I was still pretty shocked I had retained all of the skills necessary to pass my MST only two practices back, and it spoke to the importance of good skill development beyond just simple athleticism. I had a lot of building to get back up to the endurance level I was prior to my injury, but the basics were there.
That coming weekend our Skate Wars bout was coming up and I was invited to play. What?! 4 months of no skating to bouting! Could this be real? The lump in my throat was starting to grow.
I went to every practice I could that week, trying to prepare for the bout. It was a mash up between us and our sister league so there were also players I had never seen. Oh man, do they know I am skating? I confessed my fears and doubts to my husband, my rock and biggest supporter. He subsequently stated, “They wouldn’t put you in if they didn’t think you could do it. And I think you can do it. After coming off of an injury, what better way to get back into it.”
Okay…… lets do this.
Per my standard protocol, I researched. I read blogs and scoured WFTDA.com. I watched bouts and tried to take in strategies. And then Saturday morning came. Track set up, gear up, warm up…time was up.
I thought of a line from the dozens of blogs I had read the night before as I skated out for the line up. “All you have to do is survive your first jam.” I lined up on the track and all of the last minute reminders started flooding my head. Stick with your buddy. Stay low. Watch your elbows. Stay low. Communicate. Stay low…and then the whistle blew. My mind was blank. I felt like a turtle shell being spun around on a busy highway. The jam went by so fast I actually didn’t even realize it was over until the whistle blasts came across and people were moving off track. That was it?! That fast?!
The rest of the bout was just as quick. And I wasn’t. Admittedly, I was slow both mentally and physically compared with the other players. And then my first penalty came for using those elbows a little too much. I got knocked backwards, sideways, and out of bounds. Jammers slid past me with ease and I couldn’t get through walls when I jammed.
There was one thing I did know… I wanted back in and I loved the feeling of playing. Of being able to knock someone out of line when they literally were. To know I can get back up from a fall after taking a hit. To cheer for teammates and all of their successes. To look at my inadequacies as spots to embrace, to improve, not spots to loathe. To work hard for something and know that it is that much sweeter. Wait… Am I still talking Derby….it seems an awful lot like LIFE.