It’s back. The second installment of the Fresh Meat Fridays guest column is here. We left off with a fever and developing itch for roller derby. If you missed out on the first entry, you might want to go back and catch up…your call. This time we pick up with information about becoming a member of the team. I won’t ruin it by running my big mouth…
The Fresh Meat Files — My Life as a Novice Roller Derby Dame
So I had heard about the Dames, I’d done some research, I attended Rolling Harvest and I wanted to do this, so…what now? Well, now it was the beginning of December 2010 and a lot of what I did involved waiting.
I waited till I could attend my first derby meeting, held where I found my faithful flyer that directed me to Rolling Harvest…that’s right at the MT Cup. I wasn’t officially a part of the team, so walking through the door and sitting down took a lot of my nerves. How do you walk in to a well-knit group of friends and act like you belong with them? Well, you just do it…that’s how. I had decided that was going to have to be my mantra to myself, “You just have to do it!!” I just sat there pretty much taking it all in. I listened as the girls talked about derby stuff, dues, and practice. Then they made an announcement of whom to see about joining. How exciting, it was finally time to get this skate rolling faster.
So, I and another lady (who would become known as Elaine) took a seat with one of the Dames, Brittany “Bruisey”. Bruisey went over all the new team member paperwork with us. I remember thinking, “WHOA, I had no idea there would be this much too it”. I asked about the USARS insurance, which is paid on an annual basis. Bruisey said we could pay now for the last two weeks in December, or we could wait till the 1st of January and just pay once for next year. Elaine and I both opted to wait until January; it just made the most sense. Since I chose to get insurance for the 2011 season, that meant that now I had to wait some more.
All this waiting wasn’t a terrible thing though.
What to Get, Where to Get It??
Since before the Rolling Harvest event at Gibson’s, I knew I wanted to join this league of ladies. I had been spending tons of hours scouring the internet for information on what to do to get ready for my derby adventure. I was watching roller derby on YouTube, I was researching skates, bearings, clothing, names, numbers, rules, helmets, protective gear. I had derby on the brain 24-7. I thought about derby when I went to bed at night, and started researching again as soon as I got to work in the mornings. Derby had taken over my mind and I wasn’t even a part of the team yet.
The day after Rolling Harvest I went on-line and ordered my basic gear. To join the Cornfed Derby Dames you needed the required equipment, which includes: quad skates, a helmet, a mouth guard, knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards. You also need your USARS insurance paid in full. So, it was about a week and a half later and I was ready to rock and roll as soon as I got my mouth guard and USARS, YAY!!
So, what did I get to skate on you ask? Well, because I recognized that there is a learning curve to all this derby stuff, I started off simple. I went on www.skates.com and poured over their selections for weeks. Most of the websites I read talked about Rock GT-50 skates and Riedell 125 to start derby with. When you start, you don’t want to pour your whole paycheck into your equipment, you need to realize you will probably be upgrading your equipment within a year. So, since I couldn’t decide what skates to get based on the reviews and their prices were so similar, I went with the ones I thought looked the best. So I got a pair of black Rock GT-50’s with upgraded wheels (purple ones…cause I like that color). When starting out in roller derby you can buy what is referred to as a Fresh Meat Package. This type of package usually includes: skates, helmet, knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards. I decided against a Fresh Meat package, only because I wanted a certain color helmet (army green). This helmet choice is a direct reflection of one of the derby names I have come up with for myself. So, then I just opted for the same pads that came in the “Fresh Meat” packs, but bought them as separate pieces. All my pads are Triple8.
Side note: So when you hear “Fresh Meat” you may go “hmmmmmmmmmmmmm, I wonder why they call it that“. Well, I hadn’t heard the term until my first meeting. The term “fresh meat” refers to all new skaters joining the league. You can’t just walk in and think you are a dame, which I will address later. It doesn’t matter if you are a veteran skater or not. If you are new you are “fresh meat”.
As my time to join the Dames got closer, I started to realize I needed a lot more stuff. I still needed my mouth guard. Most of my research led me to believe the Shock Doctor was going to be my best bet. The darn thing even comes with some dental insurance, when it’s used correctly. Can’t go wrong there, or can you? I have since decided my mouth guard may be my first upgrade. I nearly puke when I have it in. A lot of the girls on the team have a Protech Dent mouth guard, that’s on my list of wants.
I also decided I needed some clothes to wear for practicing, the most import item being a pair of padded shorts. This was another decision that took me weeks to make. I actually received them in the mail the day of my first derby practice, THANK GOODNESS!!! Padded shorts are a must for any new derby girl. I went with McDavids 1225 hex-pad padded shorts. They seem to do the trick, but I would give up my vanity to have some of the thicker ones that are out there. Along with the padded shorts I also invested in some good socks, workout type pants, knee-high socks and some funky colored tights.
Everything’s coming together, I’m so stoked!!!
