Santa Cruz Derby Girls (SCDG).
Has my mind been addled by the HGH-fed beef that I've been subsisting on for my near entire existence? I mean, seriously, what was I thinking? Prior to last night's practice I only had about 15 hours of cumulative skating experience in the last month. And before that, you ask? Well, let's just say I hugged the wall at each of the three or four elementary school birthday parties that were held at the rink in Ferndale, NY.
That being said, after watching my first bout of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk Bombshells vs. Jet City Pink Pistols on June 27th, I fell in love with the sport and the grace with which these women squeeze through the pack. So with a nudge from FM Daisy, I strapped on some skates for the first time in close to 20 years and went to the Santa Cruz Roller Palladium. As the night went on, I moved inch by inch away from the wall. Progress. Two weeks later, FM Daisy and I got all dolled up for the next bout's theme of Tutu Army, which caught the attention of some of the girls on the team who then encouraged us to try out, even after my vehement protestations of "I don't know how to skate!"
As you can imagine, I found myself stumbling and falling through the tryouts, yet sweetly encouraged by my lovely evaluator, Liv N. LetDie. And then after four agonizing days of waiting, I finally got the call from Head Coach, Blonde Claude van Damme. I was in! Was she sure, though? I didn't bother to ask, in case she realized that the call had been meant for Smachel the Super Star Skater and not Rachel the Pink-Faced-Porcupine on Wheels. So I continued to go to the Palladium with Daisy. We then went to buy skates and gear at Cruz Skate Shop in San Francisco. I was able to pick up everything but the skates, which had sold out during that weekend's super sale.
So, still without my own skates, last night I showed up for our first practice with all my gear and used the rental skates from the Palladium (Size 8, #06 -- I go so often I know which pairs work and which pairs don't). It was a Skills & Drills practice with the full-fledged members of the team also in attendance. Yikes! As it turned out, they were all super nice and supportive. Liv, Lulu Lockjaw, and Charlie Red Stick all pulled me aside at different times to help me go backwards, forwards, and around turns with crossovers. Double yikes! The goal of the night was to keep us moving, which they did. I was pretty grateful for that, because every time we stopped I wanted to just sit down and cry. After a frustrating drill or two and while listening to the directions for the next drill, I would feel my eyes start to well up, so I would then covertly use my t-shirt sleeve to wipe the "sweat" from my eyes. We also had to do push ups if we were passed by the coach or passed the coach on stops. I was also grateful for those, because though I cannot skate, I can certainly do massive amounts of push ups. There was also a rule about not touching the wall under threat of additional push ups. My secret inner wimp was really hoping to be caught touching the wall, because my secret inner wimp actually prefers push ups to having wheels on her feet.
And so the two hour practice ended, but not before I found myself all damaged. And would you believe this was done after we had taken our skates off? Blonde lined us up in one long row with no spaces between us. She then instructed one person at a time to run full speed ahead into the line with her eyes closed. This is considered a Trust Exercise -- like when you fall backwards and trust that the person behind you will catch you. Well, for this exercise we had to trust that the line would stop us. So, I was ready for this. I mean, what better way to show that I am not a complete klutz than to run around without my skates on. I watched new and seasoned Fresh Meat do the exercise and I also watched the actual team members doing this. They all seemed to automatically slow down as they reached the line or they would peek out of their eyes. Hmmmmm. Well, when it came to be my turn, I ran full speed into my line and WHAM! My brow hammered the nose of a fellow Fresh Meater. She claimed to be okay and apologized for her nose piercing which also scraped my brow (don't get me started on people wearing any kind of jewelry to sports practices). As I stood there, eyes smarting with the pain, I tried desperately to hold in the scream that was pretty close to bursting forth. FM Ariel ran and got me an ice pack and because it seemed foolish to continue participating in the exercise when my trust had obviously been broken, I went and sat out for the last five minutes.
As people filtered over to check on me, mini tears of pain would bubble forth as I pointed at the hideous red lump that was rapidly taking over my left brow. As one person said, "Well, at least it's a lump and not a dent," which is something I had not considered. As soon as I was in FM Daisy's car and away from all the others, I started to officially cry and these were not the tears of pain. These were the tears of frustration and exhaustion and anger. Daisy was super sweet and told me how proud she was of me during the entire practice for falling and getting back up each time. She later sent me a virtual ice pack over email and that also made me cry...what a wonderful derby fiancee!
So as I trudged into the house, I went up to the BF and just started to blubber on his very supportive shoulder. I'm not quite sure that I was coherent as I pointed at my lump and explained what happened. We went into the kitchen where I grabbed a frozen bag of corn and (gently) plopped it against my forehead. We checked Web MD for symptoms of a concussion, because while it would have been a relief not to contemplate another night of practice, it probably was not a good idea to go to bed and die. I didn't seem to have any of the symptoms, so I numbed my brain by watching a DVD before showering and suffering through a night of restless sleep and derby-related nightmares. The crying stopped eventually, though there was some leakage when I looked at the shiner on my brow this morning.
I have Fresh Meat practice again tonight and I just got word that my skates have arrived at the house. So it looks like I'm heading to practice again in about four hours. Tonight we will only have Fresh Meat at the Palladium and again I'll fight through it, but hopefully throughout this Fresh Meat training program, my ground chuck self will be molded, shaped, and formed into a decent enough skating meat patty.