Daddy, We’re Down! #derby

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I’m feeling a little bit sick tonight.  I’m disappointed, and secretly, just a little bit relieved.  Last week, at Wednesday’s practice, we had our first scrimmage.  We were absolutely terrible; but, it was SO MUCH FUN!  THIS is what I’ve been waiting for!

We practiced skating in the pack and started with one jammer.  We’d take turns at pivot, wearing the striped “panty” on our helmets.  At first, we weren’t doing any hitting.  We had to start learning what we can and can’t do with our hands, and start figuring out what is legal…no back blocks, no tripping, etc.  It’s much harder than you would think.  Several of us took to skating with our hands clasped together like we were praying.

After several jams, the trainers lined us up around the track.  We were facing forward, each at a point around the track, with spenty of space in between.  The trainers started weaving in between us, alternating inside & outside.  As they came up next to each skater, they would throw a shoulder hit.  It was our job to take the hit and stay on our feet.  I quickly figured out that the lower I was, and the more I leaned into the hit, the less likely it would be for me to get knocked on my can!

Some trainers would just sort of lean into the skaters as they went by.  Some seemed to take a perverse pleasure in really knocking us.  After every hit, I would giggle like a fool.  I know it doesn’t sound like fun; but, it really was.

Once we’d all been battered around for several minutes, it was time to pair up and take turns at another 25 in 5.  Part of the skills test is to skate twenty-five laps in five minutes.  It doesn’t sound like much; but, you have to pace yourself, and you have to dig in and get your crossovers down.  Crossing over around the curves builds speed and creates momentum.  I went first, and my partner cheered me on, counting my laps.  I was skating hard, and really trying to concentrate; but, my right foot became more and more painful.  I wasn’t skating at anywhere close to 100% because, every time I tried to push with my right foot, pain would shoot across the top of my foot and my big toe started going numb.  By the time the five minute whistle blew, I’d only managed seventeen laps.

Taking my skate off and putting a shoe on was miserable, and by the time I woke up the next day, I could barely hobble.  I decided to go to urgent care, to see if they could see anything.  They ran some xrays, and I got to look at them with the PA.  We talked about how long the foot had been bothering me, and I counted back to about two weeks prior…that’s when I’d first started noticing twinges across the top of the foot.  She couldn’t see anything that looked like a fracture; but, she did see some strange shadowing right where I was complaining of pain.  She said that a radiologist would read the xrays and that they’d get back to me.  They wrapped me up in an ace bandage & advised me to stay off of the foot as much as possible.  Later that afternoon, they called to tell me that there was no new fracture, only that I’d “aggravated an old fracture.”  What?  I’d never known that I’d actually broken my foot.  The first week of college, I’d been running around in the quad barefoot, and did hurt my foot.  I never saw a doctor…just babied it for a while.  I eventually forgot about it…and, it’s not like that was so recent.  That was twenty-five years ago!

I spent all weekend, trying to stay off of the foot as much as possible, and keeping ice on it.  It’s not getting any better and I’m afraid that I’m running out of time to get the required skills down to be able to pass the test.

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I decided that I need to let my foot heal completely, and then try again with the next round of Cherries in September.  It turns out theat there will be several of us going through the training again.  One girl suffered broken ribs after a bad fall at the church wehere we can practice…another dislocated several of her lower vertebrae thanks to a nasty fall at scrimmage last week.  There are a couple more that had injuries early in the Cherries session and they feel like they need some extra time to work on skills.  I emailed the head of our league, to make sure that I would be able to try again, and she couldn’t have been nicer.

I’m disappointed that I won’t be on a team come September; but, I know myself…I want to do this right, and I want to be able to pass the skills test.  I don’t want to risk making my foot worse before I strap on my skates again.  The hardest part is over…putting those skates on the first time was SO scary.  I did it, and now I know that I can do it.  I will do it.

So, for now, we’re down; but, stay tuned.  This Derby Girl Wannabe is still determined to kick ass on the track!

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Don’t think; it can only hurt the ball club.

You’ve Got Mail

There it sits.  It hit my inbox last night.

The call to arms…the announcement for the first sign up/practice for the Cherries with the Desert Dolls Roller Derby League.

Next Wednesday, all of this talking will be done, and it will be time for me to walk the walk…or skate the skate, as it were.

