Open Day Story to Success Story! (Grazed Anatomy)

Before the game on Saturday against Dundee Roller Derby, we decided to catch up with Grazed Anatomy (still one of my all-time favourite derby names!) aka Rachel, before she puts on her gold uniform for the first time to represent Kent. We first me her back in August last year in one of our Open Day Stories and we wanted to see how she’s getting along…

” Update: I made it!! I passed my minimum skills back in November 2017, six months from my first time on skates. Now I get to train with main league twice a week, and learn to be part of a proper derby team! I’m loving getting to put the skills I learned back in Rec league to the test, and developing new ones with my team mates. I love getting to practice drills, and the best part of training is scrimmage on Sunday! ”

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” It was weird to begin with, drawing numbers on my arms and getting to play, rather than NSO, but I love the adrenaline rush it gives me. I always come away from training buzzing and with a huge smile on my face! Outside of derby, skating has well and truly taken over my life! I’m still skating outdoors as much as I can, and I’ve just started a new chapter of Chicks in Bowls here in Kent, where some of us are learning to Ramp skate! ”

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” Now that I’m in main league, I can’t wait to get to play my first game in Gold for the Knightmares, KRG’s B team. I’ve already played my first rookie game (I was on Team Thor), and I was awarded Most Valuable Player, which was a huge honour! ”

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” Now that we’re approaching my first official KRG game, I’m nervous, but excited. We’ve been drilling hard, and I can’t wait to skate out with my team mates and show our opponents what we’re made of! The best part is that I get to play alongside some of my best buddies. We learned to skate together, and I know we’ll have each others’ backs! ”

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” I still like coming to help and watch at Rec league sessions, it’s fantastic to see everyone progressing and enjoying the sport as much as I do. I’d like to get in to a bit of coaching too, maybe I’ll get to train the new faces of KRG someday! ”

Tickets are available online (£8) or on the door (£12). Doors open at 12.30. Come and join us at The Bay Sports Arena, Bullockstone Road, Herne Bay, CT6 7NS to see two awesome games and enjoy the atmosphere of our legendary home games!

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Kent Train Hard Before Dundee Game

Kent Roller Girls take on Dundee Roller Derby at the Bay Sports Arena on September the 22nd.  After their summer break, Kent have got back to training harder than ever and have been working together to perfect their formations. Photographer Steve James joined us last Sunday to see us in action before the game.

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Lead jammer for Tenacious while Knightmares vice captain Grymkhana braces the defensive wall.

Roller Derby is one of the world’s fastest growing sports. It is a full-contact sport played on quad skates, with roots going all the way back to banked track roller marathons in the 50’s and American TV shows RollerGames and RollerJam in the 80’s and 90’s which featured pro-wrestling style choreographed combat on skates!

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The All Stars’ captain Commander Pain Shepard is making Trauma Trevor’s scoring pass difficult. 

Gone are the choreographed bouts of the TV shows; this is now a serious, tactical and hard-hitting sport. That said, a sense of fun is retained; there is still a strong feminist/DIY ethos and many players adopt humorous pseudonyms. Pictured below we have some great examples of these – DreadBlock, Fear Khan, Glitch and Pain Austen.

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DreadBlock who is also known as Chantel in the non-derby world, has only recently become a full member of KRG’s main league and playing Dundee will be her first opportunity to play competitively. We found out how she was feeling before the big day:

“I’m feeling really excited, a little bit nervous. It feels like it’s been a long journey to get here but its been a fun one that has pushed me mentally, physically and emotionally. My parents and siblings are coming up to support me in my first game so I hope to make them proud. My mum will be the one in the crowd waving the Jamaican flag!”

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Chip jams against a mix of A team and B team blockers.

Kent’s B team, the Knightmares, will be taking to the track with a few more brand new faces. Mama MoHito is not only the captain for this game, but has also been in charge of coaching rec league this year so she’s become very familiar with the newer skaters. She hopes that knowing these skaters from the first time they strapped on skates right up until their first game will help them communicate and work together better as one unit.

