Posts tagged #Mary Lee's Fresh Meat Journey

Mary Lee's Fresh Meat Journey, Pt. 7: Jumping to the Finish Line

This is part of a series by Fresh Meat skater Mary Lee, who is documenting her evolution from derby dreamer to derby athlete, continuing here in the A2D2 blog.

What's Mary Lee been up to with A2D2 since sharing her last blog post this spring?

Roller derby boot camp culminates in a skills test that assesses your ability to perform the basic skills that are used to play the game and keep you safe.

Through this whole process of boot camp, my comfort level on skates has increased tremendously (although I still fall and get off balance, just less than before). However, I have to admit that going into the skills test, I felt like I was going to fail miserably. I looked around at the current skaters who had passed the test and felt like I just didn’t measure up.

The day of the skills test, I felt like I was going to puke. Not because of food issues or anything, but because I was nervous and that’s how my body responds. Before a presentation at work or before I run a race, I feel like I’m going to puke. Luckily, I haven’t actually puked yet, but for all I knew skills test day could have been the day it materialized.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t puke and I survived skills test. Also, I passed! What?!?!? Yes, that’s right, I passed. My goal was to make it through and take the assessment as a starting point of what to work on for the second chance test, but instead I’m now able to use it to work towards being a better overall derby skater in game play.

It was three hours of derby skills, all of which I had learned and gone over so many times during boot camp. Following the test, we all went and had lunch together to decompress and stink up the restaurant! Now it’s time to start learning real roller derby strategy!

I'm Mary Lee. I'm an aspiring Derby girl (currently a fresh meat skater), a scientist, a runner, a reader, and a dog snuggler. I like Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, a good BBC mystery show, and Oxford commas.

Posted on November 18, 2015 .

Mary Lee's Fresh Meat Journey, Pt. 6: Boot Camp, Week Five

This is part of a series by Fresh Meat skater Mary Lee, who is documenting her evolution from derby dreamer to derby athlete, continuing here in the A2D2 blog.

Week of March 29, 2015 -- This was by far the most challenging week for me. I haven’t felt like I’m improving or doing things very well. I feel like I’m pretty physically fit, but sometimes my body fails me.

We were fortunate enough to have a speed skating form class taught to us by two of the vets, and while I told my legs to do cross-overs properly and keep up with the pace line, they refused to do it. It happened with a few other skills that I previously had little trouble doing. Ugh! My brain knows that I can do these things and that practice will only make me better, but the little devil on my shoulder keeps telling me that I’ll never be good enough to actually join a derby team. That little devil is getting really annoying and I see an altercation with him in the near future, because I would rather be a cheerleader for myself than against myself.

A group of the freshmeaties went to lunch together after our weekend practice, and it was nice to vent/commiserate with others going through the same thing. In a way, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one struggling with things. 

I'm Mary Lee. I'm an aspiring Derby girl (currently a fresh meat skater), a scientist, a runner, a reader, and a dog snuggler. I like Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, a good BBC mystery show, and Oxford commas.

Posted on April 23, 2015 .

Mary Lee's Fresh Meat Journey, Pt. 5: Boot Camp, Weeks Three & Four

This is part of a series by Fresh Meat skater Mary Lee, who is documenting her evolution from derby dreamer to derby athlete, continuing here in the A2D2 blog.

March 15, 2015 -- By far, today was the most mentally challenging day. My coordination did not show up with me at practice this morning. I got to practice a bit early to practice skating the diamond, which is a way to skate faster. Because the track is an oval, instead of skating the oval you make a diamond and skate more efficiently. Check out Roller Derby Athletics; it’s been a great resource for training tips and how to strengthen those muscles I need for roller derby.  

Anyway, I’m just not picking this up as well as I would like to. I totally took a spill onto my booty while just tooling around by myself on the track, and my coordination was off the whole practice. We practiced some fun skills including some barrel rolls and I totally went the wrong way, my brain and body were not communicating. I had to keep reminding myself that it’s just one day, and I won’t feel this way every time I strap on my skates.  

