Roll on 2013

Just over a year ago we went into our very first bout like rabbits in head lights; we knew nothing of tactics or even how to hit our way through a wall (cue the downright fear when approaching the pack). I remember whacking into the venue wall, face first, after taking a hit that probably shouldn’t have even made me move at all.

Even though we were finally bouting, we had borrowed three players and we were playing knowing that three of our best and most loved girls were moving away to different cities. It was our first ever bout and should have been the start of a happy bouting run, but we were back to square one.

Over the next few months we carried on without much of a plan for what we were doing or where we wanted to be. Some weeks we were lucky to get six people to training sessions. There were only a dedicated few holding the team together. If it all fell through I was going to become a street skater, maybe even try my hand at learning the ropes of slalom (that would have definitely embarrassed my brother).

New people would join but it was hard to find a balance between teaching the newbies and keeping the more advanced people interested. This led to us having a pretty poor retention rate and not advancing at all.

On an NRG night out (whilst slightly intoxicated) I mentioned I might put myself forward for a committee roll to Alison (our secretary). In the morning I got a text saying “are you still ok with going for Chair?” I thought “why the hell not?”

It turns out I bloody love organising stuff, especially doing spreadsheets (you can never have too many). I never thought the words “boom! I’ve just done an awesome formula” would ever leave my mouth. I even managed to get all the drills into a snazzy spreadsheet for easy session planning.

We added a third night to our training sessions, dedicated to a rolling 12 week training course for fresh meat. This allowed Wednesdays for advanced bout training. We finally had structure. We all put posters around and tried to convince everyone we met to come and give it a go. We even had a whole day where took over The Orange Tree (our favourite watering hole), handed out cakes while on skates, served our very own NRG cocktail, and tried to spread the roller derby gospel.

Something was working. On our first fresh meat session we had too many newbies for the kit. A few of us lent our own equipment out and stood back in amazement at how awesome it felt to have so many. The important thing though, was that they kept coming back. One session, two weeks in to our latest intake, a few of us gathered in the corner doing mini high fives, barely containing our excitement as three of the newbie’s had bought their own skates! When someone buys their first skates it’s them saying “I love roller derby” and it makes me flippin’ happy.

Out of the blue we received an invitation from Evolution Roller Girls to step in at the last minute in place of the team who were supposed to be playing them. We scrambled round and checked who could make it and were surprised we had enough for a whole team. Even though we lost (by a nail biting nine points) it brought the team together and gave us the extra push we needed.

We’re now about to start our third intake of the 12 week training programme and are proud to have added 17 new dedicated members to the team during this time; some have already made it into the bouting team. It’s awesome that they have been so dedicated and have shown what can be achieved. I hope that it’s come from the training programme and the current team spurring them on. It’s also awesome that they want to dive straight in to helping out.

Looking at how far we have come over this last year makes me (and the whole team) so damn excited about what 2013 has in store. We’ve got the co-ed tournament we’re hosting at the end of Jan (first one in the UK) and have fixtures sorted throughout the year. I’m so looking forward to our latest members getting on to the bouting team and will be amazingly proud to have them by my side on the track (if I continue to make the team with this upcoming talent).

I never thought strapping on some skates would change my life as much as it has. I am so thankful to have such an amazing team beside me. Roll on next year.

The Ruth Hurts
P.S. We bleed green.

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