By Marie Berberea, Fires Bulletin editorJuly 13, 2017
FORT SILL, Okla. (July 13, 2017) -- In between obstacles at the Combat Confidence Course, Pfc. Amber Morris, C Battery, 1st Battalion, 31st Field Artillery, explained how playing roller derby prepared her, albeit in an unorthodox way, for Basic Combat Training (BCT).
"[Roller derby] definitely taught me how to push myself more physically and mentally and then helped me with being able to deal with a large group of different people," said Morris, also known as Amburglar in "skating circles."
Morris skated with the Lawton (Okla.) team, 580 RollerGirls, in 2015, and continued to play for other teams when she moved to Washington. Morris played for 580RG when she was an Air Force spouse in Altus, Okla. She traveled the 40 minutes to every practice, event and game.
"I needed something for me to kind of have an outlet, other than work and school. I Googled 'nearest team' and I joined 580. Best decision ever. It built my confidence ... and allowed me to find different strengths in me that I didn't know I had," said Morris.
Entering Week 3 of BCT, Morris said she uses methods that helped her pass the derby skills test of skating 27 laps in five minutes, to succeed in physical readiness training.
"Whenever we run or do anything with time, I always think about whenever we'd do our '27 in fives' -- I'd always follow (skater) Halfpint and make sure to be right behind her. So I try and just pick a person ahead of me who's fast so I can try my best to push myself."
Before joining the Army, Morris tackled a couple obstacles on the track. One of them was getting comfortable with being in close proximity to others to hit and be hit. Two years into the sport, she looked at ease as she waited her turn in a tiny area stacked with skaters.
She commented on that fact and said, "No personal bubbles here."
The second, and biggest obstacle in the sport was getting over the fear of failing. There is a definite learning curve to the sport because most people don't learn to skate to hit others.
That curve is often demonstrated at games in front of family and friends. Because of the regularity of these very public "fail moments" Morris entered BCT with a high-level of humility.
When asked what her best "fail moment" in derby was, she asked, "Which one?
"I'd have to say my first game with [580 RollerGirls]. I always fell forward and I disappeared for a little bit because the blocker behind me fell on top of me. I face planted. I got back up though," she laughed. "It was terrible."
Her drill sergeants asked her about her time as a roller girl and when they called her a champion skater, she quickly corrected them and said she was just simply, a skater.
Morris said one of her favorite things about roller derby is the sense of community. She said she looks forward to that aspect of Army life as well.
She and her newest "teammates" graduate BCT Aug. 11.