Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Northwest Knockdown 2008 (WFTDA Nationals)

Like I admitted at Sunday’s afterparty, it could very well be an inaccurate misconception, and I’ve never actually heard anyone admit it, but up until this weekend we eastern derby girls have felt fairly underestimated and taken for granted by our western counterparts. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of friends from leagues out west, but I didn’t think they’d ever taken any of us all that seriously – they didn’t think an eastern league could place, let alone win, a national championship at this present moment in time. That is, until this weekend.

Back in Baltimore and at work today with little-to-know voice to speak of, I couldn’t help but move between feelings of pride and excitement that the east took the top three seats at the Northwest Knockdown and pride (albeit a different kind of pride) and joy that our baby of the last year, this tournament, finally came to fruition and was everything everyone had worked for and more. It was fucking amazing, and apparently more successful than any tournament to date. Better yet, I had the pleasure to work with and learn from an amazing group of women from leagues across the country.

Save maybe two games, each bout at the Northwest Knockdown had me on the edge of my seat, wringing my hands, screaming until I seriously almost fainted several times, and nearly having a heart attack right there in the bleachers.

I saw some things I had never seen before, some bad (styles of sweeping the leg I had not yet seen) and some good (the Philly “reabsorption” strategy where their jammer, out of the pack first, lags behind and booty blocks the opposing jammer until the Pivot and another blocker reabsorb her back into the pack – all before the Philly jammer takes off again for another lap).

One by one, as each eastern team won, the rest of us stood in our circle around the perimeter of the track waiting to slap their hands as we screamed at the top of our lungs in our deepest voices, “EAST COAST! EAST COAST! EAST COAST! EAST COAST!”. Excited, but not trying to be an asshole, I struggled at times in concealing my excitement around my west-coast friends. They compensated at night by taking group pictures in which they all flashed the “west coast” sign, knowing I couldn’t get my fingers into position fast enough to represent for the east. I love those women, and really they were excited for me that I was so excited about the east-coast victories. That’s why I love roller derby.

Sunday night at the afterparty, I was reminded of the derby love. In the first karaoke performance of the night, TXRG got up on stage and sang their hearts out, vying to win the afterparty. We all sang along, as they screamed and danced on stage (them unveiling fake-mustache pubic hair, and us laughing so hard we could pee). When it comes down to it---from winning Nationals to winning the afterparty---we’re all really fucking competitive, and although we may be upset that our team lost, we don’t give up. We keep going, sharing a beer and a laugh at the bar or a smoke and sympathy out back, we keep going.

We try to be the funniest, the drunkest, the most daring, and the best looking, according to each of our individual standards of beauty, of course. We play hard and we party harder. We convince each other to take our pants off in public. We share what-would-be-embarrassing stories to any normal person about us pissing ourselves. We train. We sacrifice. We make our bodies hurt like you wouldn’t believe. We win. We lose. We hug our opponents after a well-fought game.

I can’t imagine a better sport. Hell, I can’t really imagine anything anywhere that’s better than derby. And I count myself luckier than sometimes I even know to be a part of it.

God, I love derby.


Frix said...

Hate to be nit-picky, but I'm gonna go there anyways :) It's TXRG. And I disagree with you on the East Coast win - I think the West has seen it coming but we weren't about to admit to it until they took it from us on the track!

Congrats on making it through wonderfully successful tournament season. I can't wait to see what's in store for 2009.

Cindy Lop-her said...

D'oh! I fixed it - thanks. That's what I get for writing that entry at 1am, when my usual old-lady bedtime is 10pm.

Yeah, like I said, I really think it may be something we easterners made up.

Shit, what's in store for 2009?! The look and feel of the tournament should be rad. But what will be radder are when these teams meet again on the track. It's going to be amazing.

Midlife Crashes said...

In 2009 you'll have to start getting No-Cen & So-Cen in the vocab!

Kate said...

What a great post. I feel the same way about roller derby. It's the only thing keeping me sane in a tough economy.