I left WRDL with trepidation in my heart as I faced a rather uncertain derby future. Would Jam Buster ever get to skate again? I gave two years of my life to WRDL and I was terrified that I would lose to sport I loved when we moved. I knew they had a team in Switzerland but I knew very little about them. All I knew is that they practiced in Zurich and that my contact with them Miss Behavin' spoke perfect English.
Last night I went to practice. My first practice. Jam Buster lives to skate another day!
It feels like home to me.
First a history lesson. Europe did not have 70's derby. Which is a double edged sword. They don't have to fight the preconceived notion of what derby is HOWEVER most Europeans are utterly clueless about derby so there is a lot of education that has to happen on that front. That being said, derby seems to be welcomed with open arms in most countries. It's also seen as far more a legit sport here rather and this counter culture fringe activity. But don't worry, there is still fishnets, derby names and theatrics.
I have joined the Zurich City Roller Girls. They were started by a Canadian Ex-pat. I KNEW IT! (okay I didn't know it was a Canadian but I had a suspicion that it was an ex-pat) and his Swiss wife. In July 2009 8 ladies and one ref got together in a clothing store and their league was born. Of those 8 there are only 2 original skating members left. They're a small group but they love the game.
I was met at the train station in Bern by two league members. I was walking up the stairs from my train and looked up and immediately knew those were the derby girls I was looking for *cue star wars quote*. We greeted each other happily. They showed me which train I needed to take and asked if I was settling in. Miss B was super excited to have company on the journey. I was just excited to be on the journey period.
A lot of people have been asking about the commute. Here is the break down. I take a regional train from Ittigen (town I live in) into Bern. It takes about 8 minutes. Then we get on a train to Zurich. That takes an hour. Then we take a tram from the train station in Zurich to the practice space. That's about 10 minutes. So it takes me an hour and a half-ish to get to practice. And remember I have to do that all to get back as well so in total I will spend 3 hours just traveling for practice. So I will never ever complain about how long it took me to get to practice in Winnipeg when were at the base EVER again.
I can't explain the feeling of putting on your gear after a long absence. And really, it wasn't THAT long of an absence but there is a distinct difference between putting your gear on for a fun skate on a nice day and putting on your gear for practice. I relished in putting on my gear. I unzipped my bag and said, "hello gorgeous!" very softly to myself.
I wasn't too worried about the floor. Why? I'm from WRDL we can skate on ANYTHING!! I liked the floor, a little dusty needed to be swept but overall not as slick as I feared it might be They kick off each practice with endurance. AWESOME! I was told it would be 10 minutes of laps. Great. I was then told because I was quite fast I was only expected to go about 80%...wait...what? Fast? Me? Okay...but if you think I'm fast you should meet the rest of my home league.
Focused and quietly skating (at 80%) made me so happy. I thought about every movement. Every crossover. Every straight away. WOW have I missed you derby. This was normal. It was Monday night and I was at practice...just in a different country and true Jam Buster style I wore rainbow socks and was way to nice.
During a skills drill that involved jumping I did fall on my ass. I heard the collective "ouch" but I did something I KNOW a few people in particular would proud of, I remembered to pick a cheek for once rather than going down on my tailbone (this has been an issue in the past.) Honestly, it didn't phase me. So I fell, big deal. Honestly though, had I not spent the last 2 years and 2 months falling on my ass in front of people I don't think I would have handled it as well as I did. But in my head I was just so pleased I remembered not fall on my tailbone and in my heart I was a little sad certain people missed it.
I was asked to teach them a drill or two. Cue forgetting everything I've ever done in practice ever. 2 years of practices...GONE! I panicked for a little bit and nattered about how I only did marketing I did NOTHING with training other than let myself be trained. But they wanted to know, they wanted to learned and they wanted me to teach. Okay I know how to teach and the only thing that really came to me immediately was Frosty's amoeba drill. *phew* I had something to teach!!! I'm pretty sure I didn't teach as well as Frosty but I did my best. They were sponges, they absorbed it all. And they want to know more I showed them a few more things that I knew off the top of my head butI promised next time I would be a little be more prepared.
When I got back to Bern and parted ways with Miss B I hugged her and thanked her (with tears in my eyes because Jam Buster cries) for making me feel more at home.
My body hurts today. I've missed that hurt. I have a blister on my right foot and a bruise on my right elbow. I couldn't sleep last night because I was so excited about what I experienced. I was so excited last night I didn't notice the walk up the hill with John. Life feels more normal here now.
I will say one thing though. I walked into practice expecting to see certain faces, certain things. I expected to see the training bag. I expected to see Portage, DeBitch Mode, Killendula, Wadeaminute, Ani, Micki. I expected an attendance sheet. I expected the voice of Countess Bashory (pssst I remembered my sneakers Countess). I expected the smell of the curling club. I half expected to be asked to sign a cheque. Then I remembered. I remembered I was with a new league. New people, new procedures, new derby names. I didn't have to sign anything.
This is going to be good. Different. But good.
Now derby sisters of WRDL...I open the floor to you...what do you want to know? I've covered the basics but I know you're dying to ask about 42 million other questions.