Over two years ago I stumbled upon a myspace profile where a skater was talking about something called roller derby. I had no clue what it was, but I was looking for people to go skate with. (I had heard rumors about groups of people skating downtown, but had not located http://www.skatetrash.org/ or any urban animals at that time).
I met Psuedo Punk, HardCora, Bettie McNasty, Tawdry Hepburn (it was her birthday), Chewcifer, and MiLuv Tequila at Rudyards. They were all in quads and giggled that I was in blades (I used to love my K2's... now they're gathering dust). We skated to Rice University where they did some laps on the track and practiced turn around stops (turn around stops were the coolest thing I'd ever seen). Psuedo broke roller derby down for me... very basic. It's a game. They do it in Austin. Two teams skate an oval track trying to pass each other (I didn't catch the part about blocking or hitting at the time).
For Tawdry's birthday we ate at Two Rows, then went to see MiLuv's boyfriend's band play at a bar downtown. There's a picture of my first night floating around the internet somewhere (we're in the bathroom of all places!). I definitely liked the social part… they were all very friendly.
That was a Friday night. I showed up for practice that Sunday and rented some of the rinks quads so I could participate. Two days later I had my own quads and was ready to sign up. I had no idea what I was getting in to.
Fast forward over two years, 320 practices, four pairs of skates, seven pairs of wheels, dozens of bruises and rink burns later. Now I spend two nights a week at league practice, once a week at team practice, one to two nights on derby art, and an event or two on the weekend. Usually I can depend on Monday night being my own.
You'd think by now I'd be used to the practices. But I am just not a naturally athletic woman. I was a vegetarian, but started eating meat about 9 months ago. I had to accept the fact that derby is an extremely demanding sport that requires more fuel than tofu. Now I drink a protein smoothie, a Boost, and eat a protein bar every day. And I eat a steak every once in a while to try and beef up.
I think the hardest part about being in roller derby is just showing up. Making that commitment to be there and participate, that’s the deal breaker for most who don’t stick around. If you go to practice, and push yourself 100% the whole time… you’ll become a better skater. Your form will improve, your understanding of strategy and the game will improve. You’ll get faster and hit harder, all by just showing up and skating.
But showing up for all those practices… that is the kicker. You’re going to miss out on so many other things in your life. That’s the reason I postponed taking more college night classes. The reason I haven’t finished a painting in two years. I don’t know how some skaters work full time and go to school… and I have a lot of respect for the women who have kids and still participate in derby.
So after all this time I am loving derby more and more. When we actually get to scrimmage or bout… that is the best. That’s what all the hard work is for. I can admit though that I am looking forward to a time when I will be retired, and will be able to enjoy watching a bout completely relaxed. Oooh… and this September Nationals will be held in Austin… we already have our VIP tix and hotel reservations… three days of derby by the top teams in the nation… it’s going to rock!