To Everything, There is a Season

The season rolled on. I got to play in our June bout as well, against the Cornfed Derby Dames, a brand new team. Our team included almost all of our FNGs, and I’m happy to say we won. That night, we didn’t have an A team to play against in the second game, so we played each other in an intraleague bout. It was a lot of fun to play each other in front of a large audience. Was I amazing? No, I was not. But I saw improvement over my first bout and had crazy amounts of fun. The Cornfed girls were awesome, because derby was so new to them. They watched our intraleague bout with mouths open, amazed at how good our A team players were and shocked at how hard we were willing to hit each other, even though we’re all on the same league. They had a great time at the after party, singing and dancing along with us—some of the coolest girls we played against this year.

I also got to play in two away bouts. One was a last minute game against the Rollergirls of Central Kentucky (ROCK), who play in Lexington. We get along with them well and consider a lot of them friends. The team was mixed that night, because it was so last minute. There were A and B skaters on our team, and we won with an amazing final jam by Sheneeda Spankin, one of our best blockers and an all-around great skater. I was more nervous at this game than my first two, because I’d never skated on a floor that wasn’t ours before. ROCK skates on concrete, and it was a completely new surface to me. For those of you that don’t skate, you have no idea how different surfaces affect your speed and agility. I found myself unable to plow stop, because the surface was too grippy. I’d stop and pitch forward because it would happen faster than I expected it to. But everything I was doing was helping me learn just a little bit more.

The second away bout was at NEO in Akron, OH. I wasn’t originally supposed to play, but was actually an alternate. At the last moment, someone backed out, so I got the chance to strap on my skates. It was definitely hard for me. I was on concrete again, which makes me slower than I already am. I was still not the most stable, and I was getting hit a lot. One fall was so hard, my bad knee began to ache again. I was just waiting for the bout to be over so I could ice it. And I also ran into something I hadn’t experienced before: serious heckling from the other team’s fans. I had heard some trash talk on the floor by other teams, but usually not too bad. Our fans usually don’t heckle, from what I’ve noticed, although they do cheer loudly when one of our blockers makes a good hit and takes out another team’s jammer. At NEO, for the first time, I heard people yelling some not so nice things about our team—talking about weight and other personal things. And a few times, I would get hit and fall hard and their fans would laugh at me. It was slightly humiliating, very humbling, and made me feel terrible.

So that’s one thing I want to say to all of our fans who might read this blog. Don’t heckle. Just don’t do it. The girls that play us work their butts off, devote a ton of time, and pay for the privilege of playing. This isn’t a professional sport. We don’t get paid and whatever we do, we do for ourselves. Whether they’re beating us or we’re beating them, it’s ok to cheer for us and support us, but that doesn’t involve being jerky. Even if you think they’re being unsportsmanlike or mean to us, it’s not ok to lower yourselves to their level. We don’t want those kinds of fans at our bouts. Every girl out there is trying her best, and it’s tough to go in front of a crowd that’s not your own and play as it is, without the added verbal abuse. Even though I only played in two away bouts, I attended almost every other one this season as a spectator. There were a couple of times the fans at those away bouts were downright cruel to some of our skaters. I’m proud to say that I’ve never seen one of our fans do that, so maybe I’m just preaching for nothing, but just in case, I’m just putting it out there. Cheer us, clap for us, yell loudly for us, but don’t pick on the other team.

We had a recent incident at an away bout that darkened our skies for quite a few days. Our A team was beating their A team quite handily. I was so proud of them. But the fans got louder and meaner with each jam. The tension at the bout was like a thick fog settling over everyone, as the fans raged and fueled both our and the other team’s rage. At the end of the bout, someone (a B skater from the other team who was watching the A team bout) ran onto the track and tried to grab our jammer. The resulting fall-out was blamed on us by their fans. They accused the refs of bias in ridiculous ways. They took to social media and called us everything under the sun. And it was the fans, not really the other team, that were doing this. We know you want us to win. We want to win too. But remember, as fans, that you too can have an effect on the game. The Black n Bluegrass Rollergirls want their fans to be just as great as we are!
But enough of the soap box. The season end was coming upon us. I was honored to be chosen to play in our last home bout. I didn’t play as much as I would have liked to, but in the end, I got to play, and I am truly grateful. Our B team lost our game, and that was tough, but the A team won against Gem City, with another amazing jam by Shaneeda Spankin, in what was to be her last home bout. And that’s another thing about derby. You get so close to these girls. They invade every facet of your lives and seem like permanent fixtures, but sometimes people move on. Earlier in the season, one of our best blockers, Haterade, moved back to Indianapolis and joined the Naptown team. Now, Sheneeda, arguably the best blocker we have, is moving to Knoxville, and my beloved Mellkat has gone to London to go to school. I can only hope their new teams appreciate our girls as much as we did. Bertha Knuckles has retired and is joining the announcing staff, so although she won’t be gone, she won’t be skating any longer. For Sheneeda, Mellkat, and Bertha, these were their last home bouts for BBRG, and it was heartbreaking. (Although Mellkat will be back!)

At the same time, a new crop of FNGs was going through their paces at bootcamp. I watched them struggle to learn their minimum skills, reliving my own experience and feeling a bit of joy over how far I had come in a year. By the beginning of October, there would be an influx of new talent—six girls with drive and love for their new sport. On October 22nd, we had our end of season party, and I, Kung FU Hussy, soon-to-be former FNG, finally earned my team jacket! You know I will wear it with pride, as the new Fresh Meat take their turns to learn and play for the first time, and lust over the prospect of their own jackets. (Insert cheesy Lion King music here) The cycle of derby continues on…

Next week: Slash and Burn(out)