Tag Archives: Pain

Roller Derby

Posted on

For two years of college, I played Division 1 field hockey. In April of 2008, my team was eliminated from the university due to severe budget cuts.  Some of my teammates decided to transfer, I went abroad, and one of my teammates decided that she wanted to play rugby. The women’s rugby team was comprised of some of my closest friends in college and their toughness and dedication to the sport was contagious. After returning from abroad, I spent many of my weekends traveling to go watch their matches. I had become somewhat of a women’s rugby team groupie. But as much as I admired their toughness and dedication, each time they asked me if I’d join the team, I’d still respond with a tremendous no.

And there was one reason why. When it comes to big–I mean BIG bruises,I’m a cryer. And if anyone knows the sport of rugby, they know that it’s not a sport you can get knocked down and cry in.

Even though field hockey was also intense and a bit of a contact sport (when the ref turned her back), it didn’t intimidate me the same way that rugby did. Maybe it was that I had played field hockey for eight years and I understood the game–or maybe it was because each time I saw my rugby friends they had new bruises–new BIG bruises. Whatever it was, I had made a very firm decision in college not to join the rugby team even though I had more respect for my friends who played than anyone could imagine.

So recently, when a member of the Two Rivers Roller Derby team from New Jersey/Pennsylvania reached out to me and offered me a chance to be an honorary member for a day, I froze. Roller Derby, like rugby, involves a lot of contact–A LOT of contact. The women and men who play roller derby are tough. They endure hip checks and shoulder checks; they take on big hits, and they risk getting thrown off their skates each second of play. Basically, like rugby, the sport doesn’t have room for cryers after a big hit. It only has room for the skaters who want to be there, who can handle getting knocked down, and who are ready to get hit again only seconds later. I hesitated before I responded to the member of the Two Rivers team and I started an internal dialogue with myself.

“Libs…you can’t say no. It’s kind of your rule.” –“No, no but rules are meant to be broken.” — “Come on you know you secretly want to…” And before letting my other half respond with something negative, I typed an email out to the Two Rivers Derby girl saying I’d absolutely love to try roller derby, that it had been on my list for a while (it had been–in order to get over that fear of being intimidated by these contact sports), and that I would make it work with my schedule in New York City to make it back to Pennsylvania and test out the waters.

Leading up to the roller derby experience, some of my friends in New York warned me to be careful, and my co-workers created a text code for if I broke any bones:  “Text me 511 for a broken leg and 411 for a broken arm…” All the build up was making me itch with nervousness. Part of me really didn’t want to do it–but I’m not one to cancel.

But less than two months after receiving my invite to come out and try the sport, I had picked out a roller derby name (The Yellow Rimmed Nightmare) and I was lacing up a pair of quads at a small-town roller rink on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Screen Shot 2013-08-18 at 11.50.40 AM

Photo Credits: Aubrey Van Wyk

As the team stepped into contact drills, I watched nervously chewing my mouth guard.

One of the coaches asked two people to come out to form a block and one person to be a jammer. As this happened–I began to ask questions.

“Block? Jammer” What do these words means????

It was then that I picked up the basics of the game–the BASICS:

In roller derby, five people from each team are on the rink at a time. One person is called a jammer–He or she can score. Three people are blockers–and one is the pivot. (A pivot directs the blockers–guides the pack). The jammer’s goal is to lap the blockers of the opposing team. You do this by breaking through their blocks, getting around, or jumping over them. You can’t elbow/push,  but you can hip check/shoulder check etc. For each lap after the first initial breaking of the block–you get a point. There are two 30 minute halves in which the team plays a series of 2 minute rounds. After 2 minutes, there’s a 30 second break to sub players on or off: then you go 2 minutes again, until the half is over.

After getting my mini lesson in the goal of Roller Derby, I continued to watch. One of the girls then turned and asked me: “Are you scared?”

I faked it: “No. I’m good. No worries.”

She smiled and said “Good!”

Then I added “No. I lied. yes. I’m scared.”

She laughed.

I continued to bite my mouthguard.

“You’ll be okay,” one of the girls called over to me.

“Could you see it in my face?” I asked

She smiled: “Ha-Yah, but don’t worry –you’ll be fine.”

And I was.

I managed to make it through the night of practice without falling and without bruises–and most importantly without shedding any tears. In fact, I ended up leaving that night wanting to play more–wanting to be back in the rink–or on a field playing any team sport. For a good amount of time since the field hockey team got cut in 2008, five years in fact, I’ve strayed pretty far from the team sport train. I’m not sure if it’s because it was too painful to lose the one sport I worked for, for most of my life at that point, or because I was ready to taste other adventures–but this felt good. It felt good to be skating circles around a rink with a constant push of positive reinforcement as I completed one lap after another during the endurance part of the evening. And it felt even better to give pounds and high fives when others did well, and it felt the best when I had the opportunity to cheer the women on the following night as they played hard in an open scrimmage.

The truth is: we can spend our whole life being terrified of something that we haven’t given a chance–or we can have the courage to say we are going to do something–and then have even more courage to go out and do it–and then realize just how much we were missing all along. 

