Though she be but little she is fierce

ARRG were recently nominated for a National Lottery Good Causes Award to allow us to buy more free kit for participants of our new skaters programme “Skate Skills 101”. We asked Leah from our current skate skills 101 programme what it means to be learning to skate. We love it! Have a read and please vote for us by CLICKING HERE.

“Though she be but little she is fierce” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A friend recently bought me a mug with that quote on it.  I love it.  I use it every day wanting it to be true.  I am little, but am I all that fierce?

I’m 5 ft tall and I’m not terribly strong.  I’m far from athletic.  I need an inhaler if I run for a bus.  I’m self-conscious and not very confident.  I am pretty sociable but new situations make me nervous, people scare me.  Oh, and I know NOTHING about skating.

I’d heard about ARRG’s Taster Days and went along for the afternoon.  I decided it would be an easy opportunity to find out more about Roller Derby without having to commit to anything too scary.  At the start of the day the coach asked us what attracted us to Roller Derby, why did we sign up for the taster?

We went around the room and introduced ourselves.  It was a room full of diverse women, of different shapes, sizes, ages, personalities and backgrounds.  Everyone there had their own reasons.  ‘Meet people’, ‘Exercise’, ‘Just loved the film Whip it’.  It came round to me and I was terrified to speak in a room full of strangers.  That was my reason.  I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone.  I wanted to break my weekly routine of Work… Netflix… Pub… Work… Netflix… Pub…  I wanted to be active.  I wanted to learn a skill and to have an interesting hobby.  I didn’t want to be scared to try.

I was provided with skates and kit thanks to The National Lottery Awards for All and ARRG’s Loaner Scheme.  It meant I was able to give Roller Derby a shot without having to worry about the cost of equipment.  After a great taster day, and without any financial hurdle, I signed up to Skate Skills 101.

With a new-found determination and unwittingly wearing my new helmet backwards I took my first wobbly strides.  Although it was tricky and awkward I quickly realized that I needn’t be scared at all.  The people I have met at ARRG have been amazing.  The coaches are dedicated and skilled.  The other beginners are full of support and enthusiasm.  The encouragement on and off the track has been absolutely incredible.  We all try our hardest, we all help each other to learn and to improve.  And we’re all loving being on wheels!

Do I fall?  Yes, loads.  But I always get back up.

Do my muscles ache the next day?  Yes, every time.  But I smile because I know how hard I worked.

Do I feel hot as hell in my shiny new skates?  Yes, unbelievably so!

So when my photo is put up next to this, I won’t use the pre-practice one.  The one with my make-up still intact and my t-shirt sweat free.  I’ll use the one from the end of the day.  The one taken when I’ve fallen over but I’ve scrambled back up, taken when I’m exhausted but exhilarated.  Because that’s the moment in my week when I feel most proud of my accomplishments, when I feel confident in what I have and what I will achieve.  That’s when I’m grateful for the motivation and friendship from an amazing group of women.

That’s when I am fierce.

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This season the All Stars went all swanky and got us a Team Manager!

With this month’s WFTDA Rankings release showing our All Stars ranked at number 41 in the World, our highest yet, here at ARRG we’re reflecting on how much hard work and dedication it takes to build a team and support a team -we’re grateful to our league volunteers who work hard relentlessly to help our team be the best we can be, but we want to celebrate one special person in particular today.

Unphased by an unfortunate training injury following two seasons as an All Star jammer, MJ relentlessly hobbled along to team training every week on crutches to assist with training, support the team and NSO her socks off, so it’s no surprise that the team voted her into the newly created Manager’s position when it came up.  That’s right, we got ourselves a Team Manager! Level Up ARRG!  MJ brought the team tons of in- game experience coupled with a knowledge of all of our quirks (we have many), plus unlimited expertise in street food, bad rap music, horses and the best selection of footwear ever. Who could ask for more?

Having MJ as part of the Leadership team to ‘organise stuff’, has made a huge difference to the team this year, not just in the run up to games but also on game day where she can be seen masterfully operating our new walkie talkie system to relay game information to our bench coach. Captain Sasha says ‘Manager Johnson is the single best Manager I have ever had.  Having her there to help steer the good ship ARRG with her wisdom, efficiency and offers to cut a bitch has been the business, we will miss her so, so much’.

