Stephen and I went to our first roller derby bout in 2008. At that time it was new to Christchurch – the Dead End Derby league was formed in 2007. Roller derby itself has only made a comeback in the last 10 years, so it’s still a pretty new sport. We had no idea what was going on in the game, but it was great fun to watch – derby is definitely a spectator sport! We learned more about the rules (thanks Google) and looked out for the next bout. We’ve been to heaps of bouts since then, supporting our favourite teams and watching the league grow and improve.
Then mid-last year, Megan saw an advert for ‘fresh meat’, roller derby’s name for the new member intake. She was keen to give it a go, and I agreed to go along to the ‘learn to skate’ part of the training (I planned to exit before the bashing started). We went along to Shirley Boys High School on 7th October 2012 for our 4-week skills training. I loved it. I fell on my ass heaps, and it hurt, but I didn’t care. It was so much fun. After four weeks of training I was invited to sign up for fresh meat. I didn’t hesitate – Stephen thought I was mad. I thought I might be too, but went for it anyway. In four weeks I’d learned how to do crossovers, knee falls, various stops, and I was getting to grips with the basic lingo (PACK IT UP!).
Fresh meat training was intense. Twice a week all through the heat of summer we learned the basic skills required of a roller derby girl. So much to take in. Along the way, I got to know my 14 fellow freshies well. They are amazing women, all of them. I love spending time with them. We did our 3-hour long skills/written test on 3rd March, after 20 weeks of hard out training. The following week Megan and I went to our first Dead End Derby league training. We were terrified! Luckily they went easy on us (that night).
We celebrated our transition into the league with our Graduation bout on 24th March, our first ever proper game! I had no idea what I was doing, but it was amazing fun.
It’s hard to believe that I’m skating with girls I’ve been admiring (hero-worshipping) for years. They are such fantastic skaters. And now I get to skate up-close-and-personal with them.
I’m never going to be the best or fastest skater on the track. I just seem to have no natural proficiency at sports. I have to work really hard at it. But in derby, I think I’ve found a sport I can do well at. This might be the beginning of a beautiful thing.