People in my team are probably aware that I'm not the most confident skater, but when I turned up for our rehearsal, I was soon put at ease: turns out, I wasn't the only one that was nervous!
We were given a backing track to skate to which was a Michael Jackson mash up (ok, this is cool) and were told we had to skate to a section of it lasting no more than 1 and a half minutes. Our coach and captain let us listen to our section of music and then threw open the floor to us for ideas- this made me feel more confident.... No one suggested backflips!! Everyone got stuck in creatively, each idea was amazing, how could we represent ourselves and these ideas in such a small space of time?
We all decided that maybe we should show the audience a little bit about roller derby so we came up with the idea of having jammers versus blockers, incorporating a few of our stopping techniques.... And then someone suggested jumping....over people... My heart was in my mouth, really?!!! Luckily two of our more advanced skaters took up the challenge! Three of us lay down on the floor and waited to be jumped over. I did an 'I've-just-eaten-a-lemon-face' waiting for someone to be landed on! I should have had more faith, both skaters cleared the 'face down and frightened' people being jumped over with more ease and grace than a ballet dancer, I guess being a skater also means total trust in your team mates which is a lesson I learnt! The rather relieved 'jumped skaters' got up and there were cheers all round!
We carried on with the rest of the routine, deciding to have symmetrical skating on either side of an 'imaginary catwalk' . Both teams skated out on either side, knee stopping and jumping and then crossing over at the head of the catwalk, high fiving eachother as we went. A few if us then skated backwards up the track 'provoking' the skaters we passed in an imaginary stand off. Our head ref chipped in an idea at this point- how about we create a pack and have the 'jumping jammers' fight their way through? Awesome idea! We created the pack and gave it a go... Success! We have A show! And in the right time frame as well! Onto the venue!
We came to the venue to rehearse on the day of the show. The space was a little different than expected, larger and now with a row of audience members chairs and the judges table in front of the catwalk...which totally changed a huge part of the routine. As we looked out nervously, our captain and coach took control- we will skate through the audience isle behind the chairs and instead of knee stopping on the corners, we will skate straight to the opposite sides and stop there to create time! I guess this is why they are our coaches... Quick thinking! We began our practice. Even with our new changes, with a bit of speed we could do the routine and... Fit in a victory lap!
The hours passed quickly, and soon enough, we were getting changed, ready for the show. We shared the dressing room with the models and other acts which made it all the more nerve wracking! This whole thing has suddenly become surreal and out of the comfort zone of sports halls and ref whistles... We were now performers!
As we got ready, we all had our doubts- what if an audience member stuck out a leg? What if we totally screw it up? We all nervously laughed and joked our way to a false confidence similar to drinking a large vodka and coke, and made our way to the wings. The music was booming, the crowd, in their hundreds were clapping and cheering... That vodka and coke then looked like a great idea!
Finally, we heard the que to our music- this is it! We started skating, something was wrong, there was water on the bend of the track! A couple of us went down but, we pulled together and helped each other through, working around it but it was a close call! We pulled off all our moves and suddenly, we realised, the crowd was cheering for us! Confidence soaring, we did our victory lap, sticking our hands out to the audience as they high fived us! We came off stage, we nailed it!!!! It was over in seconds it seemed! Did we all just perform? In public?! We all felt triumphant, each of us conquering something, whether it was a new move, fear of failure or just getting up after a fall. A lot of the skaters in this performance were from our freshmeat intake- that takes guts!
I guess the adrenalin rush must be similar to what our bout skaters feel like when they play in public- I can see now why skating is addictive - I totally want to do that again!