I was SO excited to go to the first training session. When I got there I scored a righteous parking spot beside the front door which made me feel like it was going to be an awesome night. I was not disappointed.
There were a lot of girls there; I found out later there are eighty of us freshies, compared to a more normal intake of fifty. As I went through the first session I was thinking about the insiders info I had regarding the programme which was that more then half of the freshies drop out by around the halfway point and that by the end there are usually less then a quarter left who actually take the test. This was from my derby girlfriend's experience going through anyway, and I actually heard another girl telling the same story from her own derby girlfriend.
Thinking about this made me look at every girl in a sort of different way, assessing whether she would go all the way or be one of the many drop outs. (And, of course, thinking about how that applies to me.) I don't have a hard time seeing a lot of the girls dropping out. Not because they are bad people or stupid or unable (although they could be, who knows) but because they aren't really sure about it to begin with and they have a sort of leisurely attitude about the whole thing, like it's sort of a fun outing rather then taking part in a sport, where in the end you have to be good enough for a team to want you. There are also the girls who, it's easy to see, are not going to be dropping out unless made to. They are serious and motivated, on the track right away after signing in versus dilly dallying around and chatting with friends.
There was a bit of line standing to sign in, as I said, there were eighty of us, so I met some line friends as I had done on the intake day. All the girls were really friendly though some were certainly more serious then others. I met another Baltic babe with whom I connected culturally who has the same cheekbones as me and smiles a lot. There were women there aged nineteen to fifty of all shapes and sizes, from pixie to giant. As usual I gravitated towards the red heads. I don't even know how I do that it just happens
The Mouthguard Mistake
I forgot to boil and mould my mouthguard to me. D-uh. What a wiener. I still had to use my mouthguard though because it's the rules, which truthfully I'm pretty behind because I don't really want any uneccesary concussions or chipped teeth. I mean, really, who does. It was pretty annoying though having my mouthguard in my mouth in all it's bigness and not mouldedness. Don't do this. Remember to boil and fit yours before you're first lesson.
I did however get some good tips about the whole moulding thing, and plan to cut the back half inch off each side before boiling and moulding so that it doesn't cause such a gag reflex. My other derby girlfriend (who plays for a different league) showed me these really cool things from Protech which I think I will be purchasing in the future for a more comfortable mouthguard experience.
After signing in I eagerly went over to the track and joined the girls who were already skating around. This is the part I had been nervous about, how I would do compared to the other girls. Turns out I'm pretty okay for going in. I'm certainly not the best skater on the track, though the best skaters were roller girls already, from other leagues. But, under them in skill, there were the girls who clearly were good skaters before, maybe on roller skates or maybe on ice skates, perhaps hadn't done it in a while, but it was all coming back quickly. I was just behind those girls on the track. I would follow them and try and keep up, deeking in and out of the slower skaters, trying to figure out how to slow down faster and with more control, trying to remember how to take the curves faster. I was loving it.
Before beginning they lined us up military style and slowly went down the line checking us out, our gear that is, to make sure we were outfitted properly and safely. I almost passed inspection until she got to the toe stops, one of mine was loose! How embarrassing! I could have sworn I checked those last night, but good that it was caught, that could have caused a nasty fall.
Then we were called in for the beginning of lessons. The lessons were a bit annoying again because of sound. That is, we couldn't really hear the lady giving the lesson very well. The information was great but the main teaching rollergirl was a quiet talker to begin with, and she just didn't know how to make her voice go big ( I could have taught her to engage her diaphragm but that's another story for another blog). So, that was a bit annoying now and again throughout the night. They did better when they realised it made sense to pull us all into a group for her to speak and then spread us back out to actual go through the drills.
There were so many of us that they had to split us into two groups to run through the drills, first to one wall and then back, which really worked out fine because it gave the other group time to practice their short game. By short game I mean their small tight moves, stopping, turning, moving slowly and controlled. It is where I am the most noticeably lacking right now.
The first drill we did was to fall on our knees. AAGH! I knew it was coming and I don't know why but I had been a bit nervous about it which is not like me at all. I think it's because my knees bother me a bit now (I'm getting old!) and the thought of just dropping on them sort of made me... nervous. Of course I had my brand spanking new new knee pads on so I knew all should be fine.
Trust the knee pads *littlestar, trust the knee pads. When my turn came I dragged one foot behind me on my toe liked the instructor had said (thank god I had gotten those cute toe guards) and dropped onto that knee and then sloppily dropped to my other knee and then fell to my hands. It wasn't ballet. I had to work hard on my second and third tries not to put my hands down as I fell, as we had been instructed (so as not to have fingers crushed by other skaters) which was difficult. Also, getting up without putting my hands down was less easy then it looked when they did it, but I did start to get it on the way back to the starting line.
Next we did shifting weight on our skates. This was fun because we got to skate around the track and the rollergirl instructors stood on the outside or skated along with people and gave them instruction. I thought that was really, really neat. There were clearly some people who had never skated before and for whom it was all new, and these people had instructors skate with them and help them along. Also we who could already skate and were going around were reminded to keep our eyes up (gosh, that's important isn't it? Why is it so hard to do all the time!), keep our legs bent and stay low ( I need to work on this BIG time) and if we fall to fall small and roll into the middle or the outside of the track as fast as possible. Makes sense obviously but not always so easy to do, luckily falling occurred so we could practice. I had one large fall in this drill when I was coming up behind a girl who was a bit slower and I thought she was going to make the curve well but it turned out she was wobbly and then I didn't want to hit her but she was turning into me and then I went down. Totally grabbed her boob on the way down to..woops. Sorry about that! Hahahaha... unintentional boob grab, it's a UBG, hazard of the sport. Probably why so many guys like to watch it... well, that and all the jiggling babes boobs, butt and thigh.
We had a sit in lesson on the edges of the skate that was followed up with a PDF from the instructor. I'll have to read that, but I think I get the theory. It's just the being able to access whichever edge it is you mean to be using that I'm not so in tune with yet. Yet another thing I will be having to learn.
Which brings us to T-stops. Dragging one of your legs behind you with your foot perpendicular to your leading, straight forward facing, foot. It makes a fart noise when you're doing it right, as the edges of your wheels rub against the ground. I wasn't so good with these and require practice. I need to learn more stops! This one was a bit hard particularly because the instructor said it's the furthest edge of the furthest wheel on the ground, not the inside edge of the furthest wheel, which seems easier. Further testing and practice required for me for this for sure. Luckily I do have a way of stopping now, by plowing my skates and sort of turning into them, like I'm skiing. It works fairly well, and I'm imagining it must be one of the ways to stop, it just isn't very fast, or at least, I don't know how to do it fast.
Practice went a little bit late, but it started a bit late with all the signing in and giving out of insurance cards and whatnot. We did a quick stretch after led by one of the helpful instructors which was really great. My muscles weren't hurting at the end of the session and I was feeling like a million bucks! (Though I knew something was gonna hurt the next day!) I knew I would love it and I did. It is so excellent when things work out that way!
Coming Soon: Volunteering at my First Game