Category Archives: Recreational League

Open day stories #2 – Amy’s story

KRG are holding our next open day evening on September 3rd at our home track, the Bay Arena in Herne Bay. To celebrate we’ve asked previous open day attendees to tell us their stories…

Amy’s story:

“After being with Kent Roller Girls Rec League for the best part of 8 months now, I have confidently come to the conclusion that Roller Derby makes EVERYTHING hurt! So “why join?” you ask? Well, for whatever reason I had decided to watch “Whip It!” with my husband one evening and whilst watching it I decided “yeah, I could have a go at that!”. The reasons in my head being: I can hit hard I reckon. I’d ridiculously forgotten about strapping 8 wheels to my feet and trying to maintain some centre of gravity!
So with that, I then searched Google (other search engines are available) to see if there was a roller derby league near me. There was! KRG. I was really bloody nervous about the open day. I even put off asking about it for maybe two weeks. I’m not fit, I’m a rather large human, a bit rotund I suppose, I get nervous around new people and do an internal fear vomit. But I needed this. I needed something for me. I messaged and do you know what, I’ve never had someone put my fears to bed so quickly. I felt wanted, I felt needed and I didn’t feel ashamed.

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Amy at the open day

Leading up to the open day I was so nervous. I bought myself a cheap mouth guard and was ready to go. It was here, 23rd October 2016. I picked up my buddy and off we went, we both got there, crapping our pants in all honesty. I looked at the windows by the reception for The Bay and there were 3 faces looking out, smiling and genuinely pleased to see us. They came and met us at the door, introduced themselves, said hello and guided us to the sort of “check in” point to sign waivers and kit up.

Kitting up, well…. not being small, I already began to get nervous, count myself out. I remember saying that I could just watch but inside I was dying. But they didn’t give up. They didn’t let me sit out. They told me they needed me. This meant the entire world and after searching and trying on several pads and being disheartened, they found me some that fitted. I didn’t have to sit out, I wasn’t counted out. They’d already won me over.
We went into the hall, there were probably about 15 of us for the open day I attended. We did some warm up stuff, jogging on the spot, stretches, you get the idea. Then we did some off skates skills like how to fall safely with one knee, two knees, falling small. (things like that will make more sense when you come along.) Truth be told, I was already knackered. Things (I cant call them muscles at this point) were burning, I was sweating out. Then came the skates. Everyone else put them on fine, stood up, sure a few people fell or wobbled….ME? I couldn’t even get off the floor. I simply wasn’t fit or strong enough. I was crawling around the floor like an adult baby in all honesty. I could not get up. I was struggling. I was doubting. I was beginning to quit. “I cant do this, maybe I shouldn’t try, why did I come here?” All those feelings of being the fat kid at school who was picked last for P.E were coming back.

Then came Helen. She gave me a pep talk, looked after me, held my hand, literally. She was as determined to get me off the floor as I was.

After many “I can’t do this”-es I was up. I was standing!! (note: don’t get over excited as you will fall on your bloody bum!) I was back on the floor. I was flipping tired. I’d used muscles i didn’t even know I had and they were burning. I got up maybe a couple of more times but I had to admit defeat. However, I felt like I’d had a small victory. Getting up was a massive deal for me.

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Getting ready for a hit

It was time for cake, you will learn, derby = cake. There was all sorts, vegan, non vegan, gluten free, sprinkles! All were made but the existing league members for all us coming along to the open day. There was black and gold bunting, some merch.. I was completely overwhelmed but in the best way. Then us newbies all sat down and they went round and we all introduced ourselves to each other. I felt accepted as I was and completely welcomed.
Scrim time!! WE GOT TO WATCH A SCRIM! This was all very exciting, we got a brief introduction to the rules and who’s who etc. It was great to watch. The gang at KRG are so fierce. So hard working and completely determined. It was inspiring to watch.
I went home, sunk into my sofa already wishing it was next sunday…30 minutes later I went to get up… EVERYTHING HURT! I had butt ache?!! I didn’t even know that was a thing, I had aches on aches on aches. I made weird noises when I sat down, i couldn’t get up… This went on for 3 days so take this as a warning! However when Sunday came around, I wasn’t nervous anymore, I was so excited. We got there, we were remembered, kitted up and put into groups depending on level so no-one is asked to do anything out of their level…
Now remember I said I couldn’t get off the floor? Well, inevitably I fell, managing to stay upright for 30 seconds was brilliant but now I was down, I needed to get back up! You know what!? I only went and did it! I got off the bloody floor!!

