Confessions of a Former Freshmeat

Thinking about attending our open skate? And maybe possibly signing up for Freshmeat? You have questions, and I bet they look something like this…

Will people laugh at me? Course not. Roller derby is genuinely the most inclusive sport there is. All people of different genders, no genders, all genders, ages, heights, shapes and sizes come along and everyone makes fantastic progress. However wrong you might think you are for this kind of sport, you aren’t and not one person will be thinking that you are.

Will I fall? Yes, yes you will. A few times you’ll fall hard. But you’ll get back up again and eventually you will fall less and less.  If you fall over 10 times in your first session, guaranteed you’ll fall only 9 times next session. Even the most seasoned skaters fall, its no big deal. We’ll actually teach you cool ways to fall- safely, painlessly and how to get up again fast. We’ll teach you how to fall so that it looks like you did it on purpose.

Will people talk to me?  A lot of people are shy or apprehensive their first few sessions. Ask questions about roller derby, ask people why they decided to sign up, ask people if they have ever skated before. These are all great conversation openers for interacting with your fellow Freshies or the ECC teamies. We can be a bit shy too. Note: maybe don’t ask about injuries, not yet. Ah no, it’s okay. You might be surprised to learn that injuries are rarer than you think.

Will the kit fit me?  My feet are too small, too big, my thighs are massive, my arms are too skinny… I’ve a huge head… We’ve heard it all. We can kit you, because we are all those people too. The human body in all its glorious amazing variety is fully represented in roller derby, have no concerns. If you registered to attend our open skates and gave us your shoe size and build, we really should have something that will do the job. If you’re signing up and planning on hiring gear, we’ll make sure you have something suitable.

As you get stuck in, you’ll have more concerns. Something like these…

They make it look so easy, I’m brutal… It’s not effortless for anyone. When you watch the coaches going around like they were born on skates, trust me, they weren’t. Two years ago I was Freshmeat, I skate with the team and help with coaching but I freely admit I’m not the best skater in the world, and never will be! And that was me coming into roller derby thinking I’d be grand because once upon a time I was fairly nifty on ice skates.  I could roller blade too. Everyone starting roller derby for the first time started in the same place and just like you are now, they put in the effort! You’ll get there, don’t worry.

Will I fit in? Roller derby is full of different personalities, different backgrounds, different hobbies and different jobs.  It’s a place where “different” is welcomed and embraced.  You already have one thing in common with everyone- you’re into skating and have discovered roller derby.  You’ll find even more things in common as you become part of our big happy skate family. If you have kids, share your pics and stories. We have lots of mums on the team. Hate your job? Plenty of us hate our jobs and will gladly commiserate. Boyfriend, girlfriend or partner just generally being a prick? Yeah, we get that too. We skate to get away from EVERYTHING. Or maybe that’s just me? I don’t think so.

Can I commit the time? In an ideal world and especially with Freshmeat we would encourage you to try to make it to every training session- newbies train once a week, rookies and senior team train twice a week. We realise however that this world of ours is less than ideal so we totally understand when work, studies, family, life shite etc gets in the way and prevents you from being able to attend. It’s cool.

How long will it take me to pass minimum skills? It takes everyone a different amount of time, from first attempt to two, three, four or more attempts. However long it takes you is how long it takes you and its fine.  Believe it or not, it’s not a reflection on your ability to become an amazing roller derby player!

 Lastly…

Everyone has good and bad nights at training- some things you’ll pick up first time, other skills might take lots and lots of practice to get right. Some nights you’ll be flopping around like a fish feeling like you’re spending more time on the ground and you won’t be in the zone. Other nights will be the best night ever.  This is normal.

Should you sign up- and these aren’t really rules- but we do ask the following:

  1. You make the effort to attend all sessions. If you can’t make it, try to get a message to your coach as soon as possible via the Facebook Freshmeat Group page you’ll be a member of, or via email. They might be planning a session that requires specific numbers- people missing throws a spanner in the works and keep in mind that they’re volunteering their time too.
  2. Respect your coaches- listen while they’re instructing, watch carefully while they’re demonstrating skills. If a coach or team member helping out at Freshmeat offers a piece of advice, take it! They really do know what they’re talking about and chances are if they’re offering advice on mastering a particular skill, its because its something they might have struggled with and came up with a trick to get it right.
  3. Respect your fellow newbies- safety always come first. If you’re going to fall, fall as you’ve been taught. Don’t grab the person who happens to be next to you. If you happen to be an experienced skater, don’t be a dick- no showboating around the track, and certainly not at crazy speed.
  4. A positive, can-do will-try attitude goes a long way. Being scared or nervous to try new skills is normal- take that adrenaline and go for it. The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll fall and you’ll have gotten pretty good at that. You made it this far and you’ll have a dozen people or more cheering you on!
  5. If you’re becoming frustrated or pissed off with something, take a break. Take a seat at the side of track, have a breather, regroup and return when you’re ready.

Freshmeat and roller derby is hard, but so worth it.  You’ll make friends, get fit and strong, clear the mind and build confidence. Roller derby has the ability to impact in a positive way just about every part of your life.  It wasn’t my goal when I started- I just needed to get out of the house or I was going to go mad- but I got fit, lost weight, lowered blood pressure and I stopped hating my thundering thighs and broad shoulders. Instead my thighs became the powerhouses behind rock steady stability, fast strides and great lap times. My swimmers shoulders became hard-hitting weapons to fear. Body By Roller Derby, And Proud. My anti-social insular self also made some friends. I’m not the best person in a group of women, I find it excruciatingly difficult to make conversation and connect with people- I still do, even with people I’ve gotten to know over time. I’m actually better with strangers. Despite my many quirks, I’ve been welcomed.

We really look forward to welcoming you to East Coast Cyclones Roller Derby Freshmeat and we hope you’ll stick around to write your own fabulous roller derby story some day!

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One thought on “Confessions of a Former Freshmeat

  1. Pingback: Roller Derby Roundup – September – niria.in

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