It’s been four years since I started our junior roller derby team in southwestern Ontario, Canada. What most people don’t know is that it took me a whole year of research prior to the first time I put that whistle around my neck. No, I’m not slow. I’m just thorough.
I’ve always felt that successful junior leagues are run not like adult derby leagues but more similarly to other children’s sport organizations. It took me a year because coaching junior derby meant I was going to be responsible for someone else’s baby…while she is on wheels!
I had played and trained adult derby for years before but my daughter really wanted to play herself. I felt that if she and a couple of her friends were interested, surely there were more kids like her. So I began – yes, for a year – looking online as well as emailing and phoning junior coaches near and far for advice, for administrative tips, and kid-friendly drills and games.
Most of what I found online was a ton of stuff specifically geared toward adult derby. Sure, sanitizing the name of some drills is an easy fix, but sometimes searching for novel ways to teach level 1 skills in an entertaining way has been tough. And what to do about those sticky situations you can find yourself in when you’re looking after a big group of kids?
Today, I’m part of a training committee that helps approximately 50 registered girls in our league, aged 9 to 17, learn about the amazing and empowering sport of roller derby. We’ve been through a bit, so if you’re new to junior derby training or hit a plateau or just want to see what our experience is like, come on in. Do I have a story to tell you!