You might have been to some of our bouts and watched our experienced All Stars team play some amazing and hard hitting Roller Derby, or maybe you’ve seen some of our skaters at an event? What they do looks amazing, and it takes years of practice and honing your skills to get to that point, but everyone has to start somewhere.
One of the best things about Roller Derby with the Norfolk Brawds is that all are welcome to come along and start learning, there’s no entry test, and every Monday night Men and Women of all skill levels turn up at Funkys at 7pm to start learning to play Roller Derby. For some it takes them only one 6 week course to graduate, for others it takes longer to work on it.
When you start learning to play Roller Derby, you become affectionately known as Fresh Meat, if you’ve ever considered coming along and trying to learn Roller Derby, here’s a perspective from a few of our most recent graduates from our Level 1 basic skills course.
Killer Dame #113
I heard about the Norfolk Brawds from a friend of a friend who had recently started, that was about 2 and a half years before I managed to join. When I moved back to Norwich I got in touch through facebook and was going to come to a practice about 9months ago-then I promptly came off my bike over the handle bars and wasn’t really in a state to start skating. So it was sometime before I made it to my first session!
My first session was really scary! I hadn’t been on skates in forever, there were all of these people watching you, and I was constantly convinced I’d fall over cry and immediately be sent home as not hard core enough for derby. It was great that one of the first things you’re told is there are funny falls and bad falls-and you have to be honest about which is which. Also, I was there with a friend who’s skating was as rusty as mine, I think having a friend to come with for the first session really helped me get there but honestly after the first session I was coming ever single week come hell or high water even when Nikki couldn’t make it!
What have I got out of the beginners course? I want to say friends, but that’s kind of cheesy, and a work in progress, but friends. I also got an incentive to get fitter, I’ve taken up swimming regularly and Pilates since I started – its nice to have something I want to do enough that I’ll do the extra exercise to support it, also, I think confidence – its nice to know I can do sports, I’ve never really had any luck with them in the past. I have also gained a burning need to send a surprisingly large percentage of my paycheck on derby gear because I love it, I want it, and I HAVE TO HAVE IT!
If you’ve been thinking about trying out Roller Derby then come! What’s the worst that could happen? And, if the worst does happen you’ll have the most amazing group of supportive caring people to help you pick yourself up and try again.
I’m not totally new to derby, I spent a couple of months skating with Suffolk Roller Derby last year however I’ve progressed a lot more and gained more confidence in my 6 weeks on this course, by skating with people of similar abilities and and excellent coaches.
I had heard of the Brawds before and was keen to see them when a friend offered a ticket to Eastern Sur5al in April. It was at the after party that some of the team mentioned the Sportivate course and said I should check it out on the following Monday.
I turned up to the first session not knowing anyone so was naturally pretty nervous but the other skaters ( at all levels) and coaches couldn’t have been more welcoming. This goes for the actual skating too, everybody was more than happy to help me out at any wobble and give me advice on the basics of derby skating. As someone who is new to the area not only have I fallen in love with derby, I’ve met some great people in my short time here from all walks of life, and even had a chance to do some NSO’ing to gain a better understanding of the sport.
There is certainly more to derby than just the skating, and would certainly recommend anyone giving it a go as there really is nothing to lose, and on top of a that it’s a pretty good workout!
Danihell Fire #999
I heard about the course whilst I was already in Fresh Meat (Danihell came along before the course started to some of our end of track starter sessions) and I heard about the Brawds beforehand from a friend.
I had absolutely no skating experience when I arrived, literally bambi on ice! My first session was great! I came with friends who were also keen to join and we now go together every week. I got skating skills, but more importantly I got a great new friendship group, with a lovely bunch of people! I feel more confident, inspired and full of energy! Everyone is so supportive and there is a real sense of sisterhood!
My advice to a newbie would be….bloody go! Its literally the best thing ever, not only do you get fit whilst having fun, buns of steel and wonderful new friends, but also a real sense of accomplishment, really is worth it! Derby til I die!
Rayner Terror #247
I started Roller Derby in June 2013. I knew about Roller Derby from some friends taking me to a couple of their home bouts at the UEA earlier in the year and you watch them and think “Wow! They’re really good on skates and they look so cool!”
