First Derby Practice on Skates
A whole lot of amazing things, is what it was. A lot like what The Birdchick and I went thru the first time hiving a package of bees. Very like the first time on My Little Pony, when I knew what riding could BE. Close to the feeling of playing music on stage with as powerful performer as AFP.
Changes EVERYTHING. You're not the same person.
Announcer Matt Black took some pics with his phone, knowing, as friends do, how much I would have wanted first practice pics, (had I been able to think clearly, which I couldn't), bless his heart, had no clue he was taking them till the end, but I get ahead of myself.
There were things I expected, but more that I didn't. I didn't know about the shaking, getting my gear on. Sure, I was nervous in my HEAD, but I started shaking getting ready. Terror. Not in my head, but my body. Not even on the track yet. This, I was assured, was normal.
And that assurance was the coolest thing, the other skaters, telling me not to worry, it would stop when I started skating. They'd all been there, and they knew. In fact, the whole night was like that, nothing but love, support and encouragement from all of them.
No hand holding mind you, just a sense of, we know this is REALLY hard, but you can, you ARE doing this. And we're with you.
I got to participate in the first drill. One where you have groups of three blockers skating and the jammers try and get thru, all together, divided around the track.
Let me stop for a moment too and say this: Derby is a Sport. And there are rules. It's not a free for all fight. No one was going to come up and hit me out of the way, they knew I'd been skating for about 5 min. Hearing a lot of "Did you hit someone, did they punch you" That's not what it's about. It's skills, speed, endurance and strategy. Like any sport.
The WFTDA Rule book is 42 pages long and it lays out how, where and when and what you can do. Sure, skaters can get hurt, it happens. But it can happen in ANY sport. My Little Pony spooks, or takes it into his head to act up, I may go off. The two times I've been hurt in the last few years, a concussion and broken arm, happened in my BEDROOM. Alone.
One thing I want to do, talking about Derby to you, is to make very clear: It is a sport, like any other. And perhaps dispel some of the rumours.
Any way, my job in my group of three was to keep up and hold the inside line and not let any jammers get thru. Keeping up was HARD. I have no skating muscles yet. All that time in the gym? Nope. I was dying halfway thru. But everything I've read and heard, by new skaters, giving advice, said to keep going, as long as you can, do MORE than you think you can, drop out if you have to, and get BACK.
There's a point when you legs turn to noodles, you're soaked with sweat, you have no endurance and you realize you've been skating for about 10 minutes. Uh-huh. Long way to go. I kept up as best I could, and did have to Wall, (my personal term for dropping out and going to the Wall) But it wasn't LONG before the drill was over.
The next bit was scrimmaging, the other skaters playing against each other, which wasn't something I could do, so I went to the end of the track and learned and practiced skills, with skaters who weren't scrimmaging either.
Learned so much, from the other skaters, who spent the next hour teaching me, going over things, working with me. That's Derby right there. Helping, teaching supporting, working and love.
There were sprints for everyone at the end, skating as fast as you can, sliding on knees, getting up and skating back. (very fun, tho I in no way participated fully, I was dying at this point. LONG before this point)
Then, at the end of practice, at the end of two hours, after all the drills, the scrimmage, the sprints, they did the 25 in 5. 25 times around the track in 5 minutes, which you need to be able to do.
I didn't, couldn't have. Could only stand there and watch.
Nothing I can say can explain the kind of muscle, will, and gods, what's a word? Sheer determination that you'd need to DO that. At the END of a two hour intense skate.
I love them. I love this sport.
Here's a last picture from Matt, which is pretty silly. That's me trying to smile. It looks like I'm dying, doesn't it? I am. Uh-huh. Hurts. Lots. Muscles scream you know. I'm falling over and loving every minute.
There's nothing like it. I want to do this. I want to skate the whole time and do 25 in 5 at the end of two hours, too. And I will.
I love this sport.
Love and Derby,