How’d it go?
Tryouts went well! I was still dealing with a lingering cough from whatever I’ve had for the past two weeks and my left quad muscle was acting up again but I’m very grateful for a thing called, “adrenaline.”
Did you make it through all the cuts?
I did, in fact, get to finish the tryout. I don’t know exactly how many women tried out but it looked to be close to 100; 32 women moved on to the scrimmage portion of tryouts. I was on the black team and it felt like, for me, a dream team line up.
When will you find out if you made it?
There is still another tryout in Seattle, Washington on Aug. 12 so we’re all waiting until after that to hear more. That’s all I know.
What was it like?
It was like interviewing for my dream job. In my adult life, I’ve never had a dream job and I can’t really say I aspire to pursue a “real” career either. I’ve always just had a passion for skating but until I got involved with roller derby, I never really thought I could take it anywhere. It really hit me on the day of tryouts that roller derby IS real life and I was were I was supposed to be at that point in time.
Tryouts felt a lot like practicing with a highly-skilled league you’ve never practiced with before; Similar to the time I was invited to attend a Gotham Girls All-Star practice at their crash pad in October of 2011. Everything we did at that practice was performed at a very high-intensity, with strong movements, and with a sense of urgency. Tryouts might not have been as physically exhausting as that one practice with Gotham, but it was still challenging and intense.
Were any of the drills weird or new to you?
Hahaha, yes and I’m sure it was pretty obvious to the coaches that I had no idea what I was doing at the beginning of the drill. Not too far into the drill, I figured it out and felt like I was able to successfully execute the skill they were asking us to perform. Thank goodness!
What part were you most comfortable with?
I was most comfortable with a lot of my stops — my right side hockey stops in particular. I didn’t even know what those were until Polly Gone (formerly Gotham Girls Roller Derby, currently Texas Rollergirls) came to our league several years ago, and when she demonstrated her hockey stops, I think we were all a little blown away.
Oddly enough, my left side hockey stops. They are not as strong as my right side hockey stops!
Give us an anecdote or two
I’ve been a long time admirer of Shenita Stetcher who skates for the Philly Roller Girls and we share the same number (305) so on the day of tryouts we were all split up into colors (red, white or black) and numbers (1, 2 or 3). Shenita and I were both white, 1. It didn’t end up being problematic, but I thought it was funny.
Spry forgot her gear bag at the hotel and had to drive back to get it but it was okay because we were first in line. An hour and 15 minutes early.
How did you feel going into the tryout?
Really focused. I was not nervous at all (which surprised me). I was excited to be there and was really moved to see that I’d be up against some really outstanding talent.
How did you feel leaving it?
I wanted to cry. Ha! I turned off a lot of emotions to able to get into such a focused zone for tryouts and when it was over my brain was flooded with emotion. I felt entirely overwhelmed and a little anxious after the scrimmage. I also felt a lot of pride for myself and my teammate, Spry. We have a lot to bring back to Maine now.
Yes and no. I’m naturally a very introverted person and although derby has helped me become more outgoing and less shy, because of how I was feeling after tryouts, I didn’t get to thank the people I wanted to thank for that experience. Trust me, I will be e-mailing those people all day to make up for it though..
Otherwise, I don’t regret anything. I pushed myself at tryouts, I did my best to follow directions, I partnered with women I rarely get the chance to work with, I listened, I communicated, I learned, I had a blast.
If you knew what you knew now, what would you have done differently?
In preparation for tryouts, I would have practiced that one drill I had never tried before.
I also would have approached my training a tad differently in regards to my jamming. I’m fairly confident I know now what I can do to improve in the areas that need improvement, whereas before tryouts, I wasn’t really sure how I could accomplish those goals. I was so focused on getting my blocking up to par, that I didn’t think too much on how to modify my jamming technique for today’s derby.
How will it change your goals?
I now see myself mapping out more specific goals, with some time frames. I could be training more often. I’ve learned a lot about time management since beginning roller derby. The more I read about how Olympic and elite athletes train, the more evident it is that I need to be doing more.
How did this change how you think of yourself as a skater?
This “derby thing” is not something I can play down as just a hobby anymore.
It’s taken me time to come to terms with the fact that I’m aggressively pursuing something I’m passionate about, and in the past this would have scared me into not trying to reach a goal in fear of failure. I’d like to think I’ve grown up a bit and am comfortable embracing failure as failure is a great teacher. I am more, “professional” about it now. I’m kind of a goofy person who doesn’t take things too seriously and skating has always been something to do because it’s fun; training is fun, playing roller derby is fun, but I’m serious about it too. I’ve gained a new confidence and I’ve always had a strong work ethic, but it’s taken me a while to realize that how far I want to take this is the same thing as how far I think I can take this.
Anything else you want people to know?
Because the tryouts were such an amazing learning experience, I plan to re-tryout again in August at the Seattle tryouts.
The commitment I made to pursue any derby opportunity that came my way in 2013 is still something I’m passionately dedicated to, and thanks to the fundraising opportunities and all of the support I’ve received to pursue my dreams, I have the means to do this.
In addition to the tryouts being a wonderful learning experience, I feel like I could have done better. Yes, I attempted my best, but I learned so dang much. I want to take what I learned, train even harder for the next month and illustrate that I can be better. I’m insanely lucky to be afforded this opportunity again and I realize that. I couldn’t have this chance without help. Seattle, baby!