A year ago this month, I attended my first rookie practice with Croydon Roller Derby. In the past 12 months, I’ve had a bunch of brilliant experiences that I never would have had without roller derby: learning how to skate from scratch; going all over the country to watch games; discovering a love of team sport; being coached by some of my derby heroes; finding my own athleticism; taking on the role of Director for the league; travelling on the party coach with our A team to support them in Paris; travelling to Madrid with our B team to play in my first open door game. It feels like I started roller derby just yesterday and at the same time it feels like it’s always been a part of my life.
One year in, I still consider myself a complete derby novice. Speaking to skaters that are much further along in their roller derby career, I’ve been told that the learning never stops – there’s always a skill that could be honed further, a play that could be executed more smoothly, more hustle to be found. And I certainly believe that; I feel like I learn something new about this sport every week and I can’t imagine that stopping any time soon. But you only have one first year in roller derby; one year of going from clueless outsider to someone who does, in fact, actually know some shit about this crazy sport. These are some of the Big Things I learned in my first year of roller derby.