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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

Kent Roller Girls; seven years old and still going strong.

Ever wanted to know how to set up a roller derby league that will still be going from strength to strength seven years later? Well, I did, so I spoke to Demi Lition, the founding member of the Kent Roller Girls as they celebrate the league’s 7th Birthday this weekend.

So, can you tell me a bit about the story of how Kent Roller Girls came to be? What made you decide to go for it in the first place and how many people turned up for the first practice? 

I started skating in summer 2008 with Leeds Roller Dolls and moved back down south in late 2009. Stubbornness / stupidity meant that I refused to leave LRD and continued travelling back up every Sunday for a 2 hour practice so I could stay with my team! I managed around 6 months of the 500 mile round trip before I realised that I was just spending way too much time and money when I could just transfer to a closer league. Initially, I was going to transfer to London Rollergirls and started attending their sessions but realised quite quickly that I wouldn’t be able to make enough sessions to ever be able to skate for them, so starting a team in Kent was the only way to carry on playing.

Demi jamming for KRG in the 2017 British Championships.

In May 2010 I set up a Facebook group thinking that maybe within 6 months I would have enough interest to start looking at halls and I’d have a load of time to start figuring out how the hell you start a roller derby league! A couple of people had attempted starting leagues in Kent before but had never got past the “setting up a Facebook page” stage. Within 24 hours I had 400 likes and 30 people message me and it all became a little more urgent! Luckily the guys at The Pier Sports Centre in Herne Bay were on board with me hiring their hall for this crazy sport they’d never heard of and we managed to set a start date! The sports centre hosted a lot of skating events already and had their own skate shop along with tonnes of hire skates so we ended up in the best place possible!

The first session we had 17 people, possibly only 2 of which had been able to skate already. No one really had any idea of what roller derby was and I’d never done any sort of coaching before (or really spoken in front of groups of people before) but we all muddled along and people got hooked!

One of the Kent Roller Girls first training sessions back in 2010

Obviously there’s not much in terms of money and funding out there for roller derby, so what do you think has enabled the league to keep going for the last seven years?

In the early days a lot of the hall hire came out of my own pocket (and the pockets of other people in the league) as our numbers were never consistent and we couldn’t always cover the cost of training. We held a lot of fundraisers in the early days to make sure that wasn’t a problem for too long (and to pay everyone back!) and that really helped us to keep going. These days its mostly monthly dues that are covering all costs and helping us grow the league. Continual recruitment and regular open days have really helped keep those numbers up!

We always have plans to grow the league though so we’re always looking to raise more through home games, merch sales, fundraisers and sponsorships. It’s a never-ending quest!

How important has it been for KRG to set up a rec league?

The formation of the Rec League has been crucial in keeping KRG running and bringing up new skaters into the main team. We used to have a fresh meat programme which put a very limited time period on when you had to pass your skills by and if you didn’t, you had to wait until the beginning of the next one. The Rec League lets everyone progress at their own pace and its less pressure then having to pass within a certain time. And if you have no interest in playing full roller derby and just fancy learning skating skills every so often, its there for you too!

The Kent Roller Girls Rec League teaches the basics of skating and roller derby and is open to complete beginners.

Our Rec guys are the most enthusiastic, supportive group of people I have ever met and I love seeing their progress each week. They cheer on each other’s achievements, pick each other up when they’re down and are the best support system for each of our members. They’re all awesome!

What are you most proud of looking back over the last seven years of KRG?

This is always a difficult question, because there is just so much that we’ve achieved. Being promoted to Tier 2 in British Champs last year was amazing, and there have been a lot of games we have surprised people on. I do always look back at our first game and am amazed that we actually got to a place where we looked like we knew what we were doing! We were out there and we were playing roller derby!

Mostly I’m proud of the fact that we have managed to get 100s of people on skates! People who may not have ever thought about playing a team sport and who may not have exercised in years are taking this sport seriously and looking to be the best they can. And they’re doing a bloody ace job of it!

How do you think roller derby has changed in the years since KRG first began?

Ha! So much has changed! Roller derby is being considered as way more of a sport these days, less about the spectacle of girls in fishnets beating the crap out of each other. These skaters are athletes. They train harder than ever before and the level of derby and athleticism these days is incredible!

The rules have obviously changed a huge amount – no more minors, knee starts, poodling, two whistles (and trying to drag out that 2nd whistle) – and we all learned how to actually slow the game down instead of just whizzing around hoping to hit someone!