I shook off today by going home and having a big lunch and napping with my pup for a while.  

March 18, 2015 -- If today were a FRIENDS episode, it would be titled “The one where someone breaks their leg.” We were practicing the scariest skill we’ve learned yet, bunny hops. First of all, I like my skates being on the ground; it means I’m not falling. Second, how am I really supposed to jump with wheels on my feet? Well, as scared as I was, I did it. Huge accomplishment and felt proud. Then, one of our group members fell and broke her leg, three places, and everything got real, really quickly. It was evident that it freaked everyone out, especially because it didn’t look like she really did anything weird when she fell to cause a break. It looked like a run of the mill fall. The vets talked to us, and let us know that it’s part of roller derby, injuries that is. That we are doing a sport on wheels and accidents happen, but that shouldn’t deter us from going out there and trying again. I hope this doesn’t affect our group’s confidence and willingness to try new things going forward.  


Week of March 22, 2015 -- Jumped right back into every skill we’ve learned before including the dreaded and scary bunny hopping. We all faced our fears head on and conquered it. I was admittedly hesitant to do the first bunny hop. I’ve learned that you can’t think about what you are going to do next on your skates, just do it. I need to remind myself of this EVERYTIME I put my skates on.  

This week we also started incorporating practical uses of our skills. For example, loads of obstacles are on the track and we have to dodge them. Some of these obstacles (vets) are moving. We also used these skills when we skated as a pack and had to skate closely and dodge people when they were instructed to take a knee.  

I’m really enjoying the challenge and team aspects of derby so far. I can say that my husband and friends are noticing as well. Basically, I’ve been annoying people by talking about derby a lot and all the cool accessories for my skates I want to buy. (I bought outside wheels since the weather is nice and new laces!)

I’ve been writing two grants and this week they were both due along with the mountain of paperworkthat goes along with them. Derby practices have helped get me moving and tuning my brain into something other than writing and thinking about basic science, a must needed respite.

I'm Mary Lee. I'm an aspiring Derby girl (currently a fresh meat skater), a scientist, a runner, a reader, and a dog snuggler. I like Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, a good BBC mystery show, and Oxford commas.

Posted on April 16, 2015 .

Mary Lee's Fresh Meat Journey, Pt. 4: Boot Camp, Week Two

This is part of a series by Fresh Meat skater Mary Lee, who is documenting her evolution from derby dreamer to derby athlete, continuing here in the A2D2 blog.

March 8, 2015 -- In the first thirty minutes of this practice we went through the normal warm-ups and EVERYTHING we’ve covered in the other practices.  I’m starting to pick these skills up more quickly and I’m starting to not overthink them, except plow stop.  Plow stops are evil and don’t want me to be happy. They’re like rebellious teenagers, I tell my legs and feet to do plow stop and they just say “nope” and do what they want.  Thankfully, we had some small group work on a few skills today and plow stop was one of them, still not great at it but at least I’m making progress. The secret, like with most things we’ve learned, is squatting lower.  

Today at practice, we’ve started practicing something that touches on one of those ingrained fears: turning into the unknown. Well, the unknown is turning around 180 and facing the opposite direction. I’ve just started to feel like I’m getting my bearings and some control facing forward and we are now going to transition into backwards. What I learned from week 1 is that I’m not very good at going backwards, so this whole transition thing is touching on a few of my weaknesses. Standing still and just turning around, I’m fine, but when you add forward momentum followed by turning, and my mind goes into its crazy anxiety place.  This skill is going to either get the best of me or make me a stronger more confident skater, let’s hope for the latter. 


