I Skated With The SCAR Dolls Roller Derby Team [VIDEO]
When I a kid growing up in Burnsville few things were more fun than going to the local roller-skating rink with a group of friends.
We would have our parents drop us off, rent a pair of skates and spend entire weekends going round-and-round the loop in an endless circle. Sometimes we would stop to buy a slice of pizza or to harass the DJ to play "Walking on Broken Glass" for the ten thousandth time.
However, when I walked in to Skatin' Place in St. Cloud on Wednesday, I saw no kids eating snowcones. No one was playing Donkey Kong in the corner. No one was there to hear my cries if I fell.
Instead I was surrounded by SCAR Dolls with names like Bruta, Ivona Choker and Rilda the Riveter.
I walked in the door and was immediately sized up by the group. Judging by the giggling and eye-rolling, I would guess that they weren't intimidated by my 5'9", 130 lbs frame.
After signing a waiver that basically gave the team carte blanche to beat my internal organs into a soup-like consistency, I put on a pink helmet and pads that clearly were 10x too small to save me from what was to come.
I was told that my plastic Fisher-Price roller skates would not be sufficient for the competition and was instead handed a pair of "previously worn" rental skates that had likely been purchased sometime around 1977.
I began by watching the SCAR Dolls warm up for a bit I was invited to try a "whip," in which I skated behind a Doll, grab on to their arm, and have them pull me forward for a burst of speed.
The first whip was gentle, as though it was being administered to a toddler. Someone on the sidelines yelled "a little harder this time," and I was scared.
However, on the second whip I had a hard time catching up to my whipper until she reached back and flung me around a corner that I was barely able to navigate.
This is when my memory gets a bit hazy, because things got real. I was asked to try to be a "jammer" which is basically the running back of roller derby.
The jammer is the only person on the floor capable of scoring points in the contest. Wearing a star on their helmet, they try to break through a wall of four defenders with their backs turned to the jammer. The jammer must stay within the narrow boundaries while going around or through the line of defense.
Once through the wall, points are scored by the jammer lapping members of the opposing team.
I jumped right in to action and tried to navigate my way through the wall for the first time. I took an outside track when I was heavily shouldered by Bruta out of bounds. I instinctively put my hands up in a futile bid for defense, meaning her shoulder directly (and forcefully) destroyed my rib cage- not to mention my pride- as I let out a guttural yelp.
The good news is that it only hurts when I breathe. I still wasn't ready to give up.
I made a couple of more laps, getting knocked on my butt and hip, before the referee mercifully blew her whistle.
One of the more amazing aspects of the competition is the fact that the athletes compete for two minute stretches, an insanely tiring amount of time. By comparison, hockey shifts typically last just thirty or forty seconds.
Despite their edge, the SCAR Dolls were very friendly and welcoming. They encouraged me and coached me during my (very) brief practice bout and welcomed me to come back any time.
I'm not totally naive. I think they just want me back to beat me up again. I'd make an excellent tackling dummy.