With the news that she’s moving ‘down south’ to take up a fab new job, but thankfully continuing her Team Manager role from a distance, it’s a great time to say THANK YOU to Manager Johnson for everything you’ve done this year – we salute you ma’am!  We asked MJ a few questions about her role so far…

Team Manager is an unusual role for a league’s travel team to have; traditionally it’s really only been national teams who have a Manager; we kind of made up the rules ourselves for this role, to suit the team needs this season;  What prompted you to apply for this role?

Simply put, I broke myself. After having done so, I wanted to stay involved because ARRG is a family of sorts and just because you can’t do the role you always have done, in my case jamming, doesn’t mean there’s not a place for you in your league.

I’ve never been a fan of passive healing – I kept breaking and training ponies with my arm in a cast when I was younger (my only other broken bone was also from skating) – and I wanted to have a reason to keep going to practices and scrims. Plus, I tend to have time in the mornings to do the documents, emails, and organising things that goes into the role.

And how did the team take to you in your new role?

‘My team is great. Full stop. They were 100% supportive and understand that part of this role is to chase them if needs be. Everyone has been on board with having a manager and that’s great.’

There isn’t much information out there for Team Managers; any advice for teams thinking of getting one?

Firstly, consider why you need one. Lay that out. Does your team travel a lot? Are your captains and bench crew spending all their time chasing people, emailing and doing small things? Secondly, think about how and where you would recruit? Would you do it in the league? In the team? Would you try to get retirees, or those who are not on a team at all? For us, it happened to work out that I couldn’t play and I was keen, but I wasn’t the only one who wanted to take on the role; competition is good. Also keep in mind what the trajectory of the manager will be. If, like me, they are coming back from injury, how will that effect the skating/manger crossover on game days? If it’s a lower level skater who eventually wants to move up to the top team, think about that too.

Overall, I think it comes down to workload and stress among the leaders, and the team having the knowledge that there is someone who works within the timeframe to get things done in the run up to games. If your team needs this, then I’d say go for it. Set up a year-long role. Trial it. See if it helps.’

What’s been the best moment of the season so far?

‘Watching our team kick everyone’s asses at Euroclash. We smashed it! I was so proud! I yelled so much.  I have to say that this is on the back of the games we played at the end of last year, also at Newcastle, and they were hard going! I was quite hobbly then, several of the team were unwell or unable to go…then at Euroclash we turned it around 10000% and showed everyone how formidable a team we are.’

What do you put on your feet as well as skates?

‘Cowboy boots and boat shoes.’

 Fave post workout snack?

‘ALL THE FOOD. No, I’m actually quite bad at post workout snacks. The adrenaline usually takes any hunger away until later and I need to actively think of getting food. That being said, I love a cold, crisp apple and yogurt after a run’.

And the question on everyone’s lips… who is the hardest team member to manage??

‘My lips are sealed!’

The sole of discretion; she’s got everyone’s back 🙂

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National Lottery Good Causes Award – we’ve been nominated!

We are so delighted to announce that we have been nominated for an award from the National Lottery.

The nomination is for our Skate Skills 101 programme; our new skaters classes which take you from beginner to competitive skater with amazing coaching and structured assessments. On signing up normally, participants are encouraged to have their own equipment – something that can be a barrier to entering the sport. With National Lottery funding, we have been able to offer free kit on loan to at least 20 skaters. This has made roller derby more accessible to more people – one of our mission goals!

Please vote for us by CLICKING HERE TO VOTE


Thank you – wish us good luck!


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International Women’s Day – Be Bold for Change

International Women’s Day – Be Bold for Change by Lynda-Marie Taurasi

Lynda-Marie Taurasi

Do you allow your physical appearance to prevent you from becoming active or doing something you’ve always wanted to do?

Have you not gone to yoga class because you haven’t shaved your legs?

Do you feel the need to wear a full-face of make-up before you hit the gym?

Have you not started running because you felt you were too heavy?

Did you not swim laps because you hadn’t had a bikini wax or washed your hair?

Do men worry about shaving or grooming before engaging in physical activity?

How does this relate to Roller Derby? Well, allow me to explain.