 

With the support and guidance of all the coaches, main leaguers, other reccies and my new little family, I am actually half way through my level 2 minimum skills.

 

There are 3 tiers of skill levels you need to pass before you can try out for the team. I never even thought I’d make it through level 1!

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A well deserved award for Amy

If you’re looking for something that will test you, emotionally and physically, because doing things out of your comfort level is hard. If you’re looking to make new friends who will have your back, push you, look after you when you’re having a bad day. If you’re looking for something to do whenever you can fit it in or want something to completely commit to. Roller Derby is definitely for you. It is one of the best things I have ever, ever done and it’s changed so much about me for the positive. Not just my mind or my attitude, but most brilliantly of all: It gives you a cracking bum! Come along and try it out!”

 

If you’d like to come along to our next open day, check out the Facebook event or send us an email at recruitment@kentrollergirls.com

Open day stories #1 – Rachel’s story

KRG are holding our next open day evening on September 3rd at our home track, the Bay Arena in Herne Bay. To celebrate we’ve asked previous open day attendees to tell us their stories…

Rachel’s story:

“I’d been aware of roller derby as a concept for a while, but had assumed it was largely an American sport and dismissed it as a possibility. After seeing an advert for another UK team in the programme at an NFL game in London, my interest was piqued, and following a bit of internet searching, I came across Kent Roller Girls. They had an open day coming up, so I decided I’d go along. I’d done a lot of sport growing up, and did fencing whilst at University, but since moving down to Kent for work five years ago I had become quite sedentary.

I went to the open day alone, and was quite nervous. I’m not the fittest, or most athletically built, and was worried that I wouldn’t fit in, or would be judged for my appearance and ability. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

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Rachel (in the green helmet) at the open day

From the moment I stepped into the gym, I was greeted by friendly faces, everyone seemed welcoming and genuinely wanted to help and share their sport with all the newbies. After getting kitted up, we started off by learning how to fall safely, then progressed to basic skating skills. It struck me how varied all the other skaters were, and also how they all seemed to be smiling and encouraging one another. No one was left behind, and everyone was encouraged to participate as fully as they felt they could. After skating, we had a discussion about roller derby, and everyone introduced themselves.

There was then a chance to watch the main league skaters scrimmage, which gave us our first taste of Roller Derby action. I was hooked.

 

Fast forward four months, and I can’t believe how much skating has changed my life. I’m still not the most athletic, but I have a stronger core, better muscles, and I feel much more confident about my appearance than I have done in years. I’m signing off skills regularly, am half a lap short of my ‘27 in 5’, and am looking forward to working more on hits and blocking skills.

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Lacing up the skates for the first time

I’m improving my stamina by skating as much as I can in my spare time, which is improving my fitness in other areas too. I’d like to progress to main league, and get involved in the B team as soon as possible.

I’d like to become a bit of a double threat, as both a blocker and a jammer.

 

I’ve met so many like-minded people since joining KRG, and made many lifelong friends. I’m getting involved in the social aspects too, attending events, promoting the league, and supporting our team at games whenever I can.

I’m also learning to NSO, which is helping me learn the rules of derby. I’ve also picked my derby name. I’m Grazed Anatomy #133, after the TV show, but apt because in ‘real life’ I’m a veterinary surgeon (I also fall over a lot, so the ‘grazed’ applies more than it should!). My number is a tribute to my Mum, who was always my biggest supporter.

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Loving a bit of sock derby during a Recreational League training session

The thing I think has struck me most about KRG though, is the sense of camaraderie between the members. Everyone supports one another, and we all celebrate each other’s successes. After every training session, people thank the coaches, and congratulate other skaters on their achievements. No one is too busy to offer pointers, or lend a hand if needed. The league motto ‘Hustle, Unite, Commit’ definitely applies.”

If you’d like to come along to our next open day, check out the Facebook event or send us an email at recruitment@kentrollergirls.com

Do you just want your body back?

