When a friend invited me to a Bilingual Skate class in Lafayette in May 2022, I saw an opportunity to learn a new skill (skating) while brushing up on an old one—French comprehension—mais oui !
I came to class, told the class instructor my shoe size, and laced up the rental skates he handed to me. Tan, broken in by hundreds of people before, and badly fitting (men's sizes!), I used those rental skates to reacquaint myself with roller skating and could not remember the last time I had roller skated.
I was hooked.
The skills I learned in those early classes were achievable and challenging, giving me the state of flow that is so rare in my (self-imposed) busy schedule. I was also inspired by the vision and values of the instructor: Brian Clary.
I decided that I wanted to learn all of the beginner skills and graduate, but not in the soft, brown, rentals. Within a month of that class, I bought silver, holographic, Impala recreational skates during a Memorial Day sale. They were flashy, mine, and for the next few months I worked hard to force the skates to do what was asked of me (skating from the ankle up).
In retrospect, I realize just how much harder I was working to roll and hold an edge. I had read and understood the club resource on equipment, but it wasn't until I decided I wanted to compete that I considered investing in professional equipment.
I asked our coach what he would recommend for me in my price range. We talked throughout the order process about where it was safe to cut costs, what should be upgraded, and what I wanted my long-term options to be.
One solution does not fit all.
Brian created a custom package for me based on my goals, weight, skating surfaces, and disciplines. Skates are mainly comprised of a boot, plate, cushions, wheels, trucks, and toe stops. My package is a Giada boot with a Variant C plate, yellow cushions, and Devil 42D wheels with speed max Abec 9 bearings (which I will mix in the future with Giotto freestyle for the push wheels).
I am generally a very practical person who does not make large purchases, so I thank Brian for working with me to find an option near my price range—AND, having used these skates to progress, I would have paid double what I paid because of the difference it made. The skates arrived in December 2022, a birthday, Christmas, and New Year's present to myself (shoutout to December babies!). I will not gush, but the pearlescent boot and Italian plate was like a coup de foudre—or, love at first sight. I tried my new skates on the figure circles first and started adjusting to how responsive they are. There was a small learning curve, but everything was easier. Everything was easier: carriage, speed, edges. I wondered how my progress would have been if I'd bought them six months before when I started. I hadn't known then that I would progress and join Roller Louisiane as a competitive member athlete.
It has been really incredible learning the small ways to upgrade my skates, with the sage guidance of our knowledgeable coach, of course. For example, changing my bearings and wheels made such a difference, that for five minutes I just skated around the floor marveling at the glide. I clean the wheels once a week and learned the hard way that you need to wear book covers if you are training dance and your partner has black boots. I look forward to expanding my collection as I compete in new disciplines.
Until then, I'll skate where I am.