12 March

The open recruitment experience – Vamp Vengeance

Hello potential new recruits!

My name is Vamp Vengeance (aka Naomi) and I’m currently a semi-newbie with Nottingham’s Hellfire Harlots. I (hopefully) will be graduating out of Sparks (which is essentially the beginner training group!) just before the new intake in April 2019.

I started roller derby on the 11th October 2018, with images of myself gracefully zooming around the track, being equal amounts of awesome and bad-ass (the film Whip-It has a lot to answer for in regards to my expectations, but I highly recommend it nonetheless!). And in my true delusional fashion, I had picked out my derby name before I’d even put on my skates.

Now, I’m not gonna lie, roller skating is deceptively hard! I foolishly thought that the fact I can cope on ice skates would mean I would progress through the derby ranks in no time. The open recruitment sessions soon relieved me of that notion! I’m a little older than most (we’ll go as far to say late 30’s *cough cough*) and hadn’t worn skates for nearly 30 years. But no matter how difficult it was in that very first session, it soon dawned on me that everyone at Sparks is in the same boat. Some people have never skated, for others, it’s been a really long time. So no matter what your experience, I promise, you’ll be fine!

Our instructor May-K-Fist (don’t let her name scare you, she is the sweetest, most encouraging individual I’ve ever encountered) will make you feel at ease in no time. She is always quietly watching, while being on hand to give you tips and words of encouragement.

The first real discovery for me was learning to trust my pads. No, not the lady variety, I mean your protective gear! May will very early on teach you how to fall and how to land properly and the best part is, it doesn’t hurt – not even a little bit!

Once you realise that you can fall, and get back up again without any problems, the rest isn’t anywhere nearly as scary. The reason that this is important is that you will fall over. A lot. We all do. Roller derby is a contact sport, after all, and these ladies hit HARD!!! But you bounce back and just get back in the game!

The other great benefit of Sparks is that that all Hellfire Harlots league members come back to Sparks to train or to help out at some point. Everyone is lovely and always willing to help and offer advice to help you progress. I also have to mention our lovely refs and non-skating officials – the secret ninja helpers in roller derby(!) who also show up every week, keeping us in line, and making sure we stick to the rules and regulations of the game.

After a few weeks of training you’ll realise just how much you have to learn and just how awesomely talented our A-team and B-team players are. This can be a bit daunting and I think it’s at this point that many new recruits feel overwhelmed by it all and quit. It can feel like you’re not getting any better and you will get frustrated and annoyed with yourself. Again, this is normal, we’ve all been through it. But I promise you, after about three months, you’ll suddenly realise just how far you’ve actually come.

You’ll be able to do the cross-overs or the transitions or maybe even the hockey stops with ease. You won’t need to have mastered all the basics before we start running roller derby drills and you can get your first taste of game play. If anything, this makes it easier as you stop thinking about what you need to do, and you just do it!

And before you know it, you’ll be facing your own graduation to Firecrackers (the next training group after Sparks), wondering how on earth did you manage to get this far! You’ll make new friends with some of the most diverse, accomplished, bad-ass ladies you’ll ever meet. You’ll wear your bruises with pride and your skates will become your most prized (and expensive!) footwear in your collection!

Looking forward to meeting you all in April 2019, you soon-to-be bad-ass roller derby beauty!!!


April’s open recruitment sessions will run on the first three Thursdays of April (4th, 11th and 18th) between 7pm and 9pm at Mapperley Sports Village. If you would like more information on getting involved, email May on sparks@hellfire-harlots.co.uk.