Friday, 2 May 2014

My journey to becoming ‘Slammin’ Siren’

I’ve skated with the Brawds for almost 4 years. My derby name being Slammin’ Siren and I skate with the number 56 (the year my lovely mum was born).
It all started early in 2010, (my story is similar to many others!) with the film ‘Whip It’, directed and featuring Drew Barrymore alongside Ellen Paige & Juliet Lewis. Roller derby looked amazing, a bunch of strong athletic women with a strong bond and common passion, which really resonated with me.
At the time, I was single after a pretty toxic relationship and was looking for different activities to get involved in (apart from getting drunk, which I did pretty regularly in this period). I searched online for roller derby teams in Norfolk and no search results came up. I read a bit about the sport and thought about how great it sounded, but then thought no more about it. Little did I know that The Norfolk Brawds were on the verge of being formed.
After a few months and trying out burlesque classes for a time, my thoughts returned to roller derby and I decided to search online again. Through the mountains of results, an article caught my eye from my local paper about a new roller derby league who met on a Monday at our local skate rink.
I found details of one of the girls on Facebook and messaged her asking if I could come along and the next Monday I got a taxi to the venue. I was absolutely terrified, my childhood insecurities coming back full force – they looked ‘too cool’ to want me there. I also hadn’t skated for 13 years and had never been very good at it. But the girls were all so welcoming. Even after getting a black ear from smacking my head into a wall (no helmet or mouthguard :s), I was hooked!
Back then there were about 10 or so skaters (none of us having much of a clue about what we should be doing – particularly me!). Practice was spent skating around, hitting each other and playing bulldog and our first 2 open matches were laughable (we all skated bolt upright and were too scared to hit anyone).
Photo from a recent shoot
But over time the league has developed massively. We now have a full team that travels to games called the All Stars and are developing a B Team. We have over 40 skaters coming to our Fresh Meat (new skater) sessions, were sponsored by The Darkness last year and have a developing men’s team (The East Anglo Smacksons). This year we are participating for the second time in the Heartlands tournament, one of our skaters even has a burger named after her on the menu of our current sponsors, Zaks!
I feel incredibly proud to be a part of such an amazing group of people. There is so much support from my team-mates and every time I play is like hanging out with my friends. I have so much respect for this awesome bunch and can’t imagine my life without my league.
As you can see from my gushing, roller derby is a big passion of mine and I would urge anyone who gets the chance to go and watch a game - most cities (particularly in the US & UK) have a team and it’s continually expanding in Europe – there’s even a team that skate for England and a World Cup! It was even short-listed to be added as a sport to the Olympics (unfortunately didn’t make it this time).
 I often get asked where my derby name comes from. There is no earth shattering story about it unfortunately – we are a nautical themed team and I love mermaids. I really wanted to incorporate Siren into my name and most names at the time had some reference to how ‘hard’ you were, so ‘Slammin’ Siren’ was formed. Laughably, it took me a few years to even be able to slam into anyone with much force, but the name has stuck!
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