As promised, I reached out to some possible guest writers to help celebrate a small landmark achievement. In the short time I’ve been writing, I’ve had quite a few people stop by and read what I’ve had to share…some have even come back! I surpassed 1,000 virtual visitors a little while back, and thought it might be interesting to reach out and get some fresh new voices on here. One of my contacts that has offered good feedback in the past has been going through a lot of new experiences, and I thought it would be really interesting to see what she could share from that. Boy was I right! She submitted EIGHT PAGES of entries she had written, and I will pass that on in a semi-regular (read: completely random) mini-series that I will call Fresh Meat Fridays.
Let me start this off with a little introduction, shall I? Thank you, I shall. I have always been infatuated with skating. I’ve loved hockey for as long as I can remember. However, growing up in rural southern Indiana, there was never much of a supply of reliable ice dependable enough to skate on. So I took to roller skating. I always loved when my church’s youth group would take a trip to Rainbow Skateland in Tell City, Indiana. Or a friend would have a birthday party at one of the rinks in Owensboro, Kentucky or Evansville, Indiana. Somewhere around my tween years (I can’t believe I just voluntarily used the term “tween”) roller blades were released to the masses. I caught on fairly quick, and it didn’t take long before I had a hockey goal, a couple sticks, and some goalie pads. My best friend and I would take turns shooting at each other in the parking lot of my town’s civic center. Sometime in there, I had heard whispers of a thing called roller derby. I was always intrigued by the concept, but never had the opportunity to watch it, learn it, or be around it. That’s where my guest comes in. I’ll leave it off here, and let her pick it up…
The Fresh Meat Files — My Life as a Novice Roller Derby Dame
I Hear It Calling Me
Okay, so the most action I have had on roller skates was when I was in grade school. You usually forgot that the school actually sponsored School Skates at Gibson’s Skating Arena, but then the school newsletter would announce it. So, of course you went…even if it was just to make a fool of yourself. So it was here at Gibson’s where I learned to skate (and my 6 year-old niece just learned to skate as well). There are probably quite a few people who can relate. Maybe you learned to skate there, or maybe you remember playing the arcade games, miniature-golf, limbo, hanging out in the disco or looking for the red penny when they threw them all out on the floor. So why is this memory in the forefront of my mind? Well, because for the last several months I have been contemplating something…something BIG!!!
I can’t tell you the exact date, but it was in the spring of 2010. As usual I was hanging out on my Facebook page. That’s when a page suggestion popped up from a girl I went to school with. Her name was Amanda and she was a founding member of the Cornfed Derby Dames. I hadn’t talked to her in quite a while, but I was intrigued by this page. So, I took the “suggestion” and added it. So what was this derby thing all about, it sounded pretty awesome. They were in need of some new recruits and it sounded like a lot fun and a chance to do something out of the ordinary. Plus, it would give my ultra-ego from my late teens and early twenties a place in my new-found (nicer) life. I wanted to be a part of this group of ladies. I was drawn to every post they made on the page, and decided I wanted to be a part of the derby league. Too bad it wasn’t in my cards at the time.
I was working at Menard’s. The most ridiculous place to work if you want to have any type of social life, outside of the friends you made at the damn place. I remember just the year before, I wanted to play softball, but couldn’t meet the requirements for the league because of where/when I worked. The schedule was so scattered, you just couldn’t commit to anything…at all! I think that’s how they wanted it to be too. It sucked. So when this derby opportunity came about, I knew work wasn’t going to be willing to give me the time off to do it. Not to mention when I approached my husband about it, he was a nervous wreck. (But, he didn’t realize then how much I really wanted to do this). Jeff (that’s my hubbie) didn’t think we would be able to afford it if I got hurt while working towards my dream of becoming a bad-ass roller derby girl. So between money and time, I just couldn’t do it.
Maybe it was because I was a fan of their page or maybe it was something even bigger than that, but the Cornfed Derby Dames where always RIGHT IN MY FACE. If I got on Facebook, I read about them. If I got The Star Press, I read about them. If I turned on the radio, I heard about them. When I would mention it to my friends, nobody knew what I was talking about. It must have been a call sent out in such a tone that only Derby Girls could hear it. You know like those deer thingies they have on cars to scare the deer off, which don’t work! I wanted to be a part of this SO BAD!!! I could hear it calling me.
