- A piece by Brie Pilgram
(Photo by: Wolfgang Kurth)
I’m fresh meat – cook me quick!
Truth is, I was a skate rat. In the 80s and 90s you could find me at Rollarama nearly three days a week. Skating kept me out of trouble. Most of my friends were partying – bonfire hangouts, underage drinking. I was skating.
In a blink, I was a wife and mother. Everyone seemed to have their hobbies. My husband had fishing, my kids had sports and other interests. I had the privilege of having a wonderful family – that is a lot, really it is. But it’s not enough. Just because we grow up and become adults, doesn’t mean that we have to lose our identity. I suddenly had nothing going on. And my good friends could be counted on one hand. Life simply takes over, family becomes a priority. We go from living for ourselves to living for everyone but ourselves.
Well, my kids finally became old enough to try skating and without hesitation, I took them. Keeping them on their feet killed my back. I wanted to ditch them and skate…Funkytown was on god damn it! They began to skate on their own in no time so…..mama needed a new pair of skates. We were going a few times a month. I wanted to skate more. I looked up the AARSD website and yikes – those chicks looked a bit bad ass for me. I mean, look at their pics and bios – they are a little intimidating. But, I wanted to skate more. Finally, this spring I attended Recruitment and in May, I was at my first practice. There was no kiddie pool that day. For some reason, I was the only fresh meat there and Elle told me I would be practicing with everyone – they were doing SUICIDES. (come again, what?).
The practices in June were extremely difficult. It was bout season for the team and they were hard core practicing three days per week. I had been so inactive in recent years, that my knees would crack upon standing, could I keep up with this? The first three minutes of a typical practice is running around the track. Let’s get this straight, I run on Dunkin – that about all the running I do. I got through the running part (painfully) and then it was high knees and ass kickers. Oh, and then…PLANKS (umm, yeah, need to work on that too). Finally, you can lace up your skates and begin practicing. Around the track without stopping, skating on one foot, down on one knee and up, baseball slides, etc. This went on for a while and I had never been so exhausted. I was sweating, out of breath, dying of thirst, but I kept skating and I finished. Or, I thought I finished. My head was pounding, my helmet was getting tighter – I was thinking…um, brain aneurism? I thought if I removed my helmet, I wouldn’t be able to get it back on. My head felt like it was expanding! This was an endurance drill. After it was done, us “freshies” moved on to the kiddie pool. Thank god, I just couldn’t possibly have done any more or pushed myself any harder. I was willing to just lay down and let them use me as something to practice their jumps! To my amazement, the seasoned girls, after all that endurance, began relay racing. Seriously? How could they keep going? In the last 45 minutes, they scrimmaged!! They had what I didn’t….stamina. I guess this will come after months of practice – you get conditioned. (I hope)
So, I show up in mid-June to begin practice and learn that I would be able to scrimmage. I realized quick that being a good skater only gets you so far. You need strength, you need endurance, you need stamina and almost three months later, I realize most importantly, you need skills….not so much skating skills ---- derby skills. Thankfully, there are many practices before the next season begins. You can read the 46 pages of rules but when you are out there, it is like a hurricane!
Finally, I have to end with the addiction that Derby is. All of us girls have the same feelings about it and I know, we spend way too much time talking, researching and thinking about it. It’s something only a fellow derby girl could relate to. My non-derby friends just think I am crazy. I am happy to be doing something I love and to have an outlet, to have something for ME. Funny, a few years ago, my kids didn’t even know I was a skater. I was just Mom. But I was something more than Mom and I want them to know not only who I am today but what made me who I am today. I hope they will support me, I hope they will come and watch me skate in a bout, I hope they will cheer for me and my team…I hope they will be proud.