First Blood

first practice.

walking into the thunderdome was awe-inspiring. you know that quiet, whispery feeling when you walk onto hallowed ground? yeah, same thing. it was a big open space with hangings detailing each team and her skaters. the whole place inspired respect in me–respect that what i was about to begin was not for the faint of heart, nor was it to be lightly mocked. people work, HARD, for this sport, to be their very best and they give it their all here. there is no room for sarcasm, even as big as it is.

inside are two banked tracks. One is the game track, the same one I saw at the championships, which made me giddy enough. the other is the brand-new practice track, and is it beautiful! Freshly painted black with yellow stars, it calls you to be as bad-ass as possible. after i was fitted for my skates and put on safety gear (knees, elbows, wrists, head), i hesitantly explored the place. i haven’t been on four wheels in a while, and last time they were all in-line. So I was a little shaky, little nervous.

everything was so new–how to get on the track, to tuck in your pelvis, how to do a T-stop, the mechanics of a crossover, stretching with skates on. everything felt so new and exciting–and slightly impossible. but surprise surprise–a T-stop can be managed within 10 minutes if you’re not afraid to keep pushing it (life lesson #1!) after a few laps, however, my body remembered how to skate, the initial excitement was tempered, and i was super eager to be learn what I could about derby. poor lacy–i kept asking “why?” “what’s the purpose here?” but i wanted to know! i’d like to know why I’m doing it, because then I can better understand how to do it. if i know we’re doing these track steps to learn control, then i’m going to focus on controlling my body to better do the steps. stops are obvious, but why a plow stop vs a T-Stop? (plow stops are used as the basis for a number of more advanced moves). i feel like there’s this whole world opening up before me. but with the good, comes the painful.

near the beginning of practice, i fell. HARD. my only fall of the day, but i was really bookin’ it down the track, and lost my balance and fell backwards, which is not how you want to fall, really. I landed on my right cheek, and felt my brain bob around inside my skull. I was so nervous and shaken up by it, i started to ugly-cry. oh yeah. red face, squinty eyes, sweaty, heavy breathing. i was shaking so bad i could barely crawl off the track, and it didn’t help that everyone stopped, took a knee, and watched my humiliation without distraction. polly and lacy were super nice about it too–just wanted to make sure i was ok. i kept apologizing for being such a baby, but y’all–that HURT. and they just kept shushing my “sorry! sorry!” with “are you ok? it’s ok–falls suck” and “don’t worry about it. Are you sure you’re alright?”. Honestly I just wanted everyone to go back to skating and let me be miserable for a minute. My head hurt and when I fell backwards, i pulled a muscle in my shoulder. but never have i been so glad for a helmet!

and, i’ll never have another first fall. that was it, i got it out of the way. there’s nothing to be nervous about anymore. yeah, it hurt, but i got up and moved on. i hope i can take other falls the same way.

i’m so excited about this upcoming saturday. my safety gear should be here this week, and if i’m lucky, my helmet too! all I can think about in the evenings is how if i had my safety gear, i could go skating at the elementary school five blocks up. my friend theresa and i are working on derby names (any awesome suggestions?). i’ve got derby on the brain, my friends.

the best part is how i fit into all of this. my boyfriend, my boss, my friends–all say the same basic thing, “of course you can do this! this is so your thang!”. it’s so encouraging to feel like i can really excel at something, if i just work hard enough for it. the instructor said something  at the end of practice that made me giddy, and it’s got me so fired up. the thing about derby is this: it’s so glamorous and hardcore (as well as trashy, violent, inspiring, and larger-than-life), and those are two words i would never associate with myself.  but you know what? that doesn’t really matter. i can be glamorous and hardcore if i choose. i just have to know that there’s some sacrifice involved–hard workouts at the gym, less chocolate, even more water. big bruises maybe, stiff muscles. but it all seems so worth it.

what’s new and exciting in your world? are you trying something you thought you’d never do in a million years?


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