“I’m so proud and excited to be chosen as captain for this game. I love that I’ve been able to see these skaters get stronger and more confident each week. The transition from Rec League to playing competitively can be a daunting experience but I really feel like the team we’ve put together for this game is ready for the challenge!”

i-sd5XkTV-XLMama MoHito, pictured with the big M on her shiny helmet.

Kent and Dundee have never met before on the track making it hard to predict who will be victorious and since the teams are so close in the UKRDA rankings (Dundee are 27th and Kent are 29th) it’s guaranteed to be exciting! KRG may also have some insider information in the form of skater Autopsy Turvey who transferred from Dundee earlier in the season. Can her knowledge of the team give Kent’s blockers and jammers the edge? Or will the Dundee skaters be saving their biggest hits just for her?!

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All smiles after a tough session and a bruising scrimmage.

Kent Roller Girls are Kent’s longest established team, formed in 2010 by founding member Demi Lition, who you can see in action along with the rest of the team on the 22nd, when KRG’s A and B teams take on Dundee’s A and B teams.

Tickets are £8 in advance, buy them online here, or £12 on the door, under 12’s go free. Doors open at 12.30.

Thanks for the great photos Steve! See you at the game!

Kent Roller Girls Marathon Challenge

On Sunday 29th July, a car-full of Kents drove to Dorney Lake in Berkshire in the pouring rain, strapped on their skates and skated over 26 miles each for charity. This may seem crazy to many people but with fundraisers we’re always aiming for ‘the crazier the better’ and this time it paid off, quite literally! So far our marathon skaters have raised over £500 for Pilgrim’s Hospices, our chosen charity this year, with more donations still trickling in.

The influx of donations for the skaters has pushed KRG over this years target of £750. With 5 months and many more charity events already planned, the team have now increased their target to £1000. The generosity and support from team-mates, friends and family definitely kept the marathon team going as they battled the elements.

We interviewed each of the marathon skaters to find out how and why they took on this marathon challenge.

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Name: Shep (Commander Pain Shepard)
What wheels did you skate on?
Reckless Envy Hybrid wheels (80A)… Fun fact, I skated indoors on these for the first few months of my derby life, and wondered why I couldn’t slide!
How many marathons (if any) have you done before?
This was my second.
Do you do a lot of outdoors skating?
Not as much as I’d like to. I like skating along sea fronts, but usually the paths aren’t quite smooth enough.
Why did you want to do a marathon?
I really wanted to raise money for our charity, Pilgrim’s Hospice, as my family knows first-hand just how invaluable hospice services are.
How was it?
It was tough! The wind and rain made it much harder than my first marathon, but I couldn’t have asked for more supportive people to be skating with. I’d particularly like to thank Meg, who skated an extra lap to keep me company on the final 4km (even though she’d already finished!).
Any tips from your experience to pass on?
Fuel yourself properly the day before and the morning of the marathon, and keep drinking plenty of water throughout. My best advice though is to skate alongside your friends, because they make the hard miles feel much shorter!

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Name: Kim (Mortal Kimbat)
What wheels did you skate on?
88s on crappy old Riddell skates (probably my 1st mistake!).
How many marathons (if any) have you done before?
When it comes to on skates marathons, I was a virgin, but I’ve done one on feet before.
Do you do a lot of outdoors skating?
Outdoor skating is a bit hit and miss for me – just once this summer; I managed 15 miles to make sure I was semi-ready for the marathon.
How was it?
I think the weather was the worst part of it – tackling the driving rain/wind. I was surprised at the hills too, I assumed it’d be pretty flat. The first 7 laps were ok, the last 4 were tough.
Any tips from your experience to pass on?
Rest and eat well the night before, make sure you have snacks, plenty of water, music and blister plasters to keep you going and be prepared for all weather!

The author would just like to point out that whereas Kim’s tips are all brilliant, she didn’t actually do any of them!

