‘Twas the month before derby and all through the rink,
Not a skater was skating & the pads were being cleansed of their derby stink.
When out on the track there arose such a clatter,
I knew in a moment that something was the matter…
This is the time of year when every kid and kid at heart – no matter how old starts to look at the calendar and count the days. The kids are hoping for the perfect weather, the kind that lets you stay home from school for an extra day (or three) and days at school filled with parties and fun and movies and less learning. They are writing and rewriting their lists and sending letters off to Santa. And the only thing mom or dad has to say to get them to behave is; “Now where did I put Santa’s phone number? I think I need to make a call.” Nothing snaps a kid back into behaving as quickly as a reminder that Santa is watching to see what s/he is doing. And all the while, most adults are stressed over finding the right gift for the right person and making their budget stretch and getting it all done before the deadline of the holiday. And everyone dreams of their own version of a perfect day spent with family or friends or a special someone. It can be a magical time of the year for us all.
This is also the time of year when our skaters look forward to the start of our home season. You can see the excitement in the faces of the vets who are anxious and excited. They understand the thrill of playing in front of a sold out crowd filled with fans, friends & family. They know what it’s like to battle to get those points to put your team in the lead while keeping your opponent behind a solid wall. And the rookies are scared and excited to get to show their friends and family what they’ve been working on so hard to learn. You can feel the excitement & hear it during league scrimmage when vets on the opposing team cheer for the rookie who breaks through a tough wall – especially when it’s a rookie who isn’t a jammer. You see it in the pride of skaters when they get their new uniforms and team jackets. When they wear their team colors proudly and are excited to tell you about their league and all that we do for our community and each other. When the one thing they can’t wait for is the chance to skate.
The excitement is getting into full swing for QCRG now – we are less than 30 days from our home opener on January 11. That means more practices, more workouts, more volunteering, more getting our jobs done and more derby.
It means a league dress rehearsal to go through how introductions will work. Having new announcers on the microphones testing their chops and learning how to do intros and color commentary during the bouts. It means testing new equipment and changes in set-up to make sure it all runs smoothly. Getting the lines on our track redrawn and getting to scrimmage with the ropes taped down – a luxury usually reserved for only game days. It means happy faces of happy players who know game day isn’t too far away. Having so much excitement and energy and happiness under one roof on one night is great!
And then that first wavering whistle blows … and 30 seconds pass … and some of those smiles disappear – but only for a short time. Some disappear because of nerves and some because of game play. But at the end – when the final 4 whistles blow and the scrimmage is over, there’s more smiling … more happiness with more congratulations on doing so well against your sisters and friends. And those are the congratulations you cherish most. From the friends and league-mates that recognize your growth, hard work, dedication and survival of the big hits from the opponents!
So when you see a derby girl and you wonder why she’s smiling and happy – it probably because she’s been looking at the calendar counting down days and knows that bout day’s getting closer. Each hour means less time until she’s doing what she loves. Each passing hour means getting to wear team or league colors and play. They don’t do it for money – we don’t get paid; they don’t do it for glory – we don’t get airplay. They do it for the pure love of athletics and strategy. They do it because once you experience derby, it’s hard to get it out of your system. They do it because they love hearing their family and friends and fans cheer for everyone.
So don’t forget when you write your list for your ‘Santa’ – whoever he or she may be – tell them you’d like tickets to go see the best sport on eight wheels. The one where friends get on the track and give all that they’ve got and then, win or lose, still like the girl who knocked her down or out or caused loss of relative position. This is derby. This is what makes us happy. Isn’t it time you came to watch? Isn’t it time you saw passion and competitiveness and family-friendly fun all rolled into one? Saturday, January 11, 2014 – I’ll be at Rainbow Rink in North Tonawanda watching 40 women give their all … where will you be?
~Boo D. Bloxx