|Photos by Hale Yeah, writer at derbylife.com and you can find him here!|
The second of three tryouts for Team USA occurred on Monday July 1,
2013, in Feasterville, PA, closing out the ECDX weekend. I was one of the
hopefuls on that intense but exciting day. I had the opportunity to skate alongside some of the best in the country. Representatives from Gotham, Philly, Boston, Charm City, Atlanta, Tampa, River City, Maine, Steel City, Texas, and several other leagues were there. A total of 150 skaters were signed up for tryouts, and
the competition was fierce.
I arrived 10 minutes before the announced door-open time of 10 am, and there was already a long line of skaters ready to sign their waivers and get started. Each of us was assigned a jersey color (black, white, or red) and a group number (1 or 2). We were expected to warm up on our own and be ready to start at 11 am. I stepped out on the floor determined to skate my best and give it everything I had. The Team USA coaches, Buster Cheatin’ and Endless Justin, definitely asked for a lot from each hopeful. We were challenged both mentally and physically; the coaches were trying to push us to our limits.
We went through one-on-one blocking, two-on-one blocking, and threeon-one blocking, rotating so that we played blocker and jammer positions. We were asked to block facing both forwards and backwards in each scenario. After three and a half hours of drills, I found myself extremely exhausted.
But, man, I was having fun! At around 2:30 we were given a break to eat and rest up while the coaches decided on scrimmage teams. I did not expect to be chosen, as I looked around at all the talented and experienced skaters surrounding me. And I was correct. Only 32 were chosen to scrimmage, and I was not one of them.
I was disappointed but not disheartened. I had achieved my goal, to come out and skate with some of the best roller derby has to offer, and to give it my all. I had done this and more. I was proud of what I accomplished at tryouts, and at no time did I find myself saying, “I can’t do this,” or “I shouldn’t be here.” I learned many things on Monday, including where I stand as far as my skills and what I need to work on to make the cut next time. I am pleased that these are in line with my personal goals, so I must be on the right track! I also brought home valuable drills to share with Carolina so that all of us can improve.
You may ask yourself, do I have what it takes to tryout? I think it’s a great experience and would recommend giving it a shot, but here are some things I think you need if you want to get the most out of the experience. Obviously, you need a solid understanding of the rules and current strategy. You must have strong basic skating skills (stops, lateral movements, use of your edges, etc). The coaches are looking for skaters who work well with others and as part of the team. They want versatility and will be selecting players who are effective as both blockers and jammers. Most importantly, you have to give it your all in every second of every drill in tryouts because the competition is so tough.
I was inspired by all the amazing athletes who tried out for Team USA. There was such talent, passion and pure determination in the skaters who participated. I had a great time at tryouts, and I would do it again in the future. I went into it all with no expectations of making the team but with the hopes of learning about myself as a skater. I left with a few new friends and a great deal of pride in what I can accomplish.