So I have passed my minimum skills and I have very mixed feelings about this. Firstly, as I scrimmed with the Big Girls and took part in a Cherry Popper the following week, I am very grateful to all my coaches for making sure that I was safe to do this. Secondly whilst I * knew * that minimum skills are just the first step and I have a lot more to learn, I now understand just how far I still have to go, and it’s a little daunting.
As a Rookie you focus on minimum skills completely until the end is near and you begin to get fidgety to move up. In the beginning minimum skills are what you need to achieve before you can start playing Derby but in reality they are just the beginning of becoming a Derby player who is consistently safe, competent and strategic. And these skills are far from perfected – they still need to be practised and honed along with others you haven’t learned yet.
At the Dames once you have passed your minimum skills you move up to the Cadets.
The Cadets train with the Bomb Squad for some sessions (and indeed the A team) but they also have their own dedicated Derby School, which is a recent innovation to ensure that specific time and training is given to learning and improving Derby Skills. It’s a bit like throwing you carefully into the deep end but making sure you have a rope.
Six days after passing my minimum skills I had the chance to put them into practise at a Cherry Popper with some of the other, more experienced Cadets. Your first bout – even if it’s a newbie bout – is scary and exciting at the same time and I was so glad to be able to mentally lean on the other Dames. My performance was mixed, and my emotions about it are equally mixed. Did I learn a lot from it? Yes. Will it make me a better Derby Player? Yes. Was I happy with my performance? No. Did I always know what I was doing? Of course not!!
But it’s my Derbyversary on Sunday 21st February and if I look back at that first session and the few that followed it, where I had problems simply standing up, then I get quite emotional about what I have achieved.
Join me going forwards, in a Diary of a Cadet.