Starting in January I came out to the track, not knowing a single soul. I was shy and completely intimidated. This would be the first time I wore a pair of skates in my life but luckily these girls were more than welcoming and willing to teach me. I went from just practicing getting up, standing, and falling down… to getting up, moving forward, holding on to the wall occasionally, and of course, more falling…
Months of “Fresh Meat” training went by and these faces were no longer strangers. I was no longer a shy person (on and off the track) and I was getting hit and battered and bruised by these women. During this time I had learned to skate and passed a minimal skills requirement test set by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA). Then I was drafted to be an official Crossroads City Derby doll (CCD) and became a part of one of our three home teams: the Reguladies! I had never felt so accomplished… until I was told I will be experiencing another first, along with some my fellow “Freshies.”
My First Bout
“Bouting” is exactly what it sounds like. Just like in boxing, we are trained to hit and take hits. And this “Fresh Meat” training was about to prove its purpose. It was that time of the year to celebrate our Whole Enchilada Festival. And every year for this event, CCD takes the whole league and divides them in half and assigns them to either the Red Chile team or the Green Chile team. (I was assigned to the Green Chile team.) Being raised an as athlete and competitor, I am not normally a nervous competitor. But this is still brand new to me. Skating still is not natural to me. These women eat and train like athletes. They have been skating longer than me by years. They are older than I am. But most of all: they still intimidate me.
So I get to the track early, my heart pounding. Not sure whether to warm up early or wait until my teammates start to show up to the track. Honestly, I do not know what to think at this point. Then it dawns on me: This sport takes more team work than any sport I have ever played. My teammates will know exactly how to help me out on the track! So I gear up and get my game face on. At this point I’m ready to rumble! Competition runs through these women’s’ veins but it also runs through mine. THIS is what got me hooked on this sport in the first place.
The referees check our gear, check the track, and make sure everything and everyone is safe to start. I get on the track. My mind clears out. Then the first whistle blows and at this point I am somewhat freaking out again. I feel inadequate as a skater because I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I keep getting hit and falling down. I keep falling behind these women all sprinting, and I’m not fast enough to catch up quickly. I’m thinking, I’m letting my team down! Then a veteran skater hits me and I fall but not all the way. I’m able to balance on one skate, tap my knee pad to the concrete and within a split second I’m back on two feet. At this point I realized all of my hard work and dedication has paid off. I have done it all to reach my goal of becoming a derby girl. I learned how to skate, how to take hits, and how the game works. But most of all I know I owe my gratitude towards the women and men of Crossroads City Derby. All of the extra time they have spent specifically on me has paid off. I am so grateful for such amazing coaches and teachers, and of course, teammates. I officially feel like a derby girl.
So altogether we played four 30 minute scrimmages over two days that weekend. The last bout for the weekend was the most exciting. The Green Chile team was down 2 games to 1 and a win here would tie us up. At the last jam the score was 43-45 with Red team in the lead. The jam starts and penalties are being issued left and right. Every player is skating hard and then the final whistle blows. GREEN TEAM WINS BY 2 POINTS!
All in all, we tied at 2-2. I have never felt such a strong competitive vibe from fans, bystanders, family, teammates, or a league in its entirety.
And for all of these “firsts” I have experienced the last nine and a half months, my first bouts were an experience of a lifetime. As a rookie skater, I can see why these 30+ women (and several men) have worked so hard to stay here to create and make up what we know as the Crossroads City Derby league of little Las Cruces, New Mexico. There WILL be more bouts to come, you have my word.
With Derby Love,
Nurse Hell-Doll #224