March 11, 2015 -- If you are counting official practices, our fresh meat group has only been on our skates for six hours coming into today’s practice. That feels very hard to believe since we’ve come a LONG way since the first practice. Then, I took a look at the requirements for the skill test and was overwhelmed by all the skills we have to perform, not just perform them, but do them in a specific time or in a skillful way.  Also, at the end of our practice today the Bruisers and Brawlstars were scrimmaging, and dang they are awesome. Some of the hits sounded like football hits. I turned around expecting to see someone laid out on the floor maybe bleeding or unconscious, but everyone was up skating full speed. (My mind was a bit blown!)

I felt a bit better when I realized that we still have 16 weeks of fresh meat boot camp, and if I’m able to keep progressing I might just make my goal. Instead of being overwhelmed by everything I need to learn, I’m going to be proud of the small accomplishments along the way. 

One of the other fun things I’ve found about roller derby is that there are so many different kinds of extra gear you can get. As a bit of a gear-geek this is heaven, but as a budget conscious adult this is where I have to reign myself in and not over do it. So instead of rushing out and buying the new toe stops I’ve been eyeing I borrowed some from a vet. All the vets have been so helpful in figuring out what I might need and what is the best brand or type of gear.   

Week 2 is over and there is so much more to learn, but for now just keep skating.

I'm Mary Lee. I'm an aspiring Derby girl (currently a fresh meat skater), a scientist, a runner, a reader, and a dog snuggler. I like Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, a good BBC mystery show, and Oxford commas.

Posted on March 25, 2015 .

Mary Lee's Fresh Meat Journey, Pt. 3: Boot Camp Begins

This is part of a series by Fresh Meat skater Mary Lee, who is documenting her evolution from derby dreamer to derby athlete, continuing here in the A2D2 blog.

Each week we have two practices, and I’ll put them in one post and separate the lessons by practice. 

March 1, 2015 -- This week we’re moving along quickly, well quickly to a fresh meat skater like me.  You know the phrase fake it till you make it? Well you can’t do that with derby.  We all showed up dressed for the part but there is no way to fake roller derby. 

One of the things we learned was stopping, and I could kind of stop.  Going forward was fine but stopping will need more work, maybe that’s not a good combination.  Falling came more naturally.  The other thing that really made an impact was our first endurance test of skating as many laps as possible in 5 minutes.  This is one of the activities on the skill test and we have to be able to do 27 laps in 5 minutes.  When this was announced I literally said, “Whaaaaaaaaat?” (like a Despicable me minion).  In the end I did 18 laps, fell twice, and got more great advice from a vet…….derby stance lower, much much lower. 

There were a quite a few vets at practice, and I knew from the raw meat session that my skills were not where I wanted them to be.  The lesson I learned this time from vets is that they are not judging us, but they are there to help us.  In fact, the best bit of advice I got this week from a vet was that if you are not falling then you are not learning.  You are going to fall and you are going to fall hard but that doesn’t mean you are terrible it means you are trying something new and challenging.  


March 4, 2015 -- Reviewing what we learned at the first practice was so much easier.  Did I just say that?  Yes, practicing really works.  Maybe I’m on a one-practice delay; the first day I try it’s a struggle and awkward, then the second time it seems to come a bit more naturally.  Still not perfect at plow stops but it’s getting better, also skating backwards is a challenge.  Skating butt first is not intuitive; it feels like I will instantly fall backwards. 

I fell numerous times today and the falls were ALL on the right butt cheek.  I’m not sure how it happened, but it did.  I ended up icing it when I got home, super sore but no bruise yet.  I think this would be my first derby injury!?!

The other activity we did this practice was to play games, another “whaaaaat?” moment.  We used our skills to play a few games, and I could tell that our group is starting to feel more like a team, a big supportive team. 

I’m enjoying the supportive, encouraging, and constructiveness of this group of skaters.  We are all going through this immensely challenging experience together and I’m happy to be on the journey with them.  From what I’ve heard from others, we have a lot of hard training ahead of us. 

I'm Mary Lee. I'm an aspiring Derby girl (currently a fresh meat skater), a scientist, a runner, a reader, and a dog snuggler. I like Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, a good BBC mystery show, and Oxford commas.

Posted on March 24, 2015 .