Friday, October 7, 2011

Hand Me A Smoke, Westerns, You Were Just That Good.

Two weeks ago, sitting track-side at the Western Regional Playoffs in Portland, OR watching some of the best derby players and teams in the US fight for the top three spots in the region in the quest to make it to the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) 2011 Championships, I felt like I had died and gone to derby heaven.

It was two straight days of derby. I didn’t skate in one jam but at the end of each day I was exhausted. From watching! That’s how exciting this derby was, people! Lap after lap I saw things that would make you rub your eyes and squeak that high-pitched ee-ee-ee-ee noise – like, what in the hey?! Did I just see Scald Eagle take a full-on Tannibal Lector slam to the hip and skate OUT of that shit to get lead? Where the hell did she fly out of?! And, seriously? Is the Rat City pack of blockers going to stand in front of the jam line (with Deranged, of all people, behind it) and NOT MOVE for two minutes and then do it again 5 minutes later while the crowd boos and jeers?! Are you freaking kidding me? And, wow, Four Closer, of Sacred City and Juska of Denver and Soulfearic Acid of Rose City. Just wow.

And right when I thought it couldn’t get any better than seeing Bonnie Thunders two feet from my actual face and then chatting her girlfriend, OMG WTF, at the Team USA merch table, I feel my boyfriend pull on my sweatshirt as we began our short walk back to the hotel. “Dude. Stop. You just walked by Demanda Riot.” Say, WHAT?! Demanda “Myfantasyderbywife” Riot?! The BADDEST of the BADDs?! (In my defense, I was bleary-eyed from derby-all-day and D. was off skates, in jeans and a windbreaker, and sans her usual trackside visage.) He then, fulfilling his role as Chief Photojournalist for the weekend, sweetly approached her and asked if he could take her picture with me. And she did! Put her arm around me while I grinned like a baboon. Swoon.

Don’t get me started about meeting Deranged and her sister, Psychobabble, of Rocky Mountain Roller Girls. I almost peed my pants I was so excited. But, that’s a story for another time.

Anyway, it was a weekend rich with discourse and analysis on how the Furies could take what we learned there and use it to our best advantage. Surrounded by eight of my teammates and coaches, we worked as one mind, trying to assimilate what we were seeing and apply it to our play. Light bulbs were flashing above more than one dome that night, I can tell you. Nothing made me prouder to be a Fury when, instead of heading directly to the Saturday night after-party, we all crowded into my hotel room and spent an hour discussing what we’d just witnessed and how we could translate that into taking home the big green jewel in 2012. This is our team, people. It’s how we roll.

Ok, enough about me/we/us. What I can’t say enough about was the stellar level of play happening at Westerns that weekend. Blew. My. Mind. There was definitely some disparity of talent and skill between the top 5 teams and the bottom 5. But, across the board, every team played with hunger and grit and fierce determination against opponents greater and lesser than themselves. I drove home giddy, exhausted, proud to play the sport of roller derby, even prouder to be a Flat Track Fury, and utterly inspired to work my ass off.