Friday, May 20, 2011

A Fresh Meat Update

Do you ever get that... not-so-fresh-meat feeling? My fellow Freshies and I do. Back in January, we took the plunge and began learning the skills involved in playing the coolest sport ever: roller derby. (See my earlier post here.) But now it has been almost four months since we began this journey, and reality is setting in. While we still love derby just as much as (or maybe even more than) we did at first, we're not n00bs anymore. The giddy exhiliration of trying something new has given way to a fierce determination to master the skills so we can be drafted onto home teams and begin competing in bouts.

"We" is a pack of about twenty women (the exact number changes from week to week as lives get complicated, and we've lost a few members to injury, but we still consider everyone a part of the group and look forward to seeing them skate again), of all ages and seasons of life. Some are in that "old enough to drive and join the military, but still too young to drink" zone. Others, myself included, are in our thirties or forties--old enough to know better, as the saying goes, but still too young to care. Some are in college, while others are working or tending to young children (or both). Some of us are pair bonded with other human beings, while others are happily single, playing the field, or in burgeoning relationships. We really could not be any more different from each other, but the fresh meat experience has forged a fast bond between us. At thirty five, I'm older than the average skater both in my league and in roller derby in general. (According to the most recent WFTDA survey, 60% of skaters are between 25 and 34 years of age, and 25% of skaters are over 35.) Through derby, I've developed friendships with women not much more than half my age, with whom I might not otherwise cross paths. And I love every single one of my fresh meat comrades-in-harms.

Since we began skating back in January, our skills have gone through the roof. Girls who weren't at all comfortable on skates at first are now jumping cones. (Yes, jumping- with both feet leaving the floor. At the same time. In skates. It's exactly as hard as you think!) But some other things have changed, too. At first, we felt like guests in someone else's home. Whatever our trainers (usually Annie Lastwords, Captain Moobs, and Elizabeth Hauntgomery) told us to do, we did. And we looked to them for guidance about what was available to us and what was off-limits. But as we go deeper down the rabbit hole, we're taking more ownership of our experience. This also means taking on more responsibility within the league. It's not just about showing up and skating your heart out, although that's a big part of it. A league doesn't just run itself. It needs workers to stamp hands, move bleachers, raise funds. It wouldn't be fair to leave all those tasks to the established league members. So the Freshies are getting our dirty little fingers into all the pies.

So, what's coming up on our fresh meat horizon? That's easy. I think most of us are pretty preoccupied thinking about our minimum skills assessments, which will take place in July. These are the "tests" we have to pass to be cleared to scrimmage, and to be eligible for drafting onto the home teams. So yes, assessments are kind of a big deal. We work on the assessment skills at every practice. When we're not in practice, we're doing squats and lunges to get our bodies in shape to perform the skills right every time. We're running, swimming, and biking to build the endurance we'll need to pass. Despite all this work, if the assessments were held today, I know for certain I would not pass. It's intimidating to think about all of the improvements I need to make in the next two months to be able to pass. But when I think about where I started, back in January, it doesn't seem so impossible. Stay tuned for more updates, and watch your favorite home team's roster for new names in July!

Derby Love,
Pwn of Arc

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