I knew to expect it sometime toward the end of the month.  I’ve been excited about it; and, I’ve been dreading it, too.  Against my better judgement, I’ve continued to talk about it, write about it, and think about derby non-stop.  I started working with a trainer at the gym late last year, so that I could get into some sort of shape to be able to try out.

After spending all day with derby on the brain, and a stomach in knots, Dave, Ben and I headed to the gym.  My trainer, Jill, was excited to hear that the date had been set, and took Ben and I out onto the floor.  She came up with some new exercises to try, geared toward helping with balance and agility.

One of the first ones she wanted me to do was an easy one.  I was to stand facing a pedestal.  It was a small one…only about a foot high.  She wanted me to jump up onto the stand, landing as lightly as I could with both feet.  Suddenly, the fear that had been clawing at the edges of my psyche all of this time over derby ripped through and I got stuck.  I couldn’t make my feet move off of the floor.  I started sweating, and tried to will myself to do it.

I knew that it wasn’t going to tip over.  I’ve watched people do the same exact thing.  Ben can jump up onto the higher ones with no hesitation.  In my mind, I kept picturing a guy that we’d seen jumping several months ago.  He’d been jumping up onto one of the stands that was much higher…maybe four feet high.  Suddenly, he missed, and hit his shin on the way down.  He hit so hard that it raised a huge knot immediately, and he couldn’t get up off of the floor.  The pain was incredible and they had to half-carry him out.

Jill could see that I was having a hard time, and wanted to move on to something else.  She’s good at adapting to my skill level, while still pushing me.

I took a deep breath and jumped up.  I did it!

She had me do it nine more times, and it took a lot of mental scolding, telling myself that there was no reason I couldn’t do it.  If I had just done it, rather than stand there thinking about it, I would have been fine.

This is a lesson that I am going to have to remember.  It’s like that line in Bull Durham:

Tim Robbins & Kevin Costner in Bull Durham

“You just got lesson number one.  Don’t think; it can only hurt the ball club.”

About a week ago, I found a group on Facebook, called Derby Over 40.  I started reading the posts and I was blown away.  like so many other people who I’ve “met” online, this community is full of some truly inspirational people.

Suddenly, I have a place where I can pose a serious question and, rather than the “Rah!  Rah!  You can do it!” responses (which are great in their own way) I get honest, thoughtful advice, tips, reassurance and support.

Posting that I am feeling absolutely terrified because I was never a great skater as a kid, because I haven’t been on skates in years and years and because the first time I put on skates in years, I ended up with a broken elbow earned countless comments about how many had never skated at all before derby, or who went to their first practice with their skates in the box they’d come in.

I got links to YouTube videos and all sorts of tips.  My favorite was, “Don’t look at the floor.  It’s not going anywhere and if you watch it, you’ll end up kissing it!”

I’m a little distressed at how many broken bones people have had; but, they all healed and went right back to skating.

The best part is that every single person in this group is over the age of forty.  Many didn’t even start derby until after forty.  Time and again,  I saw, “Age ain’t nothin’ but a number!”

With one kid graduating from high school on Tuesday, and the other getting promoted from eighth grade on Thursday next week, I’ve got plenty of reasons to try to forget my age and try something new…just in time for my 44th birthday on the 28th!

P.S.  Once I get my derby name, I’ll get to update my signature.  I have some ideas; but, they have to be cleared through the Derby Name Register.  Stay tuned!

And then, the wheels fell off of the wagon… #postaweek2012

I was comtemplating a couple of posts before Christmas.  One had to do with the fun I’d had with my cousins, Rachael & Lisa.  We’d gone to a Desert Dolls bout and had a great time.  I had talke to more people with the league and had gotten contact info for sign-ups.  Lisa had customized t-shirts with our derby names.

The next post was going to be full of excitement.  I had emailed the league, and put myself on the list for the Cherry Posse training.  A response had come back and I was in!

With the holidays, and trying to keep up with reverb11 posts, I didn’t get either one written.  Christmas morning dawned, and Ben had adhered to our strict “Don’t wake us up before 6:00 a.m.” rule.  In the pile of presents was a brand new pair of sleek black quad skates!

You realize, of course, that I still hadn’t been up on skates in the entire six months since deciding to become a derby dame.  I figured that it would be just like riding a bike…I’d always been able to skate, so I’d have no trouble.

