Diaries of a Wannabe Derby Girl: Tryouts & Boot Camp Lessons

Last Thursday, before the Hometown Throwdown, I went to the hangar and tried out for Fresh Meat. I was REALLY nervous beforehand, but I headed out early and went to the Oaks Park rink to warm up and practice a few basic skills. I tried some jump starts, snowplows, T-stops, and I tried working on my crossovers.

My attempt to execute a T-stop, but I'm leaning forward and my butt's not down enough... (Photo by Sharkey)

After practicing for awhile at Oaks, I headed to the hangar to check out the Rosebuds’ practice and see if I could pick up any tricks or tips just from watching. I think it only made me more nervous and aware of my lack of experience, because those Rosebuds are damn good.*

I tried telling myself this was all for fun and not to stress out. As I’ve mentioned before, I was never expecting to make Fresh Meat, but I was going to go out there, give it my all, and have fun. If I made it––great; if not––at least I’ll know what to expect for next time and what I need to work on between now and then.**

So I did just that. I went out there and had fun. I didn’t care that I couldn’t keep up with the pace line, or that I couldn’t do a 180° turn-around toe-stop, or that my jump starts were less than stellar––because I’m not at the same skill level as everyone else.

Throughout the month-long boot camp, I kept forgetting that. I wanted so badly to fast forward and be where everyone else was, because actually staying up on your skates for more than five minutes and keeping up with those weaving pace lines seemed like much more fun than falling on the track and falling behind. But you know what? I bet staying up on your skates and keeping up with the pace lines is a lot more rewarding knowing that you had to work hard to be able to get there. Without the frustration, tears, and failures, the success isn’t quite as sweet.

So I’m going to be working hard to improve not only the physical aspect of my skating skills, but the mental aspect as well. Because if I’ve learned anything during boot camp (besides the proper way to wear my wrist guards…thanks Draggin), it’s that derby is not all physical––it’s mental too, and more so than you’d think. If you don’t have a positive, can-do attitude about mastering a certain skill or move, then you probably won’t be able to do it…but not because you aren’t physically capable of it. Believe in yourself! And focus on YOUR progression. Don’t compare yourself to everyone else––it won’t do jack shit.

In entering the world of derby, I’ve also learned many other things:

1) This sport is real––it’s strategic, tough, dangerous, exciting, and just plain kick-ass. It’s become the perfect thing for so many people, myself included. Good luck trying to get rid of me.

2) If you have never skated before/have no derby experience, but you want it bad enough you will find a way and it will pay off. A perfect example of this is GnR and Wheels of Justice badass Blood Clottia. (Check out this forum topic on people who had no idea how to skate, but are now kick-ass players.)

3) Don’t take shortcuts. Don’t make excuses. Push yourself to be better each and every day. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

4) Skate, skate, skate! The only way to feel more comfortable on skates is to spend as much time on them as you can. If you don’t have money to go to a skating rink or join Wreckers, then skate outside on a trail, in a parking lot, on a tennis court, even in your garage! Just skate. Oh, and do some squats. :)

5) Never lose sight of your goals, or your reasons for playing roller derby. People get caught up in life and sometimes forget why they’re doing what they’re doing. Shit happens, but find a way to remind yourself why you love doing this crazy sport.

So in case you were wondering I didn’t make Fresh Meat, but I’m okay with that. This will test my dedication and willingness to go all the way. The Wreckers program is a little more lax and a little less structured in terms of learning basic skills (it’s more recreational, but some skaters take it upon themselves to help those who need to learn the basics). I’m going to have to take it upon myself to ask for help, to push myself, and to find the time to practice on my own so I can get better. And I am soooo ready for it. Bring it on.


Wannabe Derby Girl

*They are so good  that the RCR Board of Directors just recently (as in last week, the day of tryouts) passed the new minimum age requirement allowing girls aged 18-20 to try out for Fresh Meat. Check out the details here. Oh, and Heff Her Up from the Rosebuds totally made Fresh Meat, because she’s that awesome.

**I purposefully left out details and specifics of the tryouts. That means you, yes YOU, will just have to lace up a pair of skates and get your practice on for the next tryouts. Consider it my challenge to all of you who have commented on my blog posts about wanting to try skating/roller derby. You can do it!!!

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About Alicia Hankins

Alicia is a huge fan of roller derby. Although she would like to be out on the track skating and hitting some bitches, she loves writing about the kick-ass skaters of RCR and spreading the derby gospel.