What would you like to see for the league in the next seven years?

Apart from world domination, that answer will always involve the word “Warehouse”! I would love for the league to have their own home. Somewhere we can base everything and skate whenever we like! I think it’s achievable within that time, but it’s just going to take a lot of hard graft!

Having our own home would mean we get to run a lot more beginners skate sessions and introduce so many more people to a life on 8 wheels!

If you would like to join Kent Roller Girls or possibly even buy us a warehouse then do drop us an email at recruitment@kentrollergirls.com. You can also follow us on Facebook, just click here to get through to our page and give us a ‘like’ to stay updated or follow us on Instagram.

KRG presents CartoonAPalooza – Skaters wanted!!!

Kent Roller Girls are proud to present CartoonAPalooza, a Rookie Women’s Sevens Tournament – 26th August, 10am–7pm at the Bay Sports Arena, Herne Bay.

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Six 90s cartoon themed teams made up of seven skaters each go head to head… there can only be one winner!

We are inviting rookie skater’s to join us on track to take part in this awesome event. All players are guaranteed 3 games, the entry requirement is that you are rookie level (eg. played 0-7 bouts) and are minimums skilled passed.

Tickets are £20 each (includes the price of your team shirt) and will be available from our online store from 9am, Friday 9th June.

Want to come and watch this exciting event? Spectator tickets will be coming soon – keep your eyes out here and on our Facebook page for details!!!

KRG PROFILE – TRAUMA TREVOR #29

Name: Trauma Trevor

Number: 29

Story behind the name & number: Name- I was struggling to find a name for a long time! A couple of the girls from the team and I went out for a drink to watch the World Cup. During our night out, someone took what I can only describe as an awful picture. I told her to delete it as it made me look manly. She laughed and called me Trevor. Several weeks later I was still being referred to as ‘Trev’ on the track and I knew I’d never shake it (thanks Killa Knightly).The ‘Trauma’ part related to my line of work (A&E nurse at the time).
Number: the number for me held a lot more significance than any name. Just 2 months before I began learning to play roller derby, my Father was murdered. I wanted somewhere to channel my anger and frustration. Instead, I found a second family. Dad died on the 29th November 2013 and that’s the day that changed my life. Without it though, I would never have found Kent Roller Girls. Without them, I might have been in a worse off place. 💛🐎

Jammer or Blocker?: Blocker but always happy to try a jam or two 🙂

Favourite derby move: Chasing the jammer and Hooking them!

Derby role model: Demi Lition. I don’t even need to say why. None of us would be here without her.

Why roller derby?: wrong question, we should be asking why not? It includes everyone. Do you like Star Wars? Or punk rock? Or are you a bit short? Do you think you are overweight? Who cares? Roller derby certainly doesn’t.

How did you get involved with KRG?: after the loss of my Dad, two of my friends (Sammy and Amber) encouraged me to give it a try. I’m very glad I went.

What goes through your mind before a game?: a bag full of nerves!

Your favourite derby moment so far?: Winning at the Championship Playoffs and moving up to tier 2!

Your favourite WFTDA team to watch?: Gotham or London

What’s your day job?: Nurse

What do you like to do off the track?: Martial Arts, long dog walks, I also like studying mother subjects like psychology.

How has roller derby impacted your life?: I could have spent a life time in bitterness and anger after having such a massive part of my life taken from me. Instead, I found an amazing bunch of people who held me up when I was down and celebrated with me in my successes. Nothing can replace what I lost, but Kent Roller Girls have filled a pretty big gap. I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who has held my hand in my journey and I love each and everyone of those Crazy Horses.

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BRITISH CHAMPS TIER 2 – KENT ROLLER GIRLS VS S.W.A.T ROLLER DERBY

We narrowly missed out on their first victory in tier two of the British Roller Derby Championships on March 4th, when we played SWAT Roller Derby at our home ground, the Bay Arena, in Herne Bay.

We invited the Lord Mayor of Canterbury to come and open the game, who not only got involved in blowing the ceremonial first whistle, but was later seen cheering on our girls in gold from the stands with 200 other supporters.

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The final score was close with only 34 points separating the two teams, the majority of which was scored in a 6 minute period when Kent suffered from multiple penalty trouble. Thanks to everyone that came along to cheer on the team! There was an amazing atmosphere in the Arena on the day and it was great to see so many faces enjoying roller derby on our home turf.

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We now have two months time to regroup before we take on the London Rockin’ Rollers in the next game of the series. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for details.

 

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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