Last weekend was my first Charm School with the Charm City Rollergirls. I was so nervous … but why? It was awesome.
They say every derby league has its own personality based on the city and the type of people it attracts. I’ve heard the DC league described as a little more white-collar and somewhat transient because so few people are truly permanent residents in the district. Their teams are good but not the top in the region, and they’re a very welcoming group to newcomers. By comparison, I guessed the Baltimore league would be more of a home-grown, blue-collar group. People from Baltimore love their city fiercely, so I expect the derby girls to follow suit. The Charm City Rollergirls seem to be pretty dominant in our area, which makes playing for them both attractive and terrifying. Granted, no matter which league I try out for, I’m expecting to have to step up my game.
Getting on the floor the first time, I was so flustered that I put on my helmet and wrist guards backwards. BACKWARDS. *facepalm* Lucky Penny, one of our coaches for the day, was kind enough to stop me and turn my helmet around the right way, and she didn’t even laugh at me for it. Our other coaches for the day were Holly GoHardly and Red Pepper — both total badasses. With the three of them, we worked on falling safely, skating form, a variety of stops, and lot of drills to increase strength and confidence on wheels. By the end of our 2-hour session, I was tired but feeling a lot more confident in my ability to learn and find my way in derby.
I also met a couple of recent recruits — Allie Gorey and Irene Supreme — who shared their experiences with trying out and helped me find my feet more than once during challenging drills. They explained some of the process of getting on a bouting team, which is rigorous. Here’s the nutshell version (let’s see if I can get this right): First, you try out and hopefully make it into the league. Then you’re considered “fresh meat.” Second, you practice a lot, and then try out again to get on a scrimmaging team. Finally, you try out a third time to get on a bouting team that competes against other leagues. I think of the league like a little family of teams that competes against other families … like a Nickelodeon show, but a lot more hardcore.
Between being fresh meat and bouting, you get involved in the community, participate in committees, go to practices and open skates, and generally fill up your life with derby related activities. Allie and Irene said it’s like a part-time job just to be part of the league, which sounds like a pretty huge commitment. After Charm School, I feel fairly sure that I can learn the skills needed to try out for real, but the commitment required to practice consistently and become part of a team is where the real challenge comes in.
So, what’s next …? Skating this afternoon with Jenn, followed by a group outing to see a bout in DC tomorrow in celebration of my birthday (I turned 31 on Wednesday). And then it’s back to our regularly scheduled work-your-ass-off routine.