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Name: James (JC)
What wheels did you skate on?
78 kryptonic’s (not the good ones) with my old bont hybrid boot.
How many marathons (if any) have you done before?
I’ve done one other marathon on skates.
Do you do a lot of outdoors skating?
I like to skate outside, my knee does not…
Why did you want to do a marathon?
I like to try and push myself and at the moment this is about as hard as it gets for me.
How was it?
In all honesty, it was terrible after the first 26km but that’s down to the knee. The weather was shocking too; hail is not marathon weather!
Any tips from your experience to pass on?
I’d say take friends with you. It’s surprising how much having supportive people around you can help. The guys this time where brilliant (even on my last two snail pace laps).

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Name: Jenna (Sharpe)
What wheels did you skate on?
Really old, really big, really soft 76s; they’re like tires for your skates!
How many marathons (if any) have you done before?
This is my third marathon overall but my first one post knee reconstruction.
Do you do a lot of outdoors skating?
I love outdoor skating but sadly rarely get the time or weather for it! I love the cycle track at Betteshanger park though, there’s so much space to pick up speed and you often see bunnies and squirrels!
Why did you want to do a marathon?
I wanted to do the marathon for two reasons. Firstly I knew I could raise a lot of money for Pilgrim’s Hospices and it would be a great opportunity to show people just how passionate I am about supporting this charity. Secondly, I wanted to prove to myself that my body and my knee were still (almost) as good as they were pre knee op.
How was it?
I completed it in 3hours and 12 minutes, not my best time and not my slowest. The weather was horrific and I still managed to get sunburn even through the cloud and rain! I honestly couldn’t have done it with a better bunch of people though, I think that’s what kept me going!
Any tips from your experience to pass on?
Number 1: Bumbags are cool. Number 2: My ‘power flapjack’ recipe for when you need an energy boost: Melt 125g Butter, 150g Soft brown sugar, 125g peanut butter and 75g golden syrup in a pan. Pour over 200g Porridge oats and 150g of any dried fruit or nuts you have lying around (I used pecans and cranberries this time). Bake at 160 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

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Name: Meg (Shut Up Meg)
What wheels did you skate on?
78s Atoms
How many marathons (if any) have you done before?
2
Why did you want to do a marathon?
I love a challenge and I love skates and friends. It’s the best combo!
How was it?
Amazing. I love skating, I clocked 24kmph at one point.
Any tips from your experience to pass on?
Just push yourself and eat loads! Carb load the night before and make sure to eat enough sugar while skating. It’s vital or you’ll run out of energy. Also do some cool down at the end and set a time to complete to motivate yourself. Did I mention… I love skating?!

If you would like to add to Kent Roller Girls’ total for their chosen charity this year then keep an eye out for our upcoming fundraising events or head over to our JustGiving page and donate a couple of quid!

For more info on the roller marathon organisers and their other events, check out South East Roller Disco’s Facebook page.

Open Day Story to Success Story! (Glitch)

Meet Sam, or Glitch to the rest of the team. Oh wait, you already met her almost a year ago, when she was telling us all about her Open Day Story! Glitch had heard about KRG about a month before she managed to find the courage to give it a try. We find that a lot of our newbies are nervous to begin with, like with any new experience, so we try our hardest to make sure it’s a fun and welcoming experience when they turn up to the Open Day.

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“I have been with KRG for almost two years now. I joined after attending the Open Day back in October 2016 and finally passed my minimum skills on 27 May 2018 – Woohoo! I am currently on my probation period in main league then I’ll officially graduate into the B team for Kent Roller Girls, known as the Knightmares.

Training to play and compete in this crazy-fabulous sport has been such an amazing journey, and one I will treasure forever. When I look back at the times I almost gave up because I couldn’t get a skill nailed, or felt I would never be good enough, I am so proud that I didn’t let those thoughts win and I have finally made it into main league life!”

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Whilst in our Recreational League, Glitch also dedicated a lot of her time to being an NSO (non-skating official), helping officiate bouts and scrimmages. She found it was a great opportunity to learn the rules as well as getting a front row seat to all the derby action!

