As a relatively long established roller derby league, we have sent representatives to EROC for the last couple of years, and we’ve always found it incredibly useful, both in terms of networking and session information. It’s a lot of travel going out to Europe, but we have always felt it was well worth it. The only downside is that we can’t afford to send more than one or two league members. So, imagine our excitement when we were told about UKROC!
We were so lucky to have three of our league members involved in the event; Chasing Katy who is also a UKRDA secretary and worked on the PR and Marketing, Crazylegs who was a guest speaker, and Princess Die who assisted with the PR and Marketing. That meant we could send 5 people along! So we booked two weekend passes, hired a car and off we went.

 It’s a pretty long drive from Edinburgh to Warwick, thankfully we had 5 iPods to provide an eclectic mix, and of course a stop at Tebay to refresh ourselves, but once we arrived at the facility, we were not disappointed. The university of Warwick seems to be like a little town; it is huge! We followed the directions we had been given and found a building plastered in UKROC signs. We had arrived.

We checked into the rooms to find them modern, very clean and well equipped. Compact, as you would expect from a university halls, but really absolutely ideal for a weekend conference event.

Of course, our first stop was the bar area. Most of the other organisers and guest speakers had already arrived since we got in fairly late (it really is quite a long drive!) but we were able to get some food and a nice glass of wine. We got our goodie bags – amazing! Tshirts for the organisers to wear all weekend, some awesome spray to keep our derby gear fresh and a wee rock that is engraved with the UKROC logo and a thank you. Not to mention our UKROC rock – amazing!

After chatting with everyone and feeling the excitement for the weekend growing, it was time to finish our wine and head to bed, ready for a super early start the next day.

We met in the reception and could feel the buzz in the air as delegates started to arrive.

It was so early in the morning, yet everyone was filled with excitement, a bit like the first day of school. Once everyone was registered, lanyard on and goodie bag given (oh and cups of tea and coffee, and cakes and biscuits in hand from the seemingly never-ending refreshment station), it was time for a welcome chat. Everyone gathered in the foyer area, eager eyed, whilst Mistress Malicious gave a chat on the weekend. It was time to get going!

The first sessions of the day were really varied. Because we had 5 of us there, we were able to attend almost every session which was so insightful for us. I went to a Social Media Smackdown session, run by Mr X of Rollin’ News, which was probably my favourite session of the weekend. Mother Mercy followed this with a talk on Video Marketing which was also incredibly interesting and I know there is loads I have already taken back and put into play for Auld Reekie. And I got to watch an amazing 3D promo video that the Expendables have made. Inspiring.

Skinn’er Alive attended an Officials on-skates training session run by Cherry Fury and Meg le Maniac – even though she is a skater and not a ref – and said it was excellent. She got a lot more out of it as a non-ref than we expected. Crazylegs attended Goal Setting and Mental Preparation, run by Kristen Lee (Kitty Decapitate), followed by Team Cohesion and Values, and LL Cool Gay went along to Safeguarding, run by Simon Kirkland from Sports Structures Ltd. All of us fed back that these sessions were just invaluable and so well run.

We then went for lunch – our first proper meal at the facility. It was amazing! There was so much choice, plus salads, loads of vegetables and even a dessert buffet. The staff were really friendly, and the quality of the food was much higher than anticipated for a mass catered buffet. It really was good.

So off we went for our afternoon sessions. This time, we had Skinner go to a WFTDA Rankings session run by Bloody Mary, followed by a Q&A, Die attended Teams and Team Conflict hosted by Bex Hewitt (one of the best speakers I saw all weekend), Gay went to a Referree training session by Xavier Bacon, Cherry Fury and Meg le Maniac, and it was Crazylegs turn to get her skates on and head over to the hall for a session on Technical Skills for Coaches, by Kristen Lee. Again, all of us really enjoyed the sessions and felt we gained a lot of knowledge.

After these sessions, there was a mixed scrimmage over in the hall, but we decided to forgo this in favour of heading to the gym. We met in the bar, and were discussing swimming or gym, when Bloody Mary joined us with a glass of wine. Decision made – wine time! As everyone filtered in from their sessions, dinner was starting so we all headed off for another amazing feast – this time with added wine. After dinner, it was back to the bar and networking commenced! It was actually amazing to just sit and chat to other people about how their leagues run, what issues they are having and just hear about the different things that people do. Being able to give advice as well as ask for it, is an invaluable commodity, and really the Saturday night networking was a really pivotal part of the weekend (it wasn’t just the wine drinking, honestly). We made friends, we swapped tshirts, and we got a real insight into both brand new leagues, and veteran leagues like us. And we stayed long after the barman went home.

The next morning, feeling a little worse for wear, we got up and went for breakfast. There was a real camaraderie this morning, with everyone feeling the effects of a late night but also excited and raring to go for day 2. We started off with Skinner attending a UKRDA face to face session with the directors, which apparently was incredibly useful and insightful. Gay went along to a Game Day Planning session, And Crazylegs held an on-skates session on Getting your Fresh Meat through Minimums along with Tinchy Slider from CCR.

Lunch again, and we were not disappointed. This time we did notice that everyone was mixing and socialising a lot more than before – looks like wine time worked! After lunch, we went to another set of sessions; Developing Successful Sponsorship Partnerships by Brock n Roller and Jelly Mean was attended by Gay, Crazylegs went to Tournament Organisation with mistress Malicious and Valkyrie, Stef attended the Junior Derby session with Judge Redd, and Die went to Bette Noir’s session on Herding Cats and Planning for Tomorrowland. All session were, once again excellent.

Sadly, the afternoon scrimmage was cancelled due to not enough participants (probably all that wine) but it didn’t matter – the weekend was amazing and we were all knackered. So much information, so much learning, so many notes… and we had a long way to go home (did I mention it was a really long way away?) so we were keen to set off. Mother Mercy did a lovely end speech, and all the organisers were thanked for their efforts and the delegates for coming. A lovely way to end.

The whole weekend was just so good. We will definitely be going back next year if it happens again, and hope that many more leagues come along too. The more leagues attend, the more we all learn and the more we can all be a part of growing roller derby in the UK.

We said our goodbyes and off we went, on that long journey back to Scotland…

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