An Introduction to Derby Diaries

This post is going to be an introduction to what I hope will be weekly posts on how my training sessions have gone (Or, if I’m unable to get to training, which may be likely when I’m back at university, what I’ve done otherwise!) I was also going to post a summary of my experience so far but I realised this will pretty much cover it, so it’s a handy way of bringing you all up to date with where I am!

At the time of writing this, I’ve had four proper training sessions with Kent Roller Girls’ Recreational League, and I’m absolutely loving it. I have never been an exercise person – I get bored with it easily. The only thing I’ve been remotely interested in is dance, and even then it was still a very casual thing, I wasn’t too bothered about going to classes and I didn’t feel any drive to get any better. Roller derby is completely different. I’d read so many articles, blog entries and such about how addictive it is, and I’m starting to believe it because most of the time, on most days, I’m thinking about derby. I’m either looking forward to practice or I’m at it. I’m constantly looking for an opportunity to get on my skates. For the first time, I’ve found something I really want to do and be good at, and I’m determined to do it!

Why Roller Derby?

I’ve never been a sporty person and I have the worst balance of anyone I know – Riding a bike is comparable to a death-defying feat and my last memory of doing so ends with crashing into a neighbour’s hedge. We can absolutely forget about ice skating, too. I can’t achieve anything past a slow crawl with blades on my feet. For this reason, when I told my friends and family I wanted roller skates, each of them responded with what I can only describe as the most concerned look I’ve ever received.

I fell in love with roller skating after my university friends took me to Rollerworld in Colchester for my 20th birthday. There I realised that, while I fell over (a lot, and in pretty hilarious fashion), this was something I could actually do and I was enjoying. I could get myself moving, at a reasonably fast pace. And the next day when all my limbs were aching, I realised that I’d been exercising and working hard without even realising.

It’s cliché, but roller derby came after watching Whip It (which seems to be the way a lot of people are coming to the sport). It looked exciting and interesting, and after the film I watched a few bouts online, and I wanted in. It looked so hardcore, the women looked so awesome, and best of all it looked like something that no one would expect me to do in my life. So, naturally, I wanted to do it. I was also attracted by the fact that roller girls weren’t all slim and “athletic build” – They looked like me, and it looked like something that I could actually do without being looked down on for my body shape. I got in contact with Kent Roller Girls, and since I’ve started training with them I’ve found myself absolutely in love with all of it.

Best Thing So Far

The people are absolutely fantastic. Every week, the league members have something nice to say to us, they’ve got advice for us to help us develop things, and they’ve got praise when we’re doing something right or when we’ve improved from last week. No question is ever too stupid and no request ever seems to be too much – I spent half of last week’s session asking one lady to help me with my equipment because I was losing feeling in my feet and my toe stop was coming loose and my kneepads were moving and bruising my knees every week. She relaced my boots, tightened the knut on my toe stop and even gave me her pads to try out. I’ve never been in such a supportive environment and it’s definitely one of the things that keeps me coming back every week.

Another thing is, I can feel and see my improvement. Every week, getting up from a fall doesn’t take me so long, doing lemons doesn’t hurt so much, I don’t sweat quite as much (don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot of it coming from a lot of places I didn’t know could even sweat, but now I don’t look so much like I’ve just had a shower in the stuff), I can do more laps without aching and getting tired. Being able to mark improvement in such a way is great for me, and it feels so good to know I’m getting somewhere. I know that’s going to plateau at some point, but for now it’s one of the best things in my life every week

And finally, it’s so fun. Even when I’ve done so many knee taps I feel like I’ll puke if I have to get up from another, or I’ve just wiped myself out and slid halfway across the hall on my side because I tried to do a crossover and got my wheels caught, I find myself grinning about it and coming away excited for next week to do it all again.

Worst Thing So Far

THE PAIN!! I never thought it’d be easy. I read up on it enough to know that things are going to be agony for a while. That still didn’t prepare me for the amount of pain I’ve been in. I’m well known for, on top of having poor balance, having a remarkably low pain threshold. It’s slowly getting better – this week, I’ve got aching ankles, a sore knee (I think stems from a deeper problem because I’d had that since last practice, in which I’d fallen awkwardly) and severely aching hips from…trying to do a crossover and sending myself sliding across the hall because I tripped over my own wheels. Twice.

The first week, though, was the absolute worst. Every part of my body ached like I’d been submitted to some sort of torture. On the Monday after practice I ended up in floods of tears because the toilet was upstairs and to get up the stairs and minimize my pain to just discomfort took me 5-10 minutes each way. On the Tuesday, I had a summer school I was mentoring at, and even my supervisors were laughing at the way I was walking. I’d only regained full, comfortable use of all limbs by Saturday, and I was looking at potentially putting myself through it all again the very next day.

Strangely enough, none of that put me off my decision to take it up.

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A Note To Readers

First of all, welcome! Thank you for taking the time to read my posts. This post is intended as a bit of an introduction for you, but also an outline for myself of what I want to do here, and why I’m doing it. So first, about me!

My name is Frances and I am about to start my third year at Essex University, studying BA Modern History. After my degree, I am aiming to start a career in either publishing or journalism, both of which are aided by strong writing skills.  I’ve recently started training with Kent Roller Girls Recreational League, so in the (hopefully, not too far) future I’ll be a roller girl/derby machine. I also really enjoy films, reading and video games

Why I’ve started this blog:

  • To improve my writing skills outside of an essay writing capacity. Believe me,I can write essays no problem. Writing a clear, coherent piece on one topic seems to be a whole different concept. When I’ve tried, I’ve ended up rambling or so conflicted I’ve deleted the whole thing. Therefore I’m hoping a proper blog will help me improve and not do that.
  • To track my derby performance. I’ve read that it’s good to write your thoughts and progress down so you can see how you’re progressing, and seeing as I am notoriously bad at maintaining motivation, and I have already had a serious mental chat with myself about the whole thing, I think that’s going to be a good thing to do. Plus, that gives me something to write about every week.
  • I have a lot of thoughts and opinions. That need writing down (Preferably in a coherent, non-rambly manner, as outlined above) before I explode. But really, I’ve been told that they are either quite clever or entertaining and should be shared somewhere, so that is exactly what I plan to do.

What to expect from this blog:

  • Roller derby posts. That’s almost obvious from what I’ve just said. I’m going to aim to post something about my training sessions either after them on Sunday, or on Monday because I’ve found myself falling into a state I’ve coined “derby daze” after training on Sunday. In this state, I make absolutely no sense and spend the majority of my time staring blankly at the walls. But you can expect one of these on one of those days.
  • Posts. Ideally, once a day. At very least once a week. My aim is to find something to talk about every day, even if it’s just a little thing.

Hopefully, I’ll post a good variety of content and keep all of you readers interested and entertained. Thanks for reading and I hope you join me on this journey!