When I was a kid I loved to roller skate. I somehow even convinced my mom to get me roller skates and then skated downstairs to funky calypso music or in the garage if my brother had friends over. I have always wanted to join Roller Derby and have had to stand and watch others do it before me because I just didn't have the time and/or money. I was jealous then but the tide has turned babies!
I have joined TORD (Toronto Roller Derby) through their Freshmeat programme. This means that I go through around five months of once a week training which hopefully prepares me to pass my minimum requirements test and allows me to try and get picked up by a team so I can play in the league.
Because I hope to grow as a skater and become an actually good player I thought it would be neat to keep track of it in a blog (people still do these right?) so that when I've completed this I can look back and hopefully see the progress I will have made (I hope!). Also, I may actually get some other girls to get motivated enough to join themselves if they have a clearer idea of what it's like. It has seemed to me that nearly every girl I tell about derby says they have thought about doing it or wanted to find out more, which is exactly how I felt about it until now!
The skates are bloody expensive. It's for good reason mind you, they are really nice and I'm sure have small production lines and likely still a fair amount of hand craftsmanship required and whatnot. At any rate it is what it is and if you're going to do derby you have to invest in the skates.
I did a lot of research on the internet, looking at rookie packages (which really are the way to go if you don't already have a helmet and all the pads) and tried to learn about the skates. It became clear to me that no matter what I would have to interface with some skates before purchasing them because I had no idea the difference between the fit of a Riedell and a Suregrip, nevermind how a short booted skate even felt.
I had been told by girlfriend already in derby about Cardinal in Toronto for purchasing skates and whatnot, so I made the trek down there. The guy who runs the shop, Glen I believe, was SO nice. What a sweet and helpful guy. I tried on numerous skates and he patiently explained about the skates to me, why some were more expensive, how long each would last, what each one was better for etc. I asked more and more detailed questions, he answered all of them with a smile.
I walked away from this without buying any skates but much better informed. I did feel bad though to not purchase anything then but I needed to reassess. The skates I wanted cost a fair bit more then I was willing to spend and I wasn't sure what the solution was and needed to do some more research. Now that I knew how they fit differently I could go home and revisit the sites I had found, understanding that expensive boots have laces that go ALL the way to the toe, are made out of leather and have aluminum instead of plastic parts.
I found a good deal online at Rollergirl.ca, where I could get the Suregrip skates (I had to settle for a cheaper pair then my favourites of course) that had fit me well with all the pads, a helmet and a mouthguard and toe guards. This is known as a rookie package, though not all come with the mouthguard and/or toeguards, Cardinal's hadn't come with either extra and and other stores online also didn't include them.
So I ordered. Someone from rollergirl emailed to let me know the order had been received and verified processing time and mailing date. That was great, I really like having a response from something ordered online, gives you confidence you haven't just been taken for a ride. I have really received great service from both skate stores I have dealt with I must say, though I still carry guilt for not being able to buy at Cardinal, to stay local, but at least Rollergirl is also Canadian, just out of Vancouver. It made me super happy to get a great deal and buy Canadian.
I shall endeavour to make purchases at Cardinal in the future to appease my latent guilt, nobody likes latent guilt, it's that icky green and it smells bad. They had some really cute apparel there that I would totally go back for when I have money, little skirts and cutie roller girl tops and I'll need outdoor wheels in a few months so I'm sure they'll see my money one day.
So the first thing I did was attended an intake for freshmeat at the Hangar where TORD has their set up. It's was all very organised and upon getting in the building I was immediately directed to bleachers where a whole bunch of ladies were already sitting. There were a lot of people there. More then I had expected, though I hear TORD girls did say there were the most intakes ever.
The intake was only slightly annoying, it was hard to hear the speaker due to the massiveness of the space and the extremely loud heater. At any rate they gave us the rundown and set us up to pay our insurance and entry fees. Once we had done that we received a manual for the training session. We were urged to read the rules included therein. I was SO excited! A manual! Something for me to read to try and know more, real rules! I was so excited to skate for real but that wasn't to happen for another week.
It was neat at the intake that I looked very normal with my fire engine red tipped hair and nose ring. Since I live rurally I'm seen as fairly strange in town, lovingly I think.. hahahaha... that sounded hopeful didn't it? At any rate, I'm different from everyone else, which of course I don't mind, I mean, I am the one dying my hair funny colours. It pleases me. But there is a sort of soothing feeling to not feeling different, a feeling I'm much less used to. Surrounded by roller girls and roller girl wannabes I was very normal looking. There were of course lots of ladies there who were more regular looking too, it isn't as though it was a room full of piercings and dyed hair, but there was definitely a lot more then I get here whilst shopping at the local No Frills.
Coming soon: Session One!