On September 7th, 2013, I geared up fully for the first time, and started my derby life by attending a PFM* foundational skills practice. It’s a class we do every two weeks that teaches new skaters how to stop and fall safely, makes sure they’re safe to skate with other skaters, and introduces them to some of the core members of the group. It’s how you get cleared to skate with the team. (Just a couple of months ago, I became the new skater coordinator/helper!) I was able to pass on my 1st attempt, and came home totally psyched. I then spent the next week barely able to walk.
(*Potential Fresh Meat (PFM) is a volunteer-run quad skating group open to all women 18 years and over interested in learning and practicing the skills needed to play roller derby. Many of our members skate with us to get ready for tryouts for leagues all over the Pacific Northwest, but there are many women who skate with PFM just because it’s fun and great exercise.)
My first actual PFM practice was shortly thereafter on September 15 with Jill Nye, which was a super brutal endurance style practice that again made sitting and walking something that involved lots of pain and concentration. They assured me that not every practice was that hard. I had family in town so I didn’t get back for a couple of weeks, but amazingly I did go back, and I kept going back for more.
On November 3, 2013 I laced up my skates for my very first scrimmage.
I didn’t really know what I was doing, but everyone was pretty nice about it…
Okay, maybe not everyone! Haha! I kid! Mod Quad, pictured above, has a great, positive attitude about skating in general, and did not fail to teach me what it was like to get blocked with force. Repeatedly!
And I got to try jamming, which I really enjoyed!
Eventually, I found a name for myself. AND then I changed it, so that it fit me perfectly.
I finally got myself an awesome, vegan skate setup.
Then all I had to do was keep on skating!
When I first decided to do this, getting onto a team was the furthest thing from my mind. I had grown up skating in the driveway or the street, and loved rollerskating, but didn’t really have any skills besides going forward and spinning in a circle. My real first goal going into all of this was learning to do cross overs, and my ultimate goal was skating backwards! That was pretty much it!
This first year has been more about getting past mental blocks and figuring out what I want to get out of my experience. PFM has provided me with a really awesome, safe, and encouraging environment. I tried a couple of times to move on to more advanced training, but found that I wasn’t ready. Since I didn’t come into this with the intense, competitive, athletic drive that some of my peers did, I’m not sure that everyone that I encountered along the way understood my cautious approach, but that’s okay. I believe we all do these things at our own pace, and I simply had to do what was right for me. In my own time, I’ve slowly lifted my expectations higher and higher.
While I am still trying to hone some essential skills, I have a much firmer grasp on the [huge set of] rules now, and have become more interested in learning the workings of more complex skating and strategy. Even though I feel like I have a long way to go (and of course everyone always has things to work on), I’ve recently felt like I’ve hit the next level on my mental game, and am going to be stepping up my training with Jet City’s Cadets starting next weekend.
There are so many wonderful things derby has brought into my life, including my derby family, derby wife (Stevie Thunder, who is a great source of encouragement and support), and most recently the transitioning of my partner and best friend Thomas to quad skates and derby, from his previous background of inlines and speed skating, so that we can share the experience together! I’m really looking forward to all of the cool things in this next year!