This weekend I went to Midwest DerbyFest to watch the NWA All Stars play. When I first started playing roller derby I was taken aback by the sheer power that women in the sport possessed. There is something about knowing when the whistle sounds you are going to take a brutal pummeling, and doing it anyway. Maybe some of it is part masochism, but I believe more of it lies in the space where women are beginning to own their power. That whistle sounds and you know you've got work to do. Jammer or Blocker assignment doesn't matter. When that whistle sounds you have three fights: The first fight is against your body. You force it to stretch and push and contort into positions that don't seem plausible as you zip around a track packed together with 9 other bodies. The second battle is with your opponents. You both are bearing down on the same goal. "Stop that Jammer". When two titans meet, only one can walk away.
The third fight is by far the hardest. The third fight is against yourself. Your mind wrestles to fight or flight, the fear that pain is coming.
The fear that you won't be good enough.
The fear that someone will see your weakness
The fear you will get hurt
The fear you. will. fail.
And each time I watch or play derby I marvel at the small moments. If you watch closely at the eyes of the women who play, each time their bodies do what their minds were afraid they couldn't do they bloom. It seems like a confusing juxtaposition to create the imagery of flowers blooming in the midst of the sweaty, stinky, and bellicose pack... but it is completely fitting. Women bloom like flowers on the track. They own their power. They plant themselves in the fertile ground that is derby .
We bloom each time we break free from a pack.
We bloom each time we hold that opponent back one more second.
We bloom when we join with our teammates and see an objective to completion.
We bloom each time we face down ourselves and say, "I am afraid, but I will do it anyway."
If you ever have a chance to watch roller derby, do this: Strain your eyes passed the booty shorts, tights, and aggression that can sometimes look like a discombobulated pointless endeavor.
Lean in and strain your eyes and look closely. You'll see flowers blooming and even, maybe, poetry being written.
CONGRATS NWARD ALL STARS! I AM SO PROUD TO BE A PART OF YOUR LEAGUE!