I was itching to skate, and I knew that the January 11th start date for training was looming.  I had the Tuesday after Christmas off, so Ben and I decided to head off to the skating rink next to the kids’ old daycare center.

We got a locker, and I stupidly put my elbow, knee & wrist pads in on top of my shoes.  I laced up my skates and stood up.  I was decidedly less graceful that I had expected.  I worked my way cautiously to the rink.  Because it was still Christmas vacation, there were a lot of little kids wobbling around the floor.

I successfully made it around the rink a couple of times, though I felt my confidence slipping.  I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t as easy to actually move as it was in my head.

As I came around toward the DJ booth, having successfully avoided a pile up of kids in front of the snack bar, a little girl fell in front of me.  I didn’t react correctly, and lost my balance.  I fell backwards, rather than to my knees, landing squarely on my left arm.   By the time I sat up, the little girl had popped back up and was merrily on her way.  The DJ came around from behind the counter and asked if I was all right.  “Yes,” I replied.  “Fine, except for my ego!”  He laughed and gave me a hand up.  I turned to make my way around to the seats.  I knew that something wasn’t right.

I met Ben over by the lockers…he wanted to change his skates.  I told him that I should probably sit down for a while.  He told me that he was fine with leaving, if I wanted to go.  We put our shoes on and walked out to the car.  The minute that I tried to pull the car door closed, I could tell that it was more than a bump.  Ben suggested that we go to urgent care.

We have a good urgent care office near our house.  With two active kids, and my susceptibility to pink eye, we’re well known there.

Taking x-rays turned out to be excruciating.  By the time we got to the x-ray room, it had been almost an hour and a half since I’d fallen.  I couldn’t extend my arm past a ninety degree angle, and my wrist and fingers had begun to swell.  The doctor mentioned to the nurse that they needed to get my wedding rings off, or else they would have to be cut off.  As soon as he left the room, I had Ben cover my hand in soap and help me pull the rings off.

The doctor showed me the x-rays.  The only fracture that he could see was at the top of my radius, just under the elbow.  It is a closed fracture, and the joint had filled with blood.  Because injuries like this can cause the elbow to freeze, they don’t put a cast or a splint on the arm.

I went home with a sling and a prescription for Tylenol 3.

Later that night, I emailed the Desert Dolls league president, Evol Starr.  I let her know what had happened and that I would need to be pulled from this round’s training team.  She was very nice about it, and said that she’d just bump me over to the May squad.  She also offered to let me come and meet the skaters and get to know the league.

I’ll admit…my confidence is shaken.  I’ve joked about broken bones, and tattoos in the shape of bruises.  I didn’t figure that it would happen this early in my journey.  I have learned a couple of important lessons, though.  I need to wear my pads.  Period.  If I’d been wearing my elbow and wrist guards, I might have come away with a bump or bruises…definitely a bruised ego, rather than a broken arm.  Also, I can’t quit…if, for no other reason, than to be able to say that I got hurt training for roller derby!

On the List! #postaweek2011

I’m supposed to be answering reverb11 prompts; but, I am completely distracted.  Yesterday, I took a deep breath, screwed up my courage and fired off an email to the Desert Dolls Roller Derby league.  The subject line?  “I Wanna Be a Desert Doll!

I wasn’t sure what to expect, and with crazy work days, time with family and Christmas bearing down on me like a truck, I promptly forgot about it.

This afternoon, I got a response.  It was simple…they’ll be sending out an informational email right after the first of the year, and I’m on the list.  I know.  I know.  That doesn’t mean anything more than that I’m “on the list.” To me, though, it’s a huge step.

Suddenly, this is more than just talking about it or writing blog posts about a pipe dream.  Now, it’s a matter of putting on the skates and doing it.

Derby has become a bit of an obsession with me.  I find myself daydreaming about it a lot…every part of it.  I wonder if I can actually be tough enough to take a hit, what I’d have to wear (fish nets DO seem to be a part of the uniform,) what I’ll call myself.  I wonder what it would be like standing up, conducting an enrollment meeting with a black eye or a cast on my leg.

Jesus.  What if I really do break a hip?

