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Published on March 14th, 2012 | by DerbyLife

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How do you spell Derbyversary anyway?

by: Margie Ram

On March 31st, it is my derbyversary. One year to the day when I got off my couch and said no more to being depressed and sedentary. What I have found is a sport I love that combines athleticism and modern femininity that is both frilly and raunchy. It is just plain awesome. Not only do I get to tango with my own personal demons and skate through the physical and mental pain, I have developed strong feelings for my derby girls.

Yes, like the entire derby world, I have crushes on the famous Demanda Riot, Bonnie D. Stroir and Suzy Hotrod, but the derby girls I feel strongest for, I am lucky enough to skate with on the same league. Having mentors so accessible has really been essential to any abilities or talents I’ve been able to tap into. I admire all the people I skate with including several on the Uinta Madness Men’s Team but I have learned several key derby lessons from the most notable of my derby inspirations.

The first derby girl I ever met was Wanton Rebellion #9. I was smitten at first sight – that first day with the Rockettes when I could barely stand on my brand new skates. My admiration for this amazing woman is constantly growing. Twice she has pushed me to my limit and I’ve survived. Once during my third week on skates, we were doing side steps from one side of the warehouse to the other and again and again and again. I wasn’t sure I could actually do this derby thing then but there I was grunting and gasping with sweat pouring down my face and the fat literally melting off my back with Wanton offering encouragement to my struggling self the whole time. Oh yeah, I can do this.

The second time was when she did a chest-to-chest blocking move on me that sent me flying backwards. I barely tapped my head but the noise of my helmet making contact with the cement floor scared the crap out of me and I cried like a baby. I can’t remember if Wanton actually held me out there on the track while I sobbed or if she just knelt by me. Of course, she just knelt but then she stayed by me all night genuinely concerned about my bruised psyche. I got over it and it actually turned out to be one of the best blocking lessons as several people since have tried this move on me and I haven’t fallen backward again. I am looking forward to the day when I’ll be able to skate backward and chest bump Wanton. Next year maybe.

More than the coaching and practical lessons, Wanton has given me great advice. My favorite is simply, “It’s just derby.” While I’m moaning during 80 laps in a pack or harping about one of the other girls not inviting me to lunch or whining about 20 burpees or my aching knee or being on the losing side of a blowout, it is important to strip it all down and remember that I love derby. It’s supposed to be fun and it is not worth freaking out over. It’s just derby.

While Wanton is incredibly influential on my skating, she isn’t the only one. I guess I’m a bit of a derby slut with dozens of crushes. Let’s face it though, we all are or at least we should be. I mean, we all skate with these amazing women and there is always someone better than you, so how can you not admire many, many skaters and want only to be close to them, skating away, all the time? This passion is very intense and I feel it for all my league mates. Let me get back to gushing about some of them.

The blonde bombshell, super artistic and funny Mannarama #27 had another key phrase I heard right from the start. I use this advice not just in derby life but in daily life. She said, “Don’t be a douche-bag.” I never thought I would say the d-word so much. It is pretty much the worst thing to be in derby except maybe the person who can but won’t. When I am freaking out about scrimmaging with Midnight Terror and getting knocked down by The Instigator, it is this Golden Rule of Derby that pops into my head. Not a single person I skate with including the men is a d-bag. Not one. This means they would never injure me on purpose especially in a scrimmage.

Don’t misunderstand me, derby is a high contact sport and I myself intend to hit people until they fall down (hard) but just because I can, doesn’t mean I will. Not being a d-bag goes along with “It’s just derby.” This stuff is supposed to be fun. Competitive? Hell yes! But in a good sports-men-like kind of way. I want to play with my friends, not send them to the hospital. In fact, feeling the way we do about each other, makes us truly sad when one of our sisters is fallen. Broken and bruised body parts are, I am learning in this first year, quite commonplace. Already I have been witness to one torn ACL, one broken ankle, one broken leg, one concussion. Damn. One every three months. And this playing without douche-bags. So I heed Manna’s mantra and don’t be one.

The next bits of advice I’ve learned from this year are related to equipment, specifically pads and protective gear. Before I started playing as a WRD Hot Wheeler, I was a fan learning with the Rockettes. A few months into this journey, it was suggested that I watch more derby to improve my knowledge of the game. I remember my first Midnight Terror bout and seeing the mighty Smack & Decker. I so aspire to block like her and I try to emulate her blocks. Put my shoulders back, head up, look around more, more team work, more vocal, more leading, get lower. When I joined WRD I was a little Smack star-struck.

Smack is on the WRD Training Committee and runs practice so right from the beginning she was giving me advice. I thought I was going to throw up. To be in the proximity of greatness where she is coaching me on how to be a better player, helping me cultivate what lives inside here somewhere. It’s effn magical. Really though the best advice Smack gave me was just recently. After skating 3 to 4 sometimes 5 days a week for almost a year, I’ve had some knee trouble. Smack says I should reward myself by getting all new pads for my derbyversary. This prompted me to take a closer look at all my protective gear. It is definitely well-worn and well-used. What a great suggestion from my friend Smack. Veteran derby girls know their stuff and I am so glad I am listening. I can’t wait to get new pads. What kind is a whole other discussion.

My little knee trouble has kind of sucked as it involves some strength training cycling nonsense that is not very exciting (it’s not derby). Anyway, there is this lovely person my friend Bruiser Ego #13 who suggested I get knee gaskets. Bruiser started playing with the Rockettes three months before I did but is one of those people who just has “it.” You know a pre-disposition, natural born talent to just be awesome at whatever, in this case derby. Already she’s a WRD Bonneville Bonecrusher and constantly pushing herself. How proud I am of her. So on Bruiser’s advice, I got knee gaskets and now I believe knee gaskets are essential to derby success. They are these neoprene sleeves with reinforced padding and support to wear under your knee pads. I’m not sure I have found the right brand though. Have to include this in that other gear discussion.

Finally, how to keep this equipment smelling fresh and clean is a real challenge. Not so much anymore because England’s Glory #22 told me the secret. For me, dirty pads irritate my skin and are uncomfortable with all the sweat and nylon and plastic involved. Plus the smell is kind of distracting. England, who is incidentally the most amazing jammer I have ever seen – seriously no matter who I have seen this woman jam against, she whizzes by. Grand Slam England. It is amazing. So England said to soak my pads in white vinegar and water overnight, rinse them, dry them and mist them with Febreeze after every practice, letting them dry after every practice. This has been the most successful method of ridding my life of pad stink.

So this derbyversary is about the colorful people that I love. Not just Wanton, Manna, Smack, Bruiser and England but all my Rockettes and WRD friends in their red, blue, and diamond sparkle. Without you, I would have learned nothing. Here’s to another year.

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