It started when I was 13-years-old, and overnight developed D-cup breasts, ceasing all the physical activity I once enjoyed in my childhood: running, climbing, dancing, cycling, and even cheerleading. To delve into the emotional trauma that was being “overdeveloped” at such a young age would take another essay, but needless to say, physical activity was added to the myriad causes of my insecurity.

Now, as I enter the twilight of my 30s, or as I like to refer to it “My Zero F**ks” phase, I still find myself hung-up over stupid stuff like skipping yoga because my legs are hairy. I mean, like, ‘How am I supposed to look super cute in my lululemons when I’m sprouting a rainforest on my right leg?’

I’m kidding. My butt is too big for lululemons.

But nonetheless, there I was, the morning of my Auld Reekie Roller Girls Taster Day, second-guessing my attendance because I hadn’t shaved my legs. All of a sudden, the confident woman I’d become, the one who gave up a cushy university job in the states to fulfill her lifelong dream of living in Scotland, was reduced to the puffy-faced, 13-year-old, crying hysterically over going up a bra size, she thought she’d outgrown.

I had been in Scotland less than three months, and I was well into my first semester of graduate school. It was my year of “Yes”: doing the things I always wanted to do and saying yes to every opportunity that came my way—like the ARRG Taster Day event that scrolled down my Facebook feed.

Roller Derby was something that, for years, I wanted to try. I liked and respected the ethos behind the sport. I longed to be part of a team, learn a new sport, and be fitter. Plus, much like riding a bike, roller-skating taps into your youth, and I wanted to feel like a kid again. Yet for numerous reasons I never tried my hand; the primary reason being that I could not roller skate.

Unlike the roller derby league in the American town I moved from, ARRG offered a beginners training programme—no skate experience required. So instead of caving under my anxiety, I walked my hairy ankles to Meadowbank that cold, rainy day in November 2015 and entered a gym of women who, no doubt, pushed through their own clouds of insecurity to be there.

Not only did you not need to know how to skate, you didn’t even need to own or rent gear. ARRG veteran skaters had kindly lent their personal gear for those who had signed up for the taster day.

So there I was, sat in a circle, strapped in borrowed, derby gear, not knowing a single gal, and feeling all kinds of insecure when I began to really notice the other women. I wasn’t sizing them up. I wasn’t comparing myself to them. I just took them in.

I was sure I would be the oldest, but I was not.
I was sure I would be the heaviest, but I was not.
I was sure I would be the clumsiest, but I was not.
And I was sure I would be the hairiest, but I was not.

I smiled in relief when I saw lots of hairy legs before me. Some women wore make-up. Some did not. Some had worn cute workout gear; others had not. Most importantly, we didn’t feel pressure to look a certain way to be active. None allowed insecurity to prevent them from attending. All of us wore the same brash look of determined uncertainty: we didn’t really have a clue what we were doing, but we were going to do it any way. We didn’t care how we looked doing it.

It was so much fun, and even though I fell on my butt, I came away feeling accomplished and excited to try again. I actually relished in not being good at it because I didn’t have to be good at skating, at least not right now. I could enjoy the process without the pressure of striving to be the best. I could be part of ARRG and be crap at skating—because frankly, I was and am absolutely crap at skating. And that’s okay, I was told. “Lots of us were”, some said—even those who now skate for Scotland. In our competitive adult world, especially one where women are forced to compete with and best each other, it’s nice to be crap at something and know your sister lending a hand is doing so with no ulterior motive.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to strap on skates for another year. Life had gotten in the way. By the time the following skate skills session opened, I was in my second semester of graduate school and unable to find the time. Then when the summer skate training rolled around, I was well into my dissertation writing. Then, a whole year later from my initial Taster Day, another skate skills intake announcement landed in my inbox. This time, I was a recent graduate, hitting the job market, and unable to front the £180 for the needed derby gear. I began to wonder if that November day was just a one-off. But nope, it wasn’t.

Thanks to Awards for All Scotland and the Big Lottery Fund, ARRG received funding to purchase loaner kits for new skaters unable to initially invest in the equipment. It gives women the opportunity to try something bold like Roller Derby and gain the confidence in having done so without the financial burden.

For me, it meant not having to sit out another skills skate intake, and finally joining ARRG, in whatever capacity that winds up being. For now, it simply means having fun, not allowing my looks determine my physical activity, and being surrounded by supportive women who are there for the same reasons.

