You've heard it from a million padded, helmeted, mouth-guarded girls: Roller derby is empowering.
Unfortunately, roller derby is also devastating. Derby reveals your biggest, most skin-crawling, insecurities and vulnerabilities.
I wanted to start this season with a win. I wanted to start my first season as an official jammer by tallying up points on the board, by getting lead jammer, and by doing well for my team.
Instead, during our first season bout in Chattanooga, TN, I spent a third of the game crying, ten minutes of the game recovering from hitting my head on a concrete floor, and a third of the game in the locker room. Ejected. Gone.
This bout, there was a ref who had an issue with my mouth guard. When I play, I often pop my upper lip under the mouth guard to take a breath. This will last about a second, and then I pop my lip back over the mouth guard. Never does the mouth guard actually leave my mouth.
Unfortunately, the ref did not see it this way. I'm pretty convinced that he spent the entire game just glaring at my mouth. (I mean, the ref was doing his job...just a little too well...) Once, I even got two minutes in the penalty box because I popped my lip under the mouth guard on my way to the chair.
It was the most disappointed I've felt in myself, maybe ever. I ended up sitting in the box, as a jammer, seven times because of that mother flipping mouth guard. I had no other major penalties, and just a few minors. Every time my butt was in that penalty box, it was because of that mf'ing mg.
As most derby girls know, a jammer constantly in the box pretty much equals losing a bout. I just had to sit there and watch the Chattanooga jammer get grand slam after grand slam, all because I wasn't out there skating. All because the ref didn't like my mouth guard.
I felt like a failure to my team, and a failure to myself.
I know that I didn't lose the bout on my own. I just felt like I contributed to the loss a bit too much.
Before getting ejected because I'd spent seven trips in the box--all for this mouth guard hooey--I did put our team's first eight points on the board. I also had the opposing jammer hit me, fall on her ass, and make me seem like a semi-beast. However, it still feels really difficult to concentrate on the things about the bout that made me proud.
(Oh, and I also took that nasty fall on the concrete floor: Head first, Large second, ribs third. I was out of it for about twenty seconds. Turns out "bout day" isn't a good enough answer for the EMT when he asks "What day is it?")
After I'd accrued many majors and before my ejection, of course, I couldn't jam anymore. It was too much of a liability for our team. I was more than bummed. I was hurt. I was pissed. I was sitting on the floor crying like a ten year old who doesn't get the Princess Unicorn doll for Christmas. It was the first time during a bout that I really felt like giving up.
I didn't give up as a blocker, but I didn't do my best. Actually, I did pretty horrible. I felt defeated and awful. The worst thing was is that I knew I didn't really do anything wrong.
To be honest, I'm not sure where to go from here. (Besides getting a custom fitted mouth guard by a dentist in Nashville-- ref recommended.) I guess the only place to go is up, but I've lost some of that panache that I started with. I hope it comes back. I hope that I can stand on that jammer line with a fucking custom, bejeweled mouth guard and let all of those blockers come and try to take my deceptively small, cute butt down.
That seems more empowering than the hurt that happened last night.