Posts Tagged ‘rookie’

I did it.

I successfully completed my first derby season! (True, I only got to skate in 3/5 games, but still) No injuries yet, *knock knock* and I’m slowwwwwly improving every time.

It’s amazing how sick to my stomach and terrified I was yesterday, and totally convinced I didn’t want to go out there. I don’t know what it is – the crowds? The pressure? My team was last place going in and playing a team we love, so pressure was nonexistent. I guess it was because I (naturally) got picked out as the weak member of the herd and was successfully held back by 3 players of the opposing team more than once. Oh well. My family says I got up quicker than ever when knocked down! AND even resisted falling down when hit a few times! AND – gasp – successfully kept one of our league’s best jammers back for more than a few seconds!

That smells like progress.

Now I’m super excited to just go to practice and work on my skills without having to perform in front of a live audience once a month! Bring on the summer season!

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Rookie Pride

I haven’t been able to go to practice all that much lately, and it really sucks. Mostly because the longer I stay away, the worse I am when I do return. So because I’ve gone only twice in the last four weeks, I’m starting to worry that the few skills I have acquired are starting to drip away.

Case in point: Last night I accidentally went to a Travel Team tryouts practice (I thought it would be the normally scheduled Tuesday speed skating practice) and got my ass handed to me.

Sure, I should be proud of myself for:

  1. Not running out the door as soon as I heard what practice really was that night
  2. Not running out the door as soon as I realized I’d forgotten my blister-proof ankle booties
  3. Sticking it out the entire practice, even though I had to stop for a few minutes in the middle of each exercise
  4. Not crying with frustration at the fact that people who joined the league after me are now better than me

I don’t know what it is. I already know that I can’t compare myself to anyone else, but there’s still a nagging feeling that irritates me when I struggle. Why am I not better than this? Why is it so difficult for me? It’s just the pride, I know. But rookie pride? I don’t really have anything to cry about yet, I just started. Try complaining when you’ve been in it for a few years and still feel like you suck …

(don’t worry, I’m sure that’ll happen to me too!)

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So I survived.

My first bout, the moment I’d been super psyched for/dreading for months and months. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be out there … skating … in front of tons of people and trying to prove I had any right to be there. Luckily this time there were some good omens (unlike the bout in January that was supposed to be my first bout). There was no sudden snow storm, and I didn’t wrench my thumb. No stomachache. No threatening words of warning about other teams. . . . But a sense of impending doom? Check.

“Don’t vomit on the track,” my teammate recommended.

I did feel at any moment that I was about to hurl. Every time they told us to get out and skate warm-up laps in between periods, my first response was always, “Wait … now? In front of people?” My mouth dried up the second I put a toe stop on the track. My teammate gave me gum to keep my mouth properly moistened, and it instantly became wedged to my mouthguard. I skated laps gingerly and couldn’t believe how many flashing objects attracted my attention. Rollergirls whizzed by and yelled encouragement at me. I remained deer-in-the-headlights face.

According to sources, it wasn’t that bad from the outside. I only looked like I would die from shock when I lined up for the first jam. It was reminiscent of the Senior Presentation Speech I gave in college – 15 minutes where my voice shook so badly that I actually saw a classmate lurch toward me – worried I was going to burst into tears at any moment.

I spotted my parents in the obnoxious pink t-shirts I made them wear. They were holding their coats and smiling, awkwardly framed by people who were big derby fans. They didn’t know what they were doing there, or what the hell was going on — but they were proud. My boyfriend bought team shirts for himself and his friends and made them put them on before the game started.

Most of the time, I was concerned with not making a complete ass out of myself.

Am I recovering quickly? Am I at least looking like I know what I’m doing? Am I impressing people with my skillz?

It was amazing how much I obsessed over myself and not enough over what my team was doing. I mean – they were doing amazing. I could tell that when I was sitting in the line-up. When I was out there, I was too preoccupied with my own ego. I can criticize myself as much as I want, since it will make me get better.

But next bout — seriously. I will be a better teammate.

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It Starts Now

My thumb hurts.

Yesterday was supposed to have been the culmination of a year and two month’s hard work – my first roller derby bout. I would’ve finally had a chance to see what I was really made of and whether or not the training had made me capable of bouting in public. Instead, it snowed a lot more than expected and stalled all the normal derby activities that usually occur.

Along with one active and one inactive rollergirl, I spent a scary amount of time driving to the bout venue, navigating trapped cars and trying not to slip too much on the ice ourselves. When we arrived, I got to participate in the dreaded setting up of the track – an activity I’d heard referred to many times and dreaded as some part of rollergirl initiation. See, our league doesn’t have its own arena or track to use solely for the purpose of derby. So we practice at roller rinks and bout at an arena normally devoted to soccer. So that means that on bout day, volunteers have to show up hours before the start to lay down our rollerskating track. First there were rows and rows of 3′ x 5′ plywood that had to be lined up, shoved together, and aligned with a mallet. I put my hands in the wrong position the first time I shoved the plywood together and — *yeep*. My thumb twinged and moved in a way it wasn’t supposed to. “Thank god this is derby, not thumb wrestling,” a passing rollergirl chimed in. Next, we slid slabs of skating track off of a pile and, with the help of a partner, carried it out to distribute on the wood planks. I found the slabs unwieldy and kept nearly dropping them, but luckily my partner was forgiving. The underside of the slabs was full of plastic hooks that should’ve made grasping easier, but instead hooked onto my thighs and threatened to de-pants me. Looking around at all the people working away – rollergirls, rollergirl fans, rollergirl spouses, volunteers, announcers – I wanted to make sure I at least did my part to help with the manual labor. This is one hardworking goddamn league.

After a little over an hour, I left with my rollergirl carpool and made the trek back home to get ready. I heard more advice on what to do and what not to do in my first bout.

“They’re going to go after you, because you’re new, so be ready for it from the start.”

“Trust me, they hold back in scrimmage – you’re going to feel what it’s like to really be hit by them now.”

“Make sure you don’t eat too much or too little.”

“The floor is definitely different to skate AND fall on – make sure you warm up as much as possible on it.”

Luckily the return trip was shorter than the initial trip to the arena, because I was already full to the brim with terrifying warnings. My stomach tied up with nerves and I started wondering why on earth I ever decided to do this. Sure, it’s been fun and absolutely thrilling so far, but maybe – just maybe – my derring-do wasn’t going to pay off. Maybe this whole becoming a rollergirl thing was just a stupid idea.

The snow continued to fall, and the bout was cancelled. Clearly, I have mixed feelings about it that I hesitate to admit to other people, but overall I was relieved.

  • I started learning how to rollerskate in October ’08.
  • I passed try-outs and made the league in August ’09.
  • In November I passed my first assessment – proving I was safe to scrimmage.
  • A week and a half ago I passed my second assessment – proving I was safe to bout.
  • Last Wednesday I was drafted to a team.

It’s all so thrilling and sudden and although I was so ecstatic to be drafted in time to play in our first bout of the season, I was a little wary of being drafted right before. Days before. I’ve barely gotten to know my teammates, and I’ve skated with them once in scrimmage. So, yeah — I’m grateful for this extra time to get slightly more used to things before skating in front of hundreds of people. Thank you winter! (But shh — don’t tell anyone — everyone else is pretty pissed we had to cancel.)

Thus begins my first year as a rollergirl rookie.

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