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Published on March 2nd, 2012 | by DerbyLife


New Skaters: What Vets Want From You

By Rambo Sambo of Nashville Rollergirls, guest blogging for Kate In Skates.

I LOVE new skaters! New skaters are so much fun to teach and mold; they’re the lifeblood of this sport and will keep us thriving long after we’re gone. Training a new skater is something like raising a kid, however with a child you get to instill a certain type of demeanor and attitude. Adults come with all kind of baggage and it may or may not flow with what you’re doing.

When I came to Nashville I had already been skating for a few months. I had played in just one bout (yeah this was back in 2006/2007 when you play in a bout a few months after learning how to skate!), and I was confident in my skills. Though I was also willing to learn and absorb everything from the seasoned players. That’s the key phrase here: “…willing to learn.” I don’t think vets want someone to kiss their ass and tell them how amazing they are. (If you are a vet and you want that..checky check yo’ self!) A veteran skater wants you to do the work and get up to speed to be an asset to the team. It is all about respect and knowing your role.


Keep your head down, train hard, and keep yo’ mouth shut. When I came to Nashville I did just that. Why? Because I didn’t know better. Repeat after me, “I don’t know better”. End of story.

Know your role.

Learn the system, ask good and timely questions, and don’t be a drag. I hate to say it like this, but new skaters are lowest on the totem pole. You’re on your journey up, enjoy your time–it may take a hot minute, keep that in perspective.

I have played sports since I could walk. Coming from that background I knew that I had to prove myself before anyone would listen to me–that is, take my advice and input on drills or coaching. Waiting it out is always better than stepping on toes. Learn the structure, follow suit, practice hard, and it will come in time.

After years of coaching up newbies and seeing skaters come and go after only being around for a few months, you never really know who is going to pan out. Let’s be honest, vets can become a little jaded. It’s only because they’ve seen hundreds of girls make the same claims and then fall short. Vets have a lot on their mind and plate. Not only are they trying to coach up the next generation, they’re trying to make the current season a success. At the end of the day respect the system, respect your place it in, and prove yourself worthy of a jersey.

Vets are looking for skaters that are “go-getters”. I kind of hate that term, however, it’s true. This sport didn’t start with and hasn’t thrived off of a woman expecting someone else to do something for her. NO! We go out and take what we want and do it all ourselves. We need that same type of woman coming up in the ranks.

If you’re coming in to a team clinic or Derby 101 with no real understanding of derby, you better catch up fast. What I mean by this is…do some damn research! You don’t go into a job interview without knowing a little something about the company. You don’t just dive into a relationship with someone without knowing at least something about them. Treat derby the same way! (I will retract a bit and say, that some of the best skaters I know never saw a bout before they played derby/passed tryouts. This is few and far between I tell you!! And derby’s big enough now, that you have no excuse.)

Nothing impresses a vet more than new skaters with derby knowledge. It shows you’ve already put in effort before coming out to a clinic. It’s even better if you’ve actually been to some bouts, read the rules, and have done rink or outdoor skating. Of course these are all things a potential derby skater should do to prepare themselves on their journey! However, you’d be surprised by how many skaters don’t even bother. These are the ones that usually waste our time.

With that said, once you’ve done some research and have started the training process…you don’t stop there. Keep studying, and keep learning. Something I see too often is a girl that passes their assessments, makes it to scrimmage worthiness, and then plateaus. It’s like all they wanted to achieve was mediocrity. She may not be interested in traveling to tournaments on the charter roster, but lack of growth and staying stagnant are not good!

If you’ve made it far enough to scrimmage and become roster eligible then it’s time to step up your game. I often say to the newly passed scrimmage players, “now the real work begins!”. I say it jokingly, but I’m totally serial (Anyone? Anyone?). Now you’re competing with skaters that have bouts and years of derby under their belts. You may be competing for a home team roster spot or a B or A team spot. If you made it this far and quit now, why did you bother in the first place? Why did you spend your valuable time and the leagues valuable time to either literally quit or just ride pine? NO RIDING PINE! NO QUITTERS!

Moral of the story, be proactive, be knowledgeable, be awesome, and never give up.

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