Back by popular demand – the next guest post about getting involved in roller derby! Last time we got to ride along with Tom Petty. (“The waiting is the hardest part.” <– See what I did there?) This week is the conclusion to the process of becoming a member of a team. So, without further adieu…
The Fresh Meat Files — My Life as a Novice Roller Derby Dame
“Fresh Meat” — January 2nd and 3rd, 2011
It was January 2nd and the day before my first day lacing up my skates with the Dames. How nervous was I…well nervous enough, that I doubted my decision to become a part of this. Like so many things in my life before this though, I just told myself “it’s okay to be out of your comfort zone!! It’s always like this when you start something new!!” I knew that was true. I always get nervous when doing something new, especially when I don’t have anyone there with me. This was an adventure I was taking without any of my family or my past friends. I was becoming a part of a new group of new friends.
So, on that Sunday night I went to the team’s meeting at the MT Cup and when it was over I headed home. I had plenty to do for Monday night’s practice. I had to make sure I had all my gear…skates, check…knee pads, check…elbow pads, check…wrist guards, check…mouth guard, check…helmet, check…padded shorts, nope!!! I had waited till the last minute to order my padded shorts. Looks like I would be starting my first derby practice with the possibility of hurting my tailbone…AGAIN! (I had taken a couple falls when TRYING to learn to snow board, I ended up breaking/cracking/bruising my tailbone. Took nearly three years to heal! I don’t want to go through that again!) So, anyways I packed my gear in my bag and went to find my clothes. I had bought some workout pants and knee socks to wear for practicing in. Now, I needed to find my shirts…hmmmmmm, what to wear. It didn’t really matter what I wore…for now! So, I had everything ready for my first practice. Now I just had to wait. Waiting for that next day was a good thing though. When I got home from work Monday I had a package waiting for me. YAY!!!! My padded shorts had been quick shipped and I would get to wear them for my first practice.
Driving to Gibson’s was incredibly nerve-racking. I didn’t know what I should expect from these girls. Were they going to push me to my breaking point?? Were they going to make me work for their acceptance?? Was this going to be like joining one of those sororities in college, where they haze you to prove how much you want to be a part of their group?? I had no idea. I just kept telling myself, Katie isn’t shy or worried. Just let her go in there and do her thing. (Katie is my ultra-ego; she’s the part of me that is the pusher. She is the outgoing part of my personality.) So, I pulled in the parking lot, and sat there. Really?!?!? Was I just going to sit out here and wait…NO!!! So, I pulled out my bag and began my descent into something new and incredible.
I walked in with as much confidence as I could muster. I didn’t want the dames to see how nervous I really was. I walked into the disco, sat my bag down and began attaching all my new gear to my body. It was a little awkward to have so much protection on, but it felt good. I was definitely a little shaky on my skates. I just followed what the other girls were doing, so when they stepped out on the rink, so did I! We warmed up, we stretched (some of the girls were even nice enough to show me what stretches to do). Then my first real interaction with the team began. This part was HELL!!! One of the girls, Megan “Megasaurus Wrecks”, was in charge of teaching the “Fresh Meat” the ropes.
Megasaurus let me and the other new girl, Melissa know that we were sure to hate her in the days to come. I was about to find out how true this was, but I didn’t hate her. She was doing her job and teaching us what we needed to know. Megasaurus taught Melissa and I how to swizzle, how to fall, how to crossover and how to stop. Most importantly though, she taught me that this was a close-knit group of girls and that no one there was out to get Melissa or myself. These girls were here to help us, so that we could be a part of this team. Did I feel beat up after that practice?? Hell yeah, but I had learned a lot!!! I left my first practice exhausted, sweaty and so extremely happy that I had decide to put my nervousness and anxiety aside and go for it!!!
A New Best Friend…ICY HOT!!!
