“When I was a rookie Derby Skater we didn’t have drop-in days. We just showed up and skated, and hoped some more people would join so you could scrimmage and maybe play a bout against another team one day.”
I discovered roller derby at Toronto Roller Derby’s inaugural bout, June 16 2007 (Smoke City Betties vs. Deadly Viper Assassination Squad). My heart burst, my stomach filled with butterflies and I may have had a cold sweat. How had I missed the recruitment for this? There I was roller skating all over Toronto by myself, and these people were playing this roller skating game without me. I realized it was too late to get on a team since the season had already started so I watched the game closely to figure out the rules and scribbled out derby names for all of my friends. There was one name I wasn’t sure who was suited for but it seemed to have a special ring to it…”Getchya Kicks”. I signed up on the mailing list and I kept my eyes peeled for the next recruitment call.
I didn’t see one until February of 2008. There was a small ad in the back of the NOW magazine with an email address – email@example.com. Determined, I typed out an email and sent it off. Later that night there was a response from a Splat Benatar inviting me to meet the team next week at the roller rink.
When I joined GTA Rollergirls on 2008 they were just trying to form the first team, the Derby Debutantes. Back then they met all new recruits on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Scooters Roller Palace. I brought my pair of vintage skates and tried to make a good impression. Splat Benatar gave me the WFTDA 2.0 rule book, Pinky Tuffadero ignored me, the Queen of Green took pictures of the group (in which I look very awkward) and Kirk showed me how to do a t-stop. There was one other new recruit there meeting the team, Vixcyn. She was the 12th and I was the 13th person to join GTA Rollergirls.
My first practice in April 2008 was held in the athletic centre at University of Toronto. I ran around all day finding my protective gear and then boiling a mouth guard from Canadian Tire. I arrived at 4:30 for the 5pm practice. I saw another tough-looking woman with skates locking up her bike (she may have had a mullet and prison tattoos). I went over to say a friendly hello and told her I was just joining the league. She was rather hostile to me, “I didn’t know we were recruiting”. “oh…”. That didn’t really help my nervous feeling. So I fell into step behind her and followed her up the stairs.
There was a whole bunch of people in the gym. As the other woman went to join some skaters putting on their gear in the corner, I scanned the crowd looking for those friendly faces I had met at Scooters. I noticed a Smoke City Betties logo and then a Chicks Ahoy logo and then it dawned on me that this was a ToRD practice, not GTA Rollergirls. I was in the wrong gym… awkward. Someone noticed me and pointed to a door in the far corner, “I think GTA Rollergirls practice in there”. I stepped carefully through the crowd of skaters getting ready, and pushed through the door. The basketball gym was empty. Gulp.
I looked at my cell phone… well, I was half an hour early. Rather than walk with my red face through the other practice again, I walked through the doors on the other side of the gym and down the stairs to outside. I took a breath, “… hmm. Maybe I should go home right now… no, I really want to do this … I’ll walk casually past the front of the building… and maybe I’ll see someone I know”. I slowly walked by and to my relief saw Pinky – the woman who wouldn’t speak to me at Scooters. She eyed me suspiciously but calmed my nerves by saying she was usually the first to arrive, and Splat was on her way. Sure enough, by 5 o’clock many more of the skaters I had met arrived at the building. I handed over my insurance forms and payment, and shyly geared up for the first time.
As the rest of the group did some drills, Kirk took me over to the side to go over the basics. Those first falls felt contrary to my cardinal rule about skating – You don’t ever fall, cause it will hurt. During years of street skating I had mastered the ability to stay upright while tripping over rocks and people and street car tracks. Now I had to learn how to fall! What a novelty it was to land on those cushioned knee pads. Next it was learning how to stop. On the street I stopped by dragging my toe stop behind me, and grabbing on to poles. The t-stop was a revolution to me. After getting comfortable with those things I was allowed to join the group. Everyone was still learning, so it was easy to join right in with the drills, and we even scrimmaged a little. I was the jammer in my first scrimmage. That was my beginning.
Here are some league photos of the GTA Rollergirls 2008 – 2009 – 2010 – 2011
(Back) Cherry Blight, St. Anger, Getcha Kicks, Pinky Tuffadero, Newfie Bullet, Cleave Holt! (Front) Lotta Mayhem, Slappolonia, Lil’ Trouble, Splat Benatar and Leather Locklear
Vixcyn, Effin Adora Bell (pre ref days), Newfie Bullet, Greta Grits, Queen of Green, Cleave Holt!, Pinky Tuffadero, Molly O’Malice. (Front) St. Anger, Bruiseberry Pie, Getcha Kicks, Daisy Dukes-it-out, Leather Locklear, Lee Way Wreck’em, Splat Benatar and Marquis the Slammer
(Back) Meg Le Maniac – visiting skater from ARRG-Scotland, ?, Sass Velocity, Bruiseberry Pie, Brickhouse Bardot, Pinky Tuffadero, Marquis the Slammer, Splat Benatar, ?, Chucky, Sloppy Boggins, Getcha Kicks. (Middle) Dixie Wrecked, Natty By Nature, Canadian Psycho, Lee Way Wreck’em, Hissy Curlington, Sasha Fierce. (Front) Elle Dorado, The Krow, eSkimo Jo, Malice Von Muerte, Taranasaurus Rex, ?.
(Back) Boo Boo Bear, Gypsy Nose-Bleed, Hissy Curlington, Gwailo For Sho’, Canadian Psycho, My-Call Buble, Crazy Cat Sadie, Splat Benatar, Pinky Tuffadero, The Krow, April Cruel, Getcha Kicks, Dixie Wrecked, Tootsie La Rue, Newfie Bullet, Wreched Gretchen, Brickhouse Bardot, Jill Feral, eSkimo Jo, Elle Dorado, Harrassin’ Ford, Taranasaurus Rex, Betty Slaughter. (Front) Gory Hart, Lee Way Wreck’em, Rosemary’s Rabies, Meryl Reap, Leather Locklear, Riley Rage, Sasha Fierce, Chevy Chase-Her, Chili Pester, Prairie Fire, Maykilla The Hun and Beaver Mansbridge.
See you all later at GTAR Freshie Training Day