Kent Roller Girls rec league member, Abi, talks about what roller derby has done for her and the healthy, positive effect it’s had on her body image. The original post for this can be found on her blog here:  http://www.likereallifeblog.com/2017/06/01/do-you-just-want-your-body-back/

 

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“January was six months ago, so it’s kind of weird to talk about New Year’s resolutions, but this year mine was quite simple really. I just wanted to be happier, so one of the first things I did was that I quit my gym membership.

If you enjoy going to the gym then I am genuinely very happy for you. Some people really do, but for me I just felt it was something I was doing for some kind of end result rather than because I actually liked it in any way.

Also, it was just a waste of money because with two young children I hardly had anytime to actually go. I joined thinking I could do crazy things like getting up super-duper early and going before the school run, but that never really worked out because my husband can’t do any morning school runs. I went a few times in the morning before work or on my way home if I’d done an early shift, but I was just totally exhausting myself. Squeezing a knackering workout into the edges of my day was not making me feel good and I think mainly because I was not having fun, at all, in any way while I was there.

I even tried a session with a personal trainer to try and help motivate me a bit more. It was slightly humiliating at the initial assessment. We went to a little corner of the gym where there were some scales and a battered looking desk in an alcove. On the wall of the alcove were several motivational posters with pictures of muscly looking men on them, jogging next to flaky looking women wearing full make up and a push-up sports bra.

She weighed me and I winced at the number. I was at least two stone heavier than before I started having children.

I think she may have measured me a bit around the belly and the thighs as well and also we had to go through this massive form together about what I eat, how much alcohol I drink and how active I am during the day. She asked me if I already did any other sports.

‘No,’ was the answer.

‘I mean, I used to go running quite a bit,’ I said. ‘I wanted to try rugby a while ago but I was always pregnant or breastfeeding so I thought it might be a bit dangerous for me and I used to do long distance running, but I don’t really have the time now and it’s just difficult fitting it in around the kids and stuff so . . .’

I looked at the picture of the wall of the woman jogging. She didn’t look like she made any excuses about not fitting runs in.

She also looked like a total knob.

‘And what are your aims?’ The personal trainer asked me. ‘What do you really want to get out of coming to the gym?’

‘Mmmm . . . well . . . I just want to feel like . . . sort of . . .  I just want to feel a bit better I suppose. I want to feel stronger and just like I am moving around a bit more. I dunno.’

I stared off into the middle distance. I couldn’t quite say what it was that I wanted to achieve.

‘Do you just want to get your body back?’ She asked me.

I looked at her.

She was so young and slim and beautiful and her eyes held the brightness of the kind of human being who gets at least seven to eight hours unbroken sleep a night on a consistent basis.

‘My body back?’

‘Yes, you know?’ She sort of motioned towards the extra weight I was carrying around my middle. ‘Do you just really want to get your body back? Like . . . erm . . . do you just want to look like you did before you had kids?’

‘Erm, I dunno. I don’t think I can really do that and also, I just . . .  I just want to be stronger and just feel better, you know? Like, when I am running. It’s just . . . I just feel happier.’

‘So you don’t really want to work on your problem areas?’ She asked as if I was completely insane.

I thought about my ‘problem areas’ and what they had been through over the last few years of pregnancy and miscarriage and childbirth and breastfeeding. I thought about my body and what it has done in the last six years of my life, how it has grown and birthed and fed and held and washed and dressed and chased and tickled and played with two new human beings who have come into the world and have been sustained in this world through my body. My body which has swelled and shrunk and contracted and drooped and got up again and again and again

and again in the night to the sound of crying.

I looked at the personal trainer and realised that the gym just totally, absolutely sucked.

‘Okay, I said. Let’s work on my problem areas.’

A few weeks later I stopped going to the gym. It was boring and knackering and the music was the worst and most annoying music you have ever heard in your life. I just couldn’t fit it in around the kids and eventually it became a real waste of £25 a month.

So for my new year’s resolution I did something that I had been meaning to do for ages. I phoned up and quit. It felt great.

So, what if I told you that now, six months down the line, that I am more into sport than I have been in years? That actually now, some of the best hours of my week are when I am exercising and that those are the days I look forward to the most in the week?


