Fresh skaters, you inspire me.
I’ve been playing derby for 4 years. My enthusiasm waxes and wanes with the muscle soreness and intensity of schedule. I always want to learn and get better, but motivating myself to actually do it can be a bit of a battle at times. I love my sport, but like anything, I can take it for granted. And then, freshies, I think of you.
I haven’t gotten to attend a regular league skills practice for a few weeks just due to my home schedule. I got to go on Monday, where it was mostly freshly contact cleared new folks and a couple of us vets. I thoroughly enjoyed the smiling faces, the effort, the enthusiasm, and watching the progress of the freshies. It brought me back to my own freshie days when learning everything was so hard but fun at the same time. It made me want to get back to trying out some new moves I’ve seen but that seemed so advanced I felt maybe I’d never “get it.”
So, I started working on one foot transitions again. I could go forward to backward most of the time, but not backward to forward. I kept trying it between drills and eventually I nailed several of them throughout the night, and the feeling was pretty damn awesome. It made me remember the first couple times I nailed a regular transition after spending HOURS doing nothing but just that. The first time I held a mohawk around a turn, after trying it and trying it and trying it so many times and ending up turned around backwards. The first time I actually knocked someone down with a hit instead of just rattling their upper body a bit. The first time I got to scrimmage and how it felt like there was a tornado of sounds and movement around me that I just couldn’t yet understand. Freshies, it made me think of you.
Sometimes those who have been playing for a while can forget where we started. Instead of finding joy in the small successes, we get upset or frustrated when something isn’t clicking. We can forget that at one point, we were happy to half nail a skill instead of mentally beating ourselves up when we take on a jammer one on one and make contact but lose them quickly (which the fresh us would have been ecstatic just to feel the wind of the jammer as they blew by). We can forget what it was like to be fresh, and forget that we are actually still learning too.
You may be looking to us vets for the moves and the strategy and the experience, but freshies, I look to you to keep me grounded. I am learning from you, too. And someday, if you stick around, you’ll be in my shoes, working with fresher freshies, and hopefully learning as much from them as they are from you.
So, dear freshies, remember. When you nail that plow stop. When you get the courage to run on your toe stops. When you hit 27 laps the second the whistle blows to end 5 minutes. When you put your butt on someone and slow them down. When a strategy makes a lightbulb flick on for you. I’ll be there to cheer you on and high five you in celebration of your progress.
And when I finally succeed at my one foot transitions, both ways, on both feet…I’ll be thinking of you.