It’s that time of year when RollerCon tickets are cheapest, and rooms are filling up! Even though RollerCon isn’t for six months, all the commotion has got me reflecting on my coaching experience from last year. I had great bouting opportunities, my own booth to sell my products, the joy of seeing my long distant friends, but coaching really took the cake for me.
At first, I wasn’t planning on going to RollerCon in 2022. I had a few trips planned, and Travel Team tryouts for Denver were coming up, which meant I would have even more trips later in the year that would add up quickly. My friend Raebies messaged me to ask if I was going; she was thinking of it and looking for a group to go with. I told her I was a “soft maybe” and to not count on me. Not even five days later, I saw RollerCon posting that they are in need of trainers. I realized this could actually be a great opportunity for me to start getting into coaching at RollerCon, which has always been a goal of mine since I started coming in 2016, and with fewer coaching regulars coming due to COVID breaks, I knew this would be my chance. I applied for coaching opportunities, convinced some league-mates to come along, and voila!
When I decided to apply for coaching, I brainstormed some clinic ideas and wrote them out. I thought about what I am good at, what I feel comfortable coaching, and tools/concepts that I think can be absorbed within a single practice. With that, I submitted four different classes, and they all got approved! In the months leading up to RollerCon, I practiced my clinics on my league to find any hitches or bumps, feedback that can be helpful, or ways of explaining things that make the skill easier to accomplish. Thank you to my league-mates and partner for helping me make my clinics cohesive and engaging!
Let me tell you, coaching classes was my absolute favorite part of RollerCon! I enjoy coaching, and it is very fun for me to design a class or practice to start with a basic skill and build it up into something totally amazing. At home in Denver I coach the Flight School Program (new skater program) every week, so this was a very great opportunity to teach skills beyond the basic skating/derby skills. I led four different classes a combined total of six times that week. My classes were Dynamic Triangle Movement, Brace Yourself, O Wow Guaranteed Lead, and Whoosh Bang Zap (Off-Skates Team Bonding). Here are the summaries of my classes in case you are interested, I want to coach them again this year as well.
My first class was on the first day of RollerCon, Dynamic Triangle Movement, and dang, I was so nervous! Obviously, I have taught before, but not in a way where people go out of their way to learn something from me, if that makes sense? I have taken plenty of classes there before, but I was worried that people wouldn’t learn anything, or maybe they won’t be able to hear me, or I make an ass out of myself or who knows. When my class was warming up, I learned that it was completely full, which is, like, forty people or something, so I was sweating. When you coach a class at RollerCon, they send you a big packet beforehand with guidelines and all that to make it a smooth experience for everyone involved. One of the suggestions they have is to use the microphone and amp provided at each track, especially if you are teaching multiple classes, so you don’t use up your voice right away. So right before the class starts, I get the microphone and turn on the amp, do a little test, and it seems to be working fine. Great! I start my class, and holy cow, did that amp NOT want to work anymore! There was a bunch of feedback, and the mic was cutting in and out. I got forty skaters waiting to learn something, and everything felt in flames at that moment. I took the mic off, and my partner/coaching assistant and an RC staff member went to work on the mic, and I just projected. Luckily I am used to running practice like that, so I know how to be loud! Throughout the rest of the week, I noticed other trainers using the mic, but I was like, nah… that ain’t my luck, so I just yelled the whole time to avoid further embarrassment/ time usage.
After a mildly rough start and a quick warm-up, my class was rolling! Dynamic Triangles is my favorite class to teach, mainly because it takes simple concepts and builds up into being an absolute wall of steel with just slight changes to what you have already been doing! The energy in the class was amazing; everyone was so excited to learn, everyone had “aha!” moments, took feedback, and I saw everyone executing everything amazingly! It is so rewarding as a coach to see people picking up what you are putting down and having the concepts be easy enough to remember to take back and share with their league. When class ended, I thanked everyone for being so enthusiastic and patient since it was my first time coaching at RC. They all applauded and were so excited for me (insert cry emoji here). We all took pictures, and they were all so sweet I want to cry about it, honestly. One person told me that even though this was the first thing they had done at RollerCon, it already made their whole trip! Some people tagged me in Instagram stories of them explaining to their teammates what we did in class, and it just made me really remember why I love this sport. It just makes me so happy to share what I love with people who love it the same way. To feel that joy, the excitement, and the passion with people from all over the world!
The rest of my classes all followed a similar path, minus the malfunctioning microphone. Everyone’s enthusiasm was palpable; you can feel everyone hyperfocused on your coaching and really wanting to learn. Of course, this happens at home too, but a lot of people I coach at Denver already have these skills, so it’s more like practice and repetition rather than new, exciting tools. After my first class, I had repeat skaters in my other classes, which was great to see! I love making new friends in derby. One pair went to RollerCon all the way from Israel, which I thought was so amazing! Their IG is @cib_tlv if you want to check them out! As for my bracing and offense class, I really enjoyed them, and I think those who participated did too! It is great to see next-level offensive plays clicking in people’s heads, and watching people try to rewire their brains to rotate instead of squid out when bracing to catch a jammer. I think the only thing I would change about my on-skates classes would be to raise the class level for the Bracing and Offense classes. When you submit a class, you need to say what skill levels can take that class, so people know which classes will be most helpful for them. I had all levels from beginner to advanced, which was great for the most part, but some of the movements were harder for newer skates. Of course, I am so glad they took the classes, I think they are always great opportunities for learning, but I felt bad that some of the skills/concepts weren’t quite clicking for some folks.
My off-skates class was super fun. It is basically just ways to have fun and get to know your teammates! Everyone seemed to enjoy those classes, and we were all laughing by the end and knew everyone’s names! My only bummer about the off-skates classes was that they were not highly attended, I think because that RollerCon the attendance was about ¼ the amount that it normally is, so this year should be even more fun.
Overall, coaching was definitely my favorite part of the whole week, and I am crossing all my fingers and toes that I get to coach again this year! I love the energy, I love those “aha” moments, my partner, Diosa, coaching beside me and helping me with examples and feedback. I also love making new friends and getting to say hi to people I recognize from my classes throughout the week. My derby wife, Shreddie, even joined me in my off-skates class and took notes in my on-skates, being the supportive dwifey she is. Feeling all of the support and passion, the enthusiasm, and just the energy in the classroom is getting me hyped for next year just thinking about it. If you are able to go to RollerCon this year, I definitely recommend taking classes! Learn what you can, share with your league, and just enjoy the experience. It is truly a rare opportunity to get high-level coaching from mentors all over the world, with different ideas of How To Derby, and it is a great way to build community and help your league as well.
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