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Published on October 10th, 2012 | by Darkjester

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A Year Without Derby…. (sort of)

Could you go a year without Derby? I sort of did.

First, let me introduce myself, I’m Darkjester/Madness Tolls and I’ve been around flat track derby since WFTDA Rules 3.1 days. What does that mean? Not much other than I’m a derby addict.

In late October 2011, the NAF DOD Agency I work for (fancy acronyms unimportant) let me volunteer to deploy in support of military operations in the Middle East. It sounds glamorous and dangerous but believe me the most danger I was in was driving the 6th ring (read interstate) in Kuwait.

While I had regular Internet access over there (regular being a generalized term) it was as slow as a 2 minute Powerjam pack. I tried in vain to watch portions of the 2011 Championships and found the Internet connection here to slow to adequately watch. Likewise for any of the other streaming events. For comparison, its like trying to watch wftda.tv on a 56k dial up modem. It ain’t happening. So after several months of only reading about derby (www.derbynewsnetwork.com, dev.derbylife.com, www.zebrahuddle.com, www.skatelogforum.com, ) needless to say I needed more.

I had an epiphany. I took my plea and case to Facebook since due to the World Wide EXPLOSION! of Derby I had friends and Derby Mates from all over, I asked. “Send me a league T-Shirt, and I’ll take pictures of it, and I while in Kuwait!”

I’m pretty sure ALL of you can see right through this as just a ploy to get free league swag from all over. I’m not ashamed to admit, it was. However, I also decided that in addition to posting the pictures and videos and thank you’s on Facebook, I’d take care of those who took care of me. Each person/team/league also got a gift in return from me in Kuwait. This helped pass the time, but unfortunately due to security aka Force Protection issues, most of the pictures ended up being me standing in front of a SUV I drove, or sitting in my room.

Steel City DJ_0.jpg

I was able to however play “Bring Derby to Darkjester” with three amazing friends. My great thanks to Sintax (formerly of) and the league from Wollongong Australia “Steel City” Derby Dolls who sent me probably the coolest and most comfortable T-shirt I’ve ever worn, Terror Australis and her husband Big Nick from Melbourne Australia who sent me a cheer leader shirt from Victoria Roller Derby League, and DoubleOh TuTu from North Texas Derby Revolution in Denton Texas.

These amazing friends of mine helped keep me sane in between the two ten day Rest and Recuperation periods where I could see a live bout before flying back to Kuwait, Afghanistan and finally ending in Iraq.

Its been an amazing year for me. Rough at times, wonderful others, and the highlight is not only the friends I’ve made in the desert, but also those I’ve made online who decided to take a chance and bring the derby world a little closer to home.

I also was lucky to make the acquaintance of a skater with Providence Roller Derby named Havoc, from the Detroit area who happened to be deployed to Kuwait, as well. We met for coffee, hung out, shared mutual lamentations over the Internet and how much we missed our Derby back home. This lovely woman had her skates and gear shipped to her in Kuwait, found three other ladies and talked them into buying skates and gear, and introduced them to Roller Derby in a unused aircraft hangar. How cool is that? I can’t wait to meet up with her and her friend Richard (who skates on a men’s team, Mass Maelstrom) at Championships this year and introduce them to the wife.

In the end, the year without derby went faster than I expected. It was rough but doable, and I look forward with renewed vigor to the 2013 season, a new rule set, and faster Internet connections back home. I made some good friends along the way, and if you ask, “Would you do it again, Darkjester?” The answer would be a resounding “HELL NO!”

Thanks for everything, I can’t wait to get back to derby.
Love, Peace and Bearing Grease,
Darkjester/Madness Tolls

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