The year started with a bang - the announcement of our first ever open-door game. The St Valentine’s Massacre, an away game in Barnsley against our long standing friends Barnsley Black Heart Rollers, was to be our first foray into the world of competitive roller derby. So we packed our skates, our nerves and our supporters and we took to the road! We booked hotel rooms, printed tops, freaked out and came together as a team. We rallied the forces of our league and made the dream a reality, the thing we had been training for since those early days in 2012.
Shortly after our first bout we introduced our spring intake of Beginners (aka Fresh Meat.) Any roller derby league will tell you that in order to grow you need new intakes, a replenished stock of cheerfully enthusiastic skaters. Our coaching team are continually updating the Fresh Meat programme in order to perfect the training of new skaters. The effect this has had on the team as a whole has been that more and more skaters are progressing forwards faster, from Fresh Meat to Rookie to Intermediate. These new recruits are able to slot into the team as if they have been there from the very beginning.
The beginning of summer saw some of the team taking part in Race for Life. As a team we put a high priority on giving back to our community, which is why we partake in food drives throughout the year and get involved in various community projects. Race for Life was one of those projects. Our skaters ran in the name of Hannah Gamage with the group Gam’s Girls. Hannah was a teacher in our local community who organised the group when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Sadly, Hannah passed away before she was able to compete in the race. However, the community around her; friends, family, colleagues and anyone and everyone, came together to race for her. Hannah’s aim was to raise £500 for Cancer Research and after months of fundraising the total raised was £30,000 - that is an incredible 6000% increase on the original target.
The coming of autumn saw a new intake of Fresh Meat skaters. It was our biggest intake yet, our hall was jam packed in a way it had never been before. These skaters are still going through the motions of learning to play roller derby, and will soon be joining the main team in their training. Skaters who are still going through the Fresh Meat Programme have to pass what is known as ‘minimum skills’ before they are able to take part in full contact games and training. Our pre-mins skaters right now are working through ‘Scrim 101’, which is where they learn about gameplay and tactical drills. Once they have passed this programme they are eligible to join the already passed skaters in doing full contact and further expand their training. Everyone is eagerly awaiting their integration into the main training programme so that we can learn and grow with each other.
In October we began our partnership with Higgiefit Lifestyles, a fitness and nutrition specialist ran by one of our very own skaters Maria Higgins. This was the dawning of the #teamhench legend, because we had seen our roller derby heroes in action this summer and had seen the sheer athleticism that is required to play competitive roller derby. With Higgiefit Bootcamps we were able to up our game and our fitness levels. Higgiefit Lifestyles has been a huge asset to the team and to helping us get that much closer to our future goals.
The second half of the year was all about the scrims! Mixed scrims, mixed level scrims, scrims where we invited friends and scrims where we battled it out on our own. As a league we have made friends all across the country in our travels to friendly matches. The experience we have gained through scrimming has helped us form into a solid team, a team where we are able to work with our strengths and weaknesses. We have grown so much in the past year that we know each other’s styles so well, and it has become such a pleasure to play together.
It is now Christmas and we will be breaking before the new year, to give our hard working skaters a well earned rest. Now we are all eagerly awaiting 2015, for the opportunities and experiences we will have. The last year could not have happened without the hard work put in by each and every skater, by every volunteer and NSO, by every committee member. The great thing about this sport is that it is all about teamwork, both inside and out of the playing team. It takes many hands to make a league work, and many minds to keep it working.
As a team we have worked so hard, put in so many hours in order to get where we are today. This year has set the foundations for some amazing things for MRD, and we are all ready for the future.
Watch this space.