When I walked into my first freshmeat practice with Rolling Hills Derby Dames, all I could think was "Oh shit, what am I getting myself into?" I had known about roller derby for about two years and had multiple people trying to recruit me for another team when I was attending my Master's program. I admit, I made plenty of excuses. I told them I couldn't afford it, that I didn't have the time, and that I wasn't sure if derby was for me. In all honesty, the one thing that held me back the most, was the fear that my friends who were recruiting me would reject me after discovering I was a crap player (but everyone is when they first start). I also wouldn't be able to handle the embarrassment of quitting because I knew people on the team.
Fast forward to moving to Pullman, after two years of me hiding behind pathetic excuses. I finally thought maybe it was time to give this whole roller derby thing a shot. After all, I've been trying to lose weight since starting college (five years ago) and can't do mundane workouts like running. I knew I needed a sport and individuals to push me. I convinced myself for about two weeks that I wouldn't care what other people thought during that first practice because hey, I didn't know them, so their opinions meant nothing. Even with two weeks of saying that to myself, they still meant something. I walked in and probably looked like a lost puppy dog or at least that's what I felt (you'd have to ask someone if I actually did). I was standing there for two minutes without knowing where to go or what to do. I almost bailed. But right as I was about to run and erase roller derby from my mind, TaKillya Rose turns around, introduces herself, and points me for the gear. Whew, first barrier crossed. Someone noticed me, so no bailing now. I was fitted for gear, geared up, and attempting to stand in no time.
To say that first practice was rough would be an understatement. I hurt everywhere within the first 20 minutes, my legs were shaking, I was embarrassed by my lack of shape coordination, and beating myself for being stupid enough to think I could do this. There was one thing that made it possible for me to survive that first practice: Krissy Kurbstomp. I can't even begin to explain how positive this woman is and how great of a freshmeat coach she makes. She was there making encouraging statements every couple minutes, reminding us that we were already improving, and cheering us on while we were going through the physical and emotional torment that is your first freshmeat practice (and she knows how awesome this is because I rave about it at every party). That was my first impression of derby, and she sure as hell made sure it was a good one despite how utterly horrible I felt. I can't say if my first experience elsewhere would have been quite this great because I think others would have had different expectations of me and I would have had different expectations of myself.
I can say that the positivity hasn't left since that first practice. At every practice, I hear encouraging comments from at least five different teammates. I've had every teammate make an effort to help me at least once, with some helping almost every practice. I had teammates start initiating hang outs and making me feel like things wouldn't be the same without me there (one of the most self-centered thoughts I have). Even when I broke my finger and couldn't skate, my teammates were encouraging me. I have to say this is actually the most positive, supportive sporting experience I've ever had (I was a three sport athlete in high school). It's been about five months since the first time I put skates on and the positivity and support hasn't gone away (and I don't think it ever will). I went from being a complete and total stranger to these girls to part of their family in a month. They had no reason to accept me, but they did with arms wide open. Have I drank the RHDD Kool-aid? Maybe. Does it taste good? Hell effing yes. Should you drink the RHDD (or just roller derby in general) Kool-aid? That's your call, but I don't think you'll find a closer, more supportive, fun-loving group of friends than derby family.
Lady McDeath #22