All for one and one for all ….

So, it has been a while since I last wrote a blog (not long enough I hear some of you cry!) But think that with the inevitable post Christmas slump and New Year blues present that this couldn’t come at a better time. So over my last few blogs they have been from “Why roller derby is so great” to “Go team Go” all to hopefully bring the Derby world together and take even if just one thing positive or at least thought provoking idea from what has been read (Yes … it is a massive shock that S.Mousey can actually do serious … sort of!!) And I hope that only positives and a sense of belonging can be taken from this.

Now I started Roller Derby at a really pivotal moment in my life, I needed direction and focus and something to aspire too. Something which would get me out of my slump and back to feeling me again. Turns our projectile vomming in a pub and on your favourite misfits tee is a wakeup call to sort it out!! So when I walked in to my first training session I was very wary, there was the athlete super skaters to the typical over tattooed fishnet wannabes.. and then the group in the middle. The “holy shit balls I can’t even stand” group … I knew which one I belonged in!! … and you’re right … it wasn’t the super skilled athlete category *Whispers you bastard at all the smirkers* I took great appreciation and comical value from probably my first few months of training and not a great deal of “This is a serious sport” … but only all too soon did my opinion change. I was currently going once a week (if the pub didn’t call to me and win against a training session that was) and didn’t really see any improvement from week one to month two. But I loved the social side and I guess at first this is what kept me going. Plus I’d brought myself a super cool helmet and turns out you don’t have much of a need for one of them in everyday life.

Now everyone always says you can’t judge a book by its cover … but we’re not Mother Bloody Theresa and we all do it. Not just from a physical aspect but you take people for face value, comments you hear said from a person, or about a person. The effort someone puts in to the task itself or in making an effort to actively communicate with people. All things we take for granted and use to base an opinion or judgement on, although know we shouldn’t. Now although I am very aware I am tarnished with the “Joker and trouble maker” brush (I have no idea why ….*looks away knowing EXACTY why*) But looking back now, it wasn’t really a surprise that I didn’t improve or make the bonds with people when I didn’t take it seriously or think about the impact of my actions … or lack of in this case.

Being Bambi on ice was funny for the most part and through the social side helped me to make some friendships. So with this new ‘want’ to bring the social and skate together, it seemed like a great idea to arrange a skate down to The Quay. So there I was, sat on the wall, knee pads on, skates laced and my high tops ready as backup plan tied together and hanging around my neck. The group arrived and off we went. In my head I had envisioned this great moment of all skating and laughing together … in reality I shit my pants as there was no walls to fly into to stop me (something my lack of experience and training had yet to teach me … stopping) giant dogs running around and of course an audience of about 10 who due to my lack of errrrm skating ability got the wrong impression that I wasn’t willing to put effort in. Something not helped by the fact I gave up, put my shoes on and walked to the pub whilst they skated on! However shortly back in my comfort zone (and off skates) sat in the beer garden with the other skaters, I could really see this was a great bunch of girls and started to think about how I could start to be a part of this?

By now I had been “a part” of the league for around 3 months or so and the girls were due for their first official bout against SRT and due to my errrr … mouthyness I was asked to MC for the bout. Although I had no clue what exactly this entailed … I accepted as thought this would be my ticket into making a better impression. On the day, there I was … stood dressed in a top hat and tails, red lapels with gold trim and next to LRG’s Vigour Mortis, who towered over me in her beautiful heels and white wig. Still not really knowing what the frick was going on I took the time to see how much effort had been put in behind the scenes. From ticket sales, to finding a suitable venue to making cakes for the cake stall. All parts I had no idea about and was blissfully unaware required effort. Watching the girls from the side I started to look at it in a very different light. Why had I not known about all this? Through my own ignorance had I missed vital parts of helping to become a part of the team, through thinking it was all about socialising and making friends? As the day went on I had spoken to more of the skaters in one day than over the course of the last 3 months, because although I was not at that point a strong enough skater to bout I had actively participated in being part of the team.  As if by magic a light switched on and the derby bug had started to take its toll on me.

With this new sense of worth and want to be a part of this I made the effort to come to every session I could make. And choosing to train over going to the pub (turns out derby is pretty social and you can do both and not have to substitute one for the other!) I started to see an actual improvement. I could actually stand on wheels! And with the more sessions I came to the more people I spoke to and started to make some really good friendships. The better I got, the stronger the want became to make training sessions. All this time I had spent thinking that by coming to a session here and there would be enough, I had missed out on becoming a part of; in my eyes, a sport that deserves recognition for what it is. I had now been skating for 6 months and asked for new skates for my birthday, which I was extremely excited about testing out at the next possible opportunity. I was on holiday for my birthday and so had to wait over a week to try on my skates which was actual torture! I was so excited – something I hadn’t been for a long time. I had genuinely missed training. I had missed the planks. The falls. The smell of sweaty pads (sort of) but most of all the amazing people I had started to become friends with.

So with my new skates on and a VERY wobbly start I made the conscious effort to make all sessions and with that I felt a confidence in myself. I started to see an improvement in my attitude and in my ability to skate (which certainly hadn’t been there before) I felt amazing! All because I had put in a 100%, something which evidently I had taken for granted. I soon realised that you gained equally as much respect for how much you tried as you did for actual ability. So yes, although I wasn’t the strongest of skaters, my want to become better and the fact I put everything into it became my ticket into being part of the team.

I had a conversation with my friend the other day and said to her “Looking back on the past year of my life, I can’t actually believe how much has changed” … and I can honestly say that Roller Derby has made this happen. I would be lost without it. Without every wheel shape bruise, without smelly wrist rot from my pads (yep … we all get it) without every joke or laugh or cheeky look. I can’t even imagine what the last year would have been like without Roller derby. And if you’re reading this and thinking it’s all just a load of tripe to fill up a space on the website … well you’re not completely wrong! But it is a plea. A plea to each and every one of you to take the time and make the effort to fall completely in love with Derby like I have. Because each and everyone makes a difference. Not just to the running of the league, but also to each person’s experience.

And I am fully aware this pure gold extra mature cheddar is wafting through to you with every word that I write!! But do you know what? Sometimes it needs to be made known just how bloody fantastic something is. And Roller Derby … scrap that, how bloody fantastic S.W.A.T. is! This is easily the single biggest achievement in my life. And without each and every one of you it wouldn’t have been as epic as it has been. So thank you. Thank you for memories. The tears and tantrums *ignores the ability meltdown I had once upon a training session ago where I may or may not have thrown my helmet in a ‘slight’ strop along with mouth guard lob, which nearly hit the Wife!* BUT … that all being said, I would happily bet a pair of scabs knee pads that when you put in 100% effort into training, that you too will see how incredible your Derby experience can be.

Lots of love S.Mouse xxx

Bouts to date 2 <– my biggest achievement yet!

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