Roller Derby – strap some wheels on to your feet and get moving with the East Coast Cyclones
There’s 13 women wobbling bambis on roller skates, and I’m one of them. What have I gotten myself in to?
The bin outside is overflowing with plastic from everyone’s brand new safety gear. I am not alone.
By the end of the first session, everything and everyone was well broken in. Friendships had begun to form, and by the time we were added to our own Facebook group I was hooked.
Before you can even think of joining a team, there is the appropriately named ‘fresh meat’ to endure. This is a 12 week crash in roller skating, covering everything from how to skate (NOT one foot in front of the other), to what exactly roller derby even means, the millions of rules, and it gives you a chance to get to know the other members of the cult you have just joined.
The camaraderie of being on a team was new to me. I’d never been a big one for team sports (apparently yoga doesn’t count). I found that it made me push myself harder and further, which is something I need. Your team mates are there to support you when you need it. Whether you fell and need to be dragged up or need to get just one more lap in, the cheering is constant.
This is not the same kind of workout you get with Davina McCall in your sitting room. You are pushed to the point of contemplating how tired you have to be before you just pass out, and would anyone really mind if I collapsed right here, or should I skate out of the way of the other skaters.
Check your life at the door because skating takes up 100% of your brain power. It is both mentally and physically exhausting, but when you’re in there it’s just you and the room and wheels on your feet. You are not thinking of the load of washing you didn’t do, the email you had to reply to, if there’s milk in the fridge, or whether your bum looks big in this.
The game roller derby has been compared to rugby on roller skates for a reason. It is a full contact sport. You fall down – a lot, and people get injured – a lot. But you are taught how to fall correctly to minimise injury. The tricky part is to integrate this new way of falling at the required time. If you know how – please send your answer in on a post card.
The average ages of skaters is between 25 and 45, which shows that this isn’t a sport restricted to the young free single and svelte. All walks of life are here, from solicitors to mums to social workers, and a lot of primary school teachers for some reason.
Check your life at the door because skating takes up 100% of your brain power. You have to be completely immersed in the task at hand and there is no time for wondering if you need to pick up some bread on the way home. This is not the gym.
The team is sponsored by The Harbour Bar and Platform Pizza, both on Bray sea front, so the social events are very well looked after.
If you have any questions – watch the Drew Barrymore/Ellen Paige movie Whip It. It will teach you very little about roller derby, but it’s a really good movie.
We’re having an open skate night on February 24th at 8pm in Ballywaltrim Community Centre, and fresh meat will officially begin on March 5th in St Killian’s Sports Complex at 8pm (both in Bray).
So get your skates on, come on down, try it out, ask lots of questions. We’re also looking for referees and non-skating officials if the idea of full contact is too much for you. Be sure to stock up on frozen peas for any bumps you might might inflict upon yourself. Because as they say – “If you’re not falling down a lot, you’re not trying hard enough!” – a good motto in life, and especially in roller derby.