“I have worked really hard every week in training and I am so thankful to all the KRG coaches and my fellow reccies for their time, encouragement, support and just pure awesomeness that has helped me reach my goal. I know that one day soon I will get to represent my team on track in the famous black and gold. So exciting!”

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“Now that I have passed my minimum skills I get to compete in rookie bouts to get game experience and continue my learning and training, as that will never stop just because I’ve now passed the minimum skills. There is still so much to learn, practice and improve. I still have a bad habit of checking out the floor and what my feet are doing. I am trying to break this habit and look up more; as my teammates say when they catch me looking down “the floor is still blue!”

As soon as I passed in May I popped my rookie bout cherry a couple of weeks later playing for Team 90’s in a bout hosted in Cambridge on Sat 9th June. It was the most amazing feeling and I can assure you that all the hard work you put into training is totally worth it. The buzz you get from being out there on track in front of a crowd is so exhilarating!”

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“I hope that if you’ve been thinking about giving Roller Derby a try, you go for it like I did. It’s so rewarding to achieve something in sports. This was way out of my comfort zone and I didn’t know anyone when I joined, but look at me now – a skater with a rookie bout ticked off the bucket list and a whole heap of new buddies that I get to hang with twice a week!”

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Come and get your skates on at our next Free Open Day or just come along to find out more if you don’t fancy getting physical straight away. We’ll be at The Bay Arena on Sunday 8th July waiting for you to join us and start your epic KRG adventure!

Photos by Benjamin Valsler

Rainbow Tie-Dye Your Scrim Shirts

Bored of black vs white scrimmages? Are your old white scrim tops more of a grey colour after spending their life in your kit bag? Want to show off your true colours during Pride month? We’ve got the perfect craft project for you!

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You will need:
White T-shirt or vest (cotton or cotton blend will always work best) with your team logo on the front
Powder dyes suitable for tie dyeing (I use Procion MX dyes)
Soda ash dye fixer
Squeezy bottles (yep, like the ones you get ketchup in!)
Marker pen (optional)
Elastic bands
Rubber gloves
Sandwich bags/carrier bags
Newspaper/plastic sheet to stop you dyeing the floor!
Water
Bucket

First things first, wash your shirt! If it’s an old shirt, you’ll want to get all the sweat and derby grime out of it, but also, if its a brand new shirt it could have chemicals left in it from the manufacturing/printing process. There’s no need to dry the shirt, just move straight on to the next step.

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Soak! You want to soak your shirts for at least 30 minutes in a mixture of soda ash and warm water. The instructions on the pack tend to say 1 cup of soda ash per gallon of water. Mix it together in a big bucket until it dissolves and then add your shirts.

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Spin your shirts in a washing machine or squeeze out the liquid by hand. Once your shirt is no longer dripping, drape it over your hand, logo down, with your index finger in the centre of your team logo. Let the t-shirt cover your hand and pinch the top of the fabric where your finger is. Secure with an elastic band.

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Start to ‘tie’ your shirt up with elastic bands! You can do this by wrapping the bands irregularly around the shirt until you end up with a kind of unicorn horn. Or you can divide the shirt into even sections with the elastic bands.

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Now to make the dyes! In the squeezy bottles, with gloves on, mix the dye power with warm water, shaking to mix. The dyes I use recommend 2 teaspoons of the dye powder to 8oz of water. More dye will create a deeper colour and more water will create a pastel effect. To be honest, I just eyeball it! I love mixing the dyes to create new colours too!

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This next step is optional, but I always write on each bottle what colour it is. The dyes don’t always look the same as the colour they’re supposed to be!

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It’s time to dye! With your tied up shirt on newspaper or a plastic sheet, start with a nice light colour and apply the dye to the tip. Now work your way along the colours of the rainbow (I go for either YORVIBG or I add in a bit of pink PRVIBGYO) making sure you add enough dye to penetrate through all the fabric, but not leave it saturated and dripping. Bigger t-shirts will take more dye than smaller ones. The type of fabric can also effect how much dye is soaked up.

