New Kid on the Block
My stomach churns uncomfortably and I recognize my growing panic ̶ sweaty palms, short, sharp breaths, and I think I might possibly vomit. I’m freaking out. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. It’s June 6th, my first practice with The Chicago Outfit. I watch the other skaters, so agile, tough, and completely intimidating. Not by what they say or do, but because of my own lack of confidence, I am terrified of them. These experienced skaters know what they’re doing, while I still wonder how I’m able to stand upright in my quad skates. (Sometimes I fall, just standing there. I wish I was joking, but that’s the embarrassing truth.) I’m like Bambi walking on ice. My first practice was brutal. The second practice- also brutal. Same with the third, fourth, fifth, etc. I go home with more bruises than I thought possible, looking like I’ve been in a fight with a meat tenderizer. Sometimes, I leave practices on the verge of tears. Everyone on the team is supportive, but just because they can explain how something is done, doesn’t mean that I can do it. I got really frustrated with myself in the beginning and even now, after months of practicing with the Outfit, I still feel exasperated when I don’t “get it.”
In truth, I should give myself more credit. When I went through Advanced Tryouts, I honestly didn’t think I’d make it. I was happily surprised they wanted me on the team. I quickly learned I had a LOT to work on. I still do. However, I’ve also tried really hard these past few months, and I’m pretty pleased with my progress. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that roller derby is definitely NOT for quitters, and for that, I am truly proud of myself.
Every time you fall or get knocked down, you have to get back up. Sometimes you fall so hard, you think you can’t. But you do. You can’t quit! You have to keep going! Roller derby has taught me so much in such a short time: don’t quit, be assertive, be strong, be tough, work together, communicate! I can’t think of a better group of women to help teach me these things.
The skaters of The Chicago Outfit are truly unique. Everyone has a different story with different skills. There’s so much acceptance in this league. You think you’re different? Pshhh, who cares!? Join us! That’s the feeling I get when I see how much diversity is on the team. There’s also openness between teammates. Constant communication is key, whether you’re skating, or even on Facebook and email boards. You’re urged to voice your own opinion. If you have a question, ask, and it will get answered. I still feel like a baby sometimes, even though I’m probably older than half the girls on the team, but these ladies have always been encouraging to us “newbies.”
I have so much pride when I think of the team and am excited to be a part of it. I keep dreaming of my future self, just as nimble and swift as the veteran skaters. I look forward to more brutal practices and pushing myself to keep improving, praying I’ll get to that level, but also knowing I shouldn’t compare myself to others. I can only do what I can do, and if I’m doing my best, then I am happy. Never quit!
Goose Cannon #1013