There I was. Down on one knee, shaking from head to toe, my heart hammering in my chest, sweat dripping down my face and back. This is not the opening to a marriage proposal story. On the contrary, I had just taken a spill, got called on a major, skated over to the penalty box and taken a knee. The combination of adrenaline, fear, and pressure is lethal.
Last night’s practice was good but also a blur. Pace drills, hitting drills, and scrimmaging. The pace drills nearly killed me. I thought my heart would beat right out of my face. The hitting drills rocked me to the core but I never fell. One or two times my neck snapped and my brain rattled in my skull. The pain in my head was ferocious. Not only from the jostling, but also from the biting down every time I took or gave a hit. My jaw was sending pain up the sides of my face and into my skull. Coach Cliff told me I was taking hits more than giving them. I think he was right, although damn, can I take a hit! The very next time I was up I really put my body into it and I landed a mean hit! Cliff just smiled and nodded. The pain to myself was drastically reduced which was encouraging.
After what felt like hours of abuse, we scrimmaged. Miss Trial, the ref for the Philly Roller girls, came to our practice to help us out. She forced us to play by the rules as if it were a real game which was awesome for us because we usually let so much slide.
There were two more firsts for me last night. One, I fell and I’m glad. Two or three times I fell – I can’t remember. Two, I played jammer. Three times. I can’t tell you anything about falling. You sort of black out for a second and before you know it you’re on your feet (skates rather). I’ve said once before I’ve never in my life played a team sport so all these insane “emotions” are all new to me. This adrenaline, in particular, is all new to me. I’ve never experienced anything like it. I’ve never pushed myself this way. It’s a cocktail of adrenaline, fear and pressure and once consumed, you’re drunk on it.
I got called on a major or two for cutting the track. That means I passed someone out of bounds. It wasn’t deliberate and it hardly ever is. We’re supposed to be in control of ourselves at all times so accidents don’t matter.
Now lets talk about jamming. Jamming is f’n scary because you’re the target. Everyone on the opposing team is out to stop you by any means possible. I jammed three times. The first time I jammed, I can honestly say I did very well and I am smiling as I say that. Once the whistle blew twice it was time to hustle and catch the pack. Coach Chris was on my right coaching me. “Now look for the hole. Look for it. There it is. GO! GO! GO!” I skated through that pack weaving inside and out and my girls were kicking ass helping me out. But up front, I hit a wall. I could not get around it no matter how hard I tried and I was scared to do anything extreme. I stuck to their asses and waited for help and it never came. I heard people yelling that I needed help and that my blockers better get their asses to the front but before I knew it, the whistle blew four times signaling the end of the jam. I was spent. Coach seemed a little pissed with my blockers and he pulled them aside and told them what they could have done better.
I don’t remember the other two times very well. I think I spent one minute in the box for one of my two-minute jams and I think I fell the other time and just skated around like a fool. I went from good to horrendous.
The highlight of the night though was this. I was playing blocker. The black team’s jammer was on the inside line. Directly beside her was a black blocker, then directly beside her was me. I quickly thought to myself that if I hit the blocker, she’d fall into her jammer and they’d both fall down. I did it – I hit her – and my plan worked flawlessly. I felt really bad because the blocker I hit was a newbie just like me and I apologized later. But at least I finally did something that mattered.
By the end of the night I was spent and had a headache not so far off from that of a migraine. I could barely stretch. I told Hell Kat I didn’t feel comfortable scrimmaging next week in Newark against the Garden State Roller Girls and she said that was fine. I’ll go and observe and watch instead. I’m comfortable with my decision. Granted I am missing the opportunity to play with strangers before the October 18th bout but I just don’t think it’s worth the risk. I rather get a few more weeks of practice in. The girls next week won’t know me from Adam and they’ll assume I’m a veteran. I’m not ready to play that way yet.
Overall, it was a good night and I feel fine this morning. My upper arms are a little sore from all the hitting and I’m tired because I had trouble sleeping after all the emotions I experienced. On a more positive note, my name is registered and last night was the first time I got to wear my name. Half the team calls me J.D. and the other half calls me Killinger. I really like both and it was fun hearing people yell the names.
I’m not going to practice Sunday and I’m not playing next Wednesday. Last night Mike could tell I was a little frustrated so he asked me how he can help me. Sunday we’re going to the roller hockey rink and he’s going to run around and let me skate into him and try to knock him down. That should be fun! This way I won’t be rusty by the time I skate again.