From Raw to Fresh Meat

Posted on October 26, 2010 by


Just like the first week of derby training, Michelle and I were the first two to arrive (at 6:15) and Erica blithely rocked up just on 7. About 65 skaters turned up and we were divided into seven groups. Michelle, Erica and I found ourselves split up for the first time.

Michelle trying to appear unfazed

Does this sticker make my arm look fat?

Each group rotated around the court and did different skills assessments. Everything went without a hitch for me, until I faltered during stepping. Stepping is simply that. You stand still, they tell you to step left, you do. Then you stand still again until they tell you to step in another direction. I am still to work out what the point is. I wondered if it was to suss out if you could tell left from right but when Michelle had to check and make an “L” with her left hand she nervously explained and was told that they weren’t there to assess that.

Anyway, I stumbled a bit on the backwards step. My heart sank. Not so much because I had stuffed it up (I mean, why would I care about a skill that I didn’t even know the purpose of?) but because if I didn’t get through and it was because of stepping I was going to be so annoyed.

Off we went through the different stations. I weaved, crossed the track, T stopped, snow plough stopped, glided on one leg, squatted round the corner (not as grotty as it sounds) and propelled myself without lifting my feet off the track. The purpose of these skills is to prove that you’re safe enough to leave Raw Meat and start learning tackles in Fresh Meat.

There was a bit of a back up on the tracks so once my group had finished we loitered around waiting for the endurance tests to begin. I needed to do 25 laps in five minutes and five laps in one minute.

All of a sudden people were yelling “blue group, on this track – spread out”. That was my group. I wasn’t sure what was happening but I grabbed a spot on the track. Derby girls were milling around yelling out “I’ve got number four”, “who’s got number 2?”, “where’s number 6?”. I looked around nervously to see if someone ‘had’ me and found a girl lined up across from me. From the other side of the track I was pretty sure I overheard someone say five minutes. Right, we’re doing the 25 laps then. I forced my knees to relax and looked straight forward. Then a whistle blew. The girl just behind me took a few running steps on her toe stoppers and overtook me. I ignored her and concentrated on keeping my derby stance. It suddenly occurred to me that 55 other wannabes and all the derby crew were watching us nine girls go round the track. My mouth was very dry. I tried to lick my lips but my tongue was all dry too. I’d already lost count of how many laps I had done – maybe 3 or 4. Now my lungs were hurting, like the dryness had spread down. Someone coming up behind me yelled “on your inside” and I moved out slightly to let her through. It was enough to make me focus. I forgot about the crowd and concentrated on my technique, my arms, the route I was taking around the track and my pace. I realised that my lungs weren’t hurting anymore and neither were my legs. I felt relaxed and like I could just keep going like this forever. I didn’t know how many laps I’d done though or whether my pace was ok or not. A time keeper yelled “one minute left” and the crowd broke into a roar. I had no idea how I was tracking but I upped the pace slightly. As luck would have it, both Emmas trying out had ended up in the blue group. At some point someone yelled out “that’s 25 Emma” but I had no idea if that was me or her. I got lower and tried to push even harder. The whistle blew as I crossed my starting line. I dropped down into a snow plough stop and steered off to find my counter. My lungs had suddenly remembered that they hated me and each breath felt like it was ripping a layer of them off. “How many?” I rasped. She responded “26”. I was ecstatic.

Next up was Erica’s group. People in her group were slow and a couple fell over. She was forced to do lots of overtaking. I couldn’t tell how many laps she’d done but I was worried. I yelled out each time she went past telling her she had a good pace going or to keep it up. I wondered if this was actually helpful (I asked her afterwards and she tilted her head to the side and very politely said “I dunno…” which is Erica for “don’t ever do that again”). At the five minute mark her counter refused to give her the final count. Erica was depressed and said she knew she was short of the 25. The thought of continuing the derby journey without her was horrible. Downcast, we went to the other track to watch Michelle do her laps. As expected Michelle smashed her laps.

Then they announced that the one minute endurance test was cancelled (we had run well over time). I had the anticlimactic realisation that I had probably just passed the Raw Meat testing. I should’ve been happier but I was just so worried about how many laps Erica had actually fit in and whether she would be joining me.

We moved outside to be bitten by mosquitoes and wait to be called up and given our verdict. I was in. Violent Krumble looked down the assessment list to tell me what to work on. When she said “well there’s not much you needed work on” I felt so proud I wanted to grin like a Cheshire cat but didn’t want to look arrogant so I smiled and added “oh my weaving and wide slaloms need work”.

Then I hugged her and ran off to find Erica’s group. I had heard that what they were actually after was 22 laps so was feeling very confident that Erica was in. The feeling was confirmed. She had achieved 24 laps. I jumped around like a mad thing and then we went to find Michelle. She was also in.

Erica, just after she found out she was in

I was suddenly struck by how much hard work is to come. Nine years of ice skating gave me a leg up on the skating skills that were needed to get passed Raw Meat. But now comes tackling and strategy. I can’t think of anything I’ve done so far that will be comparable.

Anyway, there’s no time to worry about that now. I’m off to buy a mouth guard and post off my payment for ambulance insurance!

Posted in: Raw Meat 2010