(I wrote this blog entry on Friday night after our training session, but I’m not very good with posting stuff so it’s taken me like two days to get this up here.)
Rubi said today that roller derby was kind of like the girlfriend that she didn’t have. She spends every Friday night with it, it costs her lots of money, she’s infatuated with it, and so on. In a very obvious way, I totally agree: derby is rapidly becoming a large part of my life, and in a way that makes me giddy and stupidly happy as if I were a fifteen-year-old girl and it was some hot random person I had a crush on and they had just noticed me, or something like that.
Anyway, apart from stretching this metaphor waaaay too far, I guess what I want to say is this. I love what we’re doing at VDL. It does make me giddy and stupidly happy. I love skating and training and talking about gaskets and changing out my wheels and loosening the trucks on newbie wheels and even getting derby-induced injuries. I love the fact that you can butt block someone into a wall, and then go out for beers afterwards with no hard feelings. I love knowing that I’m getting better, and seeing improvements in my teammates. I love watching this all grow from the ground up.
Tonight we had our regular Friday night skate date in the gym. Maybe it was the fact that weren’t doing pack work (unlike last week, when we were all tied together with a piece of elastic… oy), or maybe it was because of the hilarity that ensued by playing dodgeball and “Stuck in the mud” on wheels, but I felt like something was different with training. People were more relaxed, and the session was just so insanely fun. There was laughing and fist bumping and people trying not to headbutt you in the bum as they were crawling through your legs.
I could have probably done that training session for hours. I’m not implying that regular training sessions are onerous and oppressive, because they certainly are not. But I think a game night on skates was exactly what we needed.
And after that, some of us clearly hadn’t had enough, and it was off for another hour of skating. There’s something about the imminent fist of authority coming to ruin your fun that makes it, well, much more fun. I’m kind of reminded of this scene from one of the old Police Academy movies, but obviously with derby girls instead of a very young David Spade and Tony Hawk and whoever else:
(Oh god, I love Police Academy…)
I realise that this will not last forever. Like any relationship, there will be bumps. People will come and go, and we won’t always be one big happy family. There will be injuries, there will be dramas.
It takes a strong personality to do derby. It’s a big commitment in terms of time and money, and it can also be emotionally draining. People can be competitive, they can be bitter, and they can be bitchy. There will be self-doubt, fear and jealousy. But I think that so long as we can see past all of that and stay positive and focused on the sport that we all love, we are well set to deal with any adversities that might get thrown our way.
And, importantly—although it should go without saying—we are in this together. We are a team, and we all have something to contribute to this collective. Not everyone has to be the strongest skater; some people are insanely supportive, and some people can just get things done, and some are great motivators. But what should be emphasised is that nobody is alone in derby. We all have value, and when our powers combine we make an amazing, formidable bunch. I’d love to see how far we can go.
I’m not really one for pep talks or that sort of thing, but what I’m going to take from this is just how doing derby made me feel tonight. You know how sometimes you look at the people around you and everything is so awesome that you can’t help but be stupidly happy and you just want to freeze everything in that moment? Well, that was me, pretty much between 6:30 and 9:30. It wasn’t because of anything in particular that happened; rather, I think I simply came to the realization that this is what it means, now, to have derby sisters.
When things are rough and I’m stressed out or pissed off or whatever, I’ll think about how awesome I felt skating around tonight. Knowing that we can (and do!) have heaps of fun, and that we all do it for the love of the sport, and that, despite our differences, we are all in this together for the long haul, will be what keeps me going. I honestly could not have asked for a better group of people to skate with. I’m really proud of how far we have come, and I look forward to where we are going.
Mouse (formerly known as Little Miss Angry)