Broken Plates Do Not Equate to Broken Fate
by Bookin Banshee
It’s 9:15 AM on Saturday morning at the warehouse on the day of tryouts and assessments, and the “raw” and “fresh” meat skaters have just finished warming and gearing up. We are taking our first few laps around the track when I hear a loud snap beneath my left foot. My heart drops when I bend down to discover that the vinyl plate on one of my beginner skates has cracked from the pressure of all my hard work preparing for Level 1’s the last few weeks. The crack is wide and gaping, a miniature black, toothless monster laughing and opening its mouth wider every time I put pressure on my left boot. This is swell…my assessments have ended before they even began!
Bone is to the rescue, Monkey in tow, with encouraging words and suggestions: “Don’t freak out,” “If it’s going to happen any day, today is it,” “Do you want to borrow a pair of skates from the office?” No, I say, I don’t want to borrow skates I’ve never worn before to assess. I want to skate in the ones I’m used to wearing! I have a backup pair at home, identical skates with softer wheels that I use to practice outdoors. Bone asks, “Do you want to run home and grab them, and you can make up the first part of assessments at the end?” Um, yeah! Bone reminds me, “Don’t freak out. Don’t speed. Don’t get a ticket or in an accident.” But, I’m already out the door, elbow and knee pads still on.
When I arrive back at the warehouse, Monkey helps me to quickly swap my rink wheels to my backup pair of skates, and I’m up and rolling! Level one assessments are going rather well! I smile, relieved. But, victory is sometimes short-lived in the world of derby….
When I complete my weaving 10 cones in six seconds exercise, I can feel my left foot starting to sink oddly again, and when I check, yes, there’s a hairline fracture right across my nylon plate in the exact same place as the first crack I found! Now, my backups are protesting against me, and it’s like the Fates have determined my derby demise. “Hey, Bone,” I call. “I better do my 27/5 soon because these skates are giving out on me, too.” Count on nylon plates to be consistent, if nothing else!
Fast forward a few successful skills, and it’s time for the infamous 27-laps-around-the-track-in-five-minutes that everyone loves to hate. We take our marks on the jammer line. Three…two…one…GO! I am speed. I am crossovers. I am speed. I am crossovers. I am…SNAP and crash! My right plate is now waving a white flag, protesting against my weight, speed, and edgework. I hit the cement hard on my left side, and my initial thought is, “Well, it’s over for me.” But, my feet say NO! They send a 9-1-1 to my brain, which commands my body to pick itself right back up and keep going. Before I know it, the track is an oblong blur once again, and I’m bee-lining for straightaways.
Amazingly, miraculously, I finish the 27/5 in under five minutes and actually beat my best time! I cannot believe it. My beginner skates even hold up long enough for me to complete my assessments…just long enough, and I’m grateful! Because, by WFTDA standards, I am no longer a beginner. I’ve passed assessments and am now contact eligible. Which means two things. One, never, ever, ever give up or let fate make decisions for you; you control your destiny! And two, I’m graduating to my “big girl” skates complete with aircraft-grade aluminum, thank you very much! Because, when I start swapping hits with my teammates, I won’t have time to think about what’s quaking in my skates.
Just keep skating!