Part Three of Arcadia Roller Derby’s Diary of a Derby girl.
THIS ENTRY IS ALL ABOUT BEING NEW TO DERBY…
I first properly heard about roller derby maybe 2 months ago. I was in the pub and one of the girls I was with mentioned that she did it, so I was like tell me more! After trying to explain it to me with the aid of napkins covered in drawings of tracks, and after a bit of good humoured verbal abuse for asking if it was like Whip It, she decided to show me. Which is why I got blocked for the first time in the pub, not even on skates.
It seemed like the kind of sport I could get into so I googled the teams in Manchester. I had a look at all of them but in the end the Arcadia drew me in with their charm and rough round the edges approach to derby… the whole feel of the site was really team based and welcoming. Having not worn skates in about a decade, I went to public skating first where I quickly realised I was about as co-ordinated as a beetle stuck on its back. But never one to be easily discouraged, I bowled on down to my first Monday skills session.
I was pretty nervous and more than a little jealous when I saw everyone there skating like a pro (I still kind of am) but there were others like me who were there for the first time. With a bit of expert coaching we were moving around, balancing on one leg and stopping in no time. It’s craaazy frustrating trying to make your feet do what you want at first. I felt like I was born to instantly skate backwards… several bruises proved me wrong. But you really do feel yourself getting better the more you practice, so the first time I managed to go backwards and stay upright it was the most rewarding feeling, just like every time you start to get the hang of something new.
Also credit where credit is due, everyone at the Arcadia has been amazing. Since that first session through to now I can’t believe how much everyone has helped me improve my skating and made me feel like part of the team (thanks everyone if you read this). Major example has got to be my second week, when I went just to cheer on the team in a scrimmage against Wirral Whipiteres and found myself boiling a mouth guard and putting on knee pads, getting ready to skate. I was nervous as hell and slightly confused about the rules, but the advice and support everyone gave me was incredible and I had one of the best (albeit unexpected) experiences ever. I also learned not to skate in skinny jeans.
Now I’ve been skating for about 5 weeks and feel like I’ve made a ton of progress. I’ve finally taken what I now know to be leg-saving advice from Alex and invested in some knee pads, and I’m saving up for my own skates. Roller Derby is hands down the most addictive and immersive sport I’ve ever done and I’d recommend it to anyone. I fell in love with it, ‘fell’ probably being the operative word. I would advise thinking of a derby name before you show up though, or you might not get much of a say in it.
Big Willy Style (formerly known as Alex)
Thanks Big Willy Style (on the right) for writing for us, more on diary of a Derby Girl next week