GRRD Basic Training: Week 2

Part 2 of our Basic Training blog series. Our rookie, HookHer, had absolutely no idea what she was getting herself into when she joined Grand Raggidy in January 2019 and thought maybe she’s not alone in that and wanted to share her experiences about roller derby and what basic training with GRRD is really like.


GRRD Skaters at our Practice Location, the Kentwood Funspot

GRRD Skaters at our Practice Location, the Kentwood Funspot

Kudos to you for making it into week two of Basic Training, Rookie! By my second week of BT, I was ready to take the track. Grand Raggidy is part of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) meaning we play our sport on a flat track rather than the banked tracks you might imagine.

One of the main practice locations for our team is at a local roller skating rink where we are able to use rink skates during practice until we purchase gear. However, I highly suggest getting your own skates as soon as possible. The classic quad skates at skating rinks are what veteran skaters refer to as “brownies” and are not ideal for derby. You’re going to want to learn to skate in skates meant for derby. Trust me. I was a rookie who wore brownies for a good two months. I could skate well in them, and that’s not something to brag about, but I had to re-teach myself how to skate when I finally took the plunge and bought my own skates. (Worried your new skates won’t fit? I was too, which is why I took a road trip to meet with Lulu from All aBout Derby to fit me in a good pair of skates and match me up with some gear. They’re one of GRRD’s sponsors and Lulu is super knowledgeable!)

Rink Skates AKA Brownies

Rink Skates AKA Brownies

So there I was, standing in my brownies waiting for Coach Jem and Daddy Pants to tell us what to do. Excited doesn’t begin to explain my emotions; however, this practice is where I had to decide - “do I want to commit to this?” For the rookie group, today’s practice was spent practicing our basic skills. That means plow stops, basic skating, falls, and balancing. Our basic skills test says we need to be able to balance on one foot for thirty seconds. In the middle of the rink, on the track, other skaters were scrimmaging - which is the coolest thing to watch. These ladies are hardcore! This sport is hardcore! As I’m standing there, balancing on one foot and watching the scrimmage happening ahead, a player came in with a side sweep and plowed another player at the side. As she graciously took the hit, all I could think was did that just f***ing happen?

Here’s the thing about derby: you will most likely get get hurt. You might break something. Don’t think it won’t happen. But it could happen in any sport you play, not just derby, and especially as we get older. As a rookie seeing this sport in true form for the first time, I was pretty shocked. Is this what I really just signed up for? But, in that moment I had a decision to make. I had to ask myself: do I want to play roller derby, because I could very possibly break something? Ask yourself this question.

Hell yes! That was my answer. Hell yes I want to play. Because if I’m going to break something, I’d rather say I did it playing derby than another sport.

Are you ready to play roller derby? Register for our next BT class!

Tracey Nowinski