Saturday 28th February 2015 was another big day for me. It was boutday and both our B team and A team would be playing as part of a double header. I was lucky enough to play on both teams on the day. But the part that made it even bigger for me? Both games were against Birmingham Blitz Dames. The league I first learnt to play roller derby with.
I thought hard about how to describe how I came to play roller derby and my background throughout. I wrote this and put it aside, and now I think screw it, I’ll put it up as it is!
Rewind back to 1994, 4 year old me. PapaCidal (lover of ice-hockey amongst other sports) thought it would be a fantastic idea to take me ice-skating – and so myself, Bear and BroCidal all learnt as children very quickly to be comfortable on skates. Growing up I had always enjoyed a healthy mixture of sport and performance, I started out in dance school (like every other 4 year old girl) then moved onto gymnastics which I was actually pretty good at! However it turned that I loved food too much to fit in with the ridiculously low weights they asked of you. So I stuck to figure skating, the performance and the pretty dresses were amazing – until I entered my teenage years. Now? It was uncool, and it was at this point I rebelled a little, MamaCidal and PapaCidal were very understanding and although a little gutted at me having my figure skates already, helped me move on. I really had such a love of being on skates at this point and so moved onto playing ice hockey with Nottingham Ladies. A team sport this time round, still on ice, and required a lot more kit! I met some fantastic ladies at this point in time, but after a while I didn’t feel as though my heart was really in it. Going to practice became a chore and my hip was not dealing well with it at this point. The excitement had worn off, and though it was a team sport and people were lovely, I never really felt like I connected with anyone.
—–Note: In 2006 I had an operation on my right hand hip muscle to shorten and put it all back in the right place. I will write on this at some point, it is always good to share recovery stories—–
So I gradually moved away from sport and chose to focus on my education and music instead. Moving on to 2008, I had finished 6th form and was off to university (yay me!) I had heard about roller derby and had enquired at a few places for more information, just for a fun originally. At the tender age of 18 (going on 19 and the release of Whip It rearing to go for 2009), I entered an emotional experience which both ruined yet made me at the same time, during which I spent much of my time in and out of Birmingham. I looked at the local Birmingham Blitz Dames who were a ridiculously awesome team, luckily I met T.Apple through an acquaintance – who had previously trained with the team. We spoke and she agreed to go back to derby and keep me company on my journey into the derbyverse. She was the girl that put my foot in the door (or my skates on the track) and I am sad to say that due to the circumstances surrounding my time in Birmingham, I no longer speak with. But T.Apple: Thank you. If it wasn’t for you, I probably never would have been brave enough to jump in. Also I would like to take a moment to show my love for the following ladies at Birmingham for teaching me most of what I know about derby and for being just damn fabulous:
Nico Warrior (Immediately helped me out and taught me along with Thump) – Thumpalina (Now CentralCity) – Violet Attack (A role model and general legend, inspired me to aim to be amazeballs) – Mimey Vice (even though you made me do pushups and planks… alot!) – Roison Roulette (The support to push me through the walls I kept hitting – blockers, physically and mentally!) – Kylie Volatile (taught me how to take a hit, by hitting me. Alot)
So I also got to spend some time honing my skills in my university town (Bedfordshire) which housed two local teams, after speaking with Caz she allowed me to come join in with the Bedfordshire Roller Girls and I learnt alot about my strengths and weaknesses in my brief time there. With university and my circumstances in Birmingham, I didn’t continue to go to practice when I should have done. I was a bit of an on-off starter. In 2011 I left Birmingham in my rear view mirror at great speed.
In early 2012 I met The Man who came out of no-where and just changed it all, he gave me something to really live for and enjoy. I finished my degree and moved back to the Cidal family home in Mansfield. I then moved in with The Man in Nottingham and we’re temporarily there until we finish our house in Mansfield. I told him about Derby and he talked me into going back to it. As I lived here I started looking at the local Nottingham teams, though as we looked to move to Mansfield I found out Mansfield had a fairly new roller derby team. So I got in touch with the head honcho (the rather kick ass Gore G’eous) to say I had bought a house and was moving back, a conversation later and I had learnt that I would be moving in just two doors down from this woman! Speaking with her really inspired my love for the sport again, and she allowed me to come along and train in general sessions with them. My first practice with them was a little scary to say the least. I was trying to find my feet and felt a little bambi-ish! I was definitely not in as good a shape as I used to be! But I was welcomed with open arms and cheeky grins on faces, I already knew Gore, but it turned out I had been friends with two other girls when I was younger! It seemed a mad blur of coincidences but it seemed like it had all fallen in to place. Next practice, I was back to the derby me, skating ability and all.
So with this new team and bunch of girls, I learnt to love derby all over again. It really fell into place. Since earlier this year, I have been attending all practices which are not affected by work committments, even though this has meant the half hour drive each way just to come practice whilst I finish mine and The Mans house in Mansfield. Meeting and becoming close to these girls has really helped in keeping me going, they give me confidence and love, and often bruises (though I prefer “Derby Kisses”). The rules and skills may have changed since I last played but I passed all skills straight away thanks to my history of skating and the rules test took time but I kept asking every practice to take it again and again until I did it. The Man has even been coming to Sunday practices to watch and help our NSO where he can, maybe he will become a wonderful Zebra one day – who knows?
I think I will add a page at some point detailing my teammates, these girls really have become my family in a ridiculously short period of time! With my Misfits, my family and my Man by my side, I feel invincible whatever gets thrown my way! Yes there are down days, but I have a support system there and someone who can always help out, or just give me a hug.
So as an individual and a team, we have similar goals. To better ourselves as skaters and how we work together as a team (Gotham’s hivemind…we will have you!), hopefully 2014 will see us bouting and getting out there, making more derby friends and building cross league relations. My goal? I want to increase my fitness and core strength. I want to hit 35 in 5! (Currently at 29 and a half in 5… and I don’t eat well – at all – or crosstrain – at all. May be optimistic but if I can improve my fitness, this seems like it may be reachable. Atleast it is a goal to really aim for!). Whilst I am happy with my skating ability and feel I am a strong skater thanks to my years of generally being on skates, inline/figure/hockey/quad or otherwise, I am a strong believer in the saying:
There is always room for improvement
There is always going to be something I want to be better at. I’d love to be a stronger more solid being and be able to push walls harder as a jammer. Because of my natural ability, speed and agility I feel more comfortable as a jammer, I’m constantly moving (unless I’ve been knocked on my butt) and thinking about how to get through the wall. I want to keep improving my skills as a jammer, but I want to be a triple threat skater. I want to be able to block more effectively, work better in walls, increase my confidence to pivot and be able to do so effectively. Part of me would also like to learn to ref – but sometimes I look at situations and feel as though I would rather go one on one with Beyonslay than have the pressure a zebra has!
So this seemed like a really long post to write, looking back it seems like a short story. I found roller derby, trained with some great teams, met some wonderful women and now couldn’t be happier!