So, I’m writing this as one of the new kids that’s ‘just’ been introduced to roller derby.
My roller derby story starts with my other main hobby. Scouting. In short, I’ve been in Scouting my whole life, in various roles with differing commitments. In October 2017, I was selected to attend the World Scout Jamboree as one of 4 leaders responsible for the 36 young people who will join us out in America for a once in a lifetime experience. This experience comes at a cost of £4,000 per person of which the aim is to fundraise the total amount.
So here is where my roller derby interest starts. One of the Scouts I’m taking out to America plays junior roller derby and is a regular non-skating official for Wiltshire Roller derby. She challenged me to complete a marathon on roller skates for my fundraising.
I mean, this is all well and good but.... I’VE NEVER EVEN SKATED BEFORE!
I couldn’t even recall seeing a pair of roller skates - let alone having to put them on ... or stand up in them! But I accepted the challenge - what could possibly go wrong?!
I joined Wiltshire Roller Derby at the beginning of July 2018. And with just 4 months to go before my first marathon attempt, I started to learn how to skate through the weekly training sessions that WRD provided. I found my first session quite scary - seeing the other skaters go whizzing round the track - forwards.. backwards.. sideways.. and here I was trying to just stand up in the bloody things!
But with the regular support and coaching from the WRD coaches, I slowly started seeing improvements. First, I could actually stand up, then I could complete a few laps without collapsing in a heap, then I could go around on one leg. All of those were major achievements for me.
So, the big day came around, Sunday 7th October. Got up, got dressed, packed my bag and left for Castle Combe race track. Lap after lap, I finally managed to make it to the end of the day and I had managed to skate a whopping 22.2 miles! I’d missed out on the marathon distance but I didn’t care. Just 4 months after putting skates on for the first time, I’d skated 22 miles and actually survived!
I have a huge amount to thank the WRD coaches for. I had been largely inactive for most of the last 10-15 years, and this sport has given me something to do... something I enjoy without feeling like I don’t fit in or like I’m not good enough. The training sessions are fun and challenging - but you can take as long as you need to learn the necessary skills!
I still have a lot to learn, but I have now passed my minimum skills which means that WRD now think I’m safe to skate with... fools! So, from me to all the WRD coaches at skate academy, and those that have helped in whatever way to the Scouts fundraising efforts: Thank you!
If you’re thinking of starting Roller Derby – do it! Its great fun and everyone is genuinely so nice and supportive. For me, getting lots of time on my skates was the most important thing. It gets you comfortable and in control – which is a stark contrast to when I first started! The whole experience of Roller Derby is not there to be rushed. Take your time, practice, practice and practice some more the skills you’ll be taught – your Roller Derby experience is truly a marathon and not a sprint!