The training coordinator of the Heartland Hellcats, Bash-N-Dash Shay, also known as Shayla Hecht, rallied potential and veteran members of the roller derby team on Wednesday, May 30 at the Sip wine and coffee bar.
The team is looking to recruit as many new members as possible for their upcoming season.
A minimum of 7 skaters are required to participate in a bout, a maximum of 14. If too many skaters sign up for the team, the Hellcats hold tryouts for everyone – including veterans.
The team currently has 19 members, counting the coach.
“Roller derby is definitely a sport where however much you put in is what you get out of it” said bout coordinator Hip-Check Holly, also known as Megan Huddle, as she talked to prospects about how the program works.
“If you go out there determined you’ll get your skill set – the more time you spend on your skates, the more you’ll get it,” she said.
Experience is not a requirement to join the team. The right person can be trained in an average of three months.
“We will not set you up to fail,” Hecht said.
The Hellcats also accept and welcome men to be a part of their team. But in order for males to compete in a bout, the team has to be classified as co-ed. They would compete against a narrow selection of nearby teams.
“It takes a lot of dedication, and no one gets paid,” cautioned “Bunz-n-Ammo” aka Chris Spradlin, the Hellcats coach. “There is so much camaraderie among teams — the sport has grown incredibly over the last couple of years.”
During the season, the team practices twice a week, once on Sunday and once on Wednesday, from 6-8:30 p.m. During the off-season, practices are once a week from 6-8 p.m.
“Don’t get hung-up on (learning all) the rules. You’ll pick it up as you go” said Hecht. “It’s a fun game! Get loosened up, get on your skates, and get comfy.”
Newly recruited members are referred to as “Freshmeat.” Freshmeat members who are willing to join the team are not required to pay dues.
“Don’t be scared of conditioning” said Huddle. “There will be plenty of us attending, probably because we’re just sucked into the sport.”
The first month of practices are off-skates, conditioning for 60-90 minutes at a time, learning derby stances and strengthening legs and ankles.
Freshmeat prospects are encouraged to come to practices, try out other member’s equipment, and see and experience what would be right for them.
Before the first contact practice, a member must have a helmet, mouth guard, wrist guard, elbow pads, knee pads, and quad skates.
New members have to demonstrate they can perform minimum skills before they are “cleared for contact” at their first bout.
A new member must also skate the “27-5” routine — 27 laps around the track in five minutes.
Members must attend at least 60% of the practices before they are eligible to compete in a bout.
In the meantime, the team bonds by doing “trail skates,” where they take the skates to outdoor trails or paved back roads to satisfy their itch.
“I’m having withdrawals and it’s only been two weeks!” Hecht joked.
Hecht will create a Facebook page to keep the freshmeat in contact with the rest of the team.
“This is our off-season, so Freshmeat, it’s all about you” she said.
Seven girls signed up to receive more information.
The first practice is at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 6 at Memorial Park. Skates and gear are not mandatory.