The Fresh Meat Experience

How did you get into roller derby? This is a question that our players are asked a lot! For myself, it was the movie “Whip It” starring Ellen Page and Drew Barrymore. After watching the movie, I envisioned myself racing around the track, dodging Blockers and leaping over the apex as the crowd went wild! I knew I had to play derby.

Turning that desire into reality is an intensive training program called FRESH MEAT.

RVRG’s Fresh Meat training program typically runs from May until October, culminating in a standardized Minimum Skills Test. To pass their “Mins” and be cleared to start playing derby, Freshies must complete a skating skills test that includes agility, quick stopping, hitting and obstacle avoidance; as well as a pen-and-paper test on the Rules of Derby – of which there are a lot! (Quick test! You’re Blocking and just received a False Start warning. What do you do?)

The girls who join Fresh Meat vary in their experience, from those who have never skated before to ex-hockey players and the occasional figure skater. The average Freshie has some skating experience, either from ice-skating and inline skating.

When asked what made her decide to join Roller Derby, Freshie Janet H. says, “I played rugby in high school so I knew I like the rough sports! The girls’ all seem to be having an amazing time when I watched a game and I wanted to be part of such awesome group of people and get in on those crazy outfits. I knew people in RVRG and they definitely seem to value safety and commitment and the Fresh Meat approach makes sense. Everyone is super nice and welcoming. The league is established and they tell you exactly what you are in for! And my sister and I signed up together, which makes it extra fun.”

Freshie Jess R. adds, “When I moved to Ottawa, I had barely finished the Fresh Meat program in Winnipeg. I was looking into the leagues that I could try joining and one of the veteran skaters in Winnipeg told me that I had to join RVRG, that they were awesome skaters and I could learn so much from being around the best.”

“Practices are hard at first,” explains Jess R., “Your body isn’t used to all the squatting and skating so it’s easy to get discouraged when you look around you and think everyone else is doing so much better. But it is worth it. Especially as you see yourself getting better and stronger each week. What surprised me most was how encouraging everyone is. I was worried I would be around serious athletes that would have no time for newbies, but in my experience they are all helpful and nurturing and want to see you succeed.”

For Freshie Jillian H., joining derby is a great way to “learn about the roller derby community and learn a new skill that will provide an outlet for my competitive spirit.”

What would these Freshies say to anyone thinking of signing up?

Jillian H.: “Try it – why not?”

Janet H. : “Do it! And don’t be scared!!”

Jess R: “Do it! It is hard work, and it is time consuming, but there is no reason for anyone to shy away. The girls are nicer than you could imagine – nothing like high school gym class!  There are people of all levels working on their skills. It’s also a very diverse group and no one should feel like their age or body type is an issue in starting.”

Well there you have it. If you are thinking about joining roller derby, just do it!

~ Wreck Therapy

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