It’s Fresh Meat Season!
I’m feeling pretty fresh myself, landing in a new league without any friends, but not as fresh as the actual “freshies”. Last year I was helping to assess new skaters and decide who would be invited to join our league. The year before that: Cat Wiest put skates on for the first time in 20 years and tried out for the Bellingham Roller Betties.
The summer of 2009 was ending. The Bellingham Roller Betties were holding their Booty Camp. I borrowed my husband’s bike helmet and rented some skates. I wore jean shorts (that never happened again). Surely I mentioned before that I am socially awkward (much later a skater confessed that many girls interpreted me keeping to myself as conceit – hahaha!). I slowly and stupidly made my way around the track, never once attempting to cross over – I thought if I fell down they would send me home. Coaches would tell me to do things that I literally could not comprehend. That night I had dreams about what would happen after 8 weeks: they would tell me I tried really hard but I couldn’t be a skater. I would proudly thank them for giving me a chance, hold my head high and go back to my mini van, then cry all the way home.
At the following weeks Booty Camp, a skater who wanted me to wear her extra set of wrist guards (because I had none) approached me. Enter Pearl Haggard. I thanked her and put the wrist guards on. They were kind of damp and smelled funny. She laughed and told me “That’s how I like ‘em!” as she skated away I caught my first glimpse of one of Pearls favorite derby accessories. A thong pulled up “whale tail” style out of her shorts with Bellingham Roller Betties stitched across the top.
When I gave her wrist guards back I felt like we were then close enough that I could ask a few intimate questions. Like, “How many girls are you taking into the league?” She immediately asked how dedicated I was. That what mattered most was potential fresh meat have the time to put in and lots of “heart”. This round about answer had me sweating for the full 8 weeks (I mean, let’s be honest, the only thing they were looking for was a checking account). I figured I needed to be in the top 3 or I’d be cut. Every time I fell down I swore there were eyes rolling all over the track.
When the 8 weeks of Booty Camp were up, we had our skills assessment. I broke down and bought kneepads and a mouth guard (because they were required – yes I went 8 weeks without that stuff!). I kept telling myself “You have now invested $50 in gear you cannot return”. I did my 25 laps in 4:22 and kicked myself extensively because another girl did it in 4:18. League members who had not previously been attending Booty Camp came out to help with skills assessment and timing. It was like having a jury. Contra VersE assessed my skills and wrote notes about me (which I never got to see) but kept mum about my actual performance and grades. I went home.
It was over.
A week later I got the magical phone call saying I had been invited to join the league and could start attending practices. Time to graduate from rental skates, I bought an old pair from Ivonna Brakebones (who introduced herself to me by saying “I just want you to know I’m one of the only people who will say hi to you. You need to go talk to people”). I bought elbow pads and all the other required stuff. I quit the bowling league.
I steadily became Cat Scrap Fever.
So here’s to you, fresh meat! We all start someplace. Good luck!