Fresh Meat Chronicles: Venus Killiams

My derby journey started long before I strapped on a pair of skates for KDD. I’m from Salina, KS, and a friend of mine told me they were starting a roller derby team there and she thought I should try out. I was thrilled at the prospect of a sport that my 5’1” curvy frame could be a part of. I went as far as to contact the team and was met with the disheartening reality that before I was able to practice, I had to spend $300 on gear. At the time I didn’t have a spare $3, so I put derby out of my mind.

Fast forward 5 years. I had moved to Michigan and had seen advertisements for Killamazoo. Immediately, my forgotten yearning for the sport was restored. My friend (fellow freshie ThunderKate) was a long-time fan of KDD, and had gone to Fresh Meat practice once before, but had to quit due to pregnancy. We got to talking about derby and made a vow to each other that we would go together.

At my first practice, all geared up in some smelly, borrowed pads, I was so excited! I had only been on skates once in the last 18 years, but figured it would come as naturally as it did when I was seven and rollerbladed throughout my neighborhood. I had all the confidence in the world until I took my first stride out on the track and immediately fell down. In fact I spent the majority of that practice, and the several to follow on the floor. I fell. I fell some more. It hurt. It was so much harder than I ever expected. I continued to fall, but I always got back up to the cheering of my fellow freshies and coaches. Something had ignited inside me. The strong competitor I am was being unleashed on my hardest opponent to date; a very unskilled, out of shape version of myself.

My first attempt at a 27 in 5 I got 10 laps. I was the worst skater out of the entire fresh meat group. I despise being last. So, I decided I wasn’t going to be last anymore. My first priority was to purchase a decent pair of skates. As soon as I had skates (thanks to the amazing Javelin), I was skating every possible chance I could. If I wasn’t at practice, I was at open skate. If the skating rinks weren’t open, I was practicing plow stops and transitions in my basement. In no time at all, I was getting 20 laps, then 24, then finally the coveted 27 laps! My confidence has improved immensely as my skills have progressed. I’m getting in shape, and it beats going to the gym any day. In just 13 weeks I have transformed from the frustrated, sore freshie, to a member of the KDD family. When I started, passing evaluations seemed like a distant dream, and now that it has become reality, it still feels a little surreal. I’m so excited for my future in this sport. As I have introduced myself to more skaters I have been welcomed with open arms and helpful tips to improve my technique. The support has been overwhelming. Derby is no longer just a sport or a hobby, it’s a part of me. I can’t imagine life without derby now. I’m addicted to the sore muscles, bruises and sweat, but most importantly, the passion, comradery, and drive that these amazing women display every day.

If you’re thinking about joining our Fresh Meat program, don’t hesitate to contact our Fresh Meat coordinator, Bicked Witch. She can answer whatever questions you have and let you know our practice schedules. You can also check out our new information section, read our FAQ, and read more stories from Fresh Meat skaters past and present.

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