)

Did you know about Roller derby before you joined? What was your first impression of it?

Yes and I thought it looked hardcore!

What made you give it a try?

I’d recently moved to Birmingham and wanted to get involved in a team sport here. Also, a friend of mine started a couple of months before me and kept telling me how awesome it was.

How was your first session?

It was scary! I didn’t know anybody and could barely stand up on skates. The other rookies all looked impossibly advanced – I remember watching them transition and thinking it looked like some kind of magic. But everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful. I was taken off to one side with one other very new skater and taught how to stop and fall safely. I loved it and even though my feet were cramping and my bum was sore where I’d fallen on it I knew immediately I wanted to continue.

How have things changed since you joined in terms of your skating?

I’ve gone from Bambi-on-ice to a much more confident skater. Things that seemed massively difficult a few months ago (A backwards lap in 20 seconds? You must be joking!) are now a piece of cake. I’m no longer afraid of falling and will cheerfully hit the deck multiple times per session in the pursuit of new skills. I’ve passed my minimum skills, but there is still loads to learn.

How has roller derby changed your life in general?

I’ve met so many amazing people and we have a lot of fun both on and off track. When I first started I was recovering from major surgery and couldn’t do a lot of things I’d previously taken for granted. Roller Derby was a huge motivator to work on rebuilding fitness and improving strength. Finally Roller Derby is a fantastic stress reliever – there’s nothing like getting your skates on and practicing some hits after a stressful day at work!

Gill (Rookie – Central city Rollergirls)12510577_10156383453385371_408718884_o

Did you know about Roller derby before you joined?

Saw the film Whip it’ ages ago, so was aware of Roller Derby and then we saw our first match at the Hotrod Hayride festival. It looked such fun, then back in Brum, we saw our first CCR match at Doug Ellis. It seemed so inclusive, and everyone so friendly; something we could bring our small daughter to and all enjoy.

What made you give it a try?

I was dared into it! My partner just went out and bought me some Antik skates and said “do it, you’ll like it, and you’ll like the people”. It took him a year to pay his credit card off – crazy man!

How was your first session?

I felt a bit nervous turning up on a bleak Saturday morning in late November, it was a session with Twisted: just me (!), but he made me feel really relaxed. Afterwards I was buzzing, oh and aching, and couldn’t wait for the next session.

How have things changed since you joined in terms of your skating? 

I was a complete and utter novice, never on skates in my life, and in one year I’m aiming now to pass my level 3. What makes me continue skating? The challenge, the aches and pains, the complete satisfaction of seeing myself and my co-skaters improve over the weeks and months; all the mad crazy fun we all have at practice. The social side, meeting so many people from all walks of life, ages and backgrounds. I’m also involved in the design team for CCR, it’s’ great to be using my skills for the league.

How has roller derby changed your life in general?

I think about skating…ALL THE TIME! The physical and mental challenge of roller derby is great. It’s therapy – when I’m skating there’s no time to think about my cares and worries, it’s a real “in the moment” activity which is so good for mental health. This year has been really tough emotionally for me and my partner, and skating has been my go-to thing to help me focus and not worry too much. I’m very lucky to have found this crazy bunch of friendly people who make up CCR!

 

If this peaks your inerest we will be hosting a free event on 16th January at Great Barr School. Hire kit is also free. Come on down, and give it a go. Over 18s only. Alternatively, email us at ccrkitrequest@gmail.com.
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