First and foremost roller derby is a contact sport, meaning that you will be getting hit. A lot. And you will be falling. A lot. If you are thinking of joining fresh meat please be aware of this. We are however always looking for refs and NSOs (non-skating officials), so if contact isn’t for you there are other ways you can get involved.
The basic rules of roller derby are these – each team has five skaters on track, one of which is the Jammer. The Jammer is the point scorer and wears a star on their helmet. Their job is to get around track as many times as possible, to break through the opponent skater’s walls and earn points. The other players on track are the blockers and each blocker is worth a single point when passed. It’s their job to stop the Jammer from getting through their defensive walls and scoring points. Both sets of blockers make up the ‘pack’ – the pack must stay together at all times or ‘out of bounds’ will be called. The Jammer has to get out of the pack in order to earn the status of ‘lead Jammer’ and have the right to call off the jam when they want. Complicated, right?
Fear not! You will have plenty of time to learn. If this sounds like something you would enjoy then come along. If you’re worried about your skating prowess, don’t. None of us were born with the knowledge to skate; we all had to start somewhere. You will have a fully dedicated team behind you every step of the way! Fresh meat begins with the very fundamentals of skating like standing on your own two legs and falling safely. If you’re worried about your fitness level or body type, don’t. Roller derby is a fantastic sport not only because it encourages athleticism and team spirit but also because it embraces each and every body type. Tiny like a mouse? Awesome, you can get through tight spaces within a pack. Got a big booty? Brilliant, you can use that to block a jammer trying to get past. If you think you are too unfit, don’t worry. We will help you build up your endurance over time and get you fit and ready to zoom around track. All we ask in return is dedication and determination.
What’s that? You need more?
Some of our very own recent Fresh Meat graduates and now newly christened Misfits have a few words to say about their own experiences.
“For a year or so, I had been looking for something, some kind of hobby to suit "me". Me being me, it had to be something slightly crazy! I'd heard friends mention roller derby, so I curiously looked up the Mansfield team, who coincidentally were having a fresh meat intake. With no hesitation whatsoever, I was there! I used to love skating when I was a kid so how hard could this be? I'll just put the skates on, wobble, and off I go... Right? WRONG!!! It was tough, learning to skate with your knees bent is painful. The fresh meat program is intense, crippling, exhausting but sooooo good. I feel I've made great progress thanks to our super coaches and teammates. Teammates are a huge help and support and they are definitely inspiring. The team spirit is admirable and a true sisterhood that even the boys are in on.
“’Fresh Meat – OMG what’s that?’ asks my colleague at work ‘that sounds horrible!’
Ola, I’m Stormy C, I’m 45 and I’ve just completed my 12 week Fresh Meat programme. I came to Roller Derby through another colleague at work who’d mentioned it on her Facebook page. I remembered seeing Whip It, I don’t remember how long ago and thinking ‘Yey I’ll give that a go’- although I must admit being a bit freaked out by the angle of the track. I’d missed the first ‘meat’ and introductions but contacted Little Miss Chief via the Misfits Facebook page as I was concerned I was too old… she said no worries, just to come along, they’d find me some skates, helmet etc. and I could see how I went. You are only as old as you feel. Well I don’t feel old so……..
I arrived at 5:45 and was sorted out by Gore G’eous, skates, knee-pads etc. and ready to go…. But imagine my surprise – it’s not quite Whip It, but Flat Track Roller Derby, so I was not quite so freaked out as I had been. We did an off skate warm-up first as Dorny Darko said warm-up was really important. Then down to the main stuff get kitted up and on track….. Well that was a barrel of laughs… I’ve not skated since being about 14 so there were a few wobbles as you can imagine. I’d missed the skating basics in the introduction session so ‘falling small’ was a ‘you want me to do what’, and ‘sticky skates’… ‘say again???’ All phrases you will learn and pick up.
Our FM sessions were on Sundays from 6-8. We did six sessions learning all kinds of stuff, like moving on wheels to begin with (sticky skating and crossovers – I remembered those from ice- skating), different ways to stop, blocking, skating in a pack, how to fall safe and the Holy Grail – the ‘27 in 5’…. we’ll explain that later. Then we had a mid-term assessment to clear us for ‘contact’ which I think we all passed. We then went onto ‘contact’– how to block, how to give a hit and take one, learning how to give and take a ‘whip’. After so many weeks attendance we were allowed to join the Misfits properly, which meant we could finally chose a Derby name and we could attend Thursday sessions too along with the ‘real Misfits’ to get more experience on wheels and join in with the scrimming.
In terms of our FM batch, we’ve got girlies like Bette Grinch who is totally “mad for it”, Hawkeye who has been skating with a busted wrist for weeks and didn’t tell anyone (pain, what pain!), NikaBlocker Gory who whizzes round the track like you wouldn’t believe, along with Calamity Campbell whose just got new wheels and was flying round the track last night ( don’t be fooled by her slender frame she hits hard!) and Fire Lily who puts my plough stops to shame! We’re all different personalities, we all have other hobbies outside of Derby but with us FM and the original girls we make up THE TEAM. Why not come and join us, you may get a few bruises but you’ll have a ball. We’re Lean, Mean… Purple and Green… Go Misfits!”
“’Mommy! You are on a big team photo!’ One Sunday night, just four months ago, I found myself in a car full of friends heading out for a new adventure. We were going for a trial session with Mansfield Misfits. Until that night I hadn’t given roller skating in any form a second thought having never skated in my life. I just have a really bad habit of agreeing to most social invitations. This one was a bit different! Arriving in the hall was exciting, daunting and a big challenge. I knew we were going to be supported as non-skaters but I couldn’t fathom how I was going to be close to getting around the track at any rate that would benefit a team! Oh yes – the team bit! I have NEVER, never, ever played a team sport, never done a contact sport and never really publically exercised. I ride a bike, swim, jog, go to the gym – all very solitary hobbies. This will explain my Californian husband’s surprise when I told him of this new venture. That and I didn’t have time to YouTube Roller Derby beforehand as he suggested. My bad! Sounds disastrous? Well, we can now fast forward 4 months and here I am juggling my thoughts between the design of my next two tattoos and my Roller Derby experience so far. It has been a Roller Coaster (there’s a pun there!) and my stomach doesn’t churn as much at the prospect of training anymore! That is because I am surrounded, literally, by some really good friends! The Misfits are tight but they let you in their pack, share their group hugs and kick your ass without judgement. This is a whole new lifestyle for me. My family are adjusting to me changing family routines so that I get to practice on time. They are getting more used to me walking round in small shorts all of a sudden (because that is how we roll) and we are making plans for a family outing to enjoy the Misfits first bout. I want my kids to meet my new mates! And tonight, I showed my family some photos of a recent session (the first time I have seen myself as a Derby girl) and my daughter exclaimed with pride ‘Mommy! You are on a big team photo!’ So I am.”