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Published on March 8th, 2012 | by Shakin

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Derby Love

My friend Megan excitedly called me and said, “Rocky Mountain Rollergirls are starting a juniors team! Sophia is going to join and your girls should do it too.”

“Really? Hmmm. I don’t know. Lili is so petite and Elisabeth has never skated.”

“They’ll teach them how. It will be fun. Come on, just come to the first meeting.”

And with that, my world shifted gears and became derby focused.

Megan and I were proud derby moms. We faithfully went to every practice and sat together, chatting about big stuff and stupid stuff. It was a time for us to just be together, and I was always happy to hear her laugh and see her mischievous smile. She was funny, artistic, and tiny but packed a large spirit.

Our girls worked hard and improved so much during that first season. At the end of the season, the Punks had a bout at the warehouse. Dumptruck and Lucky 7 announced.

I discovered that day that I am not a good sports mom. I get outraged, and I’m loud about it. Megan giggled at my shouting and (mostly) under-my-breath swearing. She grabbed my arm and said, “Let’s go outside for a minute.”

Some cold Magner’s Hard Cider was out in my car, so we opened a bottle and shared it. She was beaming with pride. Sophia was the light of her life, and it showed.

As we walked back in, she elbowed me.

“Oh my god, there’s She Who!”

“What? Where?”

“Right there, sitting on the floor. And Assaultin Pepa.”

At the end of the track, there were some of the 5280 Fight Club, fresh off their championship win.

We squealed. I thought Megan, a bigger derby fan than me, was going to pee herself.

Snot Mee (Sophia), A Cute M.I. and Taryn A. Round (Lili & Elisabeth, respectively) did a great job. Their bout ended in a tie, for which we were all relieved.

As the girls skated around the track, high-fiving the crowd, the skaters from 5280 lined the track.

Megan and I became teary seeing these amazing athletes high-five the Punks and really support our girls.

With that, our first Punks season ended. I was grateful for the little break. Thanksgiving was right around the corner and we all busied ourselves with the usual holiday stuff

It was January 2nd of last year when I got the news. I heard it from my teammate Dirty and called Megan’s sister right away.
Inexplicably, she had suffered numerous grand mal seizures. She was in the hospital, on life support, expected to be taken off on January 3rd.

I had someone drive me to the hospital; I was too upset to drive myself. The newly remodeled medical center felt like a maze to get through. As I finally got to the floor of her room, I saw my teammate Damage in the hallway. Megan’s husband Brad and sister Amy were in the room. Megan was on the bed, looking small and fragile.

I spent some time holding her hand, talking to her husband and trying to figure out how to say goodbye.

Saying the loss of my friend was life-altering is an understatement. The minutes, hours, days were hard to wade through without her hugs and without hearing her call me “mama.”

But some miraculous wheels started spinning into motion once the word got out.

A unifying question of “How can we help?” changed immediately into a statement of “Here is what I can do” among the derby community here.

People from all the leagues here in Denver stepped up. It was unbelievable to see rivals and friends work together for this family. Rocky Mountain Rollergirls, Denver Roller Dolls, Rollin Bones skaters, and High City Derby Divas were all well represented in this mass effort to do whatever was necessary. I can’t remember who, but someone donated literally a ton of dog food for Megan’s beloved mastiff, Fezzik. I was the meal coordinator, and helped make sure Sophia and Brad were eating. Money was donated, things were organized. The family stated their needs and they were met by skaters and derby supporters, people who may or may not have known them.

As I spoke at her service, I looked around the room filled with people from all aspects of her life. They knew her as an artist, a gallery director, a friend, sister and daughter, and a derby mom. It was a solidifying moment for me to look out and see so many faces I normally only saw in helmets and mouth guards. I paused. I was struck at what an absolute force for good the derby community can be.

Despite the rough nature of the sport, there are many of these stories in our world. I am sure each of you can find examples of such derby love in your own leagues and towns. Perhaps a teammate’s skates were stolen, and everyone pitched in to replace them. Or someone needed a ride to practice because their car died, or a ride home because they won the after-party.
Certainly we have seen the derbyverse rally around individuals, families and teams during heart-wrenching tragedies.
It is an awesome power to watch unfold on a grand scale, but it is wonderful even if it is just a small gesture.

I am grateful that this self-chosen family consistently teaches my children, and me, lessons in how to treat others and that there is grace and kindness out there. It is good to understand that when there is a crisis, there are hundreds of people willing to help in whatever way they can, simply because we all belong.

Knowing that we are all safe in the arms of our derby family is a comfort, and as soon as we are back up on our feet, we know someone will be there, with a smile on their face, to knock us down, but in a good way.

And, Megan darling, I miss you at every practice. I miss you at every single bout. I think of you all the time. As I do our traditional jello-shot every time I go to the Fillmore to watch RMRG, I miss your wicked smile.

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Shakin

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