It's been quite an adventure... and I am just beginning. Roller derby has grabbed me, pulled me up by my ears and thrown me into a pool of fast, feisty, furious girls with attitude. However, instead of drowning, I am merrily bobbing along on the waves of their supporting hands like a successful stage dive.
I will never forget the fear of the first practise: Stockland Green Leisure Centre, December 15th 2007. Meeting everyone was a pleasure; they were all so welcoming. It was when I was presented with the hire skates. At that moment, I realised that I might fail. Failure is something that I don't take too lightly and this might be one of those moments. Slowly strapping them on to waste maximum practise time was my first tactic. My friend, Lorna, and I dropped into silence! Born to a protective mother, I had never had wheels on my feet before in my life. Cycling ten doors away and then turning back was all I ever managed. It took me forever to stand up and after a two hour practise I was harldy moving confidently. Did it put me off? No way!
It was the last practise before the Christmas break and all I wanted to do was get onto America and sling my money their way that evening. I was buzzing. But I had to wait until the next time so that I could try other rollergirls' skates on to make sure I got the sizing right. That was a painful few weeks! Christmas- pah- forget that, I wanted skates! For those about to embark on this journey, be warned. It is an addiction and should come with a warning sticker. There hasn't been a moment since that day that I haven't thought about derby.
I really started to skate in January 2008 and, whilst desperately trying to find that perfect derby name that no-one else had already registered, rushed to sign up for the London Rollergirls' bootcamp, where I fractured my thumb! Did THIS put me off? No way! Please don't take my tales of fear and fractures as a sign that this is a path that you do not wish to follow. It is a sport with risks. In my opinion, if you don't take risks, you don't have fun. Perhaps I will keep my next injury quiet....
Attending the London Rollergirls' bouts was incredibly exciting and memorable, although don't ask for details of each jam- that's all just a blur. Seeing this game in real-life is very different to watching it on DVD (or witnessing the horror of the US fights on youtube!) The crowd is unlike any other. Cradling a beer in one hand and a tattooed male in the other, the women are clad in fishnets and heels and are bopping their heads to the punk and fairy cakes being delivered. Aaaaah. You gotta love it.
Refereeing the Blitz Dames' second bout, against Glasgow Rollergirls, was a real honour and a great way for me to get involved with this sport. Scrutinising the rules on a nightly basis and bombarding the forum with questions became a routine. Treading the streets of Birmingham with my skates slung over my shoulders on a marketing push was just one more way for me to get involved. The bout day and night were amazing. Hard work.... but amazing.
The Birmingham Blitz Derby Dames took me under their wing from day one and were more than happy to listen to my views, include me with decision making, make me feel supported and go out of their way to ensure I felt part of the team. I couldn't have wished to have met a friendlier and happier group of girls.
It's raining outside. I am in here writing this. To be honest, I'd rather be skating!