Weight on my left foot, left arm through the straps of the large blue pad, top of pad resting on shoulder, bottom of pad resting on left thigh, right foot planted solidly, extended behind me. She skates almost past, but at the last minute, without even a look at me, she strikes. I take the brunt of the hit and allow it to push me up and a little backward. That right foot is planted, and for a moment, it's the only foot in contact with the floor.
"Nice hit," I say, "You got the hip in," as she skates off, takes a lap and gets back in line.
I felt the hit as a solid line of force through the pad, top to bottom. Her last hit was more shoulder then hip, which for some girls is a more natural motion. Seeing who's coming next, I know to expect that shoulder then hip. As I'm back into my stance, it's the same thing almost, as she skates almost past, and then she does it. The shoulder starts that little lift, but the hip quickly shoves me backward, and my right foot pivot point does no good, and I stagger back a little bit.
And I woke up today feeling every bit of it. I got to help the derby girls by being a target zone, holding a blue pad and being the last of five people they hit. It was a cut back drill requiring the skaters not to skate directly at the pads but to skate straight through the line of pads and hit directly from the side. I'm sure I'm lucky that they might just have worn themselves down by the time they got to me, but I don't know that that's anymore than discussing it with the other four guys trying to pretend they got it worse.
It's a nice pain platter across my shoulder blades, and the swiveling did a little something to my hips. I'm quite sure no one was taking out any sort of grudges on me, but knowing my mouth, it's easy that just my presence on their floor was bringing back some mildly acerbic comment I may have made, some wedgie I may have caused to happen, some joke I may have carried to far. I won't say I didn't see a certain glint of something in some of the eyes as they struck at number four and looked up to see number five, me again.
Going in, I was pretty sure I knew who I'd need to worry about, but I quickly learned that there wasn't anyone I didn't need to worry about. Our heavy hitters, our veterans, certainly did the most damage, but even the freshest meat was hitting well and hitting hard. It's exciting to see this and see the kind of players these girls will be in the future.
I won't pretend that I suffered through an actual ordeal equal to a roller derby bout. I don't have rink rash or a 'gina shiner, just a little soreness in the back. It's not unlike what I'd feel after fighting off midfielders. But it did give me a little goofy kind of feeling. It's a way to help the league, something I can actually do. I can talk, as we've learned, and I can take hits.