Then, I get past all of that and think about actually skating.  I’ve always loved sports…both watching and playing.  As a kid, I liked being part of a team.  I’m really looking forward to competing, cheering teammates on, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

This obsessive tendency isn’t new.  As a kid, I was really disgusted when I learned that girls couldn’t play for the Phoenix Suns.  (This was before the WNBA.)  I wore my Youth Basketball Association tee-shirt as many days a week as my mother would let me, carried my basketball everywhere and was always practicing “the perfect lay-up” in the driveway.  I was the only girl on the block, and you could always find me, pigtailed, freckle-faced and sweaty, playing guard with the boys.  We kept medical tape and clean popsicle sticks in a drawer in the kitchen for those times that I’d come running in with a jammed finger.

This year, I’m pretty sure that Santa is bringing new skates.  I asked for a pair that’s a recommended brand, but not the high-end skates.  I’ll save that for when I actually get drafted to a team.

I posted something on Facebook about the league email, and my mother’s reaction was, “Oh, my God!  This is happening!”  When I talked to her later in the day, she said that she gets a big grin on her face, as she sees that this is more than just talk.  I think that she’s excited.  She likes the idea of being a Roller Derby Mama.  Knowing my mother, I will have plenty of glitter and sparkles on any uniform that I end up in, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s getting closer! #postaday2011

Hello!  Hello!  Hello!

It’s been awhile since I stopped in to update this blog.  I was resolved to spare you the dreary slog of getting into shape.  The last couple of months have had some highs and some not-so-highs.

Today was my first day back in the gym in weeks.  With holidays, wedding receptions and illness, I’ve found plenty of ways to slack off.  Ben got a bit of a break, too.  His fall football team made it as far as the first round of the playoffs.  Disappointing for the boys, but a bit of a relief for the parents.  Winter season starts on the 27th, so we’ll be busy again next week.

Since the last time that I checked in, I’ve had a bit of a redirection in my goal.  Before Thanksgiving, Ruthie, from our gym, invited us to see one of her bouts.  She’d just been drafted by the Shotgun Shirleys.  They are a flat track team with the Desert Dolls Roller Derby League.  When I started this blog, I was determined to try out with a banked track league.  Then, we went to see Ruthie’s team in action.

I thought that flat track wouldn’t be as exciting, and that it would be easier.  Boy, was I wrong!

What flat track lacks in the “show” aspect, it more than makes up for in speed, toughness and actual sport.  The rules are the same and you have the same number of skaters on the floor; however, the banked track pack moves mores slowly and there is a lot less hitting going on.  The jammer has to maneuver through the pack like a person squeezing from the back of a full elevator car to the door.  In flat track, the pack moves more quickly, and the blockers throw hits harder and more often.  Because the pack moves faster, and it’s hard to get through, points are precious.

During halftime, I talked to members of the Cherry Posse, the Fresh Meat rookie skaters, that were manning the merchandise tables.  Each one talked about their starting point and encouraged me to come out for the team.

On the way home, both Dave and Ben assured me that they thought that I could do this, and that they supported me 100%.

Last night, I went to another bout.  This time, I had my cousins, Rachael & Lisa, with me.  Initially, Lisa had the same preconceptions about flat track that I did.  From our seats, right on the track floor, those quickly changed.

Again, I went up and talked to the girls at the merchandise table.  The league had just held their drafts, but were gearing up for another training loop.  One of the girls handed me a slip of paper with the Desert Dolls email and I just have to show up.  There are no try outs.  The next class starts in mid-January, and I have to pass a set of skills tests to be considered for a team.  They prefer woman with little skating experience, so that they can teach from scratch.

It looks like it is time to move!  new skates are on my Christmas list and Ruthie keeps insisting that I’m ready to join.

Jill continues to work with me and we are tailoring my work-outs to target those skills I will need…getting up off of the floor being the most important!

I think the biggest factor in my decision to try flat track has to do with time.  I have a better chance of actually skating with this league, and skating sooner.  With banked track, I could be looking at a year before I actually get to try out for a team.  Watching the skaters as they prepared to take the track last night, I wanted to lace up skates and get started.

It looks like this could happen soon!

Starting over…again. #postaweek2011

I fired my trainer.

As I’ve talked about before, it’s been quite a challenge getting time with Tom.  he’s a great guy, and a really good trainer; but, there was no way I was getting my money’s worth.

So, on Thursday night, I hauled my cookies to the gym and plunked them down in front of the manager.   I presented my case, telling her that I just wasn’t walking funny enough, and that it was way too easy to wash my hair every day.  She looked at me funny.

I went on to explain how much trouble we’ve had with scheduling, and that I needed to work with someone on a regular basis.  She pulled the book with my card in it.  It was blank!

