30 May, 2017, was the day I went and did something crazy. That was the day I decided to show up at a roller rink and attend the Harrisburg Area Roller Derby Recruitment Night. At the time I didn’t know what would happen: in fact, I contacted a friend who was already a member of the team and told them I was worried I’d show up and make a complete fool of myself, and the likelihood was great I’d never be able to keep up with the rest of the team. My friend’s comment was, “Come on out anyway. If you don’t like it, don’t come back.”
That was three and a half months ago. And I’m still there, though I shouldn’t be. I mean, look at this crazy bitch in hand-me-down gear:
Who expected me to last this long?
That was then, this is now–or I should say, last night. Because 12 September we held our third, and likely last, Recruitment Night of 2017. We’ve been advertising this one for about a month, so the word was out we were looking for people. And I was looking forward to the evening as well, because…
Well, this would be my first Recruitment Night where I could greet the new freshies.
I won’t say I wasn’t a big worried. The fear was there that only a couple of people would come out and make our team’s endeavors seem wasted. But that faded quickly once I saw there were four women waiting for Ariel to show up and begin her presentation and more filtered in soon after she arrived. In all either thirteen or fourteen women showed, with one of them bringing her two children along as she couldn’t get a sitter for them.
With gear ready to go and seven of us–myself included–ready to help out the freshest of the Fresh Meat, the new recruits were let out ready to gear up and get to skating. I was given the task of helping one woman get skates, get her gear on, and help out where I could.
We did simple things like skating around the rink, something I could barely do my first night. The woman with me was a good skater because she’d had a lot of experience on roller blades, so she picked up on quads fast. I had to remind her a few times not to drag her foot to come to a stop because it was a good way to twist your foot and break your ankle–which is exactly how Arial broke hers. We did plows and meatballs–or knee drops as I know them. We even did T stops, and while I was explaining to my freshie why she shouldn’t drag the inner wheels of her back skate to stop, I spun around and skated backwards for about thirty feet while talking. It wasn’t until later that I realized what I’d done…
We finally got a pace line together and nineteen of us skated around weaving in and out between the other skaters. We had a few people fall, but that’s to be expected. We stopped, let them get up, and got them back into line. It took a while and one new recruit needed help from Ida getting through the pack, but all skaters made it through the line once.
After that we sat for some stretches–
And then we got everyone together for a group photo. (If you’re looking for me, I’m on the outside left in the back.)
Oh yeah, and after we finished we went out and had a couple of beers to celebrate the newest members of the HARD family. It’s likely they won’t all stay: of the ten or so women who showed up for my Recruitment Night, Jackie and I are the only ones who remain, so the possibility exists we could lose seventy-five to eighty percent of this group in the next few months. But for those who remain and push to make themselves derby certified, they’ll realize how hard, difficult, and mind-bending this sport can be. They’ll also realize just how much fun it as well and they’ll find when the next Recruitment Night rolls around, they’ll be the ones ready to help the newest of our Fresh Meat, just as I did–
Though I doubt they’ll break out the green wig as I did.