From the F Files... Grade A Top Choice Meat
by: Liz S.
I won't lie, Whip It did have a little something to do with it. It ignited the spark. Watching my first bout fanned the flame. But the story goes back further than that.
Much like Bliss in the movie, I had somewhat of a Barbie roller skating phase. While my skates didn't actually have Barbies on them, I wore them a lot on Sunday afternoons skating in my basement. I was probably around 10 years old when I started skating. I would put my radio on top of the dryer and skate for hours on the concrete floor. This would be a ritual that would continue on and off for years. There would be roller skating parties at school, and we'd skate in the gym while rocking out to everything from Men at Work to Rick Springfield to Def Leppard.
And then the angst ridden teenage years moved in, and I left my skates behind. And then life just happened, and so it goes...
So yeah, I saw Whip It last year. I really liked it. I could identify with Bliss, and when Maggie Mayhem tells her to put on a pair of skates and be her own hero, I won't deny it, it chokes me up. But what really got my blood pumping was the skating and Mz. Juliet Lewis as Iron Maven. Although my outer dork sometimes overshadows my inner rock star, she's alive and well and in there.
On April 24, one day after my 39th birthday, I went to my first bout. My boyfriend suggested it, and it sounded like fun. As I sat in the stands, I knew I wanted to do that. I wanted to go to there. Recruitment day was announced, and my friend and I decided to go. During the period of time between watching my first bout, recruitment night and tryouts, I skated as much as I could -- for the first time in over 20 years. Some of it came back to me, much of it didn't -- like how to stop. I watched videos on You Tube of skaters doing some of the basics. When I'd go skating, I'd try to remember all the things they said. But there is no substitute for actually doing it.
I wasn't going to go to tryouts. I had only been practicing for about two weeks. Then I thought, what the hell, even if I didn't make it, at least I had the courage to try -- and that in itself is an accomplishment. As I sat in the parking lot, I was incredibly nervous. As I walked in the door, the feeling only intensified and I could feel my heart beating out of my chest. And as I looked around and saw many of the girls who I saw skate in the bout, I was admittedly a little star struck. Much like Bliss was with Maven. Right before Maven pushes her into the locker and slams the door!
We were asked to do some basic skating and stopping. My crossovers were very clumsy, especially after a nasty fall I had while practicing them the week before. With no equipment on. Stupid. I fell on my right knee and left arm and scraped my right elbow. Then we skated a while in derby stance. Derby stance is very much like going to the bathroom in a public toilet. After a while, my back was aching and my legs were shaking. Finally, we were told that we made it.
I made it?
I made it.
I think I was in shock. Too dumbfounded to even express how thrilled I was. For the first time in a while, I was pretty proud of myself.
The next day, I began to do some research. I put every movie about roller derby into my Netflix queue. The Rollergirls series. Blood on the Flat Track. Hell on Wheels. Even the Kansas City Bomber. I ordered books on Amazon. I connected with another newbie on Facebook who knew much more than I did and hit her up for information about equipment. I got a subscription to FiveonFive magazine. I started to read the rules. Then it dawned on me fully, this is a sport. I should explain something, I am not athletic. I never played a sport nor have I been on a team. I played piano when I was a kid. I was in band (and dropped out). So this is completely out of my element. All I know is that something has clicked in me, and I am tired of sitting. And the thought of growing stronger, mentally and physically, with the help and along side of other strong women is incredibly empowering.