Introducing Cherri Boom, who will be writing a regular column for us about her real time journey learning roller derby skills!
Several years ago, at my brother’s dining room table in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, somehow the topic of Roller derby comes up. There is a local team, The Jackson Hole Juggernauts, affectionately nicknamed The Juggs. We all talk for a bit about what an awesome thing it was and I distinctly remember saying, with sincere but rationalized longing “Oh! I wish we had a team back home. I would do it in a heartbeat!”
Even as I said it, I was already dismissing the fantasy of myself in roller skates and fishnets busting up a pack of girls with black eyes, missing teeth, and tattoos. Well, maybe not entirely dismissing it. Knowing full well, that at the age of, erm, forty something, that ship was never even coming into my port, my inner Walter Mitty invented a single derby name before curling up for a nap in the corner of my mind. Amanda Crush took a few glorious laps through my imagination and then she too slipped into hibernation beside him.
Now, jump ahead to December 2015. I’m headed out the door to work. I don’t usually read the paper, but I happen to spy the words “roller derby” on the upturned page of the newspaper on the kitchen counter. I’m late but I stop to read it anyway. I can’t believe it! Lewiston has had a roller derby team right under my nose!
I run down to my car and start searching Facebook. Voila! There it is! I contact the team and send a message. I’m sure I am gushing fan girl mania but I don’t care. This is fantastic!
In retrospect, I realize his was nuts since I hadn’t been on skates in my adult life. At all! For some reason I had this delusion that I would be able to pick up where my 10 year old self had left off and just skate. Did I mention that I was forty-something. Like, not even the first half of my forties. I’m not sure where that confidence even came from. I certainly didn’t have any experiences to base it on. But irrational doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing does it?
I got a reply that day and an invitation to observe a practice. I was elated! So much so that I went to several sporting goods stores (in January, mind you) until I found a lone pair of sad little roller skates. They were white with purple trim, ankle boot style. Purple plastic wheels with matching purple laces topped off the Shirley Temple vibe. They were definitely NOT roller derby skates, despite the bold pronouncement printed in curly script on the label. I knew nothing about skates otherwise I would have known that $35 was about $34 too much to pay for them. But! I had wheels for my feet and a hardwood floor to try them on. I was unstoppable!
I brought the skates home and immediately started skating through my apartment. I nearly brained myself several times but I didn’t fall and for some reason that was enough to bolster my ridiculous certainty that I could do this derby thing.
A few weeks later I finally met the team and observed a practice. At the time, the Angels were a handful of girls who had been skating together for about a year. Some were good. Some were really good. They were all friendly and seemed genuinely glad I was there. They let me stand in the center of the track while they worked on the 27/5, (skating 27 laps in front CR minutes) and I was hooked.
This is how my derby love started. I finally got an honest-to- goodness pair of roller derby skates, along with helmet, pads, and mouth guard and soon I was on the track with some amazing women learning how to skate again. It hasn’t been an easy roll. I’ve had my challenges and disappointments, but I’ve been lucky, too. Derby has been there waiting for me to work through my challenges, celebrating my little victories with me.
I have a goal. It hasn’t changed although my timeline has been adjusted a few times. I want to be on the track, with my team, playing this amazing game called roller derby. I’m forty nine. I will be fifty in November 2018 and I have promised myself a pair of red and black sequined booty shorts when I pass to scrimmage eligible status. I want to be able to wear those shorts by my fiftieth birthday. Wish me luck!