I’m what you’d call a well-past-the-best-before date freshie. Derby and I started our flirtatious relationship about a year and a half ago when I had decided that as a seasoned inline skater, how hard could it be to transfer my road skills to a track? Surely with the junk in my trunk (and under the hood to be honest), with a bit of training I could do some damage.
I showed up for the info session and immediately fell in love. Sure I was 20+ years older than many of the others but I’ve always been told I don’t act my age so that didn’t bother me. I needed to do something. Kids, middle age and sedentary work had taken their toll and I needed to move. As a hater of organized sport and gyms this seemed like something I could stick with. And I’ve never been able to resist wheels on my feet.
I had just come into a lucrative freelance gig and decided to pony up for some quality gear so I’d be committed and so launched my derby career. It wasn’t long before I was rolling (quads are so different from inlines!) and starting to feel comfortable when STOP…..WHAT? NO HEEL BRAKE???
I landed flat on my tailbone, which I had injured a month before on a trail wipeout. I was terrified to fall and this haunted me through my first round of freshie training.
You be right if you guessed that I epically failed my freshie training. But derby gear is an investment and I owed it to myself, to my kids and to my bank account to try again. And to my newfound friends because derby girls are awesome (I’ll get to this later). So I went back. I bought fancy butt pads and added more junk to above noted trunk to overcome the fear. And it worked. I managed to pass. By the skin of my teeth but I passed. Next test…Fit to Scrimmage when STOP…TWO CRIPPLING NON-DERBY INJURIES???
I managed to trip on my front porch crashing down on my right knee. I did a perfect derby fall. Maykilla always said “fall small!” and I did. I managed to save my face, just not my right knee. I was out for weeks. And when I was finally ready to return, I tripped and broke a toe on my left foot.
I am not typically a clumsy person but I totally felt defeated. I didn’t play Fresh. I didn’t play a single game.
Last fall I decided to try again. I was too intimidated to try full contact so I hung out with the latest crop of freshies and honed my skills. I gained a bit of confidence (though I’m still working on that) and I’m happy to report, I’m still here. I still find the world of full contact sport terrifying and I find it hard to turn off my brain and just do, as my teammates tell me and I need to learn to accept the push (It’s just so hard!!!). But I keep coming back because of them.
Over the last 18 months or more I could have totally walked away from derby if it was not for this amazing league. Everyone is so supportive, no matter where you are in your derby journey. I’ve watched my first round freshie friends develop into terrors on the track and while I’m miles behind, I feel pride in their achievements like they are my own. I hope one day to be the same inspiration to other freshies, because if I can do it (I’m getting there), anyone can.