Inspired by Lynda-Marie’s story? Be bold! Come along to our next Taster Day on the 9th April and start your own roller derby journey.

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International Women’s Day – Be Bold For Change

International Women’s Day – Be Bold For Change by Rhona Duff

For those Guilty Feminist podcast listeners out there – I’m a feminist but… why can’t I stop comparing myself to the ‘ideal body’? For everyone else, listen to the Guilty Feminist.

Exercise, for me, has never been out of necessity to lose weight, but to attain that increasingly unachievable perfect body we, as women, are encouraged to have. I have attended countless gym classes promising myself that this will be the one that inspires me to avoid pudding tonight and ‘tone up for summer’. Inevitably 3 weeks later I quit, realising this room of women facing literally a wall of mirrors just isn’t giving me the inspiration I was looking for. And then roller derby came along and changed my entire perspective on sport and exercise for women. Roller derby is not about toning up, gym bods or being ‘beach body ready’. Roller derby is about achieving something with your body and feeling good about it.

Upon recommendation of a friend (who, by the way, has inspired a fan club of 8 year old girls cheering her at every game – how cool is that?!) I sheepishly walked into a room of strangers for a roller derby taster session last December. I was fully prepared to have those same feelings of inferiority to the other women and probably fail miserably at being on wheels. However, the attitudes and camaraderie of roller derby that were encouraged upon us resulted in a genuinely friendly and supportive bunch of women that has continued to bond and progress week on week. I was no picture of elegance and sophistication on skates but by the end of the session I felt bloody awesome just being able to stay upright, and support my fellow newbies to do the same.

Following the taster session I looked into how I could join Skate Skills and be on my way to becoming a kickass derby queen, but was concerned about how I would manage financially. Thinking about buying kit for a sport that could end up like all of my other fitness endeavours (failures) was daunting. But then I found out about the loaner kits offered by ARRG, funded through The Big Lottery: Awards for All Scotland. These kits give those that would otherwise not be able to try roller derby the chance to have a go. Now I had no excuses.

Over the weeks I have become a red faced, out of breath, competitive, sweating, helmet-hair wearing skater – hardly feminine attributes. I turn up to training sniffling through a cold and bruised from falling on my arse last week because I know that I will feel good about what I achieve that day, even if it is just getting out of bed and putting skates on. I actually WANT to squat and lunge and plank on non-training days because I know it will help me get better at skating, not because it will give me that ‘beach body’ – let’s be serious I will always be addicted to chocolate.

Turning up to my first session I didn’t know what change I was being bold for but, so far, roller derby has changed my attitude towards how I should feel about my body and what it can do. Exercise for women doesn’t have to be about gym leggings and the 11 million #fitspo Instagram posts, rather achieving something, however big or small, and celebrating it. That’s not to say a good pair of leggings isn’t appreciated at training…


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Six ARRG skaters make Team Scotland bound for the Roller Derby World Cup

The final twenty skaters that will form the official Roller Derby Team of Scotland have been announced, including six skaters from Edinburgh’s Auld Reekie Roller Girls.

The six Edinburgh women fought off competition from thirty fellow Scottish skaters and battled through an intense six-month selection process which included international fixtures, intense training sessions and assessments to secure a coveted place on Team Scotland.

Skaters Lianne Parry (Crazylegs), Sharlotte Patterson, Rosie Peacock, Alison McNellis (Phoenix), Jess Little and Mandy Davis (Bangers) will now join their fellow teammates in what will be a gruelling twelve-month training period, as they prepare for the 2018 Roller Derby World Cup in Manchester.

The skaters had this to say on their selection to Team Scotland:

Lianne Parry (Crazylegs) said; “I’m just taking it all in – to be selected for one World Cup tournament is a very cool opportunity; to skate in 3 World Cup Tournaments – Toronto 2011, Dallas 2014 and now Manchester 2018 is pretty mind blowing!  I can’t wait to get stuck into team training, the squad looks really strong and we’ve been getting to know each other for the last few months so now the hard work begins.”

Sharlotte Patterson said; “It’s a huge privilege and honour to have been selected as part of the final Team Scotland squad; I remember watching league members going off to play for Scotland years ago and hoping one day that that would be me! Right from the start, skating with Auld Reekie Roller Girls has inspired me to push myself and really focus on my jamming skills. I will be so proud when the World Cup rolls around next year to be able to represent Scotland.”

