When you hear people talk about their Derby Family, you picture a team, they train together, they might socialise together and they support each other in their derby lives.
One year ago I stepped into the training hall for Hell’s Belles, and I’ve never looked back. I came to Hertfordshire Roller Derby as a transfer from a different league. I wanted to change my training and be in a more competitive environment, and straight away I knew I had found what I was looking for. I started out on the intermediate track, and that first session,… Well, I came away very sweaty! There was a good strong mix of skills and endurance. I was buzzing! (On the inside at least – I was too shy to even pay my subs myself, I got someone to do it for me!)
HRD had me hooked, I loved the intensity of the training, and the other skaters, who had all started as HRD Fresh Meat together, graduated together, and done their whole derby journey together to date, they were all so friendly and welcoming. I completed my probation period and became a member. Next was getting all my skills signed off. I worked hard and focused, I started to get things that had been a struggle in the past, and then the dreaded 27/5. I wanted it so much. So much, I started running again. Eventually, with the help of DodgeHer as a pace setter, and a lot of supportive cheers, I did it!
We are always encouraged to keep pyramid goals and top of mine was make the advanced track. Suddenly I was there. I had just started feeling part of one track and I found myself on a new track, with new people, the Hells Belles themselves. Just like the intermediate track before them, the advance track took me in their stride. I felt in awe, I felt out of place on track with them. That didn’t last long. Everyone was patient when I didn’t get it, always happy to answer my questions when I was brave enough to ask them. I began to feel like I was a part of something.
While I was happy on the advanced track, I was aware my fitness was a small issue, so that became an out of derby focus for me, and I started doing more running and eating better. My team made me want to be better for them. My next aim would be to work on my skills and improve my jamming, then maybe one day I’d make the charter. That day came a lot sooner than I ever expected. Training twice a week was amazing. I started to feel myself improving, suddenly all that I had been doing came together. I was understanding the drills and the game application of them, I was fitting into walls and doing a bit of jamming too. Now I’m part of Jammer school, and while I have a long way to go and some big skates to catch up with, I love it!
Injury is always a risk in any sport, and this is contact on wheels. The inevitable happened, and while it makes me sad to be off skates for the time being, I know I’ll be back. I’ll have some work to do to get back on track, but I’ll be stronger for it. My injury, while luckily not too serious, had a massive impact on me in and out of Derby. What’s gotten me through has been my teammates. Some directly, some indirectly.
What do I think of when I think of my derby family? All of those things. Being accepting, supportive, working hard, bringing out the best in each other, being there for each other in high times and low. In it together.
Stings Like Abbie gave me my current Derby name, Tenacious V, and I plan to do everything I can to live up to it! Enough of the mushy stuff, here’s to the next year and hopefully many more!!