My Roller Derby started three months ago at the age of 15, and like most of our junior team, we all started out wanting to learn how to roller skate. Some of us, infact probably most of the derby population, were not built for or even remotely enthused by inline skates, but secretly we dreamed of quads. So as school began to get more stressful and I began to get even more bogged down by work with no passion, my family and I decided that I needed a real (and active!) hobby. I had never heard of roller derby, however had recently seen DJ Fresh's music video for 'Louder', where two girls roller-skate around past a sunny California beach and basically look amazing, and so the spark was born. Through my mum's derby-playing friend (Sasha Strange) I was hooked up with the Wrexham Rebels- the junior team to the Wrexham Rejects- who promised everything that I wanted, including kit that I could hire from them and my first session free
I'll be honest: I was terrified! A bunch of strangers, some older and most much younger, and knowing how clumsy I am I wasn't quite sure that I wanted to make a complete fool of myself infront of them (when I say clumsy I mean that I walked into the same
in the same week!). The session was an hour long, and by the end I was hooked! Everyone was so friendly and offered lots of encouragement, and so I went home and bought all of my own kit from one of the team (www.skatebritain.net
) determined to get really
good at skating. I also started researching roller derby and the Wrexham Rejects themselves, and since that day I haven't stopped thinking about playing the game. Roller derby took over my life instantly, but in the most positive of ways.
I have made so many friends on the derby scene and my communication skills have flown through the roof as I interact with people of all ages, and my art projects are know based on roller derby, spreading the message about the amazing sport that we love so much. By getting involved and harnessing the skills of derby earlier on, it means that we (the juniors) are more likely to continue skating throughout our lives, and carry on the tradition of roller derby, as one day even Bonnie Thunders will have to retire from the track and someone will have to take her place. Setting up your own junior team gives the sport, as well as your own team, exposure to a whole new audience of kids and parents. If you put it that there are around 1500 students in my high school, which is alot of people, and I have kids in the younger years asking me about derby or seen me skating with all my gear on, as well as the question "Where did you get that bruise?" from people during PE lessons, it shows that just by blabbering on I have helped to spread the word about roller derby. In addition, the headlines are always full of how unhealthy and overweight everyone is in Britain, with child obesity becoming a national scare it is essential that we get kids into sports that they love whilst they are young. I never had a sport I loved in primary or high school, netball and rounders were the main sports that the girls focused on and frankly I was no good at either so I was never enthused to be active outside of school; but oh how that has changed! I skate for around 11 hours a week now as well as taking part in fitness exercises outside of roller derby. My fitness levels are much higher and I am so much stronger than I used to be, and all this because I was able to learn the art of roller derby at a young age. I am also much happier in general, as I know that I have a whole new family who are just as passionate as me about roller derby :)
Setting up your own junior team will take effort, you have to advertise to spark enough interest as well as buying kit in smaller sizes to fit kids' bodies, and extra hall hire fees if you don't have your own permanent rink, but if you can plough through all that, you actually end up moulding the future of roller derby by creating the next generation of players. You can change the lives of children whilst also gaining support and interest for your adult team, so it's a win-win situation. And let's be honest, who doesn't love sharing their passion for roller derby?