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Saturday, 9 February 2013

Fresh Meat @ Roller Derby

Image taken by Christopher Yarrow
A couple of weeks ago I posted a review of the film Whip It (and a review of the book it was based on too, Derby Girl) - which tells the story of small time girl Bliss Cavender who joins a roller derby team and literally has her whole world turned upside down. Ever since I saw the film a few years ago, I've loved the idea of roller derby and have always been eager to try it out myself. It's such a bad-ass sport - it's a contact sport which is very edgy and awesome. Luckily, I discovered that Milton Keynes has it's very own team called The Concrete Cows. Although Milton Keynes is fairly local, unfortunately it's too far for me to travel to without a car on such a regular basis, so joining the team at the moment and training weekly isn't possible for me. However, they recently had an intake night where you could go along and try it out and I jumped at the opportunity, hoping to get a feel of the sport.

A roller derby game is actually quite simple - basically each team has five players - 4 blockers (defence) and 1 jammer - the point scorer. The game is played on an oval track (on roller skates obviously) and all 8 blockers from both teams skate altogether in a pack, with the two opposing jammers beginning only a few feet behind. Once the whistle blows, the jammers aim to skate through the pack (their own team defending and blocking against the opposing jammer whilst trying to help their own jammer get through) and hopefully break through. Then the jammer must skate around and attempt to overtake the pack. Each blocker they pass/overlap of the opposing team equals one point. It's a fairly simple game with little rules, however it's very fast paced and being a contact sport, can get quite competitive! 

I had to laugh about the idea of attending, as I managed to convince my friend Amy to come along with me. Although we figured for it being a first lesson/try out, there wouldn't be any shoving or contact on our parts, but still we laughed about the fact that we might have to 'man up' a bit so to speak and not worry about being too friendly and polite should it come to that part. Amy then says to me 'Well, if you don't want to go up and shove random strangers, just say to yourself 'look, these bitches are in the way of you getting to John Ohh (that's my ultimate rock star crush if anyone is wondering!) - just skate up to them and shove them out of the way!'. I couldn't stop laughing!

Nonetheless, of course once we got there, the lesson was generally all about safety then anything else, which I actually really appreciated. Once we got kitted up, we were told how to 'fall' safely to avoid getting hurt. I was really thankful for this because I knew with it being a contact sport, you were pretty much going to end up falling over a lot. So being taught how to do it properly made me less scared, knowing I wouldn't get hurt. We then had to practice all the different types of falls and spent a good 45 minutes literally throwing ourselves at the floor and trying to get up and skate on in under 3 seconds. Very fun! Towards the end we grouped up and practiced skating around the track as part of a pack/as if we were blockers, all whilst practicing the falls again. This was great because you expect a first lesson to be about all the boring but necessary stuff, but it gave us a feel of what it was like to actually play in a game, even though it was only a first lesson. 

Everyone was so helpful, there were so many experienced skaters there to help. But everyone was really friendly and what I liked is that they all came up to us whilst we were skating around and had a chat with us, demonstrating how to do things properly, having a laugh, making sure we were doing it right etc. It was all very hands on and I definitely got the sense that it was a very close knit team that I could end up becoming friends with when I eventually do get driving and can join properly!

It was a lot harder than I thought it would be and it was very tiring - my legs ached loads the day after! This lead me to believe that not only is it a great sport to take part in, it's also very beneficial in keeping fit, making new friends etc. But it was really, really fun and is without a doubt something I'd love to continue once I have the chance to.

I would without a doubt recommend doing a quick Google search for local teams if Roller Derby is something you're interested in. Yes, eventually you'll have to be quite tough and in the long run it's quite a demanding sport, but despite this it really is a lot of fun and I'd recommend just attending a starter lesson to try it out. As one lovely lady said to me on the night, 'Roller Derby takes over your whole life - in a good way!'.

Why not try something new today and attend an intake night or go and watch a game? Watching is just as fun as taking part because it's so fast paced and exciting!


P.S I attended an intake night held with The Concrete Cows from Milton Keynes. You can find more about the sport, their team and their upcoming games on their website here or check out their Facebook page here. Also please feel free to check out the Facebook page of Christopher Yarrow here who kindly provided me with the group photo above and is the teams official photographer. Check out the Lifestyle tag for posts similar to this!  

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