Sunday, June 7, 2009

View from a Widow.

About a year ago, right after my wife and I were laid off from work, we decided to take in a double feature at the Malta Drive-In to get our minds off the current events of our lives. Not fifteen minutes after parking our car I found myself in the building housing the concession stand gathering napkins for the very large tub of popcorn which I had only moments before purchased. Looking up from the counter, about to head back to the car for the start of the first film, my eyes happened upon a stack of flyers. Roller Derby information night. At that moment I was transported back to the days of summer vacation right after my parents first got cable tv. Visions of scantly clad women pummeling each other while skating around a track danced in my head. I don't know what possessed me, but I picked one up.
Back at the car, I slid into the driver's seat handing my wife the tub of popcorn and the flyer. I don't know if we had ever talked about derby or if she had expressed interest but I figured that she might get a kick out of it at the very least. To say that she was excited is an understatement. To say that was the best thing to happen that night is also an understatement (of the two movies only one was marginally ok and our car battery died.) It was decided that we would attend the information night even before the first film started to roll.
The Albany All Stars were hosting the informational event in conjunction with one of their practices. From time to time one of the team's members would skate over to the crowd and tell us what was going on, talk about derby, and answer any questions. By the end of the evening I could see a sparkle in my wife's eyes and I wondered what picking up that flyer had gotten us into. She was sold on derby. By the end of the week she had purchased a beginners package from one of the suprisingly many online retailers of all things roller derby. Unfortunately the sudden loss of my second job in several months led to the shelving of Shannon's roller derby dreams due to the lack of health insurance. She would not be deterred and when we discovered that a new team, the Hellions of Troy, was having a bout in Glens Falls, we went to find out how she could join. Insurance or no insurance she had an itch and it would be scratched. The Hellions welcomed her with open arms and so my wife became "Sonic Euthanizer" and I began my time as a "derby widow."
With practice several times a week, charitable activities, and participation in the actual business side of derby, spouses and significant others get very little time together with their individual derby girl and as such are dubbed widows. For me it feels twice as bad due to working away from home most of the week. I wouldn't have it any other way though. The women who are part of this team are more than just teammates, they are family to my wife. Derby is more than just a fun thing to do, it is a support system and a chance to be a positive part of society. With bruises too many to count, black eyes, dislocated shoulders, aches and pains, and broken tail bones, these women carry on when most of us would give up. As individuals, members of the local community, and athletes, I am proud of my wife and all the rest of the Hellions. It is amazing to see them grow as a team and how important derby is to each of them. If you are a woman looking for something life changing; look no further than derby. I am sure that there is a league near you or soon will be.

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