I had just come home from vacation. I was tired, lethargic, slightly hung over, and overwhelmed by the amount of work I had to catch up on. I opened up my email account and saw that the roster list was posted for the 2012 season’s first bout. The Shakedown and Shade Brigade would be going up against Des Moines’ Crash Test Dolls and Derby Dames. I opened it, looking forward to seeing the list of teammates that I would be cheering on. My excitement grew as I looked through the Shade Brigade list. I was finally going to see the players that I admired and had gotten to know on a personal level kick some ass. Next, I went through the Shakedown list expecting to feel the same way. I smiled at each name I read, until I came upon my own.
At each practice until the bout, I pushed myself to the limit. I had the opportunity to scrimmage against our chartered skaters, some of the best players in the derby world. By the time bout day came around, I was ready to take on the world.
When I got to the venue, my heart pounded and there were butterflies in my stomach, but I still tried to maintain a level of confidence. I didn’t want to psych myself out. When our practice time rolled around, I put on my skates, glided out to the floor…and slipped and slid. This floor was slick, so much so that Sprite had to be mopped over it in order to make it slightly stickier. Luckily, the team recommended we bring extra sets of wheels. With the stickier wheels and some practice time out on the floor, I knew that I would be just fine.
Finally, we were a few minutes from the first jam. Then, a fellow newbie, Sneer and Loathing, got down on her knee and proposed to be me. “Hellevator, will you be my derby wife?” she asked, handing me a pipe cleaner ring in the process. I squealed with delight, clearly indicating “yes.” Ultra confidence boost. Once again, I was ready to take on anyone who got in my way.
The first half of the bout went great. The team utilized the strategies our mentors had taught us and communicated well. I was feeling giddy before each jam start, but as soon as that whistle blew I switched to game mode. I had great teammates who helped me along, and I tried my best to do the same. At half time, we were ahead of the Crash Test Dolls.
The excitement continued into the second half, but the Dolls stepped up their game, particularly their offense. In spite of our great strategies and teamwork, the Dolls eventually surpassed our score and won the game. The Shade Brigade game followed. Unfortunately, the Des Moines Derby Dames defeated them too.
Of course, losing my first bout/the season opener was disappointing. But to my surprise, I felt a lot more pride than disappointment. I was proud of my teammates for putting their all into the game. I was proud of how well we communicated with each other and our coaches. I had never played a team sport and wasn’t sure if I would be much of a team player, but I could tell that each and every one of us looked out for each other. And looking in the mirror at the end of the game, I was proud of myself for going out and doing something I would have never dreamed I would have been capable of just a few months before.
I also found out that losing is a huge learning experience. At the end of the game, most everyone on the team knew what we could have done to improve the outcome. Over the past few days, both teams have put a lot of thought and discussion into what we did well, and what we need to work on for next time. Our coaches and team captains have worked hard to listen to our feedback and have built drills around what we have agreed needs improvement.
The amount of determination my teammates have shown following this first bout never ceases to amaze me. The Shade Brigade and Syndicate are playing in their next bout on March 23, and I was put on the roster again to bout with The Shakedown on March 31. The skaters on this team have positive attitudes and are not knocked down easily. When they do fall, they get right back up. This rubs off, and the feelings of fear and self doubt that I had prior to my first bout have subsided. I am excited to work harder than I ever have for the remainder of this season. I’m ready to dominate, as is the entire team. 2012 is going to be a great season.