November 9, 2012

Have Skates, Will Travel

"You guys here for derby?" he asked.

"That's us."

"C'mon in.  You guys are in here."

He rolled up a large industrial door and pointed to the back of the building.  All we saw was the beautiful track.  

The Wasatch County Roller Girls are located in a large industrial area of Salt Lake City.  Train tracks ran right behind it ironically enough, and the minor league baseball stadium is only a few blocks away.  This area housed huge blocks of shipping companies, packaging companies, and factories that supply parts to the far corners of the world, and the Wasatch County Roller Girls play right in the middle of it.  They lease out a large empty building with a concrete floor and some bathrooms to play this great sport, and to them it's home.

We drove there earlier that morning thinking it would be a nice, quiet, Sunday morning scrimmage.  We had played a bout the night before that was both incredibly exciting and physically demanding.  The after-party had gone much later than any of us were expecting, and we all found ourselves running off of little sleep and already dreading our 8 hour drive home later that day.  A quiet, fun scrimmage was what all of us were looking for.

Of course, in true derby fashion, you never really get what you expect.  We all thought the aspect of Sunday morning would keep most fans away, and we would be playing against a team with some NSO's and a handful of  fans to watch us. 

Boy, were we wrong.

Despite the early Sunday morning aspect, and that the building was located far from anyone's home, as we poked our heads out of our dressing room we were shocked to find ourselves a midst over a hundred fans and a man dressed up like Sasquatch (well, in all honesty he could have been a real Sasquatch, I mean who's to say he wasn't?)  They had all scraped themselves out of bed to join us in our love of derby, and to cheer their favorite team in the whole world to a victory. 

The bout was deafening.  We constantly heard the Sasquatch-man leading cheers for Wasatch county and found ourselves having to scream at each other in order to hear anything.  Fans brought cowbells, noisemakers, and used their voices, hands, and feet to show us what kind of fans we were dealing with.  Out of all the teams we've played, these fans showed the most dedication and pizazz.

It was neck and neck for almost the entire bout, but eventually one team had to win, and it wasn't us.  Although we lost, I wasn't disappointed about the way we played.  We killed it, and it was one of the funnest bouts I've ever had the pleasure to participate in.  The truth is, anyone who plays derby understands that the passion for this sport is so much more than anyone could anticipate.  It takes over our brains, our free time, our wallets, and our hearts.  We've been blessed to play in a great space, but if we didn't have it we would still play.  We would play in an alleyway, a parking lot, an airport hanger, an empty space that during the day is used to package dog food, or a cement slab in the middle of nowhere.  We would play rain or shine, sleet or snow, and we would smile while doing it.  We would also get up at the crack of dawn to watch derby and cheer on our sisters.  I've never seen anyone more dedicated to a sport than a  roller derby girl.  I've never seen anyone so passionate and willing to learn that a derby girl.  I've never seen anyone hustle to sell tickets and merch like a derby girl.  

Some people watch roller derby and think, "oh that's a neat sport." I watch it and think, "I want to have that confidence in myself."  It really is a lifestyle, and it's the best one I've ever had to pleasure to experience.

-The Original Skankster

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