I Went to Roller Derby & All I Got Was This Lousy Busted Ankle
Actually, I got so much more. Friends. Confidence. Goals. Determination. Sense of purpose. Self-esteem. Sore muscles. Cross training. Kindness. Strength. Unique perspectives. Humility. And the opportunity to know some really awesome people.
Years ago, before the modern current incarnation of derby had been formed, I said I wanted to do roller derby. The derby I remembered from T.V. when I was a kid was a spectacle, somewhat similar to the WWF. Derby was reborn around 2003, with far more rules and regulations. It became a real sport. And it made me want it even more.
We have two leagues in our city, each with multiple travel teams and home teams. Now that I am seemingly done being pregnant 24/7, it was time to go after some dreams, right? I joined the recreational training program offered by one of the local derby leagues. I survived sorting day, managed to get tossed in an intermediate group despite not having skated since about 1987. I went to a two hour practice, twice per week. Each week, I drove to our practice space, at first with a sense of dread, and eventually a sense of excitement as my skills improved. I went to all of the skating clinics offered in preparation for tryouts. You don’t get to just join roller derby. Like any competitive sport, there is a process to getting drafted and rostered onto a team. I had to build skills. Then get through tryouts. If judges deem us worthy, we pass tryouts and go to boot camp. If we remain worthy through the first boot camp, we get to go to the second boot camp. Then we have to pass the WFTDA Minimum Skills Assessment. If you get through all of that, which is a three month process that doesn’t even begin until after you learn a lot of skating skills at months of clinics, you might, MIGHT get drafted to a team if they have a position open and the captain wants you for that position. Passing tryouts is no guarantee at all. Many people spend years going through this cycle before finally getting drafted. Teams don’t grow indefinitely. Retirement, transfers, and injury leaves basically need to happen for recruiting to happen.
I skated with the training group for a little over three months before going to tryouts. Then, 40 minutes into tryouts, we started a pack drill and someone fell across my feet. Unfortunately, with their weight over my skates, I couldn’t do anything to control my fall, so I went down in a bad way and felt my ankle snap underneath the other skater. Eeeeek!
I’ve never really broken anything before, but the pop of my bones was unmistakable. The x-ray showed a significant Bimalleolar fracture. I had to sit around for five days with an unset leg, waiting for surgery. That was the worst part! Surgery day was a nerve block, general anesthesia, plates, lots of screws, two more giant screws, and a boatload of Percocet.
I am 10 days post-op as I write this, and in another week, I will get a different cast. Maybe they will remove some staples or stitches too. (I didn’t ask what was going on under this current cast.)
I didn’t get to finish tryouts obviously, but I did get into boot camp anyway!! Unfortunately, I can’t skate at it, so I’m going to just sit on the side and take notes. And obviously I wont get passed into the second boot camp. I should be walking again in about three months. Then I can start skating with the training program again in the Fall.
I feel sad that everyone gets to progress while I sit and atrophy. I will basically be starting over again. But, I am proud of myself for doing tryouts. I wasn’t going to bother. I didn’t feel my skills were ready, so I tried to make up for it with great attendance and showing dedication. I guess those things mean something since I passed.
I did something scary. I survived. Since I got into boot camp, some might say I thrived. But, I also failed. A busted ankle is a big setback. I’m being left behind and it makes me pretty sad some days. It seems rather silly to feel that way about something I haven’t been doing for very long, but this was the first time in nearly 20 years I was doing something JUST for me and no one else.
So I sit here feeling mopey. Angry at my body for letting me down. I did the scary thing and all I got was a busted ankle. But, not really. I still have all that other good stuff when I look for it. I am still a roller girl and will have another opportunity next spring. 🙂