A Cautionary Tale

Our Fresh Meat have their Minimum Skills Evaluation coming up soon. Having just passed mine a few months ago, I thought I’d take a moment to offer a little perspective on the whole thing.
I was desperate to pass my Min Skills and be done with fresh meat. Like getting out of the car after a long road trip, I yearned to stretch my legs, to jump up and down, to go fast, to HIT SOMETHING! I wanted to be a Derby Doll.

Be careful what you wish for.

I was fortunate to pass my Min Skills on my first try. I didn’t play sports in high school and the idea of having made the league took a long time to wear off. I spent hours agonizing over my derby name and number. I changed my day planner to reflect a new practice time slot. I organized carpools. I was ready.

But I forgot one thing. Now that I was a Doll, I had to go toe stop to toe stop with girls who had been at this for way longer than I had. This struck me as I walked into my first Tuesday night practice and looked around the room. The women there were no longer just my coaches and mentors; they were now my teammates, or worse, members of an opposing team.

“Hi”, I said. “Please don’t hurt me” was all that I could find to spit out next.

During warm-up, my nerves got the best of me. I would fall during exercises I normally glided through with grace and poise. While usually pretty quick on my feet, I felt slow and awkward. Fawn legs, I called it (picture Bambi sliding on a frozen pond).

I’m sure it’s a rite of passage to wipe the floor with the new girl, and did they ever. I was pushed around, knocked down, and passed. Stubbornly I would get back up, hustle, catch up, and all to find myself on my ass again. I refused to look weak. I would not give up. I wanted this.

They weren’t malicious. There was no ill will, or name calling or laughter at my expense. Maybe a good hearted smile at my tenacity, but nothing of the hazing I had been warned about by my jock husband. But they skated circles around me and cheered my falls (and cheered even harder when I got up).

While I knew some of them individually, they were frightening en masse. A clump of wheels, pointy shoulders and swinging hips surrounded me. I was a Doll and yet I was out of my league.
As the 2 hours drew to a close, I had to remind myself that I had fought for this privilege. I had worked hard to pass my Min Skills. After one practice I saw in action what I had only considered in theory. Minimum skills are exactly that…MINIMUM SKILLS. They are not enough to make you a true derby girl. They are merely the absolute bare minimum required to keep you safe on the track. They give you the opportunity to practice with a group of girls who you have so much to learn from. It was an honour to have them wipe the floor with me, and one I look forward to passing on to those girls who will have the honour of joining us shortly.

Bust’er Up


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