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Now the hardest part for me: wait. Put each shirt into its own plastic bag, taking care to not let the different coloured areas touch each other and leave the dye to do its thing for 4 – 24 hours… It’s so hard! I just want to see what it looks like! The longer you leave the dye the stronger the colours will be and the less chance they have to wash out.

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24 hours later it’s finally time to rinse them out. Untie the elastic bands or cut them off if you’re impatient. I find it’s best to do this stage in the shower or with a tap running so you can rinse as you untie and avoid any unwanted dye splodges. If you’re just doing the one shirt you can rinse it out really well by hand, until the water runs clear, and it’ll be ready to wear as soon as it’s dry. If you’re doing an entire Pride parade’s worth then I find it much easier to stick the whole lot in the washing machine on a quick cycle!

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Leave your new creation to dry and it’ll be ready to wear and wow all your derby pals!

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Kent Roller Girls will be taking part in the Canterbury Pride parade on Saturday 9th June and enjoying the entertainment in the Dane John park afterwards. Say hi if you see us and grab a free rainbow sticker and a flyer for our next FREE Open Day!

Kent Roller Girls Dominate Portsmouth Roller Wenches

Kent Roller Girls supporters turned out in force to cheer on the All-Stars and the Kent B team The Knightmares at the Bay Arena in the second home game of the season on Saturday. The A team won with 266 points to Portsmouth Roller Wenches’ 189, defying predictions and causing KRG to leapfrog PRW in the European rankings.

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Fielding their power line-ups from the start, Kent looked uncompromising throughout, and after some high-scoring power jams they were comfortably winning at half time, taking 119 points to Portsmouth’s 90. Kent effectively blocked the opposing jammer (point-scorer), holding them back from scoring in a total of 16 jams, in a game of 19 jams. Notable efforts from Demi Lition and Helen Degenerate elicited post-game awards from Portsmouth, in recognition of the Kent’s blockers’ ability to hold the inside and outside line and cover the track.

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Kent’s enviable line-up of jammers show-cased a masterclass of footwork, agility and speed and the combination of favourable jammer match-ups and multiple Portsmouth penalties allowed them to dominate.

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In the second game of the season for Kent’s B team, Portsmouth put up a great fight but were no match for the solid line-up that included friends of the team, due to injury before the game. Fear Khan and Mortal Kimbat showed their strength as jammers for the Kent side, and we look forward to seeing more of them in future bouts.

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The final score for the B team game was 286-163 to Kent’s victorious Knightmares.

Kent Roller Girls will be hosting a free open day on July 8th at their home venue The Bay Sports Arena in Herne Bay. This will be an opportunity to find out more about the league, watch a training game (scrimmage) and even try some basic skills on skates! For more information, visit our Facebook page.

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Photography by Dik Ng

Mental Health Awareness Week

It’s been Mental Health Awareness Week this week and it got us thinking about how important it is to take time out from your day to day life and look after yourself. For many of us, roller derby is that escape; from work stress, family drama, our own negative thoughts and keeping up with the unrealistic expectations that get put on us.

We collected a few statements from people within our league that talk about the struggles they face and how roller derby fits into their self-care routine.

“My dad was murdered November 2013 and struggled hard to cope with such a tragic loss at the age of 25. I started roller derby to help me focus on something whilst the court proceedings were going on. I went to KRG’s open day in Jan 2014. Once mins passed I picked the number 29 to mark the day I lost my dad, but gained a second family who put up with my ups and downs. They all helped me with the toughest time of my life and I owe them so much. I still have so many bad days, I’m not judged, instead I’m flooded with messages of support and all the hugs I ever need. My Roller buddies are my therapy and an important part of my life.”

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Sometimes you don’t have to have experienced trauma in your life, your body and brain just stop functioning the way you’d like them too. This next skater uses roller derby to escape from everyday stress and keep their life on track.

