I remember my first time and my first one:
I was down in my parent’s basement in Parkville, MO- hunkered down for the latest tornado duck and cover all-nighter. This was like, the fourth or fifth time that month that the sirens blared outside and the ticker tape scrolled across EVERY channel on tv. I was prepared for it though- there was a case of Boulevard beer chilling in the mini-fridge, a windowless room within staggering distance. The basement was partially furnished, so I twisted open a mirth silo, stretched out on the love seat, switched on the television and prepared for an evening of drunken channel-surfing. The only problem was that there was nothing on that I hadn’t already seen or that I had any interest in watching. Frustrated, I looked to the movie choices in my Mom and Pop’s collection and just before relegating myself to watching ‘Out of Africa’, I happened on a local television station that was airing a Kansas City Roller Warriors bout. I put Meryl Streep back in her place and started watching. The sound quality was shite, the images dark and grainy. But there was something being transmitted through the cathode ray tubes that I could not pull myself away from. I mouthed out the words before trying it out on my tongue and then haltingly, slowly, out loud- “Roller. Derby.”
I sat, elbows on knees and knuckles under chin, intently watching and squinting and picking up on a name here, a game term there. I reached for my notebook to jot down some of these lessons and that’s when I saw her shucking and jiving through the static and around the pack- “Snot Rocket”.
My first derby game and first derby crush smacked into me like a one two punch.
I heard the awe and excitement in the announcers’ voices when they spoke of her. I too, sat transfixed- stupefied that a human being could have such outstanding control and form and grace and athleticism- all while racing around a polished concrete oval track on eight wheels.
I wanted to jump into the television and be transported to where they were. I wanted to reconnect with my blue sneaker skates from childhood. I wanted to get off the couch, put down my beer and DO something. Yeah, I got inspired, as we all have – to start living Derby.
The program faded out, the grainy surreal canvas was replaced with a blaringly clear update of tornado sightings. I had a flash of hallucinatory doubt. Had I caught a glimpse of some new reality just then? Did the low pressure and Lunar Ale cause a momentary REM state? I kind of shook my head a little, attempting to clear my senses to clarify what I had just seen, felt.
Then I did do something. I got off the couch, turned off the Dummy box and I leaped to the top of the stairs, en route to the office as quick as a hip whip. Oblivious to the wind and rain and lightening, my only fear was that the internet would be down and foil my drive to discover more. Upon seeing it up and ready to go, though- I started my tipsy research towards derby (self) development using words like- roller derby, Kansas City, warriors, snot rocket- until I discovered a link that brought me to an old YouTube video, titled ‘Snot Rocket’s Monster Scoring Run- Jammit 2007’.
All the thousands of thoughts that typically race though my head at any given moment- day or night, stopped cold- fixated for two minutes, forty-eight seconds. I probably watched that clip a good five or ten times before looking out the window to see the twister that would pick up my parents house and carry it into Oz.
No, I’m just joshing with you. But I did decide that I was going to catch the roller derby train.
Within a fortnight, I made arrangements to move back home to the east coast after a near three-year hiatus. I arranged to transfer within my company and when that was denied, I turned in my two week notice. I reunited with my best friend Sybil Action and began the slow journey towards becoming involved in a sport that at the time, I had seen for less than ten minutes (an hour, if you include all the times I replayed Ms. Rocket’s scoring run from Jammit 2007).
The sport of Roller Derby is addictive but more than that- it’s inspirational, it’s motivational and it’s charging in and changing the lives of awe-inspiring women and men every day throughout the entire world.
I’m going to talk some more about Snot Rocket my next go-around here at LDG!, because she has inspired me in leaps, bounds and Grand Slam passes. She has also agreed to provide her input on some saucy roller derby questions I have for her. I’m looking forward to interviewing my Roller Derby rock star and sharing the conversation with you. In the meantime though, I’m curious-
When was your first time? Who was your first one?