Tuesday, June 12, 2012

So I tried roller derby...

And the crazy thing is that I loved it.

Let me quickly review my athletic history...

Picked last for PE class teams from a young age, sports were nothing but nerve-wracking, confusing, and embarrassing for me. I was afraid of being hit by the ball, which was never where I expected it to be. For dodgeball, I hid behind people. One time I actually broke a finger attempting to play basketball. Volleyball, I never could seem to get under the ball and if I tried, some boy was probably already diving into my space because he thought I wouldn't get it. They put me way back in the outfield in softball, except for when I tried to play catcher and I think I might have actually caught the ball about twice. Gymnastics and swimming scared me. Tennis, I couldn't even hit the ball if I bounced it myself. My dad tried to get me into golf. Nope. Geez, what's left?

Oh yes--I did run cross country for one season when I was 14. Slowest person on the team. I did enjoy running, though, and have recently picked it up again with First Flight. The funny thing is that when I joined First Flight, I wasn't really sure why I was. It just felt like something I needed to do. But last night, as I skated on and off for several hours and sweated buckets, it became obvious that my running with First Flight was and is an incredibly important part of my journey. Derby skating requires endurance that I did not have before. This is yet another gift that First Flight has given me, and I'm so grateful to them.

I loved skating as a child, but I didn't get to do a ton of it. My parents didn't drop me off for teenage skate night once a week or anything like that. I skated on quad skates like everyone else during my occasional visits to the skating rink until I was about 13 and my parents got me rollerblades for Christmas. I skated a few times with my friends at the rink. It's hard to skate on the street around here, because it's too hilly.

In my adult life, I have skated three times.

1) One day when we were about 21, after marriage but before kids, Jordan and I stupidly thought we could go skating on a Friday night together. Friday is teenager night. Some of these kids get dropped off at the rink weekly. A lot of them are super fast, and some of them will try to dart in front of you and make you fall. A kid jumped in front of Jordan and caused him to fall flat on his back. We left in a huff and didn't darken the door of the rink again.

2) Until this past Saturday, when we decided to take the kids. My mom, who also loves to skate but hadn't done it in forever, met us there. The kids liked it okay. Suzi preferred skating on the carpet, and we had fun eating pizza and hanging out with my mom. But as I took a few laps alone, on the rink of my childhood that still looks and smells exactly as it did in the 1980's, I felt peaceful and at home. The feeling of rolling, gliding, is a sensory experience that just speaks to me the way nothing else does. And as I glided around the rink, a little wobbly and unsure, I knew I needed to do this again. I remembered how just two days prior I'd told my roller derby friend, Coral, that I could never do derby because I don't like anybody touching me during sports. But then I thought if I did roller derby I could skate all the time. Without being tripped up by teens or dodging small children! I could get my own skates, be part of a team, make new friends, and maybe later on I would have a good excuse to wear fishnet... Sold! I slammed into the grubby carpeted wall next to my family's table, smiled, and told them I thought I'd give roller derby a go.

My mom with Suzi and Ivey

3) I could hardly wait for my first practice, which was last night. The floor was painted concrete and felt different than the wood at my old rink, but I managed to mostly stay on my feet. I met some really cool people and watched the experienced skaters do some drills, timed laps, and skate in a pack. In my borrowed helmet, elbow pads, knee pads, and wrist guards, I stayed at one end of the rink and practiced falling forward. If you're going to fall, it's best to fall smoothly to your knees and slide so you can get back up faster. It was harder than it looked and I ended up falling on my butt or doing awkward splits several times instead. I also worked on stopping, turning, and just barely started trying to do the crossover (placing one foot in front of the other to skate the circle of the track and using both feet to propel myself and move faster). All of this needs a ton of work, of course, and it will be a long, long time before I am ready for an actual bout. I am taking it slow because I don't want to get injured before I've begun. I mainly want to get used to being on skates first. Buying my own skates will help, too. I'm very excited about ordering them soon!

Our next practice is Wednesday night, and there will hopefully be some other new girls there then. I look forward to getting faster and steadier so I can skate with the team!