IMG_8134Photo Credit: Aubrey Van Wyk

Two RiversPhoto Credit: Jessica Kolnos

Special Thanks

Two Rivers Roller Derby Team

http://www.tworiversrollerderby.com

Bruises, Blood, & Smiles – Learning to Get Back Up: Skateboarding

 

Falling can be terrifying. It can be accelerating. It can be painful. It can lead to fear. It can lead to injury. And it can lead to pride.

On the evening that I headed out to Williamsburg to take a skateboarding lesson with my good friend Michael Bonner,a sense of pride overwhelmed me. As the skateboard began to slip out from underneath my feet, I felt my arms flare, and then my body hit the ground–hard. With little hesitation, I got back up, threw on a helmet, and hopped back on the board. Moments later, the board came out from underneath me again–and I went kaboom. Still–I got back up–and tried it again.

Life is all about taking the hits–getting a little bruised here and there, and then coming back–leaving the past behind and standing on two feet. I hate to be cliche–but if you fall off the horse–then get right back on it. And that’s exactly what I did–with bruises, blood–and smiles.

 

 

______________________________________________________________

Special Thanks
Michael Bonner
takebacksproductions.tumblr.com

Greg Payton
www.c3stories.com

Bruises Really do Make for Better Conversation: Downhill Mountain Biking

Posted on

Disclaimer: Title of this blog post is based on song “Bruises” by Train.

Ski mountains have always been a bit terrifying for me. The first time I tried to go down something other than the bunny hill, in 6th grade, I fell so hard that my skis popped off. I decided that this was the moment that instead of going down the hill–I’d walk back up it and straight into the lodge. After a dinner full of persuasion, my best friend had me back out on the mountain in no time.

A year later, my brother broke his arm and leg skiing.

And the following year, I took a tumble down a black diamond that had all my co-skiiers questioning how I’d ever survived the fall without breaking my neck. I laughed and said, “Let’s do it again.”

Even still, ski mountains are kryptonite to me. Smiling, I can take on any hill, but inside all my organs are twisting.

When I signed up for downhill mountain biking–I really didn’t know what I was getting in to. A Twitter follower had suggested it–and had suggested the perfect place as well. I reached out to Mountain Creek Bike Park and they were ecstatic about having me come out for a trial lesson and run on the mountain.

When I told my friend what I’d be doing, his response was:  “Oh that’s awesome! You know it’s like a ski mountain right?!”

HUH?

“Like a bunny hill though, right?”

“No–a ski slope.”

Oh…Right…I’ll be fine.
As I approached Mountain Creek Park on Sunday afternoon, I could feel myself bubbling with both anxiety and excitement.

I suited up, met my instructor Jon–and headed outside for a quick tutorial on the basics. Following our flat ground lesson, Jon took me to the lift–and said it was time to head up to the top of the mountain. Again, my insides bubbled. I remained calm and continued to talk to Jon along our ride.

We pulled our bikes off the lift-hopped on and headed toward the green hill. As we approached, I smiled and said to myself “Libs, you got this.” And then we were off. “This isn’t so bad,” I thought to myself. After a few turns, a couple of stops, some high fives, and a short  glance at a double – black diamond- that Jon has taken a ride down before–we took off for our next couple turns.

“Oh god. Oh Jesus. Oh God. Oh Jesus” (that was the most the holy man had heard from me in a long time). With each bump, my “oh Gods” became more frequent. As I came around a turn I began to lose control, my feet came off the pedals, and I came off the side of the bike as it fell to the ground. ‘Deep breath,’ I thought to myself as Jon asked me “what happened?”

“I hit the breaks too hard and I panicked.” That was the easy answer. But within moments, I was back on the bike, ready to take on the next challenging turns…I wasn’t ready to give up just yet.

And then it hit me–no not a lightning bolt–but instead my own bike.

As I went over a rocky area, I lost control of the bike, and took a turn persay–without taking a turn, sending me off track. As I tried to stop myself I felt my butt fall behind the seat–and as the breaks eventually caught, I felt the bike seat jam directly back into my groin muscle and–babymaker–aka pelvic bone. Pain immediately swelled over the lower half of my body. Jon came over and helped me to get out of this unpleasant situation….and I attempted to walk it off.

Realizing I couldn’t really lift my leg–I began to tear behind my helmet. “Just give me a moment. I got this…” But I didn’t. The pain didn’t subside, and the movement in my leg, due to the crushed muscle, was limited–My bike ride was over.

Jon understood. But my disappointment level was high. I do a really good job of laughing and smiling about things–even when I am experiencing multiple levels of pain-and frustration–but really I just wanted to curl up in a ball. The thought of physically not being able to get back up was just as painful as the bruised pelvic bone I’d have for the rest of the day.

Even still, there is a lesson in this. We’re not invincible–I’m not invincible. And it’s these falls–and these bruises that teach us about our pain tolerance–both mentally–and physically. It’s these falls and these bruises that teach us about the risk–in taking risks. And most of all, it’s these fells and bruises that give us something to go back and conquer later. This won’t be my last time at Mountain Creek Bike Park. I still have unfinished business to attend to.

____________________________________________________________

Mountain Creek Bike Park

bikepark.mountaincreek.com

What the professionals look like doing it:

%d bloggers like this: