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Campus Stories


Learning to fall (and skate)

July 12, 2017
By Frances Klaverkamp’16

Frances Klaverkamp'16 practices with the Beloit Bombshells.
Frances Klaverkamp’16 explains what she’s learned since joining the Beloit Bombshells Roller Derby.

After graduating in 2016, I was quickly employed at my alma mater in the Alumni Office. I was all set. Except most of my friends had graduated, and I had read too many articles telling me how hard it was to make friends after graduating.

In addition to my lack of local friends, I didn’t have anything to do with all of my newfound free time in the absence of homework. That is, until I happened upon a poster for the Beloit Bombshells Roller Derby in the Flying Pig. It claimed I could join with no experience.

On a whim, having never roller skated in my life, I joined. At my first practice, I was surprised to find some fellow Beloiters! “Shear Hoopla” helped teach me how to skate when she wasn't knocking other skaters to the ground, though at Beloit College, she’s better known as Amy Dodge behind the security desk. I also found “Little Blue Beast” learning to skate, who happened to be a student by the name of Miyani Clark'19.

After being fit with some secondhand team gear, I tried standing up on skates. The floor and I quickly became good friends. That practice, we focused on the very basics: how to fall safely, how to move, and how to stop moving. Despite having trouble with those basic skills, I couldn’t help but watch the veteran skaters. Their effortless movement on skates made me jealous.

Looking back now, I can do many of those things now that I longed to be able to do when starting. After that first practice, I was anxious to get back on skates and improve. And I have improved, though my teammates like to remind everyone that it’s not about comparing our rate of improvement to someone else. Celebrate others’ successes as well as your own.

Frances Klaverkamp'16 practices derby blocks.

In the six months since joining, I no longer spend all my free time conversing with my pets, although I will admit I still spend some of my time talking to them. Instead I’ve learned a lot about believing in myself and giving things my all. I've gotten stronger, met amazing new people, and am still working on perfecting the ideal derby hit. (Because hitting is so much fun.)

If you want to check us out, regardless of ability or gender, please email. We are always looking for new skaters, refs, volunteers, and supporters!

For more informaiton about the Beloit Bombshells, check out the website.