Guest Blog by the new and fabulous league skater Isabel!
My skating career started out when I was about 6 years old, on bright blue inline skates from the toy store on the most crappy plastic wheels you could ever imagine. They were both my most prized and most mistreated possession. I’d roll past the houses in my street, holding on to walls, leaving fingerprints on peoples windows, and slamming into lamp posts and gardens because I hadn’t figured out how to break yet. It was a hell for my neighborhood, my poor plastic skates, and my parents (one time I decided to jump off a bench and managed to break my arm in two places), but it was heaven for me.
I continued inline skating all through growing up, doing a few jumps in skate parks but mostly cruising long distances. I got a few skating friends, mostly longboarders since the longboarding craze took off the past few years, and I found skating with people makes skating even more fun. Than I graduated, found a job and moved away from my skating buddies and, sadly, the joint skating sessions.
I googled for groups of people inline skating together, or making a competition out of it, or anything like that, and that is how I found derby. I’d rather continue on inline skates but couldn’t find anything that seemed as cool as derby, so I signed up for an open training. It was awesome. By the second open training, I had signed up for the rookie program, got over my reluctance towards quad skates and exchanged a kidney for a complete set of derby gear.
I had to adjust quite a bit to quad skates. My first cross overs were basically me kicking out my wheels from under myself because I wasn’t used to having two wheels next to each other instead of four in a row, but I enjoyed it nonetheless (and it definitely got me over any fear of falling). But apart from the skating part, I found a cool community. Falling and sweating and completely failing at at a new skill for the first time, and doing it together, makes skating even more fun.
I was never the sporty kid and especially hated team sports, since I always got the feeling I was holding everyone back despite really trying to improve. That’s not at all the case with derby and probably the biggest reason I look forward to trainings everytime. If you don’t pass your first rookie test, you just take the next one, and nobody judges you for it. If you do pass, but don’t feel comfortable joining a team yet, that’s fine as well. There’s no pressure, which has led to quite the unique situation of me pushing myself to get better because I really want to, instead of not wanting to let my teammates down and still feeling like I’m doing exactly that. Somehow it’s the lack of pressure that makes me push myself harder physically than I have ever done, and I absolutely love it.
Derby is one of the easiest conversation starters ever by the way. You can explain three times you’ve just started out and are very proud of yourself for skating backwards without falling and slamming your skate between your butt cheeks, but people don’t really care. You do roller derby and that’s hella cool.
One tip I’d like to give any up-and-coming rookie skater (especially those that generally do not like sports, like me), is that everyone explains a skill in a different way. Apparently I’ve completely missed out on this knowledge doing other sports! One explanation might just suddenly click with you where others seem complete gibberish, so your progression might be partly dependant on how many people you ask for help. And there are always experienced skaters around willing to help you where they can.
So I think I’ve ranted enough about how cool derby is. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off spending some more on gear, cause I need some outdoor wheels to take my newly acquired skills outside this summer. Good thing I actually know how to break this time around.