Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Mar 31st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

SKATE LIKE A GIRL #6: Girl, you’ll be a woman soon…

blog_skate_BossHoggLook around the rink at any roller derby practice and you’re bound to see women of various ages, usually mid-twenties through mid-forties, and it will be safe to assume that the majority have experienced a coming-of-age event in her life, whether as part of a cultural, religious or familial celebration, or a more casual social event. Ask enough questions at the right time during an after party and you’ll hear details of bat mitzvahs, quinceañeras, confirmations or sweet-sixteens. Dig deeper, or buy a round of shots, and you might hear about other rights of passage that might not include members of the immediate family, guest lists, or places of worship, but may have necessitated covert activity, recovery time and/or bail.

What these momentous events usually have in common is that they generally take place before the age of reason (I’d like to think that’s approximately twenty-six), and that they change the participant into wiser women, when all is said and done and the dust eventually clears.  Look around the rink again. Out of the forty or so women skating, there are twenty or so who are facing yet another coming-of-age event in her life, at a later age than any of them ever expected: her first roller derby bout. In front of people. Real live people. Strangers, friends, family, co-workers and neighbors. And she’ll be wearing less clothing than she might wear to bed.


Popping that first-bout cherry takes a lot - a lot of practice, a lot of patience, and a lot of nerve. For some it’s a long road getting there, for others it’s a short stride. According to a very scientific study on my part (posting on two separate roller derby forums), it seems that seven months is the average time a derby girl waits before she skates. However, some skaters (like yours truly) wait much longer due to injuries, skill levels, life in general, or particularly competitive league or team placement policies. No matter the skater or the schedule, it’s a day (or night) approached with excitement and terror, in equal parts. Will the months of preparation prevent you from committing major penalty after major penalty in front of your loved ones? Will you have loved ones? Will the adrenaline make up for the public falling? What if you sit on the bench all night? What if nobody can read your clever booty-shorts? What if you stand out – in the bad way? What if you don’t stand out – at all?


At our home events, as in many around the country, the announcers rouse the crowd in support of the skaters popping their cherries that night on the track, bringing attention to the fact that these ladies are competing in their first-ever bouts. You’d think this would be daunting, terrifying even, but the fans go crazy with support and every jam the girls are in, every fall, every recovery, every point scored, and every whip is cheered with extra gusto. It is truly heartwarming. You may be invisible for the rest of the season, but tonight you’re golden. And from now on you can call yourself a Bouting Skater.


The coming-of-age story in America is so common that it can take place, from beginning to end, within the confines of the half-hour sit-com format, complete with commercial breaks.  In film and novels, whether you relate to Dave, the faux-Italian would-be bicycle champion of  “Breaking Away,” or Scout, Harper Lee’s young heroine in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” there is no dearth of young pliable characters to track as they experience a life-changing moment, and take on the responsibilities of the adult world in all it’s ugly glory. How is the derby girl changed in one Saturday night? How are these fully- grown, married, divorced, child-rearing, employed, paroled, unemployed, educated, enlightened, jaded, sweaty women changed over the course of two thirty-minute periods of full-contact sport? How? I’ll tell you how. They have taken (not “been given”) the time to become eight-wheeled clairvoyant warriors, fully focused, fully present, fully passionate. This, my friend, is a rite of passage for anyone, at any age. I dare you to think otherwise.


If you’re in the Santa Cruz vicinity, I invite you to witness the rite of passage of no less than five new members of the Santa Cruz Derby Girls Harbor Hellcats, skating their first home bout at the Civic Auditorium on Saturday, October 24th.  I’ll be out there for the first time – rolling, falling, recovering, sweating, popping my cherry with my teammates. It seems so appropriate that the derby prom is just round the corner…more on that later.

Enjoy this week’s photo by Boss Hogg, in which Demanda Riot of BADG breathes fuel on her legendary intimidation fire by blocking a Rat City player with her mind.

Comments (1)Add Comment
...
written by Angus, October 19, 2009
Good Stuff, Millie.
I love applauding and cheering the players who are debuting, or are playing with a 'higher' team for the first time. You state that after that "You may be invisible for the rest of the season", which is very true, but not because the new skater is not doing their job well.
It's because the announcers have this annoying tendency to only say a players name when they are jamming, have a spectacular wipe out or are sent off with a major penalty. If you are a pivot or a blocker, do your job, stay on your skates and stay on the track then you may go the entire game without ever once hearing your name except for the pre-game introductions.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015 Editor's Picks

BEST NIGHT CAP WARSAW MULE AT SHADOWBROOK
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Front Street Kitchen

Pop-up spot attracts paleo crowd with locally sourced low-carb meals