New Job, New Opportunities
So, earlier you heard all about my big mean place of employment, Menards (known to me as MEANards). You know the place that didn’t let me be a part of anything else. Well, in June 2010, I gave them my two weeks (3 years to the day of when they hired me). I had found a job that seemed like it had everything I wanted. The job I took was an educator position with my county’s Solid Waste Management District (I don’t deal with anything involving #2 doodoo!!) I work Monday thru Friday and have the weekends off. Great for me, because now I can do some things I have wanted to do. I can do things like spend more time with my family, finally play on the softball team, hang out with my friends, join some groups, join the gym…and on and on and on! So why is this new job so important to my story? Well, it’s because this job introduced me to another Dame named Amanda. I work next door to the county’s Community Foundation and it just so happened they had a scholarship available for a young professional to attend some leadership training over in Muncie, Indiana. I love learning and looked forward to getting out of the office and building up some comp time. So I agreed to attend (not that they had to twist my arm).
The class (Emergence) was put on by LEAD ECI, and I would highly recommend it to anyone thinking of any type of leadership. So, I walked in to the first day of class a nervous wreck. I always am, when I meet new people, even if you can’t really tell. There were people from all different backgrounds and I was pretty excited to see what came from all of this. So, I settled in for the ride. Everything was flying by, and then we did our introductions. One of the groups was up introducing all their members, when they introduced Amanda. She looked to be about the same age as me. Then her group talked about her dog, a miniature-schnauzer. Guess what, I have a miniature-schnauzer too. Then they talked about something that totally surprised me…Amanda was a Cornfed Derby Dame!! WHAT…I TOTALLY WANT TO DO THAT…is what I was thinking. So, when I got the chance to talk to Amanda, we chit-chatted over our miniature-schnauzers and a little roller derby. I knew that day; I still wanted to pursue this whole roller derby thing!
I guess that voice that kept telling me to go out and get my derby on didn’t really think I was paying enough attention. After my 8-week Emergence class I bid adieu to my classmates and headed back off to work. I wasn’t a part of derby and I wasn’t sure I ever would be. I just couldn’t convince Jeff that I was going to be okay doing it, even though I told him about it every chance I got.
Look at Me…You Know You Want To
Within a week or so of leaving my classmates behind, I had found myself over in the Muncie area again, this time for work. Since, I was new to my job the educator for East Central Indiana SWMD (Susan) was allowing me to shadow her. I attended one of her presentations, which was pretty uneventful, but what followed was my final slap in the face from the roller derby spirit. Susan had asked me after her presentation if I would like to grab some lunch with her. She attended Ball State and really wanted to get her favorite sandwich from the MT Cup. I’d been there once before with my friend Vinny (RIP), but was by no means a regular. I decided to go…and…then…my roller derby aspirations changed from I want to do this, to I’M GOING TO DO THIS!
As I waited for my tea to be made I looked down at the advertisements on the counter at the MT Cup. Hmmmmmmmmmmm, what’s this bright neon green flyer all about?? It was there, just begging me “Hey girl, yeah you there, LOOK AT ME, YOU KNOW YOU WANT TOO…YOU WON”T REGRET IT!!” This particular flyer had information like: The Cornfed Derby Dames are hosting an event to get to know the dames. Come and meet the Dames. Skate with the Dames. They are going to explain the game of roller derby. They are going to do a jam in slow motion…I HAVE TO GO TO THIS!!! It was then and there, I decide this wasn’t just some phase, which was just going to pass. I became what some might call obsessed with everything derby.
I wanted to know what I was getting into with derby, so I did what I do best. I researched the shit out of it. I knew I was going to do this, but the Rolling Harvest Event would be the seal on the deal. I wanted to see what I really thought of the girls. Amanda #1 (from school) was the total opposite of Amanda #2 (from my LEAD Class) so I felt I needed to see what other girls where a part of this. (If you have seen any of the stories on the Cornfed Derby Dames, well they are pretty intimidating…to say the least.) So I marked my calendar for November 21, 2010.
