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.

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