There's No 'Sorry' in Derby

This and other lessons from a Fresh Meat

By Lana Danger Zone







(9/23/16) — Fresh meat. This is what I am—a stinky slab of bland meat waiting for the right chef to come along. Fresh Meat. This is the term Roller Derby teams all over the world use to describe a new skater. They attend their first practice with little to no experience as a quad skater, are scared they will fall in front of everyone and are even more terrified of *gasp* veteran skaters.

A few years ago I made friends with a fellow coworker at a department store in middle-of-nowhere Florida. I immediately honed in on her outright confidence in all of her being. She was funny, spontaneous, and spunky. When she revealed she was a woman of roller derby, it all made sense. I’d heard of roller derby and always wanted to know what it was about, but I never knew where or who to ask.

Attending my first bout that my new friend played in, I found myself mesmerized. The rules were hard to follow, but I knew there were women moving fast on wheels and at times, knocking each other down. For a crazy person like myself, it looked down right fun. Afterwards, I had a chance to hang out with the team and I was even more enamored. They were all unapologetically fearless and shared a mysterious bond. No lies here: I was intimidated and didn’t talk much because I was scared of getting beat up. (Don’t judge me!) However, I wanted to get involved and try out, but it wasn’t the right time.

Speeding this up, the responsibilities of school, work, and family resulted in years of there never being a good time to join, but this past January the stars aligned. I remembered meeting the women of Miami’s Vice City Rollers at a past Super Con and a quick Google search confirmed they were recruiting. A few emails later I was on the track filling out paper work and putting on stinky loaner gear for my first practice.

Talk. About. Love. Seriously, cue the romantic tune. The last month and a half has been a whirlwind of learning rules, searching through loaner gear, post-practice trips to IHOP, daily Facebook conversations (my social media and text messaging game has gone from 25% to 1001%) and a ridiculous amount of falling.

It’s still a bit to get used to, but I can’t deny all that I’ve gained in such a short time. I know that if I push myself, the results will come. My teammates support me every single practice. One practice in particular I did my first weave. For those who don’t speak derby, this is when your teammates follow one another in a line around the track and one by one (or sometimes two or more!) weave around each team member as the line of skaters continues rounding the track. I weaved forward and backward and felt like I was having a heart attack. But every team member I passed helped me: “Look where you’re going,” “you got this,” “okay, cross now.” We do this weekly and each time I am faster and more precise with my movements. Sometimes I fall behind, but my team makes sure to wait so that I can complete my turn and improve. They push me every practice—mentally, physically, and ultimately emotionally. My favorite lesson so far: There is no sorry in derby. NONE!

For now, yes, I am an unappetizing piece of raw meat (there’s irony in this, I swear), but I know with every practice I gain more seasoning. My coaches and teammates keep me focused and I look forward to each practice. I am completing my second month with the team and have my first evaluation coming up. Freaking out. Being successful in this sport has now become one of my many goals in life. And I am having so much fun achieving it.

Lana Dangerzone #5X5 has since passed her minimum skills with Miami’s Vice City Rollers and is eager to get back into roller derby in her new city of residence, Denver. Watch her Fresh Meat Chronicles episode!

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