Mandy Davis (Bangers) said: “I’m very excited to be a part of a strong Scottish team, representing our country at the World Cup in 2018.”

Alison McNellis (Phoenix) said: “Honestly I’m not sure what to say, it’s a shock and a complete honour to be selected. I will put everything I have into the training and world cup. I really can’t wait to share the track with the rest of the team!”

Jess Little said: “I’m hugely excited for the opportunity to play for Team Scotland and to continue training with the squad.”

Rosie Peacock said: “I am so proud of every skater who has made the final twenty for Team Scotland. We have all worked incredibly hard to get to this point, to get to know one another and gel as a team. We’ve already had several opportunities to play internationally and now coming up against team Ireland at EuroClash will present our next challenge and opportunity. I’m very excited about the progression of the team, now we can focus on specific roles and positions on track.” 

The team won’t have time to bask in their achievement as their first challenge comes swiftly in the form Team Ireland who they will face at the EuroClash Tournament in Newcastle on the 25th & 26th March.

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Roller Derby, a Community of Strength

Crash Kale-ision #612

It’s January and ARRG are back for the first training session of 2017. The familiar sound of wheels on the rubber sports court and whistles blowing drills makes me feel at home. Specifically it is the All Star Rookies (ASTROs) first team training for the new season. After victories away in Belfast and at our home tournament ARRGmageddon at the end of last year we are keen to be even stronger, more together and aggressive in our play this year. Today Vice-Captain Hoose is putting us through our paces transitioning around obstacles in tight spaces. Practice that will hopefully prove useful getting past tough walls of blockers when I jam in our next game against Newcastle’s North C’s on 28th January.

Crash in action against Belfast City Rockets

I started roller derby almost 2 years ago now after stumbling upon the Auld Reekie Roller Girls website. I read all the ‘Featured Skater’ posts and was struck by the way each skater clearly had mental & physical strength, self-confidence and an amazing community to be a part of. Having struggled with my physical and mental health for several years I didn’t have those things. But it seemed that the simple (or not so simple if you have never skated before like me) act of putting on some roller skates had something to do with those qualities so I signed up for the next beginners programme.

Fast forward to today and it feels like a very satisfying circle of events to be sitting here writing an ARRG blog. It hasn’t been easy. I remember attempting the 25/5 laps assessment countless times – thinking to myself ‘I can’t do this’ as I skated round the track. Then when I failed, on multiple occasions, I would endlessly criticize myself inside my head for ‘not being good enough’ and ‘always failing’. Eventually I did pass my laps and the day that I did I thought ‘I can do this!’ for the first time about anything in a very long time. (This why I now have #crashcan written on my helmet!) Since then I am eternally grateful for the way roller derby gives me a lens through which to observe how I react to challenge, failure, success, fear and insecurity and then the motivation to analyse those reactions to see if they are helpful, healthy or downright self-destructive. Mentality isn’t a substitute for hard work but I don’t think we can ever fulfil our potential (athletic or otherwise) unless we have constructive reactions to success, failure and everything in between. So it turns out that strapping on a pair of roller skates did have something to do with becoming mentally and physically stronger and more self-confident.



As for community my team the ASTROS are some of the best people I know. I am always happier after a training session with them because of our hardworking but fun and supportive team atmosphere. Our upcoming bout against Newcastle will be one of our most challenging games to date but we are ready. Our leadership team are an organisational and tactical powerhouse to die for and our roster is strong, confident and experienced.

We play to win but regardless of the outcome I hope we can take something from the game that makes us stronger, happier and better people. That’s why I started roller derby and why I keep coming back for more.

Come support Crash and her ASTRO team pals in action against Newcastle North C’s On Saturday 28th Jan! Get your tickets here.

