You see derby girls on the track, skating at full speed, taking and dishing out hits. It’s easy to think they aren’t scared of anything. But lots of things scare me: zombies, roaches, snakes, narrow bridges. Now I think I may have committed to the most terrifying thing of all: junior roller derby.
This past Sunday there was a junior derby meet n’ greet. Around 10 girls showed up to skate, eat pizza, and listen to their parents ask boring but important questions about the league. I volunteered to help out, but Fear Abby seemed to have the majority of the organization in hand, so that left getting the girls geared up and on skates. I was very thankful that one of my old teammates, Sho Nuff McGruff, was there to help me with all that. Also thankfully, she has volunteered to coach them with me as her assistant coach. Don’t know what I would have done without her.
While we were skating around, one of the girls mentioned that she had seen me play before. This really shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. It was the bucket of cold water reminding me that I’m still a role model.
Being a role model isn’t a problem. I’ve been a role model since I was four and my parents told me my new baby sister would be watching everything I did. This was a big responsibility to me… then and now. It’s just that I forget their watching me specifically.
Derby girls as role models isn’t a new topic of conversation. My derby wife and I have had the same discussion many times. Before her knee injury, she often had little girls come up to her after bouts to tell her they want to be just like her. While flattering, this is also a pretty heavy thing to deal with. It means they’re watching… everything.
Volunteering to help with the junior derby league here in Savannah means I will really need to step up my A Game. When I’m in game mode, it’s easy for me to forget that there are fans watching me, let alone small fans. I try to play a clean game, but there’s added pressure now because I don’t want these girls coming to practice wondering why I’m teaching them not to go in for the revenge hit when they just saw me do the exact opposite during a bout. Yikes!
Good lord! What did I get myself into? Anyone else have some helpful advice?
First practice went great! There were a few moments of oh-my-god-what-do-we-do-now? But overall, it was a perfect first day.
The girls had a great attitude, even the girls who were unsteady. I’m so excited to see them progress over the summer.