This past Saturday I was in Fort Wayne for the first-ever men's
flat-track tournament, part of an all-day contest featuring five
women's teams, six men's teams, and two junior teams. Our team, the
Race City Rebels, didn’t
win (in fact, we came in dead-last), but it was my first public bout
(not counting the 15-minute intraleague Rookie Rumble demo) and in
spite of my nervousness I had a great time. The event was like a big
convention for players and fans, making me really want to go to the
actual Roller Con.
Saturday morning icespark and I got up very early in spite of
little sleep and skipped our breakfast plans, just grabbing fruit and
snacks on the go. Bench coach LMB cautioned me that she was going to
put me in a “very light” rotation that day, which was just fine with
me. We started with two round-robin games to establish our initial
position in the tournament, and in the first game I didn’t skate at
all – LMB was going to put me in, but we had a player in the box so I
I was fine with not skating in the first bout – I was nervous, and
it was cool just to be on the sidelines observing how things worked up
close. I’d geared and warmed up with the rest of my team, and even
practiced sliding into the penalty box, since I’d never been –
something that turned out to be good preparation for later. ;) In
the second bout I skated once, and it was over before I knew it, but
hey – I skated in public against another team, and didn’t humiliate
myself, so yay me.
Unfortunately my team was in the bottom two ranks out of six, and
we’d injured or lost a lot of players. We have a short roster anyway,
so we feared there would be no way we could skate in an hour-long bout
with not even enough players to field two full squads. We asked to
play just a 30-minute bout next, and prepared to forfeit if not. None
of us wanted to have to just give up due to lack of players, but
staring down the barrel of a sudden super-heavy rotation, I was
secretly almost relieved at the idea.
I’d considered buying new wheels to replace the crappy ones I’d had
with me (I’d left my new ones at home), but I abandoned that idea once
it looked like we weren’t going to play again that day. I left the
prep area and went with IceSpark to watch the junior roller derby
teams play. I resigned myself to the tiny baby-step I’d taken to
becoming a real derby player, and relaxed to watch other teams play
for the rest of the day. I sat next to IceSpark and enjoyed just
being a spectator.
Twenty minutes before our team had been scheduled to play, Anya
suddenly appeared at my side and said, “Suit up. You’re playing.”
The awesome Twin City Terrors, who had come to Spring Roll to skate,
dammit, asked what our problem was, and when we told them we didn’t
have enough skaters, they generously lent us two of theirs. With no
time to stress about it, I quickly got my gear back on and warmed up.
We were back in business!
I had a great time playing against the Twin City Terrors. I’m not
used to playing with and against players I don’t know from practice,
and so it was a great chance to see firsthand other styles of play.
The players that joined us were super-nice, and the rest of our
opponents were fun to play against – they hit hard, skated well, and
were good sports even as they beat us. They all skated better than I,
but I didn’t feel completely shut down, so it was still fun to do my
best and help where I could.
I got two jammer take-outs – derby glory! One of them was illegal,
however, and I got my first trip to the penalty box. IceSpark got
lots of pictures, and my braid got mocked by the announcers on
nationally-streamed live boutcast. Not exactly fame from my mad derby
skills, but it’s a start. I took one more trip to the box, but
otherwise skated quite a bit. I quickly got into scrimmage headspace,
and just told LMB to send me in again every chance I got. It was
I got positive feedback from Rebels coach Dexter – he said he could
see what I was trying to do out there, and that sometimes I was even
able to do it. Even though I wasn’t able to execute everything I
tried, he said that would come with time as I increased by basic skate
speed and skill, and that he anticipated that once I’d gotten more
experience on the track, that Bignplenty and I will be amazing
together as the two large guys on our team (especially against the
teams of giants we’ve been facing).
After the bout I spent the rest of the tournament with IceSpark and
some of my teammates watching other teams play and cheering on
IceSpark’s old league, the Bleeding Heartland
Roller Girls. We got snacks and watched the 'Ref Jam' as well as
the final championship games for both the men’s and women’s teams.
Both bouts were splendid to watch. The men’s tournament was
determined by one point in the last jam, and we’re going to play
the nominal second-place winner soon which should be interesting.
After the game day was over we joined our league at a massive
after-party. IceSpark and I hung out with her BHRG teammates as long
as we could, and then after they left we waded into the main area to
watch people jam skate and get crazy in a huge crowd of drunken derby
revelers. It was a great mix of male and female skaters as well as
our fans, and IceSpark and I had a splendid time. By the time we went
to bed, we only got about three hours of sleep, but exhausted or no,
it was worth it. Spring Roll rocked.