In keeping with the goals I set at the beginning of this year, I’m gearing up (quite literally, ha!) to tackle one of the biggest and scariest “Do it!” items on said list.
I recently announced my (Roller!) Derby intentions via Twitter, and since then haven’t looked back, which is good seeing as how there really isn’t anywhere else to go but forward, on a pair of quad skates that I am about to own, and hopefully will remember how to skate in, drawing on muscle memory learned from Way Back In The Day, when I rocked Pattison’s Roller Rink every Friday night, and don’t worry, lest you think I’m completely insane (vs. only marginally insane), I do understand there is endlessly more to derby than knowing how to out-skate prepubescent boys who are trying to hold your hand during the exceedingly awkward “Couples Skate.”
Lest any of you wonder how this derby decision came about (Is this an official quarter life crisis? Is Kerri in need of an intervention?), here are some answers to some FAQs (Frequently Assumed Questions), which is to say, the questions I’m assuming you might be asking yourself right about now:
1. What the eff is Roller Derby? It’s a rad sport played on skates that requires agility, strength, and the ability to repeatedly pick yourself up off the floor after being thrown onto it. The Rose City Rollers deem it a “game of brutal beauty.” It’s definitely that. You can read all about the history of derby here.
2. Why do you want to play Roller Derby? I’ve been interested in derby ever since I knew it existed, and especially since one of my good friends turned long-distance derby coach, Jen started skating in 2006/2007. The first bout I ever watched left me determined to skate, because to me derby looks like the most fun a girl could have while getting an amazing workout and reaping the benefits of being part of a dynamic, athletic team. I miss team sports, and the power of weekly practice(s), and frankly: I think with my athletic background I can learn to rock these skates given enough time and practice.
3. But you seem so…nice. I can’t picture you throwing someone across a derby track. I used to play the post position in basketball and believe me, it gets pretty rough under the hoop. I’m tall and pretty strong (soon to be much stronger) and I’ve hip-checked my fair share of bigger-than-me girls. Plus, I think derby might actually make me a nicer person. Having a designated place to unleash a healthy amount of aggression on a weekly basis sounds pretty perfect to me.
3. You recently watched Whip It, didn’t you? Actually no, though yes, I have seen it. To be clear, I’m under no illusion that I’m going to step onto the track and skate so fast I’ll turn Andrew Wilson’s head and be instantly placed in the starting crew on a bouting team next to veterans sporting awesome derby names like Maggie Mayhem and Smashley Simpson. That doesn’t happen (ever, really, but especially not) in Portland’s league. Though I will admit I’m hoping my dad stakes a wooden sign in his front yard with my derby name and number on it. The reality is: I’m attending a derby boot camp from July 15th – August 8th, where I’m fully expecting to get my proverbial and literal ass kicked, after which, assuming I’m still conscious, I’m intending to try out for the Rose City Roller’s Fresh Meat team, which is where I will stay until I’m officially drafted onto one of Portland’s five bouting teams.
4. Speaking of derby names! What’s yours? Awesome question, and I do indeed have one I’m psyched to use, but unfortunately the name itself is a bit top secret at the moment. Not because I’m too cool for school, but because I don’t want to get thrown onto the floor for being the girl who shows up to Day 1 of boot camp claiming a derby name before she’s even made it through one of the drills.
5. But maybe you were born to skate and you’ll fly through boot camp and tryouts, and get drafted onto a bouting team almost immediately! You’re watching Whip It right now, aren’t you?
6. When you make the team, can I come watch you bout and maybe even make a sign for you that I’ll hold up as you skate around the track passing people like they’re standing still? YES. Yes, please! Also: I love you.
OK! So now that you know why I’m simultaneously psyched and pants-crappingly scared about derby, let’s get to some pictures, because we’re all about the visual learning up in here, are we not? Yes, yes we are!
(It should be noted, lest anyone get any wrong ideas, that because my parents are amazing, and because my dad’s face lit up like it was Christmas* when I told him I was thinking about playing Roller Derby, they are financing the gear portion of Kerri’s Great Derby Adventure (KGDA!), for which I am immensely grateful, because derby gear? Is not for the faint of checkbook.)
This is my helmet (to protect my brains!), the one that took me nearly two days to order because I couldn’t make up my mind. Oh hai, Overthinking Everything.
Behold: my knee pads. I have it on good authority that falling on these babies is like falling on “puffy clouds.” My knees really hope this puffy cloud analogy is accurate.
My elbow pads look about the same as my knee pads (and are made by the same company), though of course they are more elbow-shaped. I also have wrist pads, which I might be a little in love with, seeing as how I’m maybe wearing them as I type this. MAYBE.
These are a few of the knee-high socks I ordered to wear when I skate, as I was advised that exposed shins are not happy shins.
And the pair that basically bought themselves!
Yes, those are pink knee-high socks laden with mustaches. Perhaps needless to say, I am quite excited about those.
And last but not least, seeing as how none of this pain-filled fun actually exists without them: MY SKATES.
Game so totally on.
*Come to think of it, it actually was! Christmas. After I told my parents I wanted to try out for derby, my dad said they would definitely come to Portland to watch me play, which, if you know my parents at all, is basically akin to them saying, “You’re going to the moon, you say? Well…that’s pretty far, and the parking is terrible, but if that’s where you’re going, we’ll totally be there, too.”
**Post title is from this video, and if you haven’t seen it, I will say with no hesitation that you MUST. No, really. Stop what you’re doing and go watch it now. You can thank me later.