Roller Derby: The Half Way Point of Fresh Meat

Week three has come and gone. I’m now half way through my fresh meat course and things have improved from last week, thankfully. On with the recap!

The eager beaver that I am, I was the first one to practice. The league shares warehouse space with the local remote-controlled stock car club, so they were busy wizzing small cars around a (thankfully separate) track when I rocked on up. While they did that and I waited for the others to turn up, I swept our track. The league chair was the first to arrive. She looked a bit worse for wear, but she has every right to be. The night before, she had participated in a roller derby bout against two other teams and come out victorious. I, unfortunately, hadn’t gone. My cousins had their leaving drinks that night so I was out bidding them farewell. I did hear that they had won the bout, when the lady sitting next to me at the bar (if you remember from my first derby article, the one who told me the fresh meat course was starting while her son covered me in fig) started screaming and yahooing. From the look of the league chair, it looks like they had played hard and partied even harder after the match. From what I was told by various people who went, it was an amazing night with some fantastic skills on show (like a jammer who jumped the apex around the pack!) and I was really gutted I missed it. However two other fellow fresh meat soon rocked on up and we started the lessons for the day.

We got out onto the track and immediately started practicing what we had learnt over the previous two weeks. First up, crossovers. It just wasn’t happening for me, so I was pulled off the track and made to do grapevines up and down the inside of the track. T, the league chair, informed me that my issue was quite obviously balance and that my derby stance wasn’t

Rosie the Riveter image but with the speech bubble saying "Roller Derby" and her arm covered in tattoos
Roller Derby, Fuck Yeah!

right. I was down, but I was bent over at the waist, looking at my feet, not bent at the knees with my head up. The way I was doing it was just asking for trouble and some time sprawled on the ground. So we spent a lot of time getting me to keep my head up while trusting that my feet were going to the right place. I’m still not there with crossovers yet, but it is improving (ever so slightly). We then tried to do cross overs while going around and around in small circle. That just made us slightly dizzy. The other two managed to do it, while I just worked on getting my right foot out into a strong stride.

We then did T-stops again. For me, a huge improvement here. I went from not being able to do them at all to nearly having it sorted. That was really exciting and put a huge smile on my face. Again, trusting my feet was the hardest part and T worked with me to get the technique right before I tried it on the track. We then worked on the plough stops which all of us (even the other two who are just naturals on the track) are struggling with. No one is close yet but we’ve been told it’s not crucial we get it sorted immediately, it is just something we need to continue to work on. Apparently we all need to cultivate a large blister on the ball of our foot, that’s when we’ll know we’ve done it!

We then tried sticky skating. This is skating with all eight wheels on the ground, using your body weight to propel you. As with all the other skills, it looks easy when the pros do it, but putting it into practice is another thing all together. My issue, which ties in with the balance, is not using my body weight to make myself move or point myself in the right direct. I was trying to make my legs do all the work in stick skating without using the propulsion of my body weight. With the words “WRIGGLE YOUR BUM SIDE TO SIDE” ringing in my ears, I threw my arse and hips all over the track and managed to get some momentum going. The difficulty then came when I needed to have control over where I was going by doing a slalom through cones. I skated into a few there. Another skill to add to the list of things to be mastered.

Like the previous week, we finished the day with the 17-laps-in-five-minutes test. This time, I was more consistent; there were no falls and I tried to think more about how much I moved my feet. There were also no tears! This time I managed 15 laps, three up from last time and only two away from reaching what was required. After having no idea how to do anything three weeks ago, I think that’s a pretty good achievement.

We then finished the day with stretches and talking about the skates we planned to buy (and how to get around customs tax); however, that is an article for another day! During the stretches, one of the other girls on the course said I looked a lot more comfortable on the skates, which I really appreciated. Looking at the assessment requirements at the end of the course, it is currently looking likely I won’t pass and will need to do the course again (those damn crossovers are going to be the end of me), but I’m ok with that. I’ve been told many of the girls took a couple of goes to pass fresh meat. There’s no point rushing into it at all. Three weeks ago, I could barely stand up on the skates, now I’m throwing myself around the track 15 times in five minutes. I’m happy with my progress so far, it can only keep improving. Now I need to come up with a derby name! Any ideas, dear readers?

By Cesy

Cesy grew up in a sheep farm in New Zealand. Accordingly some of her views are a bit strange.

17 replies on “Roller Derby: The Half Way Point of Fresh Meat”

I started out in 100 dollar Boxer skates because I heard that they didn’t require any break in time blisters. Which ended up being true. I eventually graduated to a slightly nicer pair of skates that I broke the plate on and went back to the Boxers. I don’t know what the skate situation is for you guys (if you have to import them or whatever) but I would advise that you start off with a decent, slightly less expensive pair of skates like the Boxer just to get your feet under you. Our skates are SO expensive — when I got injured, I was looking to graduate to a pair of skates that would have run me about 500 bucks — that it seems a shame to invest in them without knowing what your longer-term prospects for playing are. But! That is just my 2cents on the matter — I know a ton of people who advocate for getting the most expensive pair you can afford as soon as you can.

Nice work Cesy! Crossovers are difficult for a lot of new skaters. You’ll get them down soon!

This might sound funny, but clench your butt muscles with the plough stop and really engage your thighs – make sure the stop is coming from those muscles and not twisting your knees. I find it helps to put more weight on my dominant leg and to have it turned further forwards (almost, but not quite, a single leg plough). Also check out this blog: (she has a great series on the forces at work in different stops, I love stuff like this because it’s analytical, instead of describing how it feels to do something).

As for names: Pavlova Nova?

Oh you are a wealth of knowledge, that makes so much sense for the plow stop, thank you!

I’ve been turning Pavlova Nova in my head, I don’t think that’s the one but I do like the Nova aspect of it! I might work on that one, cheers!

My friend Rach and I have been having anti-social coffees, where we just scour the registry while we’re supposed to be talking to each other.

I only heard about it, but basically the pack were turning the corner and she jumped around them on the inside to get around them and scoot off and score points. Sounded amazing.

So awesome. I went to my first bout a few weeks ago, and to hear the step-by-step transformation into a derby girl is just amazing. As for a name…I am stumped. Whenever I hear a good one (SlayBelle comes to mind) I’m always, “That’s so perfect.” But coming up with a name- now that’s a challenge!

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