Thursday, December 13, 2012

Suicide Seat Quarterback

This past weekend, while at the “’Tis the Season to Be Brawley” scrimmage, I found myself stepping back and reflecting a bit on this past year and how my attitudes towards varying elements of the derby world have changed.

When my dear wife, the lovely Coupon Clip-Her, first began her journey, I had the role of an anxious and supportive husband. She’d come home after practice with a look of discouragement on her face and I’d be there with a word of encouragement and “you’ll get ‘em next time.” Then when she’d come home with tales of accomplishment (“I rocked my 25 in 5 tonight!” or “I knocked that chick down!”) I’d respond with a smile of knowing and pride, knowing that my wife is so capable of so much.

She truly is a remarkable woman, if I haven’t mentioned that before.

But my attitude was a hair different once she started bouting. Now, that attitude didn’t kick in immediately, although I might have given hints of it at her first bout but with the many subsequent bouts I’d see, I would soon become the worst of the worst.

I’m sorry to say that I became a suicide seat quarterback.

Erin, hit somebody!” I’d take to yelling, hands raised in true Ditka-like fashion.

“Why aren’t you hitting them back?” I’d ask at halftime, not helping my wife’s already frustrated psyche.

In short, I was pretty much an ass.

Part of it was very much like watching your kids play a sport. We’ve had our little ones in various sports and, I’ll admit, it’s a difficult prospect, particularly when it come to watching my son play, no matter the sport. And the biggest part of it is that you want your loved ones to do their best and to excel and, deep down, to be the best.

The other part, I'd come to learn, was sheer ignorance. Sitting one the sidelines, an ice cold Coke with perspiration beading down the the side in your hand, reclined in a cozy chair, it's easy, so very easy, to call out each and every little thing that someone's doing wrong. Just like it's easy to tell your kid to hit the ball or to play defenses, it's just as easy to yell at your beloved spouse to go pound the girl who keeps dropping the breadbasket on her.

I just wasn’t ready to feel that same urging when my wife took to the floor.  Yet, I did and off and on throughout the season, I was kind of a punk at times. It’s not that I wasn’t still supportive; I was, but I definitely didn’t see things through the same lens that she did at the time.

Fast forward one year and here we are, with me anxiously keeping an eye on the clock both alternately dreading and looking at the clock in anticipation of my derby practice. And my stepping full-on into this world, full immersion style, has dramatically affected the way I view things from the sideline. 

Yes, I’m still a Bambi on skates, skittering and scattering all over the place but even with that, with the two super slo-mo mini jams that I’ve been allowed to participate in, I have developed such a ridiculous appreciation for what goes on out on the floor. Just like watching a football game from the comfort of your couch doesn’t provide you a full appreciation for the passion and power that playing does, neither does a comfy suicide seat provide you the full impact of being on the floor, tasked with blocking or jamming.

It’s scary as hell.

The truth is that my little dabbling thus far into this world has shown me how little I really do understand about the game. It’s one thing to think up some strategy, to analyze a movement or to shout instruction from the sidelines; it’s a whole ‘nother world to step up and make those very things happen in the fraction of a second that is required on the track.

At least not without tons and tons of practice.

So that’s where I’ll be tonight, out at practice continuing to work on getting my skates underneath my feet, learning to stop, and growing in appreciation for the great men and women who make this sport look so freaking easy.

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