We got my daughter some roller skates for Christmas this year. She didn’t ask for them, she just wanted surprises, but I remembered a few times when we had been to jumble sales and she had seen sets of second hand roller skates she could have bought with her pocket money but they had never been the right size for her.

I also remembered how one night when we had been on our summer holiday, this kid whizzed past us on a skateboard with light-up wheels and it just totally blew her tiny mind.

I kind of knew that she was going to love the skates we had got her, even though she hadn’t asked for them. I shopped around and found some good quality ones, the best that we could afford, with light up wheels which flashed different colours when you rolled on them. I found a kid’s skating class I could start taking her too and watched you tube videos about how to roller skate.

When she opened them on Christmas day she was over the moon. She put them on and immediately fell over and cried.

But we went out to the local parks on dry days and to some local kids skating lessons and slowly but surely she found her balance and picked it up. Soon I was jogging to keep up with her and realised I’d probably have to get my own skates too.

When I say have to, the truth is that helping her learn to skate had really made me want to put skates on my feet again too. I hadn’t been on roller skates since I was about seven but it just looked like so much fun.

I started looking around for some kind of adult skating lessons to go to or something so that I could learn how to roller skate without holding hands with (and possibly taking down) a five-year-old at the same time. In my googling, I found out about a local women’s roller derby team; the Kent Roller Girls. I had no idea what roller derby actually was, but I was vaguely aware that there was a film about it with Ellen Page in and that it was mainly a female dominated sport. From what I could gather looking online, it seemed to be a cross between a race and a rugby scrum but on skates.

Yes, I thought.

This is something I am going to try.

I went along to a recreation league session on my own. I had emailed ahead and found that it was ok to turn up to this as a total beginner. At the recreational league they teach you all the minimum skating skills that you need to be able to play roller derby. Once you have passed these you can try out for a team. I didn’t know anyone there and none of my friends wanted to come with me.

I’ve got to be honest and admit that I felt like a bit of an idiot. Just before I went into the leisure centre I thought,

‘What the fuck am I actually doing? I am an overweight mum in my thirties in a pair of leggings that have holes in and one of my husband’s old t-shirts and I am about to go and learn a sport which looks a lot like knocking people over whilst on roller skates. It is obviously going to be only for 19-year-old sports science students with a background in speed skating or something.’

Also, I remembered this time when one of my husband’s friends found out about parkour and decided he wanted to give it a try and so found out about a local group on the internet, but when he actually turned up to do parkour with them they were literally all twelve-year-old boys who wanted to leapfrog over concrete bollards and stuff.

I was a bit worried I was going to look like a twat.

Luckily for me, I don’t find looking like a twat to be that devastating though. I mean, just in this last week I have ended up accidently going out for the morning in my husbands slippers and turning up for the school run one afternoon with a piece of human poo smeared across my knees (it wasn’t mine btw) so it’s become a sort of default for me.

Anyway, I went in and people were really friendly and said hi and they were not all fifteen years younger than me. Someone got me kitted out with some skates, a helmet and various pads. I had to sign a waiver, put in my gumshield and then I could get started.

Within the first five minutes I was having a lot more fun than I had ever experienced at the gym. The first thing they taught me and the few other newbies who were starting that day was how to fall over. We didn’t even have our skates on yet we just had to run and then kind of knee slide across the floor on our pads. It was awesome.

We did some fitness stuff and got our skates on and then by the end of the first session we had learnt how to (kind of) stay balanced skating forwards and how to stop a little bit. We had also laughed a lot and fallen on our arses loads. I’d had a really good time. I enjoyed myself which is kind of weird considering I had been exercising.

I’ve met some of the loveliest people at roller derby. We all love knocking each other to the ground so much. That’s me bottom left with the red top and the black gum shield.

The thing is, how often is exercise just sold to women as something they need to do in order to look a certain way or lose a certain amount of pounds. How often is it just a punishment rather than a pleasure?

Often, what’s sold to women is a way of exercising that has nothing to do with sport and everything to do with making women feel like shit about themselves.

Roller derby to me is the opposite of that. It’s about being a strong and powerful team of women working together and even in the recreational league that I go to, people are always so encouraging to each other and willing each other to do well and to progress.

