Time Flies When You’re Playing Derby

jamming vs montreal
This is me jamming, fighting to get through a wall of blockers from the Montreal Sexpos in Montreal over the weekend. Both games I played in were a hard fight to the very end. I struggled with some things, but someone on the internet thinks I have the “greatest motherfuckin’ leggings in the world,” so that counts for something. Photo by Joe Mac.

Now seems like a good moment to revive this blog, eh?

I just got home from Canada where I got to play two derby games against incredible teams with my travel team, Female Trouble. If you scroll down on the main page, you’ll see that my last post about derby was in February (!!!). As you might guess, a lot has happened since then.

Here’s the short version of the past six months: Travel team tryouts were in February, and I unexpectedly made it on to the B team (Female Trouble). My teammates and coaches have pushed and challenged me, and my skating has improved as a result. I’ve been doing my best to keep a level head and stay sane through it all, which has involved a lot of meditating, yoga, working on healthy eating habits, and taking time to connect with friends, both within the derby-verse and outside it. I’ve also been evaluating my derby goals frequently. In my first year, I always had my next assessment in my sights. I knew what I was working toward, and that helped me keep driving forward even when it was hard. Now, I’m pretty happy with where I am in the league, and I have a long wish list of skills I’d like to improve but not a big goal to aim for. I never thought of myself as a Type A person, but it turns out that without a goal, I feel pretty lost.

And then this weekend happened.

Time really does fly when you’re playing derby, and you lose track of all the changes happening — in yourself, your skills, your team, and your feelings about the sport. Since this is my first travel season, I’ve been thinking of myself as a newbie and looking to my teammates for guidance at every turn. But this weekend, I realized something has changed. I guess I realized it during the Saturday afternoon team meeting when I was told I’d be first in the jammer rotation. That’s an honor, but it’s also scary, and I wasn’t prepared for it. That night, I got lead in the opening jam, which felt pretty amazing, but we lost the game, which felt less amazing. On the bright side, my teammates worked together and stayed in it 100%, regardless of the score. Even though we lost, I walked away feeling good about our performance and how we’ve grown as a team. Underneath that, however, I was still feeling critical of my own performance because I have trouble seeing my own accomplishments. I don’t know …  Is that a normal human thing?

The next morning, I struggled to get my head together for our second game. I did trackside yoga while the All Stars played and even meditated for a few minutes, but when it was time for our game to start, I felt dizzy and disconnected. Half way through the first half I had a small panic attack that threatened to destroy the game for me until my teammate Tina reached out without judgement and reminded me to breathe. That game was tight, and we had to fight till the last minute, but we finally won by about 25 points. Once again, I was proud of my team but frustrated with myself. How much better might we have done if I’d been able to keep my head in the game? On the other hand, I distinctly remember watching Killy from Philly, Jennanigans, and Tearin Tina get lead jammer. I was so excited I was for them and so grateful they were there to help the team when I couldn’t.

As we got back on the bus, I felt more emotionally than physically tired. I wished I’d worked harder. I wished I’d been better. Being the kind of introvert who will sometimes hide in the bedroom at my own parties, I was exhausted from being around so many people for so long. The bus smelled like a pee-soaked urinal cake, and though I loved all the people there with me, I wanted nothing more than to be far, far, away from them. Or at least to fall asleep, which I couldn’t quite manage.

I did have a couple of bright moments, though, like when I remembered that we’re not taking any more bus trips any time soon. I thought about my favorite scenes from Almost Famous and A League of Their Own and reminded myself I’d just had one of THOSE experiences. I felt really lucky. I was also very proud of the moment when I decided to buy both Chinese takeout and Taco Bell at a mall food court stop because I knew I’d be hungry later.

Now that I’m home and have had some time to regain my brain, I do feel pretty good about the weekend. I’m glad I traveled with the team because it was an experience I really wanted to have, even though I knew I’d be testing the limits of my own anxiety. And as for my skating? Fuck it. I did what I was capable of at the time. Next time, I will be capable of more.

Poems. Free. Questionable Quality.
Thinking Too Hard About Cinderella

One thought on “Time Flies When You’re Playing Derby

  1. I think you are pretty inspirational. Wow! Travel team, playing in Canada? Pretty fucking amazing. We all have things that we can be better at, you broke through and that is what counts. Great job, Mary!

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