She asked, “Have you started yet?”

We were both puzzled.  Tom hadn’t recorded any of my sessions to date, which means that he won’t get paid.  Very strange.

After scrolling through the list of trainers, she found one with a compatible schedule.  She got my info transferred, and promised to let Tom know.  I decided that I would reach out to him myself.  It’s a bit different from breaking up with your hairdresser and going to a different salon.    I’m going to see Tom around, and I didn’t want it to be weird.  I texted him yesterday, and explained myself.  He was really cool about it, but I wanted to make sure to turn in the session info so that he’d get paid.

Last night, LC called.  I’ve seen him around, working with other members.  He’s an enormous black man…looks like a football player.  We ended up talking for 1/2 an hour.  I explained my derby goal, and that I’m not worried about numbers on the scale, or a dress size.  I know that will come with getting into shape.  We talked about his methods, and he asked questions to sort of feel out my mind-set.  I said that my husband and my kids would be coming with me often, and we talked about the family.  When I told him about Ben playing football, he asked which league Ben’s in.  Turns out, he was the strength & conditioning coach for a team in the same league for three years.  He offered to include Dave and the kids in our sessions.

Our first session is tomorrow morning.  I’m excited and not a little nervous, knowing what Ben and the other kids in the league do!  I know that I’m in for some pain, but it’s all for the greater good.

Playoffs! #postaweek2011

Live Fast...Die Pretty

After the derby bouts last month, I immediately began making plans to go to the next round, the playoffs.

I got tickets for Isabel, my mom, my friend, MK, and my aunt.  We were going to have a good old girls’ night.  I wanted my mother and my aunt to see a about, so that they could understand exactly what it is I want to do.

Roller derby is very different from the derby of the 70’s.  My mom and my aunt both went in with a preconceived notion that is violent and dangerous.  What they saw was a sport, with rules, skill and strategy.  Unfortunately, where my mom had been initially gung-ho for me to try out, and my aunt had been worried about my safety, they have switched perspectives.  My mover watched the hits, the falls and the crashes, and is suddenly much more concerned for me.  I think that it made it very real for her.

Before, though she had faith in me, I don’t know that she was really able to picture me doing this.  She suddenly sees it as a way to get bruises, sprains, even broken bones.  More importantly, though, she gets why I want to do it, and knows that, mentally, I have what it would take to compete.

I can’t wait.  Seeing the Dames in action renewed my resolve to try this.  I’m not worried about falling down.  I will learn to fall correctly.  The rest is something that I’m just not going to worry about.

I think that I need to watch “Whip It” or get to a live bout about every two weeks.  Seeing the bout live is exhilarating.  I’m such a sports fan that it’s very easy for me to get caught up in the game.  I want to do this!

In between the bouts last night, unfortunately, we were subjected to punk bands.  I’m no prude; but, it’s a bit weird to listen to some guy in purple leather pants screaming “Fuck” every other word, when you’re sitting with your mother and your daughter.  I was impatient to see the skating.

Each new class of rookies, or “Fresh Meat,” has to help sell raffle tickets and interact with the crowd.  I talked to one girl for a while.  She’s been part of the Arizona Derby Dames since April.  She said that they are looking to hold try outs more often, to bring in more girls.  Good news for me.  She encouraged me to try out, as did Smacaroni ‘n’ Cheez…a jammer with the Brutal Beauties.  We met her in between bouts.  She had read my first derby blog, and was kind enough to respond.  We saw her down by the rink and Isabel & I ran down to say hello.  She couldn’t have been nicer.

Isabel & Smacaroni 'n' Cheez

That seems to be the way all of these women are.  So kind, so encouraging.  Every single Dame that I’ve talked to, or that has written on my blog has encouraged me to try out.  For my own peace of mind, I’m going to keep working at the gym and I’m saving up for skates.

I am resolved.

I so enjoyed the time with my mom, my aunt, Isabel and MK.  We spent a lot of time laughing, cheering and talking.  My mother’s Tourette’s-like compulsion to play “The License Plate” game with dirty words is a bit disturbing, but it does make me laugh.  People watching at the bouts can be as much fun as the actual bouts.  We’re still not sure why the big, heavy, hairy guy felt compelled to walk around in nothing more than a mohawk, a Speedo, combat boots and a smile, but there you go!