|photo by Herb Martin|
If I think about derby too much, I seriously start to cry. It is one of the most life-changing, amazing, (there are no words that describe it) things I've ever been a part of. Really.
Oh, and now I'm crying.
I've been with my home league since it all started, well almost. I missed out on the first year of skating practice (there wasn't much derby going on) because I was living out of town. I moved back to P.G. in the fall of 2008, the duck was 2 1/2, and when I told my friend Mel that I was moving back all she said was: "Good, you can be on my derby team".
The re-birth of modern derby dates back to 2005 in Texas, only a few years later a couple gals here in P.G. decided to start their own league. In the beginning, no one could really skate and they were all teaching each other how not to hang onto the walls when skating, do cross-overs, and other basic skating skills. That was it. Back then, it was different. You couldn't really jump into a practice while visiting another city and there was very little online in the way of skills sharing and derby community. There was pretty much no information on the internet about how to start a league, or derby society stuff, etc.. So the natural leaders from the P.G. group began to seek out derby knowledge, networking with other leagues (TCRG was the closest to us a the time), and checking out games here and there.
So from pretty much nothing, our league was created.
What we had was girls who wanted to play.
At the first Rated PG draft, which was actually minimum skills testing (as in, if you passed you were put on a team) there were enough girls for 3 full teams (ahem. of 14). The group came up with team themes and names as well as nominations for the Team Captains. Three very different Captains were decided upon and since the Team Captains chose who they wanted on their teams, three very different teams emerged from the draft.
We had the Killer Kittens, The Roll ya' Banditas, and the Damned Dolls.
Derby in P.G. then went through a tumultuous time. I remember so many crazy things happening in that first year! I remember moments like when a gal asked her captain, "I'm not going to be able to fake my way through this, am I?" and so quit when she realized derby was actually a sport. I remember the ill-fated drunken Cemetery photo shoot where the police showed up, forever criminalizing us and our sport in the minds of the local authorities. I remember a derby girl who had to get dressed at practice and eventually quit because her abusive husband didn't want her to wear tights (gasp! fishnets) or neglect her duties at home by going to practice once a week (READ: leaving the house). I remember the hoards of gals who mysteriously hurt themselves (ankles, knees, drink-till-you-black-out mattress surfing) right before games. These injuries would slash rosters sometimes nearly in half.
It was a time when drama ruled, drop-out rates were high, and in less than a year we were down to barely one and a half teams.
The next period in RPG history found us with one large 'team' that played themed exhibition games (where the league was regularly split into two parts) and we played against our own teammates. Unquestionably, this further divided our league. Best friends and workout partners battled and were practicing to exploit each others weaknesses; I remember taking a old-fashioned derby-styled take-down from my roommate in the final moments of a game.
It was (mind fuck) confusing and an awful time that few survived.
|photo by Herb Martin|
Flash forward to today...ahhh! Today.
Today things are different. I regularly see gals from those early days who quit because they couldn't deal with the drama and I always tell them that things have changed. I always tell them that they should come back. Nowadays we work hard on the psychological parts of derby (to be strong of mind AND body), we work out together (cross training class once a week), we make money on bouts, we have the support of our community, we have Junior and Co-ed teams, and more. I'm not saying there isn't more work to do, but things are getting better every day for us.
Thinking back on all this, sometimes I feel jealous of our new skaters. They get to come to a league and learn from people who actually know what they are doing. They have coaches. They have nice uniforms. They will never ever have to sew a fucking helmet pantie.
I'm happy to pass on a functioning league to the newer girls. Talk about passing on a legacy!
Oh jeez. I'm crying again. I love ROLLER DERBY!