I first met Commander Will Wrecker when she showed up at one of our roller derby drop-in days. She had her form in hand and said, “I want to play roller derby, I am joining”. I liked her right away. I soon realized she was starting skating from scratch and had a long way to go… but she didn’t stop trying. After failing her first skills test she didn’t quit. Roller derby isn’t given to you, you have to work for it at every level. She kept working at it and came to practice every week. I counted her laps in her first test and I had the honour of counting them again last night. She is my favorite kind of roller derby player, cause she is ‘Will’ing to do the work. Here is her story:
Last night I went through the ever intimidating, always grueling, minimum skills test… for the second time around.
Joining fresh meat later than the majority of the other freshies, I knew that I had my work cut out for me: I had to work a little harder, put some extra time in, and make sure that I didn’t miss any practices. I guess learning how to actually roller skate was important too.
I’ve never really known what being bad at anything felt like. I’ve been competitively swimming since I was 5, I do great in school, and when trying something new, I usually get the hang of it pretty quickly.
Then came roller derby; my balance was off all the time, I kept falling on my butt, I couldn’t turn, I couldn’t stop, my legs got tired really quickly, my back hurt, and I kept falling on my butt! Worst of all, I kept putting myself down every time I fell, or every time I couldn’t do something right. I was frustrated beyond all reason. I would look at my roller skates and see red. All I wanted to do was be good at skating, and be able to play!
When minimum skills came around the first time, I had a huge wake-up call. I had a LOT to learn. Sure, I could sort of take a hit, but could I keep up with the pack I would potentially be skating with? My whips were decent, but could I weave my way out of a group of fallen skaters? Could I skate 25 laps in 5 minutes? After that night, I had a little cry with myself in the bathroom (urgh, so cliché!) and told myself to smarten up. I’m learning a brand new skill set. I’ve never skated before in my LIFE. I trip over my own feet when I walk around sober. I was starting at the bottom of the derby ladder, and getting down on myself wouldn’t get me up those rungs.
I taped the my skills test page on my wall and told myself that at each practice I would get each skill as close to perfect as I could get. I told myself that the more mistakes I made, the more I would learn. I started asking the other girls to show me this, and show me that. I watched endless derby videos. I took advantage of EVERY learning opportunity that was offered to me. And above all else, I told myself to “suck it up buttercup”. Lo and behold, I started seeing results. I understood how and why I was doing certain things, I started to figure out the ins and outs of the game, and I started to skate with a little more confidence.
Last night’s skill test went infinitely better than the first time around. Although I kept joking about needing a puke bucket before doing the laps, I felt better about everything I was doing… and I did pass it this time around. I feel immensely proud of my achievement; however, I definitely could not have gotten over this hurdle if it wasn’t for the motivation, endless tips and tricks, and sage wisdom from the other girls on the league.
I’ve been a part of roller derby for about 4 months now, and I can only hope that it remains such a large (if not bigger) part of me for years and years to come. I am SUPER CRAZY EXCITED to start skating and playing with everyone else.
Roller derby, you have been one of the most humbling experiences of my life, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Congratulations to Commander Will Wrecker, Stabbey Road, Gilly Pepper and Injure Spice for passing their minimum skills tests on Friday night. See them skate in their first tournament 2 Fresh and 2 Furious on July 9th, 2011, at Ted Reeve Arena and Bubble