There are a lot of paths that someone might take to joining a new roller derby league. For some, they may be completely new to the sport, but with experience of other sports which could have some crossover skills. For others, it might be their first time joining a sports group of any sort. In my case, I recently joined Wiltshire Roller Derby (WRD) after transferring from another league. In this post, I’d like to share my experiences for anyone else interested in joining and playing roller derby.

I was taught how to skate, and turned into a derby player by Mean City Roller Derby in Glasgow – a league I love and that is filled with brilliant people. It’s where I developed my love of this addictive sport. But a move to a new city meant that it was time for a new chapter for me.

Moving to a new place, starting a new job, leaving behind friends and family – it could all have been overwhelming. But I’m lucky; I play roller derby. Before even securing a place to live, I had been in contact with Wiltshire Roller Derby and was already looking forward to my first session with them. I had a group of people to go to who I knew I would have something in common with.

After a busy time packing, moving home, and starting my new job, the evening of my first session with WRD was upon me. I was going to a ‘Skate Academy’ session, where several of WRD’s coaches and veteran skaters teach new skaters all they need to know to get them rolling and playing roller derby. And before even meeting me, the skaters had arranged a lift to get me to training. This was by such friendly people that I already felt at ease on my way to the session to meet my new league mates.

As soon as I had skates back on my feet, being in a room full of new people didn’t seem like such a scary thing. I got stuck in with the drills and everyone made me feel welcome and encouraged me to get involved in all parts of the session. Even though so much else felt new to me down in Swindon, skating about in a sports hall, being hit and doing some of the hitting, all felt familiar and normal again.

I had passed my minimum skills in Glasgow, and so I was asked to join the main league sessions twice a week. I didn’t hesitate. I was made to feel so welcome from the start that I knew this was the league for me. They may have different names for things and different strategies, but everyone has been patient in explaining things to me (many times!) and I have enjoyed every session. I have been encouraged from the start and even just played in my first game as a WRD skater!

It hasn’t all been about skating either. I’ve been to fundraising events with the team, getting involved in different aspects of team life. I also had a chance early on to officiate a few games for the league, meeting even more people from Skate Academy, and also other local derby leagues. So there are plenty of ways to get involved that don’t require getting on skates straight away.

To anyone interested in meeting a new group of people and perhaps trying a new sport for the first time, I’d say that the roller derby community is a great one to join. Thank you to Wiltshire Roller Derby for making me feel so welcome in my new league!

Photo credit: Life Thru Argo’s Lens