Monday, October 28, 2013

Feeling Lucky

Hello, my name is Lucky Harms, and I am addicted to roller derby...

This past Saturday I was given a chance to skate during evaluations. I had to pass the skills test at 100% in order to qualify to move up to scrimmage status. I will never forget this day. I was doing my laps (we have to do 27 in under 5 minutes) and I just couldn't get my act together. There was no good reason for it, I had completed this successfully a few times before. I felt strong. I had been prepping and visualizing and eating well. Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of great excuses for struggling... my left skate felt extra slippery (I swear every time I put my skates on they feel different).. the track was slick because it had been cleaned.. it was super cold in our warehouse.... I wasn't warmed up enough.. I was with a bunch of fresh meat... blah blah blah. Excuses.

What really happened was I couldn't get out of my head. Even though I had told myself I could do it I had this doubt in the back of my mind... the timed laps were the only element I was unsure of. So when I skidded out early on I thought, oh shoot, that's not good. I tried to laugh it off and calm down. Then I fell again.... uh oh, time to get my act together, I thought. Then again. NOOO! I thought, this can't be happening! I HAVE to do this!!! Then I slid totally out of bounds and I knew it couldn't be done. I had eaten too much time... but I kept going anyway hoping I could settle into the stride and speed up enough to make up the difference. Time to stop screwing around... everyone was shouting, "come on Lucky, calm down! you got this! focus!" ... I could barely breath, asthma kicked in, panic struck, doubt took over. What if I don't make it? I want to scrimmage SO bad before our move!

When the time was called I fell down to my knees, screamed one very simple obscenity, and spiked my helmet in anger. Five minutes were up and I had only competed 25 laps. I bawled into my hands.... I felt embarrassed... for not being able to pull myself together enough to finish in time.. and for behaving like a child afterward.

Not a great way to start the evaluation day.

Luckily for me I have some amazingly supportive teammates, who are more like family at this point. One of them came over to me and explained that, yes that really sucked, and it was not supposed to play out like that, but it's not the time to dwell on it... she told me to pick myself up and murder the rest of the test so that I would leave no doubt in anyones mind I AM scrimmage ready... "We all know you can do this, Luck. Now go do it."

I thought my chances for scrimmage may be dashed, but that doesn't mean that I can't make myself proud during the rest of the day. So I shake it off, calm down, and do everything to 100% capacity. I leave no doubt.

When all of that is done I decide it's now or never.... I will be leaving this team in no time, I have to ask if I can do the laps again, even though I'm not sure my body will cooperate. I don't make excuses for the first round, I just simply ask for another chance. This is an unorthodox request... typically when doing these tests you get one shot.... they talk it over as a committee and tell me yes, but I have to do them now.

Ok. This is it. There was no way I was going to leave without trying a second time. I have to do this. But will my body let me? At this point my breathing is questionable.. I haven't quite figured out how to manage my sports asthma yet... and I have been skating hard for three solid hours. I'm exhausted.

I decide that none of that matters. I have to try.....

So I stepped up to the line and told myself, you got this.... then I start skating and quickly realize I had nothing.... I mean, my tank was empty (and I have to mention I am a pretty decent judge of my endurance level... having run a full and several half marathons). Every single crossover was painful, every breath a strain.... but I was moving forward, the laps were ticking off... and I wasn't stumbling anymore. I am not a quitter. Leave it on the track.

My teammates began to scream, "hurry up, Lucky! You have to move faster! You're so close but you have to pick up the pace!" I thought, really?! I'm not gonna make it again?! There is just no way I can move any faster! I tell myself to refocus... but I really wanted to start crying.... could I handle two failures like this in the same day? Why am I doing this again? This is crazy! Impossible! I don't have it in me... I choke up.....but somehow I keep up the pace..... I tell myself no one is going to hand this to me. now is the time to reach out and take it. It's not going to be another failure.

Just when I would think about being tired I would hear a teammate yell something encouraging, pushing me. more motivation. It's almost over, I think. This is it. You're so close. I pick up my feet, move forward, stay low, breathe. Near the end I hear someone shout that I have five left but I have to move my ***.... so I do. I pick up my feet faster.  I focus on getting the most out of my stride. I begin to tell myself, this is going to be a victory. you are going to do this. this will not be defeat. take it. take it. take it now. you can do this. you are going to cry when it's over... from pride, not defeat. make yourself proud, right now, today.

The last two laps I can tell it's going to be close because everyone is on their feet screaming for me to hurry up.... I can hear them but I remind myself to stay on your feet, don't do anything crazy... sprint to the finish..... I come around that final turn and literally make a run for the finish line throwing myself across helmet first at the end......

I hear cheering and screaming and clapping and I am crying, and coughing, and can hardly breathe. I look up, did I make it?! "5:00 on the nose," a teammate says. "That's the closest I've ever seen anyone come without going over... you fought for every single second, Lucky. I'm so proud of you."

I cry some more and someone helps me to my feet reminding me to take deep breaths. I get hugs and high fives and, "that was awesome's." I feel like a million bucks.... I did this.... against the odds of the day. I took that self doubt and worry and a threw it out the window and chose my own outcome.

This is why I love roller derby.

Some days the victories are smaller... almost unnoticeable.. but they are always there.... and it's all for the taking. I'm lucky to have the chance to play this spectacular sport that suits me so well. I'm lucky to be a part of this team. I'm lucky to have a family who supports this all consuming hobby. I'm lucky to be referred to as an athlete, even as a 31 year old Mom of four. I'm Lucky...

and I will be getting my *** handed to me during Monday nights scrimmages from now on!


  1. WOohoo! Way to go! Is there a team anywhere near where you'll be moving?

    1. Yeah Cleveland has a big league with 5 different teams in it. Ragdoll brought you up randomly the other day.. She's wondering if you would ever want to try out again. :)