Oct 2013 08

Words by Gnarley Quinn

With the excitement of our Fresh Meat intake for 2013 fast approaching, I thought it was a great time for me to reflect on what has easily been the best year of my life so far. I also want to share with our new Freshies all the amazing experiences I could never have anticipated throughout the year. Rolling into fresh meat with what feels like my eyes closed and buying all my gear on a whim after watching one game and jumping straight into SRDL’s first Raw Meat in July of 2012, my derby journey was rapidly beginning.

However, it was when I joined S2D2 in October last year when my love for derby truly began. The open day was unreal; full of smiles and introductions from all the members who I had never met before and sharing invaluable advice for my first training session, asking me if I needed to borrow any gear and if I was excited to join the family. I remember leaving with my best friend at the time, and now full time derby wife Sailor Doom, and agreeing “I have a good feeling about this”. Little did I know that that “good feeling” would grow into a passion that would change me into a more determined, competitive and confident person.

AliceHere’s Gnarley Quinn (right) with the amazing ShortStop from Canberra Roller Derby League at ERRD.

One of the first ever **I love this league** moments happened within the first month of joining S2D2. It was the league launch at Oatley Pub and I was going alone. None of my other friends were interested in attending and Doomy wasn’t feeling well. I volunteered to man the merch desk so that I would not look like a complete loner hanging around by myself without knowing anyone and when I said to the league that I wanted to do merch for that reason, I remember Patrick Sk8fish said to me “You’ll never have no-one to sit with, ever, at an S2D2 event”. The impact of these words truly made me feel like I was part of something very special and unique.

However, personally the biggest thing that I could not anticipate when first joining this league was how emotionally invested I would be towards the sport of Roller Derby. I have never been a sporty girl. I have never participated in a team sport or never even found a sport I enjoyed watching. Little did I know of the amazing and absolute highs when reaching my goals and the goals of our league, and the devastating and heart wrenching pain in my gut when I felt disappointed in myself or could see it on another skater’s face.

One night at training, I crashed. Literally and emotionally. I remember that night and the drill clearly. As a pack, we were to sprint and skate anti-derby around the track as fast as we could. Think of it as an anti-derby 25 in 5 as a pack of 20. Yeah. Yeah. As someone who was still not very confident sprinting or skating anti-derby direction, I soon found myself at the back of the pack, clutching onto another skater for dear life. Hearing everyone communicate “Get Alice to the front! Slow the pack down! Get Alice to the front!” and knowing that I was dragging our pace down was devastating. I kept drifting back and couldn’t keep up no matter how hard I pushed. Always having an arm out needing a whip and a push I had never felt weaker and so helpless. After the drill I felt terrible. I was upset and on the verge of tears but went on to the next drill: a partnered suicides. Coming around a corner too wide, I fell. Hard. Like whole body in shock hard. And that was it. The floodgates opened and I just had to sit in a corner and slowly begin to cry. Looking at my partner in the distance who could not find me and the track and watching her have to complete the rest of the drill alone because it was obvious I wasn’t coming back was the hardest part. I cried and I cried and I cried and I couldn’t stop. One of the girls nearby gave me a big hug and said no words, just wrapped her arms around me while I sobbed on the sidelines. Once the drill was over, before I knew it, I was on the receiving end of one of our awesome group hugs – something I’m sure our freshies will be well acquainted with soon enough!

I could never have thought I would ever feel such highs and lows in derby. People always say, “There’s no crying in derby”, well, I would suggest that maybe they’re not derbying right.

The 5X5 Championships tournament and just recently, Eastern Region Roller Derby (ERRD) tournament were a real eye opener to just how much we all love our Travel Team. Celebrating our win (Did anyone mention you’re joining the current 5X5 Champions?) was absolutely amazing. Having watched the TT girls train so hard and being able to see that trophy in their eyes, and then winning it was… I can’t even begin to describe the feeling. Everyone was beaming during the medal presentation and shedding bucket loads of happy tears. I had never felt so proud in my life.

Having such a close game at the quarter finals at ERRD recently was also a very emotional moment. After being neck and neck against Canberra C, we lost within the last 5 jams. Again, knowing how hard the girls have trained and looked forward to playing a long weekend, my heart sank. We were all emotional at the end of it, not because of our loss, it was an amazing game. It was also the last game for one of our TT skaters. BST, always a cracker and all round amazing woman is my hero (who is heading North.) I’m so lucky that pretty much all my derby idols are right here in our league. Seeing the tears on the team’s faces showed just how much we all love this sport, and more importantly, each other.

These are memories that I will treasure throughout my derby career and all things that I am very humbled to have experienced. I am so excited knowing that the new Freshies picked us to share their derby experience with, and that they will soon experience their own and I can’t wait to be there to share them with you!