Roller Derby is not something I ever imagined myself doing. In fact, until a friend joined Durban Roller Derby, I didn't even know it existed in Durban. After some explaining (and the watching of Whip It) and a lot of persistence from said friend, I finally took myself to a practice. I went through a 6 week Fresh Meat program but alas, I wasn't quite ready for the exam. That, combined with changes to the WFTDA minimum skills requirements meant I got a chance to join the new improved 3 month program as a rookie. It was just as well because although I am slowly getting the hang of it, I am still really new to skating. Before July, the last time I had skates on my feet was sometime around my 10th birthday!! Anyhoo, rambling aside, I thought that it'd be fun to track my progress here and prove that if I can do it, anyone can.
My lectures this semester have moved to a Thursday night, the same night as derby, so I was a little late for the very first practice. Luckily the part that I missed only involved finding your feet and warming up so I didn't miss too much. The main focus for the evening t-stops and sticky skating. While I have sticky skating (skating without lifting your feet) more or less down, I suck at t-stops. My right leg cooperates but my left leg will have none of it. To do a t-stop, you have to pick up your one foot and drag it sideways behind you to stop. When we skated at the stadium I was managing to get it right about 90% of the time but on the track, with a different surface, I felt like I was starting from scratch again. I definitely feel like a need to practice these a lot more. In fact, I feel like I need to practice everything a lot more instead of just sitting idle between Thursdays. For the first time, we skated a pace line which involves skating in a line round the track and maintaining the pace and distance of the skater in front. We had tried this at the stadium the Sunday before and, although the idea of skating close to someone else initially terrified me, it was fun. I didn't do too badly and managed to keep up without falling which was great. When we started doing squats and footwork, I realized that the truck on my one skate was loose and, in the process of taking them off and adjusting/tightening both skates, I missed the balance of practice.
This week I managed to make it to practice more or less on time despite the fact that my lecture ran over time. We did some more sticky skating to warm up which is cool, I am really getting the hang of it. I can definitely feel that my fitness is not up to scratch though. The combination of derby stance (aka squatting) and using momentum to propel yourself is hard on your inner thighs and lower back. After a couple of trips round the track we did some foot work. This involves being able to take steps with your skates on. I can manage the sideways and forwards moving but trying to step backwards is not easy at all. It feels like you are guaranteed to fall!!
After practicing some plow stops and t-stops, we started learning how to do crossovers. This involves you picking up one foot and placing it in front of the other when skating around corners. It is hard. I managed to get it right for about 5 seconds and then I started falling. And falling. And falling some more. Seriously, its was the most (and hardest) I've fallen since I started and I'm amazed that I didn't hurt myself badly. One thing it taught me was the importance of derby stance because I wasn't skating in the right position which meant I fell backwards instead of forwards EVERY TIME. Oh well, thats how you learn right? I definitely need to invest in some Arnica though...
So thats what I have been up to the last two weeks. In future, I will aim for a post a week and I'll try and get it out on a Friday. Have any of you guys tried roller derby? Let me know what your experience was like in the comments.
P.S. If you are in the Durban area and want to get involved then this Thursday (15/08) is the last opportunity join this batch of Fresh Meat. Check out the Durban Derby Facebook page for more details.