Woo Hoo, They’re Here
So, everything was ordered and on its way. I was just waiting for the day I would come home and there would be a package waiting on the porch for me. That day finally came a little over a week after Rolling Harvest. I pulled in my drive way and there it was…a BIG brown box addressed to Mrs. Karen Lloyd. I remember thinking “Woohoo, they’re here!!!” I just wanted to rip into that box, lace up my skates and go skating. Not how it happened for me though.
Once I got home and seen my BIG box of derby goodies, I had to take care of my most important priority. That priority would be my puppy, Zippo. She needed let out, so my box had to wait…and wait…and wait. It was nearly an hour before I got the chance to open all my new favorite things. The wait was well worth it though. Out of the box came my helmet, army green and just the right size. Next came the elbow and knee pads, they looked huge (but they work well). Then the wrist guards made it out. Then my skates made their debut. I took them out of the box laced them up and strapped them on. They fit like a dream. Incredibly comfortable, so comfortable in fact, that I wore them for the rest of the night. If I knew of a rink that was open I would’ve been there, but I didn’t. So I settled for a quick trip through the beauty shop and then around the rest of the house.
Getting my skates was the highlight of my derby adventure so far.
It Just Makes Me Want to Get Out There
Since I had opted not to apply for my USARS until the 2011 season, I couldn’t participate in activities with the Dames until January 1st. I wasn’t going to let that put my journey on hold though. I decided it would be best to attend a few practices so I would know what to expect when I hit the rink with the other girls. This turned out to be a good idea. It made me feel more comfortable around the girls, but it didn’t make me feel like I was a part of the team.
At the first practice I went to, knowing and seeing some familiar faces helped to ease my nerves. Amanda #1 and Amanda #2 were there. By this time, I had recognized one of the other girls on the team too. I couldn’t place how I knew her, but within a few days of meeting her I had figured it out. I had gone to school with her for a year or so. Her name was Angela and we had actually played basketball together in grade school. So, I knew three of the seven or eight girls there. What a relief. It also helped that I knew one of the coaches, Tommy, from working at a Village Pantry when I was younger.
At this first practice, I sat far away from the Dames and their lair (also known as the disco/locker room). I definitely didn’t feel like I was any part of this team and had not earned any right to associate myself with them. The three girls I knew stopped by and said their hellos and Tommy stopped over for a minute to chit-chat. The practice was about two hours long and consisted of the Dames, Tommy, and a few guys. I wasn’t quite sure who these guys were, but as I watched I realized they were referees and pretty knowledgeable about derby.
One of the guys made it over my way and introduced himself as Ken. He asked me if I was planning on joining. I told him yes, and he wanted to know if I was good. I told him I thought I was pretty good and that I could do a lot of what the girls were doing at the practice. He told me I needed to go on-line and visit the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association webpage. (www.wftda.com) He said I would need to look over the rules and regulations, as well as the skills and written test. So, I took his advice and first thing Monday morning, I was on-line printing off all the materials I needed to look over, learn and practice.
The next two practices I went to, I got closer to the action. I still felt that I wasn’t a part of this team and that I had no right to associate with the girls. This transition between no derby and derby was being made a little easier by a familiar face; it was Elaine from the derby meeting. She had joined me in attending the practices so she could get a feel for what to expect as well. We watched the Dames practice, talked about equipment and rules and even decided to take a road trip together to pick up Elaine’s gear. I can’t even count how many times, while watching these practices we would just say “watching them just makes me want to put on some skates and get out there with them. I can’t wait!!” So there we sat…”Fresh Meat” waiting on the sidelines!!
Everyone’s On Board and I’m Ready To Go
It was just after Christmas and I had all my gear. I was ready to get rolling out there on the rink with the Dames. Why does time go so slow when you really want to do something?
Elaine and I had set up a date and time to take our road trip to pick up her gear. We were heading to Bloomington, Indiana to a skate shop called Rolling Thunder Fun Factory. We were told it was the closest shop to get skates, if you wanted to try them on. (I had ordered mine off the internet, which was terrifying. I had no idea what I was getting or if they would fit when they came. I was lucky and they were perfect!) Elaine, though, wasn’t as brave as me. I had my first “new” friend thanks to my roller derby adventure…YAY!!!
Our road trip was pretty fun. We talked all the way there about derby, life, work, friends and family. By the time we got home we were derby friends forever. My night just kept getting even better. When we returned from Bloomington I headed off to Gibson’s to turn in my money for the USARS insurance and my signed code of conduct paper work. I was one step closer to becoming a part of a roller derby team.
By this time, my family had realized I WAS going to do this. They had slowly, one-by-one gotten on board with the idea of me doing this. I think my sisters were even getting excited for me. I have friends and family that can’t wait to come see what I have been working so hard to be a part of. Jeff had even said he would go to the practices with me, if I was skating!! It wasn’t about money or time any more, it was about being a part of this.
January 1st, 2011 was right around the corner and I was so ready for this!! I only had a few more things left to do, before I could lace up my skates and roll on to the rink with the Dames.
The suspense is killing me! Luckily for me, and too bad for you, I have already seen the rest of the story. So eat your hearts out. Again, I’ll leave links to some pages of interest below in case you’re too lazy to scroll back up or google them on your own.
Thank you, that is all.