Britain’s first National Heroes Day on Friday largely passed me by; preoccupied by my own life, I failed to acknowledge the power of inspirational people to lift and motivate others, as well as remaining entirely oblivious to the hero-shaped void which existed in my world. Heading to SK8 Heaven in Northampton on Saturday the last thing on my mind was hero acquisition; the day would be a success if I learned some new drills and tactics which I could bring back to LBRG to help us further down the road to awesomeness.
My relationship with Roller Derby has had its ups and downs and recently I have started to question whether we have a future together. I am not getting any younger and am starting to take longer to heal from bashes and bruises, as well as seeming to have reached a plateau in terms of what I am able to do on wheels. The bootcamp was always going to be a useful experience but I didn’t expect it to have quite the impact it did.
I attended sessions led by Pia Mess, Pitchit, Isabelle Ringer and Re-AnimateHer, covering aspects of Roller Derby ranging from fitness to tactics via messing about on skates and hitting people. They brought with them all the best bits of the American approach to life (alert! alert! gratuitous stereotyping coming up) – unapologetically positive, no bullshit and uber-confident – and succeeded in infecting everyone around them with this attitude.
Pia Mess is, I am fairly certain, part machine; a glamorous, tireless, steely machine. Pitchit distilled both the art and science of Roller Derby into one fabulous diagram (seriously – if only everything in life could be captured in one simple diagram…) while Isabelle Ringer made pivoting accessible, achievable and hey, even fun! Re-AnimateHer’s thoughtfully structured sessions and no-nonsense focus (“jammers – find the friendly side and be patient”) combined with her great partnership with Betty Ford Galaxy to ensure that we hung on their every word and soaked up the wisdom.
For the first time in months, I feel like I can be better, I’m not past it and I do have a long and shiny career in competitive sport ahead of me. Thank you Shoetown Slayers for organising the bootcamp and thank you, thank you, thank you to all the coaches I was privileged to learn from. Your generosity, skill and patience makes you all my heroes.