How High They Can Rise: From Wreckers to Travel Team — Part Two
When we last left off, I introduced a few of the Travel Team skaters who’d begun their derby journey in our recreational league, Wreckers. That journey has been both trying and exhausting for our heroes in purple.
Yoga Nabi Sari, with her characteristic effusive humility, explained just how trying and exhausting. “Wreckers to Fresh Meat felt like I was on American Idol and I was going to Hollywood! I had only skated for 5 months so that was a very fast transition. Then because of my lack of experience I had a longer time on Fresh Meat…I felt like I would never be good enough to make a home team and really had to dig deep to stay positive and believe that I had a place in this sport. When I finally made it on to a home team, it was a life-changing moment. A whole new world opened up. I was so happy. I realized that everything I thought I knew about derby and training was not enough and the hard work was truly about to begin. Making Travel Team was having my wildest dream actually come true. If you would have told me when I was languishing on Fresh Meat for 17 months that I would be a member of Travel Team I would never have believed it…Travel Team has been extremely humbling and I still have feelings of ‘Who let me in here with all of these amazing people?’”
Shaolin Spocker, Nabi’s teammate on AOA and Mistress of this here shiny website, felt similarly. “Travel Team was kind of like trying out for FM all over again, except dialed up to 11,” she said. “This year was my first time trying out, and I didn’t expect anything from it, but there was also the added dynamic of, HOLY CRAP, everyone here is really talented and awesome and what the hell am I doing here?!” Being awesome was what she was doing there, FYI.
But that awesomeness comes with a price. These ladies work hard. They practice fourteen million times a week, they cross-train, they go running. Like, on purpose, even when they’re not being chased by a bear. Effy Stone ‘Em, former travel team, even learned what gluten is to further her derby career. That’s serious, y’all.
And of course, there are injuries. Tess and Nabi sent me truly gruesome pictures of their massive hematomas. (A hematoma is like a really bad bruise, but worth more points in Scrabble). French Tickler has broken bones. Sprained ankles are a fact of life.
Is it all worth it? Is all that training, the travel, the expense–and have I mentioned the running?–is playing on Travel Team worth it? Yes. For all these ladies, yes.
Nacho Lucky Day told me about some advice Frenchie, her fellow Heartless Heather, gave her: “A big part of getting better is pushing yourself through that discomfort. This is something I have to continually remind myself of.” Avalanche said, “For me the goals never stop. It’s such an awesome sport because there is always room to grow and change and be better.”
That’s what unites these women. More than anything else, they want to keep improving, keep pushing the boundaries of this amazing sport. Their next opportunity to do that will be this weekend, at The Big O, an invitational roller derby tournament in Eugene. WOJ and AOA will be playing, as well as our junior league, the Rosebuds. Spocker said, “AOA feels so strong this year, and we’ve been working hard to really dial it in on our teamwork. I’m looking forward to seeing how high we can rise together.”
How high can they rise? We’ll see. What’s important to remember, though, is how high these incredible women have already risen. Keep your eye on the Big O to see what amazing new things they can do. Can’t journey down to Eugene this weekend? No problem. Wheels of Justice are taking on Montreal’s New Skids on the Block on May 17th and Arch Rival Roller Girls All-Stars on June 28th. Axles of Annihilation takes on Antagonist Roller Derby from Renton, Washington on June 27th.
WRITTEN BY JENNA ROUTENBERG
Following in the footsteps of those she so admires, Jenna recently took the next step in her own derby journey: she tried out and was selected for Fresh Meat. She says that it’s equal parts effing hard and wicked good fun. She’ll be reporting back from the Big O via Twitter and the blog.