Being My Own Hero

By Roller Rookie Diaries July 16, 2020

My dream of joining TXRD began last fall when I started learning to skate through their Derby Academy program (taught by the wonderful mentor Lacy Bones). From my perspective, roller derby has really redefined who can be an athlete. It challenges every sport culture I’ve ever known but still shows up with the same amount of intensity, skill, and campy attitude. So when Rookie tryouts rolled around last February, I was ready to give it my all to be a part of this community!

On tryout day, potential rookies rolled out of their cars at the Thunderdome with their gear to be greeted by veteran skaters to get checked in, fill out a questionnaire, and be split into two groups. One group went through the interview process led by a small group of veteran skaters. The other group went on to the scary bit: the skills portion of the tryouts.

Before we got into demonstrating skills, we did laps and stretches around the track to warm up and try to skate out the jitters. Then two vet skaters performed all the skills for us on the track to make sure we knew what to do. I had practiced each skill at derby academy before, but I was still feeling so nervous! What if I just got on the track and forgot how to move?

The skills included burpees, three timed laps, plow and t-stops, 4 different kinds of falls, jumping, turn-around-toe-stop off the track, 360 turn, 180 turn into a backwards lap, and then horizontally stepping up and down the track. We performed in pairs for a group of three judges. It went by super quickly because in the moment, you’re just thinking about doing the best you can and trying to invoke that muscle memory! I definitely didn’t do everything perfectly, but no matter what I did my best.

Once we were all done, we switched with the other group to be interviewed and talk about our goals, why we want to be a part of the league, and what we could bring to TXRD. And then that was it! A group of newbies went to a local bar nearby (it was a simpler time) to reward ourselves before heading home. We had to wait to get a call from a league member to tell us if we passed tryouts to join the three-month Rookie bootcamp (during which you’re still not a league member- you’re training your butt off to become one). The wait was just as scary as trying out!

In the end, I did make it through!

Luckily (but also not), I do get to do it over again since rookies is suspended for the time being. The coronavirus pandemic is truly awful, but skating has been the one thing getting me through it and I’ve been skating almost every day since quarantine started in March (by that time, we had just made it past month one of Rookies.) Not to brag, but my skating has improved dramatically from skating all the time, from both practicing basics and challenging myself to try new or harder skills. I guess the science is true: practice takes time but it makes a huge difference.

-Courtney Naquin, ’20 Roller Rookie