25 January

How it feels to progress from Fresh Meat…

Wow, second week at Firecrackers [The Nottingham Hellfire Harlots’ intermediate skating group] and I didn’t fall on my ass! Result! I have fallen in love with roller derby though it sounds such a cliché (as all the blogs I read say the same thing) it’s true! I don’t do team sports, I never have. From a young age I thought that I had no place on a team – in fact I was more a hindrance than anything. I could not throw or catch and I had really bad asthma so could not run. I was a bit chubby so got bullied for that and was always the last to be picked at PE. I have slowly built up my confidence through the support of some inspirational people who have shown me that I CAN do these things and whilst I may never have the best hand/eye coordination, that there are other things I can learn to be good at – like roller derby.

I resisted starting roller derby for ages as I thought I would be dreadful at it; I would fall over, get in the way, hurt myself plus I could not skate beyond pushing myself along with one leg… but then I though “sod it” and went for it. I went on my own as no one would go with me. I was scared of course, but crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. I got there and was instantly made to feel welcome. There were lots of other people who had come on their own as well and they all looked as scared as me! There were girls and boys of all different shapes and sizes with tattoos and piercings, crazy hair and massive smiles. I left that first session tired but happy – I had found something, a SPORT, that I could love! I was talking to me Mum the other day and she was shocked and amazed at how fired up I was about a team sport! “But you don’t DO team sport!” she said “I am so pleased to hear you so passionate about a sport!”.

In the past, I have avoided doing something if I am not perfect at it straight away but with roller derby, I am far from perfect and just enjoying the ride! Even if I never get to play as part of the team, I don’t actually care – I am just loving doing it. As I have progressed to intermediate level (to my shock), I have become more and more confident, both in my personal and roller derby life. I have taken risks, I have taken a wheel to the coccyx, been cut and bruised, cried and laughed a lot. I feel like I am part of something, that I am part of a team that value me for who I am. I have learned that fitness is more about what my body can do than what my body looks like. I have body issues like most women and have been sucked in by the cult of ‘thin’, but it’s different with roller derby and the Hellfire Harlots… these girls are FIT! They have strength, stamina and the strongest butts and thighs in the world! These girls come in all different shapes and sizes and their shapes and sizes do not in any way represent how fit they are and what their bodies can do. I am working towards being happier with my thighs and actually welcoming them getting bigger and STRONGER – I WANT big strong thighs that can support my derby stance. I want thighs that can DO something, rather than just look thin. I am starting to realise that fitness comes in all shapes and sizes and that this is ok… that I might in fact be okay.

I still have wobbles when I am away from the sport – I live in a western society after all, but I am working towards a confidence that I have never felt before.

By Dani-Hell