The Rookie Diary | Finding our inner skater

As Croydon Roller Derby rookies (and, in the real world, somewhat reputable journalists) the task of writing the new rookie diary has predictably fallen to Amy North and myself Robyn Vinter.

Every week we’ll attempt to condense our wins, our fails, our transitions – literally and figuratively – and our hard-earned bruises into fascinating blog posts, all while writing in the first-person (something that’s actually surprisingly difficult for a journalist).

It’s been five months since we started rookie training but this is the first time I’ve taken a proper look back at how far we’ve all come.

We began our training back in September 2014, when the trees were just beginning to shed their leaves, All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor first entered the singles chart and a lateral hit was something other people did.

I hadn’t played sports since I was a teenager but I’d admired derby from afar for years and thought it was about time I did something about it.

Getting into rookie training was great news but I immediately set my resolve for an uphill struggle – I could barely skate along a straight without decking it and I knew my fitness would have to radically improve, even to keep up with the other rookies.

Our coaches, Riot Squad skaters Polly Filla and Smashasaurus Bex, took us through the basics.

We learnt skating, falling and stopping within the first few weeks, and moved on to crossovers, skating on one foot, sticky skating and skating backwards a few weeks later.

After getting to grips with those, we learnt stepping, jumping and hopping, weaving and laterals, followed by transitions, pushes and whips and we’re currently working on blocking, hitting and pack work.

While I haven’t fully mastered all those, when you see it written like that, it’s clear I’ve come a long way from the shakey-legged, stumbling creature who couldn’t work out how wrist guards go on.

And it’s not just me – everyone in the rookie class has made an enormous amount of progress. In fact, last week we waved goodbye to five of our peers who graduated from rookies to Vice Squad training. It’s a great achievement and we can’t wait until we can watch them bout!

At Christmas we had some minimum skills assessments. Before you’re assessed, you kind of have a rough idea of what you can definitely do and what you know you struggle with. However, all that seems to go out of the window when there’s someone assessing you, especially if that person is head coach Herbie.

You might think you have t-stops down because you’ve done them right so many times but when you’re being watched you realise you only get them perfect two out of three times, which doesn’t really count.

We had to wait until January to get our feedback – which I was secretly pleased about because it gave me time to mentally prepare to be told “you can’t quite do anything yet”.

However, when Polly took me through my mark sheet I was pleasantly surprised. A lot of the things I thought I couldn’t do very well I’d actually scored high on. To my amazement I got almost full marks on the “pack interactions” section, which is really encouraging as I’ve felt I’ve struggled in the pack before, being one of the slower skaters.

There are still so many things I need to work on though – particularly as we move on to gameplay.

I’m not quite pirouetting on my skates just yet (how the frick do people do that, by the way?!) but at least some of my bruises are now from awesome hits, not solely from the floor of the sports hall.

Win of the week: scoring better than I’d expected in the mins assessments.

CRD are recruiting! We will be hosting a tryout session on Friday 6th March in Carshalton. To sign up and for more details, email

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