Photo credit: Sara Marsden Photography

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Skate Skills 101 – Stepping in from the Cold

Stepping in from the Cold by Life Saber  

Life Saber

Since coming to Scotland from sunny Spain over nine years ago I thought I was fully used to the Scottish weather. However, there I was once again on the sofa playing videogames under my blanket. Another dark winter coming… And the low mood continued over the summer and then over autumn and back in winter again: work, sofa, work, sofa, work, sofa…

I kept thinking of getting fit again and improving my social life so I would break this bad cycle. I kept thinking of joining the Auld Reekie Roller Girls, the crazy Roller Derby girls which would inject my life with energy and an active lifestyle again. This thought was liberating. However, at first I was working different shifts so I could not commit to enough training sessions, then time passed and I was getting more and more unfit and my mind kept telling me I was crazy to even think I could attempt to stand on skates.

Then four years later, a week before my birthday, I saw an open taster day advertised again for skating near my house, this was a sign! No more excuses I thought. I have regular shifts now and free time and the training sessions are not too far. I immediately started overthinking, yes again… remembering that I had not skated since I was a child and that I had put on considerable amounts of weight since then! This time, I did not listen to any of that, not even the voice telling me I had the same agility as Pinocchio and would look like Bambi on ice. This time I just got myself to the first taster day and had no clue what I would find there.

What did I find? Well, above all I found my new passion. Many people there were experienced and very passionate about the sport. Others, like myself, were just looking down at their skates and trying to stay up. During the session I laughed, I felt frustrated, I fell various times but also learnt that falling means you are trying new things and pushing yourself. By the end of the session all I could see were smiles and I was committed to push myself and turn my body and mind into something powerful and to be proud of.

I explored a bit further and joined ARRG for their Skate Skills 101 programme to train weekly. That was not enough you see? I also read every single review on the Internet about wheels, skates, skate bags, knee pads etc until I found my first Fresh Meat kit. Nope, I did not stop there either, I booked myself in all social skate sessions and discos coming up and joined various social media pages with info and tips. And my favourite….. stickers, stickers, stickers! Yes, I became addicted.

Life alongside her fellow SS101 Pals

The training sessions are great! The support we receive from the returning skaters and also the trainers is outstanding and the comradery and banter makes the training more enjoyable. I still remember the first time they lined up some cones and helmets in front of us and just like that, it was time to learn to jump! That was petrifying at first but I will never forget the sense of achievement I felt and the big cheer I got when I jumped those helmets! And when I nailed my first crossover and when I was able to skate one more lap!

Some days if I feel down I remember what I felt when I went to my first Roller Derby match. The teams were so strong, agile and they were having so much fun. The atmosphere was fantastic and very infectious. I enjoyed it so much I am now volunteering for future events and getting involved in as many things as I can. My friends now keep mentioning how I use Roller Derby vocabulary more and more in every conversation!

I find Roller Derby suits me since I have always had a competitive mind and it gives me focus and determination. It is also very convenient because we train indoors so winter cannot get to me there! I had not done any regular exercise for over five years and since joining ARRG in September I can feel I am progressing and my body is changing every day. My friends tell me I look different, more positive and radiant. I do feel different, more empowered and determined. I now have a weekly routine where it is not just training but also a way to feel empowered, strong and have fun.

Inspired by Life’s story? Tempted to give roller derby a go? Do it! Email for details on our next new intake. 

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Backstage with the All Star Reserves

Cirque Du Slay #23  

Pre-Game Teamie Japes

I was already well into my game day when the audience watched the Auld Reekie Roller Girl All Star Reserves take to the track for our first jam against Granite City’s Northern Fights on Saturday. As usual, the team had met in our changing room hours before to start the process of preparing ourselves mentally and physically to be the most in sync, super-gelled, teamiest of teams.

This transformation involves a mixture of long-running ARRG traditions, season-specific Reserves rituals and one-off activities. So many of the anecdotes, in-jokes and rituals that gel teams together and make game days so special come from this period. I have bonded with various ARRG teamies reading anonymous nice comments they’ve written about me, constructing a web of (imaginary) wool to symbolise our (not imaginary) combined strength, playing with balloons perilously close to a row of shower heads and wildly waving my teamies’ arms around in a sort of charades by proxy (the clue was “winning”, obviously).

Motivational Post-its!

