Up Close And Personal Photo: Mel Koenig

Published on February 11th, 2014 | by Red Haute


Photo: Mel Koenig

Making it to Wednesday Night

I finally  to made it to Wednesday night.  Long before those stupid camel commercials, Wednesday nights held a certain specialness, a pull, an I gotta be there factor for me.   No matter how many changes there have been to the practice schedule in the league, the training program changes, new people and people leaving, skating Wednesday night was my goal. 

I finally got to skate Wednesday night tonight.  Ironically, the day after the 2nd anniversary of breaking my ankle.

Wednesday nights now comprise our intro teams joining our more experienced teams.  We’re playing up and it’s a whole new ball game.  Faster, harder hitting, more advanced strategy, fewer water breaks or any kind of breaks really.  I’d be on the track with some of my favorite skaters.  I was going to skate with them finally.

I was excited and nervous.  Simultaneously expecting to get my ass handed to me and looking forward to it happening.   Scared I wouldn’t be able to keep up but wanting the challenge.  I’m an average player at best.  I only recently got drafted onto a team and played in my first bout just a month or so ago.  I’ve got a lot left to learn and I’m so excited about that.

Our off skates warm up was the same as it is for all of our practices.  I was hanging in just fine.  Actually was pretty pleased when I managed to do the first 30 second plank without taking a quick rest.  That rolled into side planks – 15 seconds on each side.  And back to a 20 second regular plank.  I was solid through all of them.  At that point I already figured I had a win for the evening.

First drill – 40 laps in 8 minutes.  As a pack.  Have I mentioned that speed is not my forte?  I stayed near the back on the inside line.  Drifted a few times and ended up falling behind.  Lots of people called out for me to get up with the pack, take a push or a whip.  I wanted to do it myself.  And said so.  I really wanted to quit around #25.  But refused to.  And managed to make my way to the front to finish relatively strong.  One more small win for the night.

Backwards skating.  I thought I had that shit down back in the day.  All I can say is that with everything else derby, backwards skating for the sport is nothing like when I circled the local rink, alone, wishing a boy, any boy, would come skate with me.  Backwards skating in derby direction and in the opposite direction.  Nothing like making me feel like Bambi on ice again like I used to.

One sided plows.  A recent skill I’ve started getting down but definitely needing work.  Coach Fred took care of that tonight.  Some of them weren’t pretty but I feel better about that left sided one now.

Some shopping carts.  Always the bane of my existence at practice.  I just always seem to struggle with this.  Note to self: make sure to clean my wheels this weekend.  Perhaps all that shit on them is part of the reason why they just seemed to glide, effortlessly over the cold concrete floor no matter how much or how hard I pushed down.  Can’t hurt.

Then the Urgency drill.  We have several variations of this but, it all amounts to one of you is a jammer and the rest of the skaters are blockers.  That could be 1 on 1 or 4 on 1 or any variation of the numbers.  Tonight was 3 on 1 with each of us taking a turn jamming until we’d all done it.  Four long minutes trying to stop together, not trip on anyone’s skates and whatever you do – DON’T LET THE JAMMER THROUGH!  Then turn around and do it in the opposite direction.  And just for fun, once more in regular derby direction.

If I thought I wanted to stop, just take a breath, try to loosen my back or gather my wits during laps, by this point not only was my brain mush but, the muscles in my thighs weren’t far behind.  There was an ongoing dialog in the back of my head – one side saying, stop.  It’s ok.  It’s just a second. You’re tired, you haven’t practice this hard in months.  And the other just pointed my eyes at the amazing women in my group.  And I kept trying until the whistle.

Then scrimmage situation drills.  Always the payoff, in my mind, for all the drills and hard shit that I don’t really like to do.  Some of it I did ok.  A lot of it, I looked, felt and acted like I’d gone back in time to a year ago.  The confusion, uncertainty, the always getting owned, being the goat and the weakest link.  And I have to say, I couldn’t be happier.  Feeling like I have room to grow, seeing where those possibilities are, being challenged by superior skaters.  Not that the practices I’ve been going to aren’t challenging.  Cardio & endurance will probably always stress me out and find me at the back of the pack.  But this was on Wednesday night.  Finally getting to skate, on this night, gives me an awesome sense of accomplishment, even though I didn’t do all that well.

I skated on Wednesday night.  I didn’t stop or quit or take a break during drills.  I managed to do my planks, on elbows and hold solid and still for 30 seconds and then 20 seconds.  I made it through practice, I learned things and was helped along by skaters I love and admire.  I couldn’t be happier to be feeling like Bambi on ice or a Smasher (our name for Fresh Meat not on a team).  It reminds me that I’ve been there before and I made it through and I got better.  If I’ve done it once I can do it again.  Just watch me.



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  • Maria Montoya

    Congrats, Red!! It will be a blast skating with you on a Wednesday evening soon to come. <3 -MM

  • Ol Skool of Hard Knocks

    Well.said for all of us who still have a lot to learn. Never give in and definitely never give up!

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