Last week was RollerCon, five days of roller derby bouts, on and off-skates training, fun, and debauchery. It was held in Las Vegas which is probably the last place I would choose to go to on vacation, but likely the most appropriate place to house several thousand derby girls (and guys) without getting kicked out of the venue.
It. Was. Awesome.
I admit, I was star struck by some world-class skaters doing amazing things on the track. I was star struck attending the classes with those very same skaters. I took rookie classes, but each class challenged me to try things just beyond my comfort zone, especially considering that the surface we were skating on was horrible (sport court on carpet…ugh).
But what I loved most from the classes was that the instructors seemed to have the same message at the end: Everyone starts out as a beginner, everyone gets frustrated, no one was born on skates. And even more importantly, don’t become a douche bag when you do develop some skills. Be nice to the new kids because we have all been the new kid. Feeling like the new kid, it was really inspiring.
Before I went to RollerCon, I set a goal for myself to participate in the open scrimmages they hold every night. Since I haven’t been scrimmaging with the Betties (just reffing), I wanted the chance to bust my scrimmage cherry before team try-outs in a couple of weeks. The “be nice to the new kid” message from my first day of classes inspired me to do this the first night. The idea of open scrimmage is that people of all skill levels line up and participate in jams with the four other people they are in line with. No teams, no pressure, no judgement. Supposedly it starts out with more rookie players and becomes more advanced as the night goes on. Maybe that’s true later in the week, but apparently not so much on the first night.
I was scared, but once I had my gear on, there was no turning back. I lined up along with everyone else. Soon I realized that these were not rookie skaters. I was lined up with a bunch of all-star skaters from all over the world. I told the people to the left and the right of me “I’m new, I’ve never scrimmaged before” and was met with surprised looks. “Never at rollercon?” “No, never at anywhere.” I know the game, I know how to skate, I just haven’t done it before. I got a few worried looks and was told “wow, you’re brave.”
My first jam I was told to hold the inside line. I did. And that’s about all I did. I don’t remember much of it, but I kept up with the pack. DEER IN HEADLIGHTS. My husband caught it all on video but I don’t want to watch it because I know I’ll be critical of myself instead of just being proud of going out there.
The second jam was better. This time I was able to keep my head. I got knocked down, got up, and caught up with the pack. This was not a slow pack! I was instructed to stay up front with the pivot, so that’s what I did. At one point, I found myself alone at the back of the pack and was able to get myself back up front with the pivot. Although I would have liked to be more aggressive with blocking, my hips did make contact with the jammer once and I stalled her for at least a second.
There are plenty of things I could mention that I did wrong, but I’m not going to because I’m super proud of myself for getting out there, getting back up after being knocked down, looking around me, and most of all, being able to keep thinking about where I want to be. It’s still a big leap to be able to apply what I know to what I do, but I can’t get there unless I try it.
The rest of the week continued with more skating, pool parties, classes, and amazing bouts. Pacing myself to be able to skate for 4-5 hours a day plus party into the wee hours was a challenge, but considering how much skating I did and how little sleep I got, I’d say I did pretty well.
Team try outs are in less than two weeks. Part of me is really nervous and the other part of me is ready to just put myself out there and do my best. My brain is my biggest enemy, so the more I’m able to let the nerves go and just skate, the better I’ll do.