The days leading up to the Rolling Harvest Event were filled with anticipation and learning. I learned about the game, the players, the uniforms…pretty much everything I could wrap my mind around. I even learned about some insurance (USARS as I know it now) that was required to participate. So, now I had the new job (so I had the time to be a part of this) and then I read about this special insurance (so Jeff couldn’t say we couldn’t afford it if I got hurt)…things were looking great!!
I’m Totally Going to Do This
So November 21st was finally here…what a long ass day. Waiting till 6:30 to head off to Gibson’s was taking FOREVER. I had convinced my friend Hannah to come with me; I was my nervous self and just needed a little moral support. It’s funny, but support was one of the things I wasn’t getting. Most of my family, friends and my husband thought this was a joke. Everyone just told me how dangerous it was and that I was going to end up hurt. I think most of them had forgotten how rebelicious I was just a few years ago. Being the family’s black sheep was a title I had earned fair and square and I would hate to disappoint my family by not living up to it. (I don’t want to make it sound like no one supported me; I did have a few supporters: Uncle Damon, Aunt Sandy and my friend Rachael were all about what I wanted to do…thanks y’all.)
Tic-toc, Tic-toc…it’s finally 6 o’clock!!! Hannah and I loaded up in my car and struck out on our skating adventure. Okay, I struck out on it and Hannah got dragged along kicking and screaming. The last time she had skated, she broke her arm. The last time I had skated…well, I think it was my sixth grade graduation skate at StarLite in Winchester, Indiana. I had been told in the days leading up to the event, by several people, that “skating is NOT like riding a bike; you can’t just put on skates and have it all come back to you”! Well, I was about to find out, now wasn’t I.
My nerves had for sure got the best of me by the time we pulled into the packed parking lot at Gibson’s. A couple of the derby girls were out front smoking. I was intimidated just seeing them standing there, but I was also in awe of them. (That was going to be me, except for the smoking thing…I had quit earlier in the year.) As Hannah and I walked into the entrance, we marveled at how the place still looked the same as we remembered it from our childhood. The same Get Along Gang characters in the windows, same skate shop, same skates, same concession stand, same lockers, same wheel cleaning machine, same disco, same arcade, same benches…SAME everything it seemed!!! Even Anne and George Sheridan were there!
So Hannah and I grabbed some skates (even though she didn’t want to skate, I had talked her into lacing up…for me!) So, was everyone right about skating not being like riding a bike? NOPE, they were wrong, it took me just a minute to get my footing, but then I felt like I was 12 years-old again. Except now I was a little more conscious of the fact that my bones don’t heal as fast as they use too. I got out on the floor and skated and skated and then skated a little faster. It was so much fun. I knew I was making the right decision, I could just feel it. Then they called us off the rink and the Dames came out to show the audience what they had been working on for months. I was amazed by the age diversity of the group and the girls came in all shapes and sizes.
I watched as the Dames did some falls, jumps and skating moves. I remember thinking…I can do that! (or I could at least learn to do that) Then the girls began their slowed-down version of a jam. YEP, I definitely find that intriguing, I thought. So I grabbed my phone and sent a text to my hubbie (who I would’ve dragged with me, if he wasn’t working at the place I refer to as Hell on Earth…aka MEANards), that said “THIS IS AWESOME”. To which he replied, “Did you win?” It was at that moment that I realized, he thought I had already joined the Cornfed Derby Dames and that he was okay with what I wanted to do. What a great feeling, the one person I needed on board with me, finally was!!!
After the girls left the rink, I found my friend Amanda #1 to get some details about joining. I needed to know a little more about the USARS insurance, when I could attend a meeting and when I could start. My night got even better when I was talking to Amanda #1 and she informed me that the USARS (which I thought was $200) was only $40. I was one step closer to becoming a part of this exciting group of ladies.
I left that night with a renewed sense of what I wanted to be a part of. I thought to myself “I’M TOTALLY GONNA DO THIS!!”
Talk about a cliffhanger! Look for more Fresh Meat Files coming sporadically in the future. If you find this subject as tantalizing as I do, I will post some links of interest. I also included them throughout the post, but if you’re too lazy to scroll back up, then here they are:
Thank you, that is all.