Breaking bad


Frustrated. There is no other word to describe how I’ve been feeling the past week.

I was told on Sunday that I unknowingly have a very bad habit of using my toe stop to slow myself as I enter the pack of blockers.

I know for non-derby folks this probably doesn’t sound like a big deal — especially if you’ve ever roller skated and have used your toe stops to slow yourself down. But it is — at least in roller derby. Because one of these days, I’ll use my toe stop and somebody is going to knock me down when my foot is all crazy and out of control, and I’ll probably end up with a broken bone that would likely require lots of hardware to piece myself back together. That, folks, is the last thing in the world I need.

(We’ll discuss my obsessions with being bionic and keeping up with Evil Knievel at another time.)

So, I would like to go ahead and tell anybody reading this, please don’t run and tell my mom I’m going to break something again. I won’t. Knock on wood.

I have some wonderful mentors on the KCRW All Star team who lovingly scream at me when they see me using my toe stops. They suggested I remove the toe stops altogether until I kick the habit.

I listened.

I can’t even tell you how scary it was to take out my toe stops and put in plugs. I kept comparing it to removing the training wheels on my bicycle. But honestly, it’s much scarier than that.

In fact, it was more like removing the breaks of my car and being told there’s a better way to stop, and that I’ll figure it out quicker with no breaks. In fact, this is also the way my dad taught me to drive a stick shift, and I would like to add that since learning to drive a manual transmission, stick shifts are all I’ve owned. So I’ve got that going for me.

I scrimmaged with the All Stars Tuesday night. Sans toe stops. And let me tell you, once this source of comfort was gone, I felt like Bambi on ice. I would have hated it with all fresh meat, but skating like this with highly experienced vets is pure torture. I did get several compliments for not falling on my face the first couple of times I tried to stop — because seriously, that’s something that can easily happen.

And though, to date, I’ve only braved this naked nose scenario once — during two-and-a-half hours of scrimmages, drills and endurance, might I add — it’s already made me much more aware of what I’m doing with my feet.

I feel I’ve filled my broken bone quota for roller derby. So I’ll gladly do whatever it takes to rid myself of this nasty little habit. I’m not sure how long it’ll take. One more practice? Ten more? Please tell me it won’t take all season!

I would also like to add that all it took was getting braces to break my nail biting habit. So I’ll gladly spend a few practices feeling out of control until I’ve mastered the hockey stop and can juke my way through a pack of vets.

In the meantime, if you hear my screams from right where you’re sitting, just say a little prayer for me, cause I’ll likely be needing it.

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