My boot camp preparation began the night before, following our coaches’ advice of packing lots of snacks and water and eating all the carbohydrates. I went to bed dreaming of derby (literally, I had a dream where we had to skate on grass…), until my alarm went off at a time that shouldn’t exist on a Sunday morning.
It was nice having 4 of us attending from DRD, so I didn’t have to drive (thanks, Traci!) and we could chat on the drive. A short walk from the carpark and we were at the Thunderdome, the home of Rainy City Roller Derby who would be hosting the Roller Derby World Cup in a few days’ time.
We kitted up with around 25 other pre-mins skaters, and I discovered everything I’d heard about Rainy City’s floor was completely true. Plastic tiles with irregular hills and dips that I was unconvinced anybody could skate on at speed. There were introductions and warm-ups, and then on to the training!
With so many newbies at differing levels, the Rainy City coaches covered loads of skills, in a little detail so we could work on them when we were back with our own leagues. We drilled knee taps and how to plough stop in a smaller space/with one foot, and T-stops on both sides.
Next we moved on to crossovers, which was especially useful for me as I struggle crossing over at higher speeds, and it must have been helpful as I got my usual number of laps in 5 minutes, despite being on a weird track with 15 other people.
Tequila also taught us the start of backwards crossovers, which was a new one for me!
The main advice to take away for all the skills: get lower, of course.
We had a break for lunch, and then experienced putting sweat-soaked kit back on ready for the afternoon, where we did weaving through cones – which I’m feeling loads more confident about – weaving through a pace line and one-footed glides. As the only one from my pre-mins group yet to pass this I’m looking forward to using Ducky’s advice.
There were also laterals, jumping and transitions (another one to take home to practise at our free skate sessions). Lastly was some blocking, static, in a pace line and a fun game of ping-pong blocking between two other people, to mimic shifting blockers to help a jammer through. Then stretching and some sweaty photographs before heading back up North.
I’d been worried beforehand that I wouldn’t be able to keep up but the day was structured well so that we could learn without drawing attention to any weaknesses.
Sometimes a different perspective and approach on a skill can make a big difference to being able to nail it, so it was great being coached by Rainy City skaters for a day, and meeting other pre-mins skaters helped me see how far I’ve come in my skating journey.
Next step: making sure my muscles aren’t achey and my kit isn’t stinky so I can be ready for my next session skating with DRD!