Hello, NRD Nation!
This is #27, Dash V Danya, reviving the NRD blog with this here post ☺
With the latest round of freshies passing their assessments and getting drafted onto teams just last month, I found myself reflecting on my derby experience thus far. So, I have decided to make the first blog post about the first year of my roller derby journey.
In March of last year, I decided to take up quad skating – something I’ve been meaning to try for some time – and came upon the NOVA Roller Derby website amidst my research. I attended one of their bouts, and signed up for the Essential Skills program. My first day was Sunday, April 19, 2015. I was excited, nervous, and everything else. I’ve never played a team sport in my life. Everybody looked like they belonged there, and knew what they were doing, which was only slightly intimidating. I was grateful to my past self for all my outdoor ventures and open skate sessions I attended; because of them, I wasn’t too far behind. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I was picking up all these skills. In three months’ time, I’d made enough progress to pass that session’s assessments.
Reeling from the excitement of having passed my minimum skills (I would get an official league shirt now! I could order a track jacket!) I was nervous but eager to enter the home team draft. I ended up being drafted by the Metro Misfits, and was elated. It felt totally surreal for the next several months that I was on this amazing adventure and on a team. I kept having these little squee moments in my head on a daily basis…I still get them a year later.
As I started attending regular practice, the gap between levels of Essential Skills and home team/league practice hit me pretty hard. I felt decent about my individual skills, but whenever we would do scrimmage scenarios, I was a complete and total space cadet. In derby, you aren’t supposed to “kick your puppy” (talk negatively to/about yourself, saying you suck, etc.) but imagine improving by leaps and bounds every week, and then just plateauing. Suffice to say, my puppy took its share of beating. Something I wish I’d understood better at the time was that being completely clueless for the first while is completely normal. It’s something you get told by vets on a regular basis, but hearing it and understanding/believing it are totally different things. Sure, some people pick up the rules like that and are able to apply themselves quickly in a jam scenario, but for many, trying to take in so much information all at once is overwhelming and things take a while to click. Communication from teammates helps a lot, but it also seems like as soon as they yell at you to do one thing, they’re suddenly yelling another and you are still trying to figure out how to do that first thing. In fact, I didn’t start feeling more confident on the track until the past couple of months. I recently skated in a beginner bout at a regional mixer, which for a lot of people was their first bout. Having 3 bouts under my belt, I was technically one of the more experienced skaters in that bout, but I felt like we were on a similar level since all the “clicking” that’s supposed to come “eventually” has been taking its sweet time with me. Playing in a newbie bout at the mixer was vastly different than playing in a home team bout with vets. I was at the point where I had somewhat of a grasp on the rules and had some track awareness, but it didn’t feel like everything is happening at the speed of light while constantly trying to play catch-up. I felt like I was finally aware of what was going on 90% of the time, and I was more or less able to adapt to the ever-changing situation, communicating effectively with my teammates. Not only did I have lots of fun skating in the bout, but for the first time, I also felt fulfilled. It was really special being able to understand what was going on and being an effective body on the track. I know there is a possibility that once the home team season starts up, I’ll feel like I’ve taken a step back. However, now that I know what it feels like for it to click, I know I’ll be able to achieve it again eventually!
Derby love and shoves,
Join us this Saturday for our 2016 Home Team Season Opener to see Dash and the rest of the Metro Misfits play the Vineyard Vixens. If you’d like to strap on some skates and learn the basics of roller derby, please join us this Sunday for Essential Skills.