My husband once told me to repeat “just be confident” in my head. I was worried about something or another. Having a conversation that wasn’t pleasant with someone. Standing up in front of room of people. Asking for something I deserved. Who knows what it was. But the thing is, this “just be confident” mantra comes in handy.
As it turns out, roller derby is ALL about confidence. If I really thought about it, the whole damn thing of it is so outside my comfort zone I’m amazed that I’m doing it. Whether it’s turns or jumps or falls or hits or endurance laps or short shorts there’s a lot to lose confidence over. And in the last month, there’s more to worry about.
Two of our fellow Iron Range Maidens have fallen in the line of duty. Georgia O’Grief (soon to have a new name) and Mis-Mauler have, in less than a month, fallen and broken their tibia and fibulas. Both of them. Both have needed surgery. Both handled their injuries with such grace and tenacity that I’m proud to be their teammates.
For both of these kick-ass roller derby gals, they found themselves on the floor of our beloved practice space, the Charlie Company Grand Rapids Armory. Both had to wait in what was no doubt excruciating pain on the concrete floor for an ambulance to arrive.
Here’s the thing: we all knew, from the get-go, that this roller derby wasn’t for wimps. We regularly say “it’s not IF you get injured, it’s WHEN you get injured”. But no one believes that it’ll happen to them. And no one knows how to handle a situation where you can’t just get up and get yourself out of the limelight. Where you can’t hitch up your big girl shorts, pack up your skates and head out the door. They had to sit on the hard floor and wait, while being watched by others, and hope for the best.
Being confident is about being brave. It’s about rolling forward on those 8 wheels even if you can’t predict what’s going to happen. It’s about being a part of a group of women so strong and independent and intelligent that you’d risk something painful. It’s also a little bit about being crazy, but I’ll save that for another time.
So to Georgia O’Grief and Mis-Mauler: in a strange and unfortunate way you’ve paved the way for us. Though it seems natural for us to be nervous because of these team injuries, we, as newbie roller-gals and Iron Range Maidens, have to continue to derby forward. That might seem foolish, after all, roller derby is only a game. And we’ve only just started that game. But what I see out there at every practice is that we are growing as a team. As individuals. We’re building up ourselves and our confidence for the rest of our lives, not just a derby ’bout.
Heal fast Iron Range Maidens. As Helen Killer once said, “we need you and you need us!”