Nerd in Transition: Thank You LADD

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Nerd in Transition: Thank You LADD


a blogumn by Kelly Kaboom Lett
Photo Credit: Stalkerazzi

Photo Credit: Stalkerazzi

I know a place in LA with the best view of Downtown. It’s on a tiny street called Naud where you can view the city from atop a pillow factory. You will never find Naud Street unless you actually want to go there, it’s that small and that hidden away. I visited it again for the first time in over four years on Sunday Dec. 6 sometime after the sun had gone down.

The view is interrupted by what seems to be a random 6ft. high chain link fence bolted into the 4ft. high brick barrier surrounding the rooftop parking lot. That fence did serve a purpose once upon a time and I wouldn’t like the view so much if it wasn’t there. The fence was installed to prevent me and 30 other women from flying off a banked roller derby track to certain death on the concrete a few flights below. It was on this small rooftop parking lot that we first set up our banked track and where I believe the magic of the LA Derby Dolls really began.

While it may be true that we practiced at Skateland and Iceoplex for about 6 months prior to the rooftop, it was that open ignored space that gave us the room we needed for our track, making us one of two all-female banked track roller derby leagues in the country. I spent many nights up there watching the sun go down as our former coach droned on and on about something. And even though I managed to re-break my collar-bone as well as my thumbs up there, I’ll never forget the lights shinning from skyscrapers as the cool summer wind dried the sweat off my face.

What prompted this visit? On Saturday December 5 I played a championship game with my team the Tough Cookies against the undeafted Swarm out of San Diego. It was an epic game topping off an almost undeafted season for the Cookies. We lost one game this year, three weeks before the championship bout and we lost it to the Swarm. With what little time we had, we created new training drills, watched game footage and prepared for the biggest battle of the season.  Tickets sold out faster for this game then any other Derby Doll game in history adding to the tension both teams already felt.But the crowd was defiantly on  the Tough Cookies side. In a fast-paced, painful, battle-royal the Tough Cookies kicked some Swarm ass, winning our second championship in two years; finale score 107/91. And I retired from competitive skating there-by ending 6 of the greatest years of my life.

As with all great events I remember only bits and pieces, but what I do remember I will NEVER forget. The Cookies were one solid unit skating without much talking, instinctively knowing what needed to happen where and when and making it so. We’ve played well together before, but this was teamwork at it’s finest. I remember taking hard hits from bee colored players only to return the favor with all 170 pounds of my flesh. Many a yellow jammer got stuck behind my green and blue ass of doom. While overall I played fair I will admit that there were a couple of clothes lines, only one of which I got called on. I also hit a Swarm jammer after she called the jam off, earning a major penalty and time in the box. I couldn’t help it she was right there and I knew it would fuck with her head.  Never have I played so smart and so hard. It could have been due to it being my last game, or champs, or defeating those that had defeated us, most likely it was all of that. Still the penalties caught up to me and with 7 crucial minutes left I was ejected from the game.

Game ejections are nothing new for me, but they aren’t something I enjoy. It means leaving the track, taking all your gear off and not being allowed to skate the victory lap. I wanted, no needed, that final lap. A player gets ejected after 5 major penalties, so when I reached three I begged to be sat for most of the game. That wasn’t going to happen, so my captain made a deal with the head ref which allowed me to return and run the victory lap in my sneakers, grudgingly I accepted and continued playing my hardest. When the ejection came I was ready for it, or so I thought; I unzipped my skirt, pulled it off reveling my oh so tight game shorts and prepared take a lap as I waved goodbye. Before that could happen though Krissy Krash grabbed me and held me in a sweaty bear hug and before I knew it I was surrounded by my team, squished in the tightest group hug the world has ever seen. Once they finally let go I waved the skirt high, took my lap, blew kisses to the screaming crowd and thanked them as I gracefully exited the track in skates for the last time.

I watched the rest of the game from the sidelines, holding my breath through each point-scoring pass and going nuts as the score climbed higher. When that final whistle blew I lost my mind. I ran through the crowd, shoving people aside and dove, yes literally dove worm-like onto the track. We grabbed each other, screaming, jumping up and down, lost to the world, caught only in the thrill of a hard won championship.

I ran the victory lap, slapping hands with fans and the opposing team. Then I stopped, exhausted from it all, wanting nothing more then to make the moment last, I collapsed in the center of the track. I laid there hearing the crowd, feeling the joy, wondering if I could ever get up when WHUMP! a body landed on top of me. I opened my eyes and saw Laguana Beyotch smiling down at me, yelling something about how we did it and how I’d get to retire a champion, but I never did make out what she said because WHUMP! WHUMP! WHUMP! WHUMP! one skater after another piled on and I put my head back down to cry.

I believe in living the adventure of your life, because everybody is going to die but not everybody is going to live. 6 years ago I was handed a flyer that changed the course of my life. I joined up with a group of women that wanted something fun to do in between day jobs and family. Since then I have watched the sport of Roller Derby grow from the ashes of nostalgia into a vibrant world wide community open to any woman willing to strap 8 wheels to her feet and get more than a little bruised. We now have Jr. leagues reaching out to young girls across the country, teaching them teamwork, and instilling them with self-esteem stronger and deeper then Paris or Brittany could ever fathom. Grown women who’ve never played a sport now identify as athletes feeling BOTH powerful and sexy.

So on Sunday night after a team brunch filled with tears, laughter, mimosa’s and even mechanical bull riding I went back up to the rooftop. It was so small, so humble and so important. Quietly I said goodbye to my unexpected adventure.

Thank you LADD.