Will i fall over?
A Fresh Meat perspective on... Fresh Meat!
Googled 'roller derby teams in Oxford'. Found Oxford Wheels of Gory. Got in touch. Went along to my first session. I'd like to say nothing else went through my head at that time - but I'd be lying. I was looking for some kind of exercise after wasting too much money on the gym. I needed a team sport, something different and fun so I would actually want to go. A bit about me; I'm really short, never played a team sport before, never played a contact sport before, haven't picked up any kind of skates for about 8 years (when I knocked over a poor innocent person walking out of their front door), didn't know anyone on the team, didn't know anything about Roller Derby, didn't know anyone who knew anything about Roller Derby. So, if you are thinking of coming along to our Fresh Meat course, I wanted to give you my perspective on being 'fresh meat' as the newest team member.
Before my first session, the following questions were flying around in my head:
- Will they laugh at me when I turn up, I'm clearly not built for a contact sport?
- Will I fall over?
- Will anyone talk to me?
- Will they have kit to fit me?
Any of these sound familiar?
During your first session, the following will be resolved:
Will they laugh at me when I turn up? No - absolutely not. Roller Derby is genuinely the most inclusive sport I think there could be. All people of different ages, heights, shapes and sizes come along and make equally fantastic progress. However wrong you might think you are for this kind of sport, you aren't and no one will be thinking that you are.
Will I fall over? Probably - most people do. But slowly you will fall over less and less! If you've fallen over 20 times in your first session, aim to fall over only 19 times in the next session, there is no rush.
Will anyone talk to me? Yes - Understandably, a lot of people might be a bit shy or apprehensive in the first few sessions, I certainly was. Can't think of any conversation openers? Ask some questions about Derby, ask people why they decided to sign up, ask people if they have ever skated before.
Will they have kit to fit me? Yes - this will have all been sorted with our Fresh Meat liaison before you arrive, so no worries there! During that first session I didn't think about anything much apart from staying up right.
After the session I decided that all my initial fears were unfounded. Then of course, more crept in:
- Will I ever be able to skate as effortlessly as everyone else?
- Am I going to fit in with the team?
- Will I be able to commit the time?
- How long is it going to take me to pass my minimum skills?
Any of these sound familiar?
During subsequent sessions, the following will be resolved:
Will I be able to skate as effortlessly as everyone else? Truth is, it's not effortless for anyone. When you watch the coaches going around like they were born with skates on, they weren't. Everyone started at the same place as you, and they have put in a lot of effort to get to where they are, so you can certainly get there too!
Am I going to fit in with the team? There are lots of different personalities, people with different backgrounds, different hobbies, and different jobs. You already have something in common with everyone in that you are interested in Roller Derby and you will find even more things in common with people as time goes on. There are lots of socials to get involved in and lots of new friends to be made! Who doesn't like new friends?
Will I be able to commit the time? In an ideal world, you would try to make it to every session. But everyone understands that sometimes other things pop up which mean that you might not be able to make a session and that's fine.
How long is it going to take me to pass my minimum skills? It takes everyone a different amount of time, from a month to a year or more. However long it takes you is absolutely fine.
On a recent trip to New York, Fun Size Fury got to put her new skills to good use, Ice Skating at the Rockefeller Center!
I can't say that it hasn't been difficult at times. I haven't passed my minimum skills yet and sometimes I panic about that and wonder if I'm taking too long. I've cried at practice. I've felt guilty when I can't make practice. I've been utterly confused at the rules of the game. But considering the above, for me personally joining OWG has been the highlight of my year. I've learnt to skate, learnt loads of skills, made new friends, finally started doing some exercise and found something fun to do with my spare time. I've felt benefits outside of training too - I've learnt to feel a different way about my body. Thunder thighs aren't a bad thing anymore, they are something that will help me go faster. I've learnt that being scared isn't a bad thing after someone said during training "if you aren't scared, you aren't trying hard enough" which I've definitely applied to other areas of my life. It's given me a massive self-confidence boost, because any tiny bit of progress you make (however small you think it might be) there is someone there to congratulate you.
"If you aren't scared, you aren't trying hard enough"
If you've had any of the same questions, I hope my musings might have helped! The best thing that you can do is have a go yourself and come along to our Fresh Meat course starting in January where there will be loads of other beginners wondering exactly the same things that you are.