The masterminds behind all this excitement – i.e. the leadership team, spend hours rolling out this program of activities, corralling 15 people, doing their own game prep and trying to keep their cool when the umpteenth person asks them what’s the time/what time is the warm up/do they have time to go to the toilet? On Saturday this fine team consisted of co-captains Puke and Doom, Bench Coach Collie and Line Up Manager McPain, who kicked off Organised Team Fun by way of positive post-its. Everyone wrote their name on a post-it and their teamies filled it in by describing them in one word … beginning with the same letter as their name. In case you were wondering, this is quite hard, but it did produce some wonderfully creative and unconventional compliments (always lovely to hear your pal thinks you’re “civilised”).

Reserves’ Biggest Fan Award Trophy

The Reserves’ Biggest Fan Award trophy made an appearance: a beautifully constructed work of art and mechanical engineering which functions on occasion as an actual fan but has sadly proved poorly suited to the jet-set life required by our recent game schedule. It allows us to tell a teamie at each game who did something particularly awesome that We Are Your Biggest Fan! and would afterwards be handed over to an incredibly deserving new winner.

Next came the warm ups, off skates first and what better way to warm up than Strip the Willow? Even if it was far scarier than the roller derby – for my partner at least, pre-game adrenaline seemed to inspire the same wild zeal as the drunk finale of a ceilidh – but miraculously we all made it to the end of the music in one piece and pretty warm besides. Then in full kit, we continued to warm up our bodies and our brains, increase our communication and raise our aggression levels ready to play at 100% from the very first jam.

After being fired up by a final pep talk from Captain Puke, followed by our properly inspired team chant (Chant! Chant! Chant! HUH!!!), it was time for the first jam. I then played a bloody amazing game of roller derby as part of the most in sync, super-gelled, teamiest of teams and we won by 179 points to 99. Cos we were prepared and stuff. It was pretty fun.

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Pre-Game Thoughts from an ASTRO

Pummela #321

I joined Auld Reekie Roller Girls in May 2011 which seems like an age ago! Every time I think back to when I first put skates on, I laugh. I couldn’t stop or turn a corner and would often hit the wall if I got too cocky and went too fast. The first time I saw a game I thought – there’s no way I could ever do that. Now I’m playing for the All Star Rookies (ASTRO) and we have a game on Saturday against Mean City! This is the first time I’ve played in public with ASTRO so I’m incredibly excited. We were talking tactics at the weekend so I feel READY!

I didn’t actually play my first game of roller derby until roughly three years after I joined ARRG. Although I’ve skated intermittently during that time, I was around enough to see the sport evolve and keep my connections within the league. By which I mean keeping in touch with friends in the league and volunteering. The beauty of being part of a roller derby community is that whether or not you can skate, there’s always a place for you. You can be involved.

I passed the minimum skills after completing the fresh meat programme the first time. It was massively exciting to move up to skate ‘with the big girls’ as we affectionately called it at the time. All this amazing stuff was happening as I ignored increasing pain in my left hip. Eventually I couldn’t ignore it and it turned out I’d significantly damaged the inside of my hip joint so I needed surgery. That was all fine and I would come back and play again when I was better.

When that time came and it was a shock. I couldn’t do what I could before and I had gained a lot of weight. There’s a rule in the roller derby community that you should never compare your progress to others. It’s sound advice but I went beyond that and compared my recovery to other people’s recovery! My confidence was low and I came close to quitting all together. I accepted that if I wanted to play, I had to work for it so I took another few months off to strengthen each bit of my body and mind that needed to be strong.  When I returned again, I struggled through the minimum skills test and eventually passed after countless attempts. When I moved to intermediate I thought ‘that’ll do’ but I then progressed to advanced training, then soon after I got selected for the All Star Reserves. When I got the email offering me a place, I may have cried a little.

After that amazing experience I’ve had some other obstacles to tackle such as depression which made playing roller derby that wee bit harder. I took another break. I take a lot of breaks but I know that’s OK. If that’s what it takes to keep me playing, that’s fine. When ARRG decided to create the ASTROs I was incredibly excited. A great opportunity arose for me and I was lucky to get a place. I feel really at home in this team and whenever I feel that I should be progressing better or faster I remind myself that I almost quit once and had I done that, I wouldn’t have proved that a big person like me could be athletic, I wouldn’t have achieved what I wanted, I wouldn’t have met so many amazing people and I wouldn’t be playing with the ASTROs on Saturday.

Pummela alongside her fellow ASTROs take on Mean City Roller Derby this Saturday. Full game details via Mean City’s Facebook page. 

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