Monday, September 24, 2007

Advice to roller derby rejects

One of the things I love about roller derby is the fact that it is such a new sport that no one really expects new recruits to know anything about it. You can get on a team without even knowing how to skate. So what differentiates those who are chosen and those who are not? I can only speculate, of course, but here are some reasons why I think I was chosen over others:
  1. Commitment -- Leagues are looking for individuals who are willing to put in the time and effort necessary to be on a roller derby team. By showing up to every skate clinic before tryouts, I showed that I was serious about roller derby.
  2. Toughness -- Roller derby is a rough sport and skaters like to think of themselves as being tough. You're not going to last long in roller derby if you're scared of hurting yourself, or if a little bruise keeps you from practicing. Getting up quickly from a fall during tryouts reflects well on you. I am still half convinced that I would not have been chosen if I had not broken my arm at the first skate clinic. Showing up to the clinics with my arm in a sling not only showed that I was willing to tough it out, but got people to notice me and remember me. Not that I would recommend breaking your arm cause it totally sucked.
  3. Participation -- roller derby is not just about skating. Roller derby is also about advertising, promotion, fundraising, merchandising, website design, statistics, sponsorships, and a billion other things. Being able to skate well is important, but leagues also want individuals who are going to contribute to other aspects of the league in a meaningful way. If you're able to convey your interest and willingness to do these things, you will be a much more attractive recruit.
  4. Personality -- Roller derby is also a social club and a hothouse of personalities. No one wants a bitch on their league. Be nice. Be friendly.
So what do you do when you have tried your best and still not been accepted on a league? Are your dreams over? No -- there are a lot of things you can do while you wait for the next tryouts to come around:
  1. Keep skating. Skate every chance you get. Go to roller rinks. Skate on basketball courts. Go online and research the basic skills and practice them.
  2. Exercise. I have never been so exhausted in my life as I have been during roller derby practices. I mean I think I'm going to pass out or vomit exhausted. General strength and endurance will help you out tremendously.
  3. Become a referee. Most leagues are happy to get more ref help. Refs often get to come to practices. You'll get to practice your skating skills, get to know other refs and skaters on the league, and you'll know your rules better than most of the skaters. This will also allow the skaters to get to know you as a person. If they like what they see, you'll have a leg up on the competition at the next tryouts.
  4. Get involved. There are twelve thousand things that need doing in a roller derby league and there are never enough bodies to do them. Sign up to volunteer at bouts. If the league is disorganized and doesn't get back to you about volunteering, think of something specific you could do and offer to do it. Offer to record stats, do data entry, take photos, write articles for their newsletter, design a shirt, whatever. If you really want to make friends, offer to find sponsors for them. This will definitely help you stand out from the crowd during the next tryouts.
  5. Join another league. Many leagues are just starting out or have low numbers for one reason or another and don't have tryouts. They will basically take any skater that consistently shows up to their practices. I know a couple of girls who did not make the cut at the Boston Derby Dames tryouts who are now skating with Providence, which is relatively nearby.
And if you're not willing to do any of those things, then you might want to rethink the whole roller derby thing. It might not be for you.


Brass Kicker said...

Hi, My Roller Derby name is Brass Kicker and I am with a relatively new team on the MS LA Border(PRRD). I Love your advice! Everyone on our Team is Roller Derby Obsessed. We are very driven and wish we could practice everyday!!! We have came very far in a very short amount of time and this is because of the dedication. We have 12 members that show up to every practice and several that miss once in awhile. We have already had to split in to two groups... Advanced and Begginer. We will have to be more selective from this point forward, but would encourage everyone to go for it! There is room for everyone in Roller Derby... unless you just can't hang! Good Luck to all, just remember this sport is for Grrls!!!

Anonymous said...

My favorite part is that this sport is for girls. Go girls!! I'm going to try out next season, for sure, and thanks so much for the advice.


Anonymous said...

I live in Dallas and the Assassination City league is not welcoming at all. In fact, everyone that I knew and liked has quit and the FM are often yelled at, sworn at, and told how useless they are. It's been a huge let down. I really wanted an outlet for all my energy and wanted to meet cool people and make friends. It's sad what the league has become. I am still skating, hoping that someday I'll move and find a place where I can join a league that actually welcomes new people and builds on camaraderie. I honestly can't explain what nonsense and drama have done to our league. I'm moving on, tearfully.


ktoz said...

I like that you suggested to join another league nearby. I live in a city that has two new leagues one of which I was involved with until I became pregnant. Now that I want to get back on skates there is unfortuneatly not a spot for me at this time on that league. That being said I thought about joining the other's where things get messy. That league was formed by a former member of the original league, my sister is in the original league. The newly formed league has denied me access to join soley because of my sister. Am I wrong or is this just flat out discrimination? I should beable to join as freshmeat and learn skills as is any other women in our city. Anyone have any advice for how to deal with this? Do other leagues in other cities behave this way or is my city special?

Anonymous said...

Tried out for a team a few months ago & want to again -- went in to tryouts being able to do the skills learned at bootcamp reasonably well - crossovers, stance, t-stops, etc. Team members during tryouts were encouraging, to the point of saying "see you at practice" -- then got a rejection email clearly sent at the last possible moment. Have since learned that several girls who clearly couldn't even skate at tryouts were accepted. Feel like I misread the entire process... I was older than the other skaters - maybe that is the issue. My pride says to keep training and try again - if I kick ass at the next tryout and still get rejected, maybe it is the age issue. Do you think it's worth it?

Unknown said...

I have found that if you are not accepted onto a team, any team sport, it is usually because of one or all of the following reasons:
1) You are not a good butt kisser, no joke, seems like a lot of joiners have this skill...
2) Somebody's BFF beat you out, I have seen this alot in derby. The teams rationalize it. "We know her, she's a safe bet"
3) Sadly, you may not be as good as you think you are.I filmed myself and found all kinds of errors. It was really depressing.

AND here's an idea for those who really screwed up... a lot of people have poor recall. For example I skated a 3 hour tryout once and the 10 girls watching could not come up with one specific comment about my skating, And there were only about 10 girls skating! Take advantage of this. If you wait a hot minute and come back with a different jersey and haircolor and some new moves they probably won't know who the hell you are and you can start over. This is only if you think you made a super bad impression. If you just weren't that good, you can just be yourself and try again. I haven't seen any teams yet that turned away someone who made good progress. It leads them to think you might get even better with training.