Road to Becoming a Roller Girl : My New Recruit Experience

As told by Rolltron, #1984

I’ve always loved to skate. Back home in New York, whether it was quads, or blades, or even bicycle, wheels took us to grab a slice of pizza or meet our friends at the park before we were allowed to ride the bus and train by ourselves.

Fast forward to adulthood. I had missed skating. Oftentimes busy lives keep us from doing the things we loved in our youth. So I checked out a local skating rink in Raleigh where I was living at the time. I saw a flyer advertising a Roller Derby bout. I knew nothing about it, except judging from the flyer, it was filled with badass chicks wearing war paint and fishnets. I was intrigued, so I went to a bout. The seed was planted, and I knew that one day, that would be me out there.

In between that first flyer I saw in Raleigh, lots of things had happened in my life. A marriage and a divorce, a move to Wilmington, a new engagement, and the birth of my daughter. 8 years later, in January of 2018, I saw a post going around on Facebook for Registration Night for the Cape Fear Roller Girls New Recruits Training. I had gotten skates as a Mother’s Day gift the year before and thought, this is it! I’m gonna do this. So I went out to the sporting goods store and picked up some pads, and hit up a friend who had retired from derby to see if I could borrow her helmet. I picked it up, and headed down to Scooter’s Skating Center for Registration Night.

I was excited but nervous. I hadn’t skated in 8 years since I lived in Raleigh. I thought, “eh, it’s like riding a bike, right?” I would soon learn that I was sorely (literally) mistaken. There were LOTS of people there, which made me more excited, and even more nervous. Some of the Roller Girls were there to let us know what to expect over the next 10 weeks. We would meet every Wednesday for the first few weeks at Scooter’s, and then after that, we would move to an undisclosed warehouse were the Roller Girls practiced called The Fear Factory. I thought, “man, this is SO cool. I wonder if there’s a secret knock?” Being a lifelong metal fan, I also thought, “I wonder if anyone else loves that band (Fear Factory)?” So many questions.

After a little Q & A session, we had some time on the rink. Afterwards, I felt amazing. And sweaty. After my skate high wore off, I felt really, really…. Out of shape. Roller Derby Boot Camp would start the following week.

That’s me on the right – what have I gotten myself into?

Every week we had a 2 hour practice, where we would work on a new essential derby skill to learn.  Halfway through the program, we would have an assessment, which would let us know where we were skill-wise, and help us identify areas where we could stand to improve before our Final Assessment at the end of the program.  

A few weeks into Boot Camp, it was time to move to the Fear Factory where the team practices, which meant the fun was really about to start.  

Enter, contact. Because what’s more fun than skating? Hitting people on skates, of course! By the time Mid-Assessments rolled around, I was feeling like I needed to step up it up if I was going to pass my Final Assessment.  I started going to the gym 3 days a week to cross-train. I could tell right away that this would definitely put me where I needed to be from a physical standpoint if I wanted to pass.

That’s me in the grey, about to get hip-checked by Toe-Up. (I didn’t fall!)

Assessment Day had arrived.  I was so nervous I almost vomited on my way to practice that morning.  I got through it and wasn’t feeling super confident about my performance, but that was ok.  If it were easy, everyone would be doing it, right? So I went home and waited anxiously for my results via email.  It took years (not really, just 3 days) for that email to come. I didn’t pass. I wasn’t exactly surprised, but it was a wakeup call and I was determined to hit the rink harder and get ready for new recruit bootcamp, round 2.  

Me in the front left, surrounded by my recruit-mates after assessments! Sweaty but happy.

This round would take place in the dead heat of summer.  Moving to the Fear Factory mid-way through was brutal. But, we stayed aware of hydration needs, took breaks as needed for safety, and as always, everyone was supportive and positive. We did our best every single day.  I had some familiar faces to skate with who were with me during my first New Recruits round, so I was pumped! I was determined, and this time, I said I would try and test out halfway during Mid-Assessments.  

Mid-Assessments came.  It was HOT. I remember thinking to myself, “I can’t do this.  It’s way too hot.” I actually considered quitting halfway through the actual assessment.  But I didn’t. It was through all the encouragement and positivity of my fellow New Recruits and future teammates that I found that extra push that I needed to stick it out.  I remembered thinking, “I didn’t pass, and that’s ok.” I came into this prepared to go through the entire session again. I changed out of my skates, and walked over to the table for my critique, and was told that I passed!  I said, “WHAT?!! I PASSED!” My heart felt like it was going to explode and I could feel the tears of joy swell up in my eyes (that I would have cried if I hadn’t just sweat out every last drop of liquid from my pores). It was an amazing feeling to set this goal and dig deep within myself and accomplish it.

Throughout the program, everyone was was super encouraging and supportive.  I felt a bond with my fellow Recruits, and future teammates. It really is like a family.  The girls were always willing to offer advice outside of weekly practice, and often showed up at the local skating rinks during open skate times to help us with any skill that we might be having trouble with.  We used the CFRG New Recruit Facebook page to keep each other posted on skate times outside of regular practices and we would share videos and articles that would help us hone our skills.

Me in the glasses after my first practice as an official Cape Fear Roller Girl!

Need a new hobby?  Wanna get in better shape?  Make new friends?

If you’ve been thinking about becoming a part of our wonderful derby family, we will welcome you with open arms!  Follow Cape Fear Roller Girls on Facebook and be on the lookout for the next New Recruits Program. See you out there!  – Rolltron #1984

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