England Roller Derby

Have you ever had that thought, when you really want something and you think, just for a moment, that you might get it? The butterfly inducing feeling, where for a second you let your mind wander into the realms of what it might be like to achieve that thing you desire.

There was a moment just after the second cut in the second round of England national squad try outs that I let myself feel like that. That I let the tight-lock, anxiety-avoiding, focused wall I’d built to try and get through try outs drop, and my belly, my heart and my head all paused for a second to marvel at purely being at that stage and that close to being a member of the England Roller Derby Training Squad.

Being part of England Roller Derby has been a big focus of mine, and I imagine hundreds of other skaters, for quite some time.  Why not strive to reach it? But honestly, I never really thought I’d make it.

England roller derby second tryout

Courtesy of Roller Derby On Film

Taking part in the first round of England try outs felt cathartic to me. The last time the try outs had happened I couldn’t walk, let alone skate and it’s always been sore point for me that I never physically got to try out; that I never really understood what it felt, where I was and how far I needed to go.

Taking my skates off after the first round, which was on one of the hottest days of the year, I felt dehydrated, bruised, frustrated, elated and strong. Not strong because I thought I was better than those around me, or that I’d performed well, but strong because I’d completed what I previously had been unable to do.

It felt great and I hoped that I would make the next round but I was also weary that this was so much further than I’d managed last time, that maybe this time round wasn’t for me.

The reality of the second try out, when I received the confirmation email that I’d made the next round, didn’t hit me. It felt like I was watching somebody else receive the email, plan their journey and thinking about their plan to stay focused.

It was only until a couple of days before that I really registered what would be going on. That in a couple of days I’d be skating with the nation’s best skaters. I’d be bracing, hitting, stopping the nation’s best jammers and blockers and trying to prove that I deserved to be at least training with them.

Oh and that during the day there would also be two mid-session cuts. When that reality hit, it hit hard.

Helping hand in roller derby

Photo courtesy of Roller Derby On Film

Of course, it was hard not to be nervous and no matter how tightly-locked I kept my wandering mind, I was affected by the impressiveness of the situation. A room full of the best and a room full of the determined.

The first time a cut happened my body tingled with nerves. I’d been on the other side, cutting male skaters from the England Men’s National Squad just the year before. I knew the rational, but that didn’t make the prospect of being cut any less sour or disappointing.

The second time I was so sure I was gone and was genuinely shocked when I wasn’t.

The final part of scrim felt like a reward for making it so far. Getting my ass kicked, my body bruised and my mind cleared by the fast-paced, physical and intense pace.

While I’m a long way off from making any charter, from playing in the logo, or in the world cup. I am one step closer. And with that step I thought I’d take some time to fully acknowledge just how shocked I am to be there. How amazed I am to have made it and how I’ve genuinely loved the feeling of shock, surprise and excitement every time something “englandy” happens.

england roller derby training squad world cup 2018

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