In just about 24 hours, the current Fresh Meat class will be taking their minimum skills test… basically, derby graduation day.
Almost 9 months ago, it was my graduation eve. The night before our skills test, some members of our Fresh Meat class were carb loading at Olive Garden (nom nom nom). We had a good time laughing and talking about the test, but on graduation day, I was a complete mess. Okay… let’s be honest, I was a nervous wreck the entire week BEFORE the skills test. But test day? I thought I was gonna puke my entire life out.
It started at 11:30am. We got an email from one of our Freshie Coaches, Stella Blue:
Ladies, Good luck to all testing tonight. I love each and every one of your faces. You got this!! Please remember!! 7pm warm up. Sharp!! … Thanks bunches. You all make me SO proud.
Aaaaand… the anxiety instantly started. And I felt extra emotional. (OMG… why am I telling this story? I think I’m about to have an anxiety attack right now while remembering it.)
So throughout the day, I was trying to keep my fuel up for the skills test – “Energy and hydration. Energy and hydration.” I ate my leftover pasta for lunch. I took extra vitamins. Drank 3 liters of water before 6pm. Took a “hit” of
peanut almond butter for the protein around 5pm (who doesn’t love those Justin’s packets… am I right?). Energy drink on the way to the track. I told myself that the nerves were all in my head. They totally weren’t… they were also in my stomach trying to get out, but I was trying to trick myself out of being nervous. It worked minimally.
When I got to the Lab, I started gearing up for warm-ups and taking mental inventory of vet skaters who would participate in the Gauntlet. Warren Peace. Lisa Carr. Mary Marvel. I was like “OMG. I might die tonight.” :(
Our coaches encouraged us and told us we should think of it as just another practice. Stella: “You guys. We’ve been doing this stuff every week. It’s just another practice. Don’t get inside your heads, okay?” Then we got “numbered” for judging with a piece of blue tape. I was number 10.
I put my skates on and started taking a few laps on the track. I literally started feeling ill. Seriously. I felt unsteady… like I hadn’t spent the last 10 of 12 weeks on skates. *sigh* I parked myself on the side of the track and stretched my legs some more… they felt like they were falling asleep. Or cramping up. I couldn’t tell which. I took several deep breaths and got back out on the track. And then the test started.
We moved through strides, crossovers, squatting, coasting, lunging, and stepping. Then we lined up in pairs and demonstrated our stops and falls. Everything was going along fine. Coach was right – it pretty much felt like another practice… except that we were on display for a line of judges (does my hair look okay though?).
Stella blew the whistle. 25 in 5 time. Oh jeez. My 25 in 5 was never the greatest… I had gotten faster every time we did it, but it took me weeks to get as low as 5:15. I had just gotten under five minutes two weeks before the test. Not a lot of room for error. *grimace* My group took the start line and I *swear* to you my feet fell asleep. Really, feet? Right now? Jerks.
During the 25 in 5, I just focused on staying in front of the pacer – Jackie Reaper. As long as I was in front of her, I would pass. But around lap 21, the distance between us started shrinking… quickly. She was getting closer and closer and I was feeling tireder and tireder. The idea of keeping a good pace until the last three laps made me want to puke (okay… I think puking is the new theme of this post). So I pushed as hard as I could for the last two laps. In my head, I was going really fast. Lol. I finished at 4:58. *faints* The 25 in 5 was the part of the test that I most dreaded. And I just passed that… so the rest was gonna be easy, right? Well, no. Not easy… but definitely less queasy. (Ha. I’m a poet.)
Next, we got separated into two packs to show our ability to skate with a pack, fall small, avoid unexpected obstacles, and respond to our wheels being bumped. Cherry Potter comes through our pack and bumps all of our wheels: “Oh my goodness. I’m so sorry. Oops. I’m so sorry.” Ha. She was so polite about it. After that, we moved on to whips, pushes, leaning, cone weaving, jumps, and then pacing in pace lines. And then we got released for a water break.
And then… the vets took the track.
Oh dear. It was The Gauntlet. We each had to skate through it twice – the first time through; the goal was for us to check/hit as many of them as possible. The second time though, they’re hitting us as many times as possible. Stella: “You guys – they’re GOING to hit you. Real hits. Remember to stay low and if you fall, you get back up and get back in there.” Yes, it was terrifying… but I mean, we were almost done at that point… this is when I was like “I’m ready. Let’s do it.” (late bloomer much?)
First pass through was actually fun. But pass two? *shudder* My number was called right as we were coming out of turn two. I heard Moxie Hart give me a shout out from the side of the track and that was all I could hear (Thanks, Mox!). Everything else fell silent. It got eerily quiet like in a horror movie. The first person to hit me was Reaper (I literally squealed at impact). It all happened so fast after that… I felt like a pinball. Check’r hit me. Basher. Molly. Cherry. I got elevator-doored by Marvel and Lisa Carr. And War delivered the final hit and knocked me down. Sheesh. I don’t even know how I got from the back to the front and I’m sure I got hit by some other people… it was a blur. But dammit, I made it through The Gauntlet. And with all of my teeth. And just like that, we were Sin City Rollergirls.
One freshie testing tomorrow (Hey Pammy!) told me that she’s most nervous about The Gauntlet. I feel you, girl. But I’ve BEEN to your class’ practices. You guys are ready. And awesome. And I can’t wait to celebrate your graduation! The same way I could still feel the nerves at the beginning of this post… I can still feel the excitement that I felt after we were told that we passed. I felt amazing. And I feel re-amazing in anticipation of the Fresh Meat class testing tomorrow.
Go Fresh Meat!!