I felt hooked from my first session of roller derby. As an adult who rarely gets a chance to switch off, messing about on roller skates feels just as much fun as it did when I was seven and me and my friend would skate up and down the pavement outside her house. It has given me a reason to spend some time away from my house and partner and children for a couple of hours each week. It has been awesome to try something totally new and to learn to do something as a total beginner.

I couldn’t quite get out what I wanted to say to that personal trainer all those months ago but I think I am starting to get it now. She asked me if I wanted my body back and I guess that I did, just not quite in the way that she meant.

She wanted to know if I wanted my body back looking like it used to but I just wanted my body back to feeling good again, feeling strong and well and doing stuff.

I don’t really want to work on my problem areas or lose weight. God knows, it’d be great if someone could wave a magic wand and make me look 21 again as opposed to a knackered and overweight mum of two in her thirties, but the thing is, I am a knackered and overweight mum of two in my thirties and if my ‘problem areas’ aren’t that much of a problem for me than they’re not really problem areas anymore are they? They are just ‘areas.’

It was bewildering to the personal trainer to encounter a woman who was not at the gym with the main intention of altering her appearance, of slimming down and smoothing over the ‘problem’ parts of her body.

At roller derby I don’t feel like my body is a problem, not at all. In fact, I’ve been amazed at what my body can actually do when I give it the chance and at what it can learn even though I am not in my teens or my twenties anymore.

Me being a blur.

Sport doesn’t have to be about changing your body or looking a certain way, but unfortunately this is the way that it is so often packaged up and sold to women. Perhaps that’s the way a lot of people enjoy exercising, I dunno. All I know is that it got to the point for me where looking different was not important. I wanted to enjoy myself. I wanted to have fun. I wanted more happiness in my life, not more self-punishment or guilt.

And physically, I wanted to be stronger, faster, and more able to chase my two-year-old around the park. After years of hardly any sleep and sitting down for hours feeding babies I wanted to feel less like a sack of aches and pains at the start of each day and less out of breath when I go up the stairs fifty million times a morning looking for stuff my daughter needs to put in her book bag for school.

I’m sure there is a place for the kind of approach of the personal trainer that I had a session with, you know, starting off with what you want to change about your appearance and then exercising accordingly, but can you imagine how much more fun it would be to play an actual sport instead? What about a dance class? What about hockey or football or netball or rugby? What about roller skating or rock climbing or basketball or anything really that is actually about enjoying what you are doing and champions what you are able to do as opposed to just trying to be slimmer?

Anyway, if you can relate to what I’m saying then I’d encourage you to try something new like I did. You always feel like a knob turning up to something for the first time but it can be so good to have a crack at something new. Trying roller derby has been just what I needed and I have met an amazing group of women too. Women of all ages, shapes and stages of life.

I thought I’d be the only Mum there when I first turned up. I thought I’d definitely be the only person over 30 and overweight. I thought that since I couldn’t even roller skate at all I would be laughed at and people would wonder why I was even there. Walking through the door for the first time was hard, but now I wouldn’t miss a week’s training.

And I was wrong about who else would be there. I wasn’t unwelcome or out of place. It’s such an inclusive sport. From what I have seen so far, there’s a space for every type of body shape on a roller derby team.

Anyway, I could go on about roller derby for ages and I’m not even going to attempt to explain the rules of the game or the fact that there isn’t even a ball. You should watch this video instead about women in sport. It’s got roller derby in it and an awesome poem by Maya Angelou.”

KRG Open Day with Kent Sport

Here’s a shocking fact  – two million fewer 14-40 year-old women than men play sport regularly. TWO MILLION!

However, over 20 of those women, shook off any fear of judgement that might have held them back from participating in sport and came along to the Kent Roller Girls open day last week to try the extreme sport of Roller Derby for the first time.

Often, time and cost can be barriers to participation in sport (recreational league is £5 a session on a pay as you go basis), but with loan skates and protective gear available the only restrictions were those people placed on themselves about whether they wanted to give it a go or not!  The THIS GIRL CAN campaign is being run by Sport England and funded by the National Lottery has local partners to help promote uptake of exercise in women and as a result Kent Sport came to vist the team to see what they were all about and hear their stories.

