It seems like yesterday that I walked into Ted Reeve for the first time, clutching my backpack nervously as I tried to “size up the competition”. I was there because of a call-out that came up in my facebook newsfeed one day asking if anyone wanted to join GTA Rollergirls. At first I tried to stand by the registration table and look as calm and confident as possible so “the competition” wouldn’t single me out, but after scanning the room for awhile, it became obvious to me that we were all in the same boat. No one knew what to expect, we were all a little anxious and no one was really as experienced as we were pretending to be.
Then the skating began. I was warned that roller derby was way tougher than it looked and I think they were absolutely right. Going fast was hard, turning was hard, stopping was hard. It was a frustrating learning curve but as the weeks progressed I began to feel something more than the pride of accomplishment. I began feeling like I was part of a family. These skaters that I was so ready to be at odds with on intake day had become the reason I was still there. When I fell, they helped me up, when I was nervous, they calmed me down and when I was doing well they congratulated me sincerely. As the weeks rolled on they became some of the best friends I’ve ever had. I got to ride in their cars, sit in their kitchens, share their seats on the subway, walk together with them across countless sidewalks and sometimes just listen to what they had to say. There was the derby advice; how to fix a toe stop, which wheels to use on which surfaces, what to eat before a game… and there was the life advice too, like how to be a good friend, how to find your way, how to be an adult.
To the Vets: thank you for training us so well. You not only taught us how to play derby but you’ve shown us what athletes look like. Because of you we know what it means to give your 110%, to never quit, and to stay strong in the face of adversity.
To our Refs/NSO’s/coaches/volunteers: thank you for everything you have done for this sport and for us. If it wasn’t for you, none of this would even be happening right now.
Sloppy and Manon, I know you’re far away as I write this but don’t think for a second that we would ever forget all you’ve done for us. We miss you and we’re thinking of you.
So as we head into our final test as rookies, The Fresh and the Furious, we may be nervous. Maybe even more nervous than we were on that very first intake day when none of us could stand up. But I’ve watched us. I’ve watched us from when we could barely skate a lap to when we took on some skaters that have been around twice as long as us, and I want everyone to know that I am already incredibly proud of each and every one of us. We’ve got a great team. Each and every time we step out onto the track our hearts are in the right place. We love this sport, we have love for each other and nobody who has genuinely loved something has ever failed. We’ve got great motivation and great heart and we’re gonna do well. I can feel it.
Derby Love to everyone,