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When Do I Get to Hit Some Bitches?

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When Do I Get to Hit Some Bitches?

Admittedly, there are many times that I‘ve wanted to resort to violence, but had never been to a place where it’s actually encouraged.  When given the chance to participate in a Roller Derby Boot Camp with Milwaukee’s Brewcity Bruisers, I thought my wildest dreams were coming true!

I had little preparation for this boot camp other than beating up my body two nights a week at kickball. My contact for the event was Servin’ Justice, a skater for the Crazy Eights and member of the league board of directors.  She told me the camp would be “no-contact”, last three hours and I should be prepared to sweat.

No contact. I guess that was starting to sound like a good idea, considering two days before I received a wound on my thigh from sliding into second base. What remained was likened to a puma attack, or a side of roast beef. The day prior to camp, I collided with an ogre of a first baseman, resulting in what I later discovered was a fractured elbow.  Everyone knows rollergirls are tough, so I decided to suck it up and play the part.

Justice told me that I would need all the proper safety gear to participate. This included a helmet, mouth guard, knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards; not to mention skates. I explained that this was for a new magazine with a budget of basically zero and she miraculously found me everything I needed.  Don’t worry – I bought my own mouth guard. All of the Brew City Bruisers were more than accommodating and helpful.

The day of camp arrived and I headed out to the inconspicuous warehouse that serves as the league’s practice facility. Pulling into the unpaved gravel lot and seeing some women in ripped tights and funky socks, I knew I was in the right place. Reluctantly, I entered the building and introduced myself to Justice, who was about six feet of pure, blonde badass. The inside of the building seemed to be warning me of my impending doom. Smelling of sweat and broken bones, its uneven concrete floors and dim, sparse lighting was as if I walked into a scene from a slasher flick.  I half-expected to come face-to-face with a deranged serial killer in a hockey mask.  Instead, Justice pointed out the gear and gave me some skates. I had no idea how to put any of the pads on. The last time I wore four-wheeled skates was probably over 20 years ago, skating in my basement to some crappy New Kids on the Block song. I never wore pads and long-ago made peace with the realization that my leg-modeling career was never going to happen.

I geared up and attempted to stand. Nothing makes you feel more out of place than attempting to skate and hearing, “Oh, that’s so cute!” as you wobble away.  Feeling like a toddler taking its first steps, I began to take a few laps. The regulation flat track was much smaller than I had expected. The boundary lines were taped to the cement floor and just barely fit into the space.  Looking around, I was happy to see women of all shapes and sizes.  They ranged from a skinny twig that I could probably blow over, to a few girls who looked like they could crush me with a glance.

There were about 30 new skaters at the camp, which at times made me feel like I was skating in a herd of cattle.  We were told that the first half would be learning elementary skating technique, led by Servin’ Justice. The second half would be more intense, and led by Moby Nipps, a skater for the Shevil Knevils. (Yes, that’s how she was introduced.) We’re told she’s more of a hard-ass, and liked to make people sweat. Okay, now I was getting nervous. I shouldn’t have stayed out so late the night before.  The last five rounds of bar dice were probably a bad idea.

Justice showed us how to skate in proper roller-girl position, referencing the skater on the cover of the movie “Whip It” and how to stop, which was something I was having a hard time mastering.  Using toe-stops just doesn’t come easy.  I felt like a tornado on a path of destruction. Then told we were going to learn how to fall, I immediately thought of my leg and elbow.  Visions of being carried out on a stretcher raced through my mind, but I snapped out of it and sucked it up.  I came for the full experience.  We learned some knee slides, which were actually pretty fun.  The Bruisers really stressed that falling backward is a bad idea because your tailbone is unprotected, even if it has been endowed with extra padding, like my own.  After learning some more techniques, it was time to fully turn the session over to Moby Nipps, a scrappy skater with seemingly endless energy.

Immediately, I saw that things were going to get a lot more intense.  Nipps wanted us to practice getting up as fast as we could. I was starting to really feel it and began falling a bit.  My body was starting to hurt.  We worked on blocking other skaters and whips. The recruits pushed our partners and then they pulled us.  Fatigue set in and I took a bad fall onto my tailbone. Tears welled up in my eyes, but I forced them away. Making sure I got up and out of the way of the other skaters, I sat out a bit to catch my breath. Feeling like Rocky Balboa getting pummeled by Ivan Drago, I made myself get back out there and try again. It was comforting to see I wasn’t the only newbie falling.

Just when I thought it was over, we started in on conditioning.  I definitely saw why it was called “Boot Camp”. Core muscles are very important for skaters, so we were about to work them. We were told to leave our skates on and did numerous leg-lifts and crunches. Starting to feel like I had cement blocks tied to my feet, my mind was full of loathing for my magazine peers for encouraging me to participate. During conditioning, one of the Bruisers said, “Just wait until you get to hit bitches. Then you will know why you are here and that you were meant to do this.” I have to admit; it made me smile and was just the bit of motivation I needed to get through the rest of the afternoon.  The recruits then took off our gear and were instructed to participate in various running and jumping exercises.  My own personal hell wasn’t over yet. To finish out the session, we had to do a “wall sit”, which is basically leaning against the wall in a sitting position with no chair. My legs were crying and I was pretty sure they were going to make me pay.

Leaving the camp filthy and sore, I was pretty sure that I smelled like I had bathed in locker room sweat. Honestly, I hadn’t had that good of a workout in a long time and was really impressed by the strength of the women that play this sport. Roller derby was a lot harder than I expected. However, I really enjoyed that the Bruisers seem so much like a family. Everyone seemed genuinely concerned when another woman fell and were very supportive when the newbies made an effort to really try and get something right. The Bruisers made it a point to stress that try-outs are open to anyone, but bad attitudes aren’t accepted.

As I drove home, all I could think about was washing away the stench of that sweaty safety gear. Four days later, my elbow seemed to be hiding in a sea of bruises and swelling. I still had a hard time moving, due to the tightness in my inner thighs and was walking like I’d just been horseback riding for the past week. Would I be interested in attempting roller derby again?

Of course!  Who wouldn’t want to hit a bitch? Let’s just make sure it’s not with a broken elbow.

Milwaukee’s Brewcity Bruisers are members of the WFTDA. For more information on the Bruisers or to find a league near you, go to- wftda.com and www.brewcitybruisers.com

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