Has it really been five years! Wow. How time flies in the land of roller derby huh?
So, for someone that use to scream with fear whenever I put on skates at a roller disco (which was twice), never exercised at all and was quite overweight, I think I’ve done ok with this roller derby lark over the years 😉
I was never ever going to play roller derby. I’m a watcher not a do-er everyone knows that. I used to watch London Roller Girls from time to time with a friend who got me into it back when they played at the Earls Court in the old days. I don’t think I’d even seen the beloved Whip It movie back then, all I know is I really liked the vibe of roller derby the girls playing, the crowd, the music, the merch – it was something different. By the power of social media a mutual friend noticed I was going to games and she really wanted to be a part of it and Facebooked me one day and asked if I knew of any local teams. Of course I did, the recently formed Hell’s Belles who played in Hatfield back in those days. I’m not sure how it happened but I committed myself to go with her one sunny day in April 2011. With my cheap disco skates in my bag, after about two hours of picking out what to wear, and at the ripe old, unfit, not ever exercised age of 31, I hit fresh meat with my lovely and very eager friend Caz. Every single one of my instincts was telling me not to go but I didn’t want to let her down.
The morning didn’t start so well I typed in the wrong Sat Nav postcode and ended up at a totally different venue ☹ a fantastic skill I have. We made it with a few minutes to spare (phew) but was extremely flustered and then had to deal with elbow and knee pads and stuff :O. Wow, those things are terrifying when you first have to put them on unless shown the right way. I spent the first half an hour with my wrist guards on backwards and wearing a slightly too large jaunty helmet. We learnt how to fall and stuff and it took me what seemed like 15 minutes to peel myself off the floor every single time I fell on my behind, which felt like 90% of the session.
Something strange happened that day, I fell in love. Not with skating, I still have a love hate relationship with that, ask most derby girls, but I fell in love with the passion that these lovely roller girls had about their sport they were showing me. When I was asked back that evening I jumped at the chance.
The Hell’s Belles were only a few months old when I joined that day, I couldn’t wait for training every Sunday. To be honest we didn’t have a clue in the early days, we were all learning, there wasn’t many teams back then and everyone muddled in, we did what we could. The founders of the league started something incredible and I appreciate and love them for that. I was able to begin as a skater at the same time the league was beginning and we have been able to grow together.
In the early days when we entered our first bouts we honestly didn’t have a clue, we turned up terrified with enough Imodium tablets for the entire team to get through a bout and we used to lose all the time. Like everything, we lost some games badly and we lost other games well but technically we were always number two. Always. Until one day we won our first bout with only nine players, nine players amazing right?! I remember that bout well for another reason, as I played with two broken fingers (the fallout from a very harsh game of murder ball we played at training a few weeks before). I’d like to point out we haven’t played that game since, thankfully.
Its amazing feeling when you win a game with your teammates, it’s like the best feeling ever rolled into a zillion, I can’t describe it! But the first game we won will always stay in my little memory bank. I was on a derby high for the rest of that year even though we came 5th out of six that season, but it was an amazing feeling.
Well now it’s five years later. So much has happened hasn’t it my beautiful Hell’s Belles. It’s been a little bit like being on a rollercoaster at times. We entered the British Championships this year and so pleased to report we won all our games this season and we are going into the playoffs on the 22nd November in first place. First place, how the hell did that happen huh?
I’ve met so many wonderful, hardworking and interesting people throughout the five years at the Belles and through roller derby in general. We now have so many talented people and amazing skaters from advanced to intermediate to new. So much amazing awesomeness I can’t even begin to tell you. Everyone involved in the league brings their own piece of uniqueness. I’m so honoured and happy I’ve been able to be a part of this, and also from right at the Belles infancy. It’s an amazing place to be and I recommend anyone getting into roller derby. I’ve made some amazing friends, gained so much more confidence on and off track, got fit and lost an amazing amount of weight. I’m so glad I became a do-er in the end and didn’t just stay watching 😀
So really, I just wanted to say happy birthday to you my Belles and thank you for everything, thank you to everyone who has taken the time out to help me, cry with me and laugh with me sometimes all at the same time ☺ if the next five years is anything like the last I think world domination is highly possible.
Love from your biggest fan, Day-Trip-Her 31