Zombies, Hip Checks and Gummy Worms
I arrived under the darkness of night on a cold damp evening. It was 12th March 2012, the day after my 36th Birthday. Schools in the dark always freaked me out. Normally full of noise and hustle and bustle but an empty school always feels slightly lonely and more than a bit un nerving and scary! In my last blog I mentioned that I fully expected to get jumped on by Zombies from the corners of the dark corridors! I was on red alert for when this happened.
So far all I had found were girls climbing out of cars with various bags, looking as if they were going on holiday. Surely a pair of Roller Derby skates weren’t that big! I was soon to learn that a pair of skates is just the beginning of the kit you need in Derby.
I followed them sheepishly into the said ‘Zombie corridor’, glad that there were lights on and that I had a S.W.A.T team backup just in case! I was greeted with friendly smiles but there was an underlying feeling of there’s a job to be done here I now know this is the ‘padding up, checking kit’ ceremony which is done routinely at the beginning of each session. Serious stuff!
Gradually they pulled out various pieces of equipment from their bags. I watched with baited breath. First came the helmet. All were different. Shiny, matt, black, bright red. yellow but all had one theme running through they were all as individual as their faces and had various stickers, colours and glittery bits! I was in awe and felt ever so slightly more at home! (I was obsessed with stickers as a child, especially the flumpy ones that you could squidge, with glitter on!)
Next came the pads. Hands went into a bag and a pad came out, and another and another and another! They put them on as I watched tentatively. Knees, elbows and wrists all were protected in some way. What was I going to see in this sports hall! I knew it was a contact sport but seeing the girls pad up certainly brought it home to me!
I started to feel just a bit too girly and wimpy for this and wondered if I should make a fast exit there and then before they really noticed I was there! Decisions decisions. Take the dark corridor with the zombies on my own or enter a hall full of padded girls! Oh but they had my name and photo! Lol busted. I had to stay at least and watch for a bit. Excitement and fear all mushed into one as Cherry Whips and Rollo Copp escorted me on skates (like a lamb to slaughter I wondered!) into the hall!
They all dumped their bags and started to skate round.
and wow again! That was all I could think! All my fear in that moment just disappeared. I was amazed. The girls ducked and dived, weaved back and forth round and round in an anticlockwise direction like a school of fish darting under the sea or an elegant pack of antelope moving gracefully over the land. This was ace!
I was taken right back to those days as a child when I would watch Annette (my skating idol) doing tricks in my road! I was in complete awe. One girl (who I know now to be Coach Insane Bolt) had hot pink skates and ran, yes really. ran on her toe stops. How on earth did she do that I thought! I will never be able to do that!!!!!!
Then, the training session took a different turn. The girls were all instructed to carry out actions in what I can only describe as a precision, military style operation. These were shouted out by a tall girl by the name of Nurse Grudge. This was serious stuff!!!! After about half hour the drills that included various falls, stops and sprints ended and the girls all flopped in the middle of the hall, to take a well deserved drink of water (and maybe the odd sip of Redbull!)
I listened and felt a little awkward to be fair while I sat tentatively in the corner and waited for what was going to happen next! To be honest I didn’t understand a lot of the talk that went on for the next part of the session as tactics were discussed and words were used and I had no idea what they meant! Pivot, putting a panty on your head!?! (What!) Hip check, Sin Bin, Cut Track, Drop Knee Start????
The girls then started to do what I now know to be called Scrimmaging. This was it. This is what I had seen on You Tube! What I had seen on a small screen was now actually happening right in front of my eyes in real life! I had waited for this moment to see how it would actually feel, to see girls actually skating into each other at such a pace. Would I run a mile?
Guess what. I didn’t! It was brilliant! The energy and passion that went on on the track that night was to have me hooked once and for all. Aggressive, maybe a little but with pure technique and precision I applauded the elegance of these sportswomen. This was the team sport I had been looking for. Something that could possibly take the strength that I had gained from hours of weightlifting, body pump, balance and combat that I had been doing and channel it into something more fulfilling than being able to run up the stairs without panting, or fit into that dress on a Saturday night. I had previously worked as an individual, but could now see a unit working together with unrivalled strength (over the top description!? may be! but at the time watching this sport felt like a revelation!)
I sat in awe and in silence until one girl with marvellously snakey, skatey, swirly legs in a shiny purple helmet skated over to me with a gummy worm stuck out of the top of her helmet (That must be for when they need an energy boost I thought mid session!) I was very soon to realise after asking what said worm was for and looking like a total dweeb, that it was her mouthguard! Doh! One of my many I carried a watermelon moments which I have all too often for my liking! The gummy worm was nestled in one of the holes in the top of her helmet. A handy place to keep it between activities!
Dot (Dorothy S.Lash) was lovely and made me feel very welcome. At one point she was called back to the pack skating at that time. I’m just talking to some potential Fresh Meat! she said Um Fresh Meat! How rude! Lol I now know that this term doesn’t mean what I thought! Thank God, being the Vegetarian that I am! She also explained that this sport would take over my life completely……….and she wasn’t wrong there !!!!!!