Step one in my derby journey was the movie Whip It.
While not realistic in very many areas, in it I saw something that attracted me; wild and wonderful women who bonded in a full contact sport. They supported and loved one another and were best buds.
Step two was the East York Canada Day Parade.
While standing on a street corner with my family and friends, a group of GTA Rollergirls skated by. I mentioned to a friend that I was very interested in derby and one of these skating diva’s handed me a flyer and said “We have Fresh Meat Drop In in September!” It was fate.
Step three was meeting Nikita Bruisechev.
I had the luck of working with a full fledge derby G-sTAR and she answered all of my questions, helped me pick out skates and pads and held my hand through the get-on-my-wheels process. She took me to Scooters and gave me lessons and fueled my interest, which helped me make up my mind about joining.
Fast forward to September 2012; Ted Reeve Arena and I’m attending my first Fresh Meat Drop In. It was frightening, educational, eye opening and wonderful! All the GTA Rollergirls showed patience and reassurance right from the start. They constantly teach you while reminding you that being new is ok and falling down is good! They make sure you know that they were at our level once too and that you don’t need to have skating background to be great at derby. You just need to keep trying. I felt disheartened on day one because I couldn’t figure out stopping (The Plow) but MayKilla wouldn’t give up on me. By the end of the night, I had it and we high fived and I fell in love with roller derby. I didn’t realize it then but they never will give up on you and that’s pretty amazing.
Derby has helped in so many unnamed ways. When I first walked into Ted Reeve, I was having troubles at work and at home. Life’s challenges and pressures were getting the better of me and I lacked focus and purpose. I was slipping and was finding it impossible to hold on. Derby has taught me strength, both physical and mental. It has given me something to strive for and goals to reach. And man, when you reach and conquer those goals…you get over the moon good feelings!
The GTA Rollergirls foster an environment of true support and teamwork. I’ll never forget Paper Jam telling us at our first Freshie Practice, “You are all one of us, as of now” and she meant it. Everyone is a teacher and everyone helps one another. Recognizing that everyone has something to offer and that we each have a spot in the league was a big part of what Splat Benatar taught me, besides how to hit, fall, skate and surge! I could list all the different women who have helped me individually with my skating skills and learning the rules but why do that when I can honestly say they have all held my hand in some way.
Now I’m days away from taking my Minimum Skills Test and although nervous and afraid to fail, I’m also full of hope for the future and ready to take on the challenge. I know that no matter the outcome, I have an entire league of support behind me and everyone is rooting for me to succeed. I’ve never had a cheering section before and it feels great.
What’s the next step?
Get a cheering section in the stands, get scrimmage ready and play me some derby!