“Roller Derby has been such a positive influence for me, it has given me a healthy form of escapism. All through my 20’s I suffered with my mental health “stress triggered depression” which basically means if things get bad I can fall apart and just stop functioning. It then takes everything in me to fight that and, to be begin with, fake being ok, until I actually feel ok again. There have been 3 particularly bad episodes the last of which was around the time I started Roller Derby. Focusing on passing mins, that tricky footwork, endurance and that pesky rules test! Aiming to throw hits and play some derby meant I could forget all the other crap for a bit – and didn’t need to be at all fake about it.

Now, 2 years in, I’ve discovered a huge percentage of derby players suffer in a similar way -and they’re not afraid to talk about it! (Which was often an issue in the “real” world). With this amazing support group, of alternative people who are just accepted for who they are, I’m successfully coming off medication and am feeling stronger – physically and mentally than ever before.”

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Not being afraid to talk about mental health is such an important part of the battle. It not only helps to give sufferers a voice to explain how they feel, but starting discussions about mental health can also help to normalise such conditions. In our league we have appointed welfare officers to talk to struggling skaters.

“As I’m off skates at the moment I wanted to still try and contribute to my league. I had a baby 4 months ago and being inactive has been a real challenge for me, I’m a yoga teacher, so along with Derby I’m active everyday and I can really relate to impact of finding yourself without the anchor of physical activity and the role it plays in maintaining mental health. But for now healing and taking things slowly is what’s right for me. So I hope I can help other skaters if they need to chat during time off skates due to injury (9 month or otherwise). In my job as a yoga teacher, one of my specialisms is working in recovery, physically and along with mental health professionals treating young people healing from addiction, eating disorders and trauma.”

Anxiety is normal for anyone trying something new, but when you start having these feelings regularly, triggered by the smallest thought or situation then it can seriously affect your life.

“Before I started roller derby, I was in a bad place mentally as my course was very stressful and I had no healthy outlet. I was so anxious that I found talking to new people terrifying and actively avoided social situations. It was so bad that I had to watch two recreational league sessions before I joined in because I was too nervous to put skates on. However, once I got brave enough, I found that everyone was lovely and I grew in confidence each week. I gained the strength to quit my course, found a job that I love, and progressed with skating the whole time. I’m now captain of the All Stars and lead regular recruitment open days, where I’m talking to lots of new people all at once. Roller derby has given me confidence and an outlet for other stresses, meaning that my mental health is the best it’s been in a long time.”

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A common theme for roller derby players, in our league particularly, is using the sport as a form of stress relief. Regardless of what is causing stress in your life, for some reason skating fast and hitting other people really puts it all into perspective!

“So I guess I found roller derby a massive support while writing my thesis, back home skating with Limerick Roller Derby. They gave me something to look forward to twice a week where I could just switch off from writing and data analysis. Honestly don’t know how I would have coped without it. I think from there roller derby has given me a second identity. A mechanism to be myself, as well as more physically and mentally fit.

It’s not constant though, sometimes I struggle with the sport. Lots of very strong people (in all meanings of the word) with different friendship groups and a full contact sport can be sometimes an anxious environment. However, there are always friendly faces and people around to boost you and vice versa. Also even if you don’t skate the environment is fun and generally positive. There have definitely been nights I enter the sports hall feeling glass half empty and leave a couple hours later feeling glass half full. It’s a very important sport both physically and mentally for me – so I guess… thank you derbyverse!”

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Thank you to everyone who volunteered their stories for this article. It’s hard to talk about yourself, it’s even harder to talk about things we don’t particularly understand or like about ourselves. In KRG we will always encourage our members to talk about their feelings and let someone know if they are struggling. We know we are a support network for so many people and we respect that.

Look after yourselves. Look after each other. #MHAW18

Photos taken by Michael East at some of our open days – keep your eyes peeled for our next one, it’s coming soon! You can also see the All Stars and Knightmares in action next week vs Portsmouth Roller Wenches! Check out the Facebook event here!