I guess to answer that question I have to dive back a few years and tell you a bit of my story. You know, make this entry relatable to the reader.
In the derby world I go by AnaMaulicious. I grew up in athletics and I come from what I consider to be an athletic family. At one point or another in their lives, my family played basketball, American football, the better football, or spent their time running while not being chased by a bear. I don't get it, but they love running. Growing up I tried to stay active by playing soccer, volleyball, basketball, and by joining a swim team. I will admit, swimming was my sister's idea if I remember correctly. As I got older, I became more active in music, so my athletic priorities took a back seat to my music one's. That worked out well for most of my "growing up" years but going into college I stepped way back and shifted my priorities to schooling. I still tried to be active in music and soccer, but it was nowhere near where I use to be. It was around that time that my health really started to take its toll on me.
I went to an engineering school where the focus was obviously education not sports. I tried intramural soccer for a bit, then rugby, but I just couldn't get into the rhythm with school and my health. Something was wrong, but I assumed it was just me being lazy and my arthritis being on permanent flare up. So I quit sports, and struggled with the thought of being too unhealthy to be on a team. I tried working out on my own, I tried running, yoga, swimming, free weights. But none of it stuck. Now, most of you are probably thinking "wait, I thought this was a derby blog, I don't need to hear this chick's life story". Well hang on tight, because it's about to get interesting and wrap everything into a nice tight roller derby bow.
College was physically rough on me, I lost touch with a lot of friends and I lost touch of myself. And not in the normal way that college divides people. My illness was dragging me down and I just thought I was lazy but couldn't fix it. I finally graduate, after six years, move away, find a job, get insurance, go to a doctor! After all this time excluding myself, changing my lifestyle from active to very sedentary, thinking I'm going crazy, I finally have a diagnosis. I, Anais Linan, have Fibromyalgia and Arthritis in several spots. What does this mean, it means I'm in constant pain and always fatigued. Sleep only helps so much. Rest and reducing stress helped a bit more. But it becomes a managing pain scenario, for the rest of my life. All those years being inactive were for a reason, but they also took me steps back in the athletic department. Now I'm a very proud person and I can be stubborn too. If you think for a second that my diagnosis kept me from pushing myself, you are wrong. I got a trainer, I tried different things. First the TRX machines, then low impact training, then yoga, then water aerobics, then powerlifting. But none of them stuck. Then I went to derby try-outs. You see, my mom had done derby a few years ago when I was still in college. So, I have heard about the sport, but I've never watched a bout or tried to even lace a pair of skates. I figured, I'm already broken, what do I have to lose.
I got my mom's old gear, strapped up, made sure to have extra protection (fibro), and jumped in. Let me tell you, I am not a natural. But what I am sure of, is that I'm stubborn (notice a trend?). Remember that long list of sports I bored you with earlier? I wouldn't say I was great at them, but I did pick them up fairly easily, otherwise I would have quit. Sad to say, but I'm a proud person who enjoys being good at things and loves the competition. So in comes derby. My first day was a special invite day prior to tryouts. I don't remember how I managed that, but I did. I put on my protective gear, laced my skates, took a deep breath, and stood up... well I tried to. My legs were like out of control puppy legs on ice. No control. No sense of direction. No muscle structure to pull my legs closed. I was frustrated. But I was surrounded by ladies who've been skating much longer than me! It makes sense that they would be better. No ego. No pride. No one to compete with. I know their level of talent and I just want to learn from them. I get through practice and I feel accomplished. I survived. I think to myself, "I got this. I have a leg up on the competition since I went to practice before official tryouts." EASY DAY!
Day one is finally here. Much like last time, I put on my protective gear, laced my skates, took a deep breath, and stood up. Boom. Nailed it! In comes ego. Then starts the competition. I'm not here to make friends, I'm here to make the cut and make the team. Friends come later. I've been in sports my entire life. I know what it takes. Back in soccer I use to get told that I needed to focus more on my skills and leave the chitchatting and friend making at home. So here I am, probably 10 years since my last sports team experience, that mentality is what's going through my head. I go through week one in serious mode.
During week two, reality starts to set in. One, this sport is no joke! Two, skating is nothing short of AWESOME! Three, I can see myself doing this long term. And four, these ladies are really cool... But I need to remember that they are my competition. l end week two with more knowledge, skills, and determination to succeed and make the team. I survived tryouts! But next comes Bootcamp. I'm going to be fierce.
Bootcamp literally had me on my toes. We learned to walk on our toe stops, then go a little faster. We did pushing and pulling drills to build endurance. We plowed, T-stopped, jumped, fell ( 2, 4, and 6-points), knee tapped, and stayed in derby stance. I learned about what lanes are, who the Jammer is and how they scored points. I learned that I like blocking, and with practice l could get real good. But I think the lesson I had the hardest time learning was what it was like to be on not just any team... but to be a part of the Bombshell Betties team. I remember being on the track, fixing the laces on my skates AGAIN, and having someone come over and help me. I don't know why, but in that moment, we were no longer competitors. We were team mates, friends. This team truly is like no other I have ever been involved in. And it's not just the team, the sport as a whole is so inviting and understanding. They actually mean it when they say that ANYONE is welcome. Skill or no skill. Athlete or beginner. Anyone is a part of the derby family. I missed being a part of a team. Having that comradery and built in friend. But this is what really gets me about this sport, it's not just the team. It's the entire sport. Go anywhere, find a derby girl/guy, and you have an instant friend who will help you out and help you up.
Biggest lesson for me?! I didn't have to be so competitive and thick-headed during tryouts. I would have learned more and had more fun if I had just listened to everyone. Past sports experience aside: derby is a new breed of awesome, the team is genuinely genuine, the ladies are kick ass and fierce, just open up a bit and see how much love and care will be introduced in your life. Oh! And the workout is a nice plus.