Broken Along the Way

Sometimes progress can be measured by how much we learn, other times it can be measured by how much it changes us.

And sometimes we measure progress by the damage it inflicts upon us.

Last night was another practice.  There was a lot of skating–a whole lot.  There was blocking and hitting and… well, it was pretty much a normal night.

How I look when I’m skating around: I look tired, don’t I?


But there were a couple of moments when I thought something “more than tired” was happening.  During one drill I fell and got someone’s skate under my shoulder before I hit the ground.  The shoulder stayed at a different elevation than my body and a lot of pain shot up through my body, which led me to not even go “ouch!” real loud, but to think that I may have dislocated my shoulder.  That wasn’t the case as I was able to start moving it some 30 seconds later, but I did imagine I might need to have it popped back in at some point.

Then we were doing a pace line hitting drill, and first time up my coach laid a great hip check against my left leg.  So good–and hard–that I let out a groan, but I didn’t fall.  When I got home didn’t notice anything, but this morning I spotted a bit of discoloration, and right around noon–

Please don’t mind the extra large belly above my thigh.


Yeah, it’s turning all sorts of crazy colors now and there’s just a bit of pain involved with the location.

But that wasn’t the worst.  While we were playing a game where the object is to hit out someone without getting hit out yourself–yes, we play games like this in derby–one of the freshies let out a horrible scream. And kept screaming. Because, it turned out, she’d broken her ankle.  It was so bad we had to call the ambulance to take her to the hospital, where she had surgery this morning and is now resting comfortably.  In fact, as soon as I post this I’m on my way over to visit her at the hospital.

In three months time I’ve seen three broken ankles, one broken wrist, two concussions–one of which I caused by falling on to the head of one of my teammates–two sets of torn ligaments in the ankle, and two badly bruised knees.  Yes, we wear protective gear, but that doesn’t mean people don’t get hurt badly.  As I was walking out last night, one of our refs who used to play with us last season commented to me that she’d hoped to never heard screaming like she heard last night again, as she’d been present during one of the aforementioned broken ankles, which happened during a bout and which I happened to capture on video.  And this ref knows about being hurt, as she was the person who broke her wrist–something that I also happened to catch on video as I was filming the bout.

Yes, I worry about getting hurt, but not enough that it keeps me from hitting another person with my body.  I know: crazy, right?  But this is the sport I choose and this is the risk under which I train and play.

The trick is not to wonder if it’s going to happen to you next time.

Busy Is the Girl–

Who happens to be me.  Yeah, I got a lot on my plate today, which means in about two hours I’m going to leave the apartment, do a few things local, then head down to Maryland to watch a teammate play in her first-ever bout.

That means I likely will not return home until about 11 PM tonight, and that means I really don’t have time for things like, you know, blogging and writing.

So, enjoy yourself, kids.

I know I’ll see you tomorrow.

Taking Real To the Next Level

Last night was the moment I’ve been anticipating for the last nine months:

For the first time since I started this roller derby experience I was allowed to scrimmage.  Allow me to explain.

See, all the practice I’ve done up to this point has been to get me steady on my feet and be able to skate around fast and sure-footed.  Using a baseball analogy, that part is like A Baseball, where you develop your basic skills.  After that you move on to learning the basics of the game: blocking, jamming, setting up two, three, and four walls, pivoting, bridging, and having an understanding of the rules… all that stuff is AA Baseball, when you are comfortable enough with your basic skills that you can now apply them to the mechanics of the game.  It’s still a learning process, but you’re now moving closer to actually playing.

Last night we as a group of freshies hit AAA Baseball: we’re not quite ready for “The Show”–as baseball players call Major League Baseball–but we’re ready to learn how to actually play by playing, and that’s where scrimmaging comes into play.  You have set ups with full teams.  You have NSOs timing the jams and people in the penalty box.  You have refs ready to call players on rules infractions.

In short, you’re this close to really playing.

After we did cardio we split into two teams: Dark and Light.  I was on Team Dark and we had eight players to Team Light’s nine, but we both had a good cross-section of cleared freshies and vets.  I played blocker the whole night, which was good ’cause that’s what I’ll likely be, though at some point I’d love to work on being a pivot.  I was in the first jam and last jam of the night, and most of the night I went in for one jam, out for one.  There were a couple of times when I played two jams back-to-back, but only one time I can remember that I sat out two jams.

One thing was true: I was pumped up and ready to play.  A couple of my teammates pointed out that I seemed the happiest I’d been in a long time and as I told them, I’d waited nine months for this moment–damn right I was happy.

Was I good?  Not as good as I would have liked.  I spent some time “Blocking the Floor”, which is to say falling down.  Some of the falling down was due to hits, though at least once I tripped over the raised tubing we had set up on the inside line.  Every time I went down, however, I got right back up and chased after the pack and did what I could to stop the other side’s jammer.

I managed a couple of good hits here and there and managed to get out Team Light’s jammer a few times–once by pushing my teammate Ariel Wildfire into the jammer before she could get by.  And right near the end of the night I received my first and only penalty–a stop block, which is to say before I knocked the jammer down–which I did–I stopped skating forward and planted my feet before giving the hit.  That’s a no-no and that’s why the ref called a penalty.  I skated off to serve without saying a word ’cause I knew the moment I threw the block I’d done something wrong.

That was one of the points where I had to play in two jams ’cause about 10 seconds after I sat down in the penalty box the jam was called, which meant my penalty wouldn’t end until 20 seconds into the next jam, after which I was required to go in and play blocker there.  Which I did, jumping right into the action and doing what I could to stop Team Light.  I didn’t think anything of it ’cause I know the rules and how the game should be played, and I did it right.

Needless to say, by the time I got home last night I was pretty pumped.  And pretty sore, too.  I’ve heard from a couple of my teammates and one said she was up most of the night because she was still riding an adrenaline high from the scrimmage.  One said she was sort of down on herself ’cause she didn’t do that well and I reminded her that it was also my first scrimmage, with the biggest difference between us being I waited nine months to get here and she was doing it after six weeks.  It was also nice that a lot of the OG (our name for the vets) and a few of the refs congratulated us on playing hard and not being afraid to get in there and take and dish out hits.

So, how did I look this morning in the aftermath of my first scrimmage.  Well…


Yeah, lots of crazy bruising from people holding on to my arms, with a few more bruises on my shoulders and my right thigh that you can’t see.  That’s the nature of the game and I expect to see more bruise come and go over the next month.

I also expect to see my playing improve.

But that’s also part of the game…