I skated when I was in my early teens and I’m now in my late twenties, so some time ago! I could stand on skates and shuffle along holding on to the bar! That’s what attracted me to starting Derby, I heard they actually teach you how to skate! You didn’t need prior skating skills and that helped a lot knowing they weren’t expecting much.
My first session was a little scary! I came along with 3 friends, who I still skate with today but who are all at different levels. You soon realise everyone learns at different speeds and it’s not a bad thing.
After about 10 outfit changes, we turned up and you see everyone in their skating gear and think, this is exciting but a bit daunting but everyone was really lovely and friendly so that took the edge off. Then we each stepped on to the track nervously and you soon realise you’re not the only one shaking at the legs. We then met the coaches, who explained what we’d be doing and they laughed and joked with us. I felt relaxed but also couldn’t help be a bit scared….I had WHEELS ON MY FEET! After the coaches helping us go up and down the track and get used to skating, we then learnt how to fall correctly and a few other skills. If you did fall over, someone was straight there asking how you were, ice pack at the ready and then you’d soon hear someone else telling you their story of how they fell or “it happens all the time”. You soon realise you fall a lot and it’s not a bad thing, especially as you’re padded up. So it was scary but good scary and fun and I left skating better then I could when I first walked in and it’s been the same ever since.
You hear a lot of people say “Roller Derby saved me” and variations of that. Everyone will experience that, in different ways but you will experience it. Be it, health improvements, friends, learning to skate etc. Derby has changed me a lot. You learn so many different skills, from talking in public, helping others and much more. Your confidence will go up as well, as this is a sport where you really do see yourself improve. Again… it can be hard at times, it’s not all rose tinted glasses. You will get frustrated, cry and annoyed but you will also get support and better! I really have to think back to that first lesson of holding onto the bar, shaking, to where I am now to realise just how far I’ve come and remember all the wonderful people I now know.
If part of you is considering trying Roller Derby, no matter how small… just do it! Derby is where you can be accepted no matter what. You will never be made fun of, you will never be told you can’t do something – only shown you can! I never imagined I’d be in training to be part of a sport’s team and to be honest it doesn’t even feel like that! I refused P.E at school, hardly exercise, I’m shy and I bruise easy but here I am a year later! I’ve had my ups and downs with Derby I won’t lie but I’ve never quit and you can’t because of the people, because of the training and because you see yourself improve week by week in so many different ways. Start your Roller Derby Journey and see where it takes you… I think you’ll be surprised.
Chocolate Starfish #3103
I started going to fresh meat because my girlfriend (Rayner Terror) had been going for a while and said it was really fun, you get to meet some amazing people and you get to learn about the game of roller derby. I strapped on her old skates, had a roll around the kitchen and decided to go and get stuck in.
I had skateboard for many years when I was a lot younger but not really skated on quads before. This didn’t matter at all because, at the monday fresh meat sessions, the coaches teach everything from standing up, falling in the correct way and stride. They help you the whole step of the way. It doesn’t matter on your skating level, they will be there for you. No one cares if you can’t skate. It is very lucky that I took to it super quick and have now passed my level 1 sign offs after 2 rotations (6-8 weeks of learning the skills.) It doesn’t matter if you fall, even the best skaters there still fall, it’s part of the learning curve.
I have made so many new awesome friends. The biggest thing that I think I have got out of roller derby is that I am part of a team again. The first day anyone comes to practice they are part of the Norfolk Brawds and East Anglo Smacksons. I love every single person that I see at practice and we all go out for drinks. It really is one big happy family. Since graduating from the Level 1 course I am now skating at the Anglo Smacksons sessions, doing more advanced skills and things like pack work and hitting. Nothing is different apart from the level of skating. The same support, the same kindness. I would recommend the Norfolk Brawds fresh meat training on a monday night to everyone.
Our next 6 week course starts on Monday 5th January and is open to everyone over the age of 18. You just need to show up in comfortable clothes, with a bottle of water and £20 to pay for the course and we can lend you all the kit you need to get started.
If you want to find out more, or get in touch with any questions then click here