What the hell happened?? It was the morning after my first practice and I knew I worked hard, but I didn’t realize how hard. That was until I decide to get out of bed and head to the bathroom. I could barely move my legs. I hobbled to the bathroom and realized then and there, that walking would be the easy part of my day. I had to use both hands to get on and off the toilet. Megasaurus had told us at practice that “derby stance” was like hovering over a toilet you don’t want to sit on. Well, I must have been doing that right, because I most definitely worked the muscles that would keep me from touching the perpetual toilet!! This pain was indescribable; all I can really say about it is…it hurt so good!!!
I made it out of the house and to work without an incidence, but by lunch that day I knew I had a date with the local CVS. My muscles were begging me for some relief from the torture I made them endure the night before. When 12 o’clock finally came around I could be found checking out all the muscle soothers the pharmacy had to offer. I decide on some Icy Hot Gel and some Icy Hot Cream (I couldn’t decide which would be better so I went with both), I also got a heat pad for my neck. I was astonished by all the muscles I had used in that first practice. I headed back to work…it was time to let the healing begin.
Day two after practice was almost as agonizing as the first day after practice, but by now I was getting used to the pain. The exception to day two was that it was a practice night. I would be spending even more time on the rink using all these unconditioned muscles. This practice was better though, or at least I was better prepared. I already had my new best friend in my bag, just waiting to be used on my sore, aching muscles.
By Saturday, the third practice of my first week, I felt good. The muscle pain was subsiding and I was feeling more comfortable on my skates. I was having fun with the other girls and felt like I was making some new friends. I just wanted this first three months (the “Fresh Meat” time) to fly by, so I could be a legitimate part of the team.
Getting to Know the Dames
I think one of the hardest parts of joining a new group, when you don’t have anyone you know really well by your side, is getting to know everyone. I have talked about the intimidation factor of these dames. They are close-knit, so I found it hard to try to strike up a conversation with them. By this time I was in my third week of practicing with the team, but I still found myself feeling awkward around some of the girls. Each practice makes it easier and each practice I come away with one more friend on the team.
Before I ever joined the dames I knew Amanda (Bobbi Pin), then I met Amanda (SLAMmanda Kicks) in a class we had together. After attending a meeting a realized I knew Angela (Breckin Ribs), too!! So walking in to my first practice I knew three of the 20-30 girls on the team.
After my first practice I had added Megan (Megasaurus Wrecks) and Melissa to my list of derby friends. I realized after this practice, how uncomfortable I was with calling these girls by their derby names. I also started to think, I will never remember all these ladies. I had some of the girls down though. I knew by face recognition who Sarah (Jane Damage), Brittany (Bruisey Ricardo), Jayne (OCDiva) and Allison (Elizabeth TailHer) were. I was getting there.
By the end of my first week I had also added some other dames to my list. I now knew Debra (Debbie Darko), Bethany and Jessie (Jessie the Ripper). I was also getting to know some of the refs Todd (Trauma Maker), Chad and Kenny (Devil Doc).
I was amazed at how helpful everyone had been so far. Trauma Maker has pulled me aside a couple of times just to give me some pointers. I find it so helpful to get some of the tidbits that you don’t get from just the day-to-day practicing. I was definitely feeling more comfortable around the dames and refs: as well as on my skates and with all my gear.
I am so glad I decided to do this, it’s AWESOME!!!
It was my third week of practice that I got to know even more of the girls. These were different girls though; they were “Fresh Meat”…just like me!!! We will all work on our skills together with Megasaurus and another dame I was getting to know Christine (Lez B. Friends). My class of “Fresh Meat” consists of my friend Elaine and Melissa (who started the same day as me): and now we were adding Mandy, Brandi and another Melissa. It was also in this week that I met Micah; she had just become a bona fide dame, completing her three months of being “Fresh Meat”.
So there you have it…what it takes to get involved in roller derby – from the nerves, to the equipment, to the physical requirements. Look for more Fresh Meat Files in the future (if we’re lucky) hopefully outlining the experiences of more practice and conditioning, helping out with community functions, first bouts, and more – your guess is as good as mine! Again, links of interest are posted below:
Thank you, that is all.