>On Doing Derby

>I think it’s genetic. While some say it’s determination, others say it’s stubbornness. My grandmothers have been strong role models for me, each in their own right.

My maternal grandmother was a very loyal and sturdy woman. She was a die-hard Cubs fan who would go out of her way to protect and encourage her kids and grandkids. If you messed with one of us, you messed with Mamaw. If my parents would discourage me or my sisters from trying something new, they messed with Mamaw. Whether we were right or wrong, we knew that she had our backs.

My paternal grandmother has the same determined spirit. As the widow of an alcoholic farmer and the mother of thirteen children, Grandma is one of the strongest-willed people I’ve ever met. While she and I don’t agree on much, I am smart enough not to cross her. To have made it to this point with 93 years under her belt, I would have to argue with anyone who thinks she can’t hold her own.

Mom says I get it from my Dad’s side. My Dad says I get it from Mom’s. Regardless, I am a sturdy girl with a low bullshit tolerance.

I’ve played sports on and off since childhood, but have never really stuck with any one sport for long. I never felt fast enough or tall enough or something enough. I entered to win tickets to Naptown’s Cherry Stomp (their first season opener) because I was intrigued. When I won the tickets, I was excited. Once they entered the room… Strong, sexy, athletic women having fun and really getting into it. I was hooked. Sure Wimbledon is kind of neat, but really… Screw tennis with its strawberries and cream and tidy traditions. I started to crave derby with its authenticity, its surprise do-gooder-ness with select charities, its skaters taking a knee in respect and legions of fans who could actually sing along with me to Punk Rock Girl! (How f’ing cool is that?!)

I’ve met academic goals, career goals and now I’m working on derby as a physical goal. I need to prove to myself that I can meet this challenge too. I know that I have a way to go before I’m bout-ready. But I also know that I can do anything I put my mind to because I am my grandmothers’ granddaughter.

I wrote that essay sometime over the summer. I know that my grandma would be happy for my decision to remove a bunch of BS from my life by walking away from the majority of the sport for the time being. Of this, I am certain. Remember that low bullshit tolerance?

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