Both my tail bone and my right hand ached by the time I’d finished fresh meat practice last Thursday night — the result of hitting the floor one too many times and in the wrong way. It was the second fresh meat practice I’d attended with Castlegar’s roller derby team, the Dam City Rollers. Fresh meat being what roller girls call newbies, because by the time you’re done you feel like you’ve been through a grinder.
The first practice I’d attended had been the Tuesday before at Robson Hall. It was my first time trying on a pair of roller skates, but despite that I managed to avoid any accidental falls the whole evening. The practice started with the more seasoned players letting me and one of the other freshies try on their equipment so we could borrow it until we bought our own gear. The third freshie to attend, Ann-Kri Bello, already had her own equipment, as she’d previously trained with another team, but had to end her season early because of work. Once we were all geared up — knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, helmets — Pantsoff, the team captain, had us practice falling off-skate.
We had to practice falling forward onto our knees and elbows and then getting up as quickly as possible, over and over again. With the padding protecting me, it was actually pretty fun. The only danger was accidentally falling onto both knees at once, instead of one ahead of the other, which Pantsoff and other team members warned would be hard on our joints. Eventually it was time to strap on some skates and surprisingly I not only managed to stay upright, but even managed to skate forward and stop — eventually. Ann-Kri, being more experienced, started practicing some more advanced moves, while the other freshie and I spent the rest of the night practicing skating forward and stopping. By the end of my first practice I felt like I’d improved and was keen to come back on Thursday, even if I could already feel the muscles in my thighs and surrounding area screaming at me.
But if I thought I hurt on Wednesday, it was nothing compared to the pain I was in by the end of Thursday. My under-used muscles were even angrier by the end of my second practice. While skating, a roller girl is supposed to remain in a squatting position as much as possible. Not only does it give her better balance while skating, but both plow stops (like skiing) and t-stops (one foot horizontal behind the other) require her to be in a squat position to be effective. Jinjoe Fight-Us spent most of the second practice reminding me to get lower without bending forward, while I struggled to squat and skate or stop at the same time, often hitting the floor when I failed. On the first day they’d warned us freshies to pick a cheek when falling backwards — I didn’t pick one when I fell back and as a result I hurt my tail bone. I also kept throwing out my right hand when I fell backwards, which is how I hurt it.
Still, by the end of the second practice I was excited to go home and look at buying my own gear. I even started trying to think of a roller derby name for when I make it through the grinder and become an official Dam City Roller. I’m thinking of going with Jour Nihilist.