— By Oliver Fist, #5
As skaters, people often ask us, “Why did you join roller derby?” The answers can span anywhere from I was looking for something new when I moved here, to I have always wanted to try it. Every single skater has a different story about why they decided to join, a different background coming into it, and different perspectives on what joining roller derby has done for them. But a lot of us tend to have a similar “Fresh Meat” story.
Being Fresh Meat is very exciting, slightly scary, hard work, and so much fun. It’s hard to believe at first, but every single skater in the history of roller derby was also just joining for the first time. Every single one of us started somewhere, just like you.
My experience as Fresh Meat was all of the above. I was so nervous before my first practice. I showed up freakishly early, tongue-tied and unable to form full sentences as veteran skaters helped me find gear. We learned falling, stopping, and propelling my first day. I considered not going back to the next practice because I thought maybe this was too intense for me. But I kind of liked that I could say, “I’m sore from roller derby practice. Because I play roller derby! I feel like a badass!” Needless to say, I went back and never regretted that decision. I have been hooked ever since.
The Fresh Meat program is structured so that you can learn at your own pace. Your coach and the Fresh Meat committee (a handful of friendly and helpful veteran skaters) will help you through your journey to roller derby badassery. They will teach you the foundation level skills you will need to pass what’s called the WFTDA Minimum Skills Test. This test covers basic roller derby skills to ensure you’re safe on the track to play roller derby. Not every skater passes the test their first time (in fact, it is very irregular that a skater does), so it is important for new skaters to know that it can take time to develop your skills.
The Palouse River Roller Fresh Meat practices are held every Sunday from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at Gladish Gym in Pullman, Wash. We have used gear to loan Fresh Meat at these practices, but gear is on a first-come-first-serve basis (so get there early!). Anyone in the Fresh Meat cycle can attend Open or Teams practices. Check out the Practices page on our website for the detailed calendar, practice times and locations.
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