My feet, hip, neck and ass are sore. No bruises have shown up yet, but I suspect they will. I’m starting to wonder why I agree to participate in activities that will obviously hurt me.
My experience with roller derby was limited. I’d heard of it and seen that Ellen Page trailer about it, but whatevs. As far as things I know, though, it falls just above ethical business practices.
And it’s because of this that Nic and I agreed to join the Choice City Rebels for a practice on Wednesday night. Kate set it up. She started playing derby after reading an article in the Collegian and plays for the Rebels.
Though formerly affiliated with FoCo Girls Gone Derby, the Rebels are the newest Northern Colorado Roller Derby team.
Most of the team was stretching when I walked in the door of OD’s Sports Crossing. Covered in elbow, knee, wrist pads and helmets, they looked menacing.
I felt like a deer being observed by a pack of wolves. Kate had warned me in advance that they were planning to “destroy” me, but it was then that I started to believe.
Kate brought me gear to borrow: smelly pads, a mouth guard of questionable origin and skates two sizes too small. I was skeptical.
While I was changing in the bathroom, Kate’s teammate Moustache Rider said, “He’s going to get the s**t beat out of him.” A fitting remark.
As I skated onto the rink for the first time, I couldn’t turn, stop or intentionally move forward. It was like standing on an ice rink with banana-peel slippers.
The players around me began to warm up, circling the track in tight, single-file formations. All I could do was putter about in the center of the rink. Slowly, though, I began to get a feeling for the size-8 skates I was wearing.
Players repeatedly pulled alongside me offering advice. “Bend down low.” “Push out with your feet when you move forward.” “Cross your legs when you turn.”
The advice helped only to boost my unfounded confidence. I struck out from the center to join the team as they warmed up. I thought I could join in their single-file train of trust and faith, but my skills just weren’t up to par.
I lost my balance in a turn. Center of gravity lost and without having learned how to stop, I cannon-balled into the wall with an attention-grabbing thunder.
The team turned to look and and laughed. My warm-up was over.
As I sat nursing my bruised toes, I felt a sharp pain in the center of my pride. There I was, crying on the inside, wishing for nothing but a warm-water bath for my feet.
The game of roller derby is an easy enough game to understand. Two teams occupy the rink at a time, each with four in the “pack” with one “jammer.” The pack tries to keep the opposing jammer from passing them. Every time the jammer does, his or her team gains a point for every person passed.
I convinced myself to take part in a drill as part of the pack. The jammer tried to pass to my right, then my left, then my right again. A pack-mate screamed at me to hit her, so I did. Thrusting my hip, I made contact. I knocked her off of her line, but she stayed standing. I fell to my ass.
I felt pretty accomplished, no longer the deer. I had jumped in with the wolves, nearly succeeding.
And then came the calls for me to try jammer position.
I skated toward the impenetrable wall of derby-ers. Then I fell. Hard.
I would like to say that I put up a good fight. But, to be honest, upon contact I fell straight to the ground, taking one of the pack with me.
My night of derby over, I made my way to the bench and I stayed there for the rest of practice.
Columnists Kate Bennis and Nic Turiciano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.