Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Becoming Assassination City Roller Derby fresh meat
Once you accept the fact that you will fall, it will hurt but you will survive, things get a lot better.
I’d like to say I didn’t totally suck last night at my first roller derby practice, but that would be lying. I did not fall, and that’s certainly saying something for “fresh meat” like me. Any newbie to roller derby has to go through a 90-day training period as “fresh meat.”
Last night, 10 brave girls (and my slow ass) took the track in Mesquite and sped, teeter-tottered, rolled and coasted lap after lap during speed skate practice. Somewhere around lap like 25 or something, I stopped being terrified of falling, crossed my skates over at corners and squatted low and used momentum to push myself forward. Everything from my head to toe was padded, but many of the girls sported cherry-size bruises and burns, blisters, and one girl had her foot in a cast.
Thankfully, the fine ladies of Assassination City Roller Derby helped ease me into the experience after I signed two liability forms and ranked my skating skills on a scale from 1 to 10. I gave myself a very generous 3, thank you very much. It’s not like I haven’t ever skated, but it’s been close to 10 years since I rolled around a flat wooden track. As I tied my borrowed skates, I looked at the skaters taking practice laps zoom-zoom and a wave of fear rolled over me. I’m about to willfully make a damn fool of myself. I can leave and go home right now and turn on TLC and be happy. What the hell am I doing here?
But I sucked it up, stuffed a ginormous mouth guard between my teeth and wheeled toward the floor. I feel like a confident woman in my day-to-day life, but strap some quads on my feet and I revert back to an insecure eighth grader. And “old meat” isn’t exactly sensitive. They’re not mean, but they don’t coddle your ass either. You have to practice, you have to speed up, you have to stay an arms length from the other girls, push, push, cross over, move your feet! It’s tough work being a derby girl. You have to build leg strength, core strength, and stamina and tap your inner mean girl. I’m not sure if she’s inside me yet.
I mean, I’m on the small size for a derby girl and some of the larger skaters were intimidating. So was the fierceness of their skating. I don’t know if I can push another woman without saying sorry. I had the same problem in martial arts class. It’s hard to teach yourself to be mean. At derby, it’s expected. If you’re thinking about joining a derby team -- Assassination City Roller Derby for Dallasites and Dallas Derby Devils (they practice in North Richland Hills) for the Fort Worth sisters out there -- go to a bout first (there’s one this weekend in Mesquite and North Richland Hills), watch Whip It!, and ask to sit in on a practice.
This is not a sport for the weak of spirit. But if you’re looking for a cool group of girls to hang out with, if the cookie cutter suburbanite life is weighing you down, if the book club just doesn’t capture your spirit, think about roller derby! It’s healthy -– one girl said she’s lost close to 30 pounds since joining the team –- fun, and a great way to test your inner woman. You also need to be able to commit four to six hours a week to derby (practice, volunteering, games, and more practice). Once you accept the fact that you will fall, it will hurt but you will survive, things get a lot better. I can’t wait till next week. For now, an aspirin will do the trick 'cause I am one sore piece of meat!
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