One participant, Abi Oborne said, ” I bought my daughter some rollerskates and thought, actually, I quite fancy giving that a go…so I looked around and found out about Kent Roller Girls.”

The team runs itself, with the more experienced members, giving up their time to coach the beginners from scratch. “We teach people how to fall safely to start so that takes the fear out of it.  Then we put the skates on them, end encourage them to get rolling, which is when the fun really begins!

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“Recreational League Derby gives women a chance to have some time for themselves to see how well they can learn and adapt to a new set of skills, whilst having fun and being supported in a friendly environment,” said member Serena Gilbert, 39 ” We have women from a size 6 to 22, from under 5ft tall to nearly 6ft, it’s about whether you can give it your all, rather than how big or small you are.”

This sport is also about what you can do to be useful to the team, both on and off track, as everyone also helps by doing what they can to promote the teams games, act as officials, design tshirts and posters or write funding bids for support to buy new uniforms. Committee member Danielle said “Everyone has another non-derby life and some of those skills can come in handy when setting up a league – which could be anything from the person who organises the insurance and the rate of the hall bookings to someone who arranges to send a teammate a signed birthday card.

“It was great to have Kent Sport visit us and help raise the profile of what we are trying to do as a team – to be empowered and to empower others”, said team founder Demi. “I’m sure we found some future superstars at our Open Day, whether they go on to play in the team or not I hope that everyone found a bit of superhero in themselves – just by being brave enough to start something new.”

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KRG Open Day – March 12th 2017

We will be hosting our first open day of 2017 on March 12th, 4:30-8pm at our home rink, the Bay Arena in Herne Bay.

Ever thought about getting involved with Kent Roller Girls? Well this is your opportunity! At our open day you will get a chance to have a go on skates (18+ only, no experience necessary), learn what roller derby is all about and experience some real life gameplay from our main league. League members will be on hand to chat to you about their experiences and to help put any  nerves you may have to bed. We can lend you almost all of the kit you need to participate, we just ask that you bring along a mouthguard, as no-one wants to borrow those! Plus, there’ll be free cake and snacks for all, and you’ll be able to get your hands on some KRG merchandise at fancy discount prices. Oh, and did we mention, it’s all absolutely free!

So come along, meet some new people and get hooked on the craziness of roller derby! And remember, we aren’t just looking for skaters, we need referees and officials too, so there’s something for everyone 🙂

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for event information, or email recruitment@kentrollergirls.com.

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KRG OPEN DAY AUTUMN 2016

Last Sunday saw us welcome some fresh meat to KRG central in Herne Bay, at our last open day of the year.

Open Days are our way of giving folks a chance to come along to our venue, meet the team, have a go at some basic skate skills and get an introduction to the game of roller derby by watching our main league scrimmage. Oh, and there’s cake too. Lots of cake.

Thanks to everyone that came along on the day, we all really enjoyed it and it was great to meet you all. It’s always so impressive seeing new skaters throw themselves in to the action, some without any previous experience on 8 wheels! And for anyone that missed out on this one, we’ll be holding another open day at the end of January 2017; keep the look out for details on our Facebook page!

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Thanks to Michael East for coming along to take some snaps of the action on the day – check out his page for lots of awesome derby pics 🙂

 

KRG Recreational league open day – October 23rd 2016

Come along and find out more about the amazing world of roller derby with Kent Roller Girls!
Our open day is the perfect opportunity for you to meet the team and discover what roller derby is all about. We are looking for both skaters and referees to join KRG, and also volunteers to help us run our games and events.

The event is free and everyone is welcome! No tickets are required – just join the event page on Facebook to keep up to date with all the info.

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We can lend you nearly all the kit you need, you just need to bring along a mouthguard on the day (as no-one wants to use a second hand mouthguard!).

The schedule will be as follows:
4:30-5pm – Arrivals, sign in and kit up
5-6pm – Beginner skate session (18+ only)
6-7pm – Derby chat & meet the team (with cake!)
7-8pm – Main league scrimmage viewing (optional). A chance for you to watch our main league play some roller derby.

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If you get the bug you are welcome to join our recreational team at training on Sunday each week. You’ll be given full training and can either join ‘just for fun’ or work towards becoming a fully fledged member of Kent Roller Girls!