It’s that time again, Jackets! The Yellow Jacket Roller Derby (YJRD) hosted their first New Member Open
Enrollment of the season.
The first leg of the three-part orientation took place this Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023, in the Campus Recreation Center’s (CRC) Auxiliary Gym and served as a welcoming introduction to students interested in joining the team.
“Open enrollment gives students a chance to get a feel for roller derby and whether they want to commit to joining the team or not,” said Alexandra Rodriguez Dalmau (derby name Dominican Dynamite), 4th-year ENVE and Public Relations Officer forYJRD.
Held for three consecutive Sundays this fall semester, the series is cumulative with each session building on the previous. While each session might begin with a recap, each is distinct, and students are encouraged to attend all three.
“We teach you the basics of how to fall, stop and skate. We also go over the rules of derby and at the end [of the series] have a scrimmage derby off skates, where the players wear socks, so people can get a feel of what the sport is about,”said Rodriguez Dalmau although she notes that the majority of open enrollment exercises are done wearing skates. All equipment needed for Open Enrollment (knee pads, elbow pads, helmets, skates and wrist guards) is provided by the YJRD. According to Rodriguez Dalmau, a students’ perception of YJRD after Open Enrollment is critical, as the decision to join the team is almost entirely in their hands.
“There are no tryouts, its first come, first served, you get here you decide you want to join and there are either skates your size [provided by the YJRD], or you can bring your own gear [and] you can join,” said Rodriguez Dalmau.
When asked about what her favorite part of Open Enrollment was, Rodriguez Dalmau described the scrimmage.
“I love watching the new people play in socks. That’s a newer thing we’re doing, so I didn’t get to do it when joined. I think it’s really helpful because in previous years, the focus of open enrollment was just on how to skate, but skating is very different from an actual derby. A derby is much more intense and is very contact heavy,” Rodriguez Dalmau said.
While Jackets may be familiar with the at-times rough nature of the sport, Rodriguez Dalmau said that interested students should not let that prevent them from coming out.
“Don’t be scared! I feel like it’s definitely something that can be terrifying at first because there is all this misconception about what people think derby is but we take things very slowly with anyone who joins,”
Rodriguez Dalmau said.
Rodriguez Dalmau admits she did not have much experience when she joined the YJRD last fall, however, she described a system of levels the team has implemented to keep newcomers safe.
“We have a levels system, so you don’t even get to play in a derby until you’ve passed level one, which includes the basics of skating because our priority is keeping everyone safe,” Rodriguez Dalmau said.
Continuing this sentiment, she spoke of her own nerves when she first joined and how her team helped her overcome that.
“It was very intimidating to see other players who have been skating basically their entire lives. I didn’t think I could ever get to that level, but everyone is so helpful, everyone wants to teach and pay it forward,”
Rodriguez Dalmau said.
Currently Rodriguez Dalmau lists YJRD practices as “the highlight” of her week.
When asked for what advice she would give newcomers, Rodriguez Dalmau kept her response short and to the point.
“Come in with an open mind, and try to have fun. The first day is all about how to fall, so there’s a lot of falling, and staying positive can definitely help,” Rodriguez Dalmau said.
For those interested, the YJRD will be holding the next two sessions of Open Enrollment on Sept. 27 and Sept. 10 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the CRC’s Auxiliary Gym (4th floor). More information can be found on their Instagram at @yjrd.gt.