A few years ago I was fortunate enough to spend some time chilling out (OK working) in the USA, and this was the first time I saw Roller Derby, not in the flesh but on a trashy 3 am sports channel – yep jet lag had me. My first impression – cool outfits, cool girls, cool sport, however I was completely obsessed with skydiving at the time and did not have room in my life for anything else.
Fast forward 20 years to November 2012 (jeez, has it been that long) and I am vedging out, channel hopping the TV, looking for something to kill an hour without leaving me brain-dead, and end up watching an American Cupcake challenge programme … guess what, the final challenge was to make cupcakes and a display for a Roller Derby Convention. OK they did not show any skating but they did show stripy tights, and hot, funky self-assured women (and a few dishy refs too). I remember thinking to myself … wish there was something like that in the UK, and then I forgot about it.
A chance chat a couple of weeks later with our local Christian youth worker SRG changed all that. SRG mentioned that she ached all over, “why?” I asked, “oh I had Roller Derby training at the weekend and it nearly killed me” was her reply. OMG OMG OMG (yes I was that excited) and asked in my usual impetuous way “Where, when, how, can I come”, “Sure” SRG replied “the team are recruiting now so I will let them know you are interested”.
So via email it was arranged for me to go along to a Wednesday night training sessions with the ‘Oxford Wheels of Gory – Roller Ghouls” to see what I thought and have a go on roller skates. Now, as often happens with email and chat, wires get crossed and no one was expecting me. So I stood a lonely old soul – and probably looking like a pervert – in a cold ex-army gym while girls with brightly dyed hair, tattoos, with both toned and voluptuous figures skated in their underwear.
Eventually I got the courage up to ask the caretaker who the boss was and a few minutes later I was being introduced to ‘SmackHer Lazarou” (JC). JC chatted (with passion) to me about Derby and the team and handed me a ‘Fresh Meat’ pack (Newbie Pack) to have a look through and apologised that there were no skates in my size free as they did not know I was coming. Was I disappointed – NO, the gym was cold, this was obviously a serious sport, and the coach “Pina Collide Her” (NM) appeared to be pushing the girls to the limit. To be honest, for once in my life, I had second thoughts. I was too old, too tired, too_________ (insert excuse here) to do this. So I left and drove home.
On the way home I thought about JC’s passion, I remembered the looks of determination on the girls faces (even the newbie skating up and down holding the side of the rink), and it made me think, this is something I could do where I could wear my underwear on the outside, dye my hair various colours, and show my tattoos without feeling like an outcast – I was going to overcome my nerves, bite the bullet and do this.
I arrived home and hubby raised an eyebrow and said “Well”, my reply “I need your credit card, I have to get some skates” “oh, and if your not doing anything this Sunday do you want to come and watch a scrim”
Hubby: “What’s a scrim”
Me: “ I have no idea, but do you want to come anyway”
Yes, at this point I knew nothing about the sport that I was going to sign up for.
… To be continued
Scrimmages are essentially practice bouts – find out more about the sport and game play at:
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