Hi I’m Hazel Hemlock, head coach and founder of NPT Roller Derby. I have been skating since I was about three when my sister who was nine at the time strapped some uncomfortable metal adjustable skates on me and taught me how to skate round our front garden and I loved it even though they hurt. I then had my first pair of skates when I was 5 years old, they were white high ankle boots and were not like derby skates at all!
My childhood ambitions were either to be a bus driver or to own a roller skating café. They both involved wheels and I knew even then I wanted skating to be part of my life in some way. I quad skated up till I was 12 years old then moved onto rollerblades as I took up roller hockey in my local leisure centre. I really enjoyed it but found it difficult as I was the only girl amongst a lot of boys and being quite a shy person I found it tough to stand my ground (not anymore lol).
In my teens I then bladed and quad skated a lot down Swansea beach and spent many a summer skating back and fore practicing little tricks. Little did I know I was in a way training for a sport that I didn’t even know existed and more than 10 years on I found roller derby.
I hadn’t skated for a while not because I didn’t want to but because being grown up meant not much time but now I find the time to do something I love. I started out with the Swansea City Slayers and skated with them for a year and a half. Then my newlywed husband Joe and I and our friend Carol decided to start a local team where we lived in Neath Port Talbot. This was a big decision for me as it meant not playing derby for a while until we had formed a group of skaters who could skate and play derby safely. However I’m glad I did as the rewards have been great, I have helped skaters who on their first session clung to the wall but are now confidently bouting.
With coaching you help others but you also learn a lot about yourself too and your own skating as you have to think of easy ways to break things down which isn’t always easy, however completing my BRSF coaching course has helped with this.
The team is going well and we are now introducing our first learn to skate course for people who would like to just learn to skate or play/officiate derby with no pressure. I’m really looking forward to this as I love meeting new people and each person the team meets brings something extra to NPT Roller Derby and its growth. If you are interested please sign up, it is open to anyone over 18 and I and the rest of the team will make sure that you are welcomed.