Published on August 29th, 2013 | by Guest Contributor1
Red Bank R!ot Girls, Photo: Gary Courtney
Starting New Jersey’s First Junior Roller Derby Team
By Clare Beware
“5 seconds,” informs an official inside the track. Trembling with anticipation, I rise up on my toe stops. I can hear my heart beat pound with every beat, and I can feel the sweat drip down my face. The screaming of a whistle breaks the silence and I’m off in a flash.
We were playing at East Coast Derby Extravaganza in Pennsylvania. I was the captain for the “Red Bank R!ot Girls” and we were versing “Jersey Junior Roller Derby”. This was our 3rd official bout, and man did I work hard for it.
The first time I put on a pair of skates was the summer of 2011. My dad’s friend played on a newly formed women’s league called the “Red Bank Roller Vixens” from Red Bank, New Jersey, and we thought we’d give it a shot. Every women’s practice I attended I seemed to fall more in love with roller derby. Eventually, two other girls and I that skated with the women finally got a great idea. We were going to start New Jersey’s first junior roller derby team.
This wouldn’t be easy though. We needed at least 7 more players, insurance, a coach, equipment, and our own practice space. After what felt like forever, we found a good amount of girls, a coach (who happens to be my dad), insurance, equipment, and practice space, we finally got to start practicing. We had to teach almost every girl how to skate, play, and get along with each other.
Did I mention that players don’t always stay? Many of the girls have come and gone, whether it was because they didn’t like the other players, or they didn’t think they were good enough, it’s really annoying! One month you’ll have 15 players and then the next month, you’re back down to 9.
At ECDX (a.k.a. East Coast Derby Extravaganza) we had 12 players. 10 of us were from Red Bank R!ot girls and two girls had come down from the Barnyard Bruisers, a team from Warren County, New Jersey. This was also a challenge, because we had only skated with these two players twice before, while Jersey Juniors had skated with each other for months.
I guess you could I was a little nervous. But I wasn’t nervous because I was captain, or because there were a million people, I was nervous for my team. 3 of them had never even been to a bout before! And I wasn’t sure if they were ready. But there was no turning back. So I helped them as much as I could. Sadly, we didn’t win. The final score was 119 to 35, so I guess you could say we got crushed. It was hard for the team, but after watching the bout over again, I think we all knew what we needed to work on for the next two bouts that were only 2 weeks away. In those four practices, I think we improved so much! By the night of our interleague bout on July 13th, I felt confident about our team. We picked two new captains, Mad Taco for silver, and Tootsie Roll Girl for black. Black won 66-43, but I think we’re all winners.
The next day we all traveled to Coney Island, New York for our bout against “Gotham Girls Junior Roller Derby”. It was quite exciting considering many of us had known each other from different clinics in the past. It was a tough game. They were really good, and I guess you could say some of the girls on our side weren’t ready for it. In the end we lost, but many of the other r!ots (including myself) had great moments in the game. Whether it was a blocking drill we applied or something totally new that we threw in there, it was pretty cool to witness. And we all made the day into a little field trip, and visited the boardwalk.
Currently we are practicing twice a week and improving everything derby. It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come. We might even hold a junior mash-up! Also, it all started with 3 girls, and now there’s 12 of us. I know we’re no all star USA team, I know we don’t win every game, and I know we don’t get taught by all star players, but I have my team, and that’s all I need.