Sunday, 9 June 2013

Week 1: What Was I Thinking?!

Now, for my first week, you'd think that I would be most worried about my ability to skate. Wrong. I spent most of the day freaking about what to wear! If you've ever seen Roller Derby then you will realise that all the girls are smoking hot and all wearing awesome outfits! Admittedly, it was a training session so my outfit really shouldn't matter and I knew I just needed something comfortable. But I wanted something comfortable, cool and good looking! After spending my whole lunch hour painstakingly looking for an outfit, I settled on a white t-shirt (I now prefer black), black baseball shorts with a white trim, black leggings and black & white striped thigh-high socks. Oh, and I purchased a cheap and cheerful set of basic skating pads.
It turned out I wasn't the only one freaking out about my outfit and one of my friends had even tried on numerous different ones before she was happy!

We picked up our two other friends and headed to the skating rink while discussing how none of us could actually skate and how nervous we were getting! We walked into the venue, were introduced to some of the members of the team and were shown where to get skates and protective gear if we needed any.
As soon as I put on my pair of skates I realised I'd made a terrible mistake! My feet had wheels and the rest of my body did not like it! Thankfully, we were on carpet so I managed to shuffle my way to the rink then, clinging on to the rail for dear life, I edged my way on to the maple-wood flooring. My three friends, who claimed that they couldn't skate, edged on nervously, got used to the surface and were off! Psssh! They could skate! The filthy liars! I pulled myself along, still clinging to the rail for dear life, and tried to get to the other side. Then there was a problem. A gap. Obviously you have to be able to get on and off the rink but I never considered what to do when the rail ran out! I took a deep breath and gradually shuffled my way across. I was hating this.

I finally made it to the other side and was approached by a very lovely lady who turned out to be our coach for the evening. At our training sessions, we have two sections. On one half, a small Derby track is marked out in tape where more experienced members skate (usually team members who are there to help out and practice and fresh meat who haven't been signed off on their minimum skills yet) and the other half is dedicated to fresh meat who feel they aren't ready for the track yet and are just learning the skills they need to know. I was very glad to be in this second half, even if I did want a hole to swallow me up right there, right then. (We must've stretched at some point, but I can't remember exactly what happened.) The coach noticed that I was very obviously having problems and while the others were shown skills to practice, I was introduced to two other team members who were there to help me.

My first issue was propulsion. I couldn't move! I tried but because I was so petrified, my body didn't want me to, so I didn't! This resulted in me being escorted up and down the rink with a skater either side of me, gently guiding me along. After a while, I was able to move slowly along the track so I was introduced to a basic skill: falling. We were shown single knee falls and double knee falls. These weren't too bad. Being on the ground felt a lot nicer than standing up! Unfortunately, my cheap and cheerful knee pads weren't giving me the comfort I was after so I was given an amazing pair of Killer Pads which were like wearing pillows on my knees! This gave me a lot more confidence but my skating still didn't improve and I spent the rest of the session being pulled up and down the rink by the coach and being let go near the end so I glided to the rail. This was so I got used to being on wheels, which did help.

Even so, I felt terrible at the end of the session. I was surrounded by people who could actually skate. It doesn't matter if it wasn't at Derby standard, they could go up and down with some speed and confidence. I felt humiliated and pathetic. It looked so easy! What was wrong with me?!

I tried to stay positive on the drive home but while the others were discussing the techniques they'd learnt, I just felt like I should quit. The only reassurance I had was that almost every team member I'd spoken to had said that they started off exactly the same as me or could recall other members who started off as bad as me yet were now on the A-Team! This was inspiring and this was the cause of the little voice at the back of my mind that told me not to give up. Even so, when I got home that night, I cried to my boyfriend who gave me reassuring hugs and ran me a bath. He's such a sweetheart.

I spent the rest of the week a complete mess. I absolutely love Roller Derby. It is the only sport I have ever been passionate about. Yet I couldn't skate. I was terrible and I was terrified. Yet I didn't want to quit that easily. So I decided to buy some skates. Not Derby skates just a nice pair of beginner roller skates. They're so pretty and I love them to bits but when I got home that day, I tried them on in my kitchen, almost fell over and decided I wasn't going to skate anymore. That was it. I was done... Or was I? Did I really want to quit after one session? My train of thought continued back and forth, torturing me. Until my Mum decided she was going to help me.

I didn't want to go to a skating rink and embarrass myself once again, so we drove around for about an hour until we found a nice spot of smooth-ish tarmac. Fortunately, this area also had a rail that was the perfect height to hold on to! I put on my protective gear, then the skates and my Mum helped me up to the rail. Holding my arm, she helped me up and down the rail a bit. Then once I'd got comfortable with that, she let go but stayed close and I pulled myself along. Next, I practiced letting go of the rail but staying close enough just in case I needed it. I practised my Derby Stance (think peeing at a festival toilet - you don't wanna be sitting on that seat!) and, if still shakey, I was skating! I decided I could do this. I was ready for my second session.

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