Ouch. The first day of boot camp kinda kicked my ass.
I’ve been practicing on my own for about 5 months, and getting back in the habit of eating right and working out. I see a huge difference in how I skated back in February, and how I skate now. Going to public skates at local rinks was starting to get really old, so boot camp couldn’t have come at a better time – there was only so far I could push myself before hitting a plateau.
So I honestly thought I was a complete bad-ass because of my self-measured progress, until about an hour into derby boot camp. Here are a couple of my recollections of the first afternoon at boot camp:
1. I suck. And I don’t mean this in a cute and charming self-deprecating kinda way. I mean I really think I suck. I don’t spend a lot of time comparing myself to the other girls mainly because I’m so focused on trying to get shit right, so I don’t know if I suck in relation to my “competition” – the others trying out for the few coveted spots on the league. I just know I don’t have things right just yet, and therefore I am sure that I suck.
2. I’m trying to get better at listening. Whenever the league’s rollergirls are trying to explain things to me, my ADHD kicks in. I zone out. I want to start dancing on my skates. I have to force myself to only stare at the girl that’s talking to me, and not get distracted by all the other rollerskating people milling around us. And in order to do this, I have realized that I tend to tense up and stare very intensely at whichever nice rollergirl is teaching me something. I’m trying not to be a fucking creeper but goshdarnit I just can’t help myself.
3. I need to breathe. I actually got some pretty positive reinforcement from our coaches, but it always ended with “Just breathe!” I think every time I skate, I skate like my life is depending on it and that is very, very stressful. The end result is tense shoulders, wide-eyed stares, panicky duck walks, and extreme exhaustion. I need to just relax and trust myself, and trust that I have it in me to do well without stressing myself out about it.
4. Remember: Derby love trumps all (hopefully). Ok, I know I said I wasn’t comparing myself to others, but I couldn’t help but notice a couple of girls that could skate circles around all of us newbies. I was pretty bummed at not being able to jump a foot off the ground like they did, or skate the whole rink with one leg up, or do a backwards crossover. Later on one of these girls offered to help me out. I realized that derby is more inclusive and doesn’t really breed jealousy because these women are all here because of a mutual love for the sport. No room for jealousy when everyone’s got something they need to be working on. I swallowed my pride, thanked her profusely, and now guess who knows how to skate on one leg around the apex? This girl. Gotta love derby love.
5. The actual derby rink is way smaller than a public skating rink, and this seems like it would be a good thing except… yeah… it’s totally not. I feel like a fucking rat in a cage. A hamster on one of those spinny wheel things. I feel confined! Like I can’t break free. I never realized how much power I was getting on the straight-a-ways until I skated on a flat-track WFTDA taped-up track thingy. I was so slow! It’s going to take a lot of getting used to.