You walk into the armory acting like you own the place, but in your head, you feel like you’re invisible. You say hi to Don as he graciously opens the door for you. You kick off your shoes and make the long walk across the gym. You’re sure that no one notices you. You don’t want anyone to notice you. You make it to the stage, drop your bag, and fumble with your gear. You’re nervous, but ready to gear up and get skating. You’re wondering what skills you’ll work on, and you’re thinking about how hard you’ll hit the floor when you fall tonight.
The gym fills with people and conversation, the sound escalating from near-whispers to shouts and laughter as the other skaters arrive. You’re feeling more relaxed. You let down your guard, but only a little bit. Suddenly, it’s time for the off-skate warmup. You’re okay with people noticing you now. During warmups, everyone is awkward at something. Skipping. High knees. Lunges. Sumo squats. You’re halfway across the gym when everyone else finishes their grapevines, so you give it up and jog to the other side. You break a sweat and think, “Why is this so hard? It’s only a warmup!” Finally, Dinah says, “Gear up!”
Gearing up is almost as hard as the warmup. You’ve tried to figure out how to get it done faster, but you’re always one of the last ones to roll onto the floor. So much velcro! You forget which way to put on your knee pads. You struggle to get the velcro fastened around your thighs. It’s not long enough… darn thick thighs. Someone mentions that they have the same problem, and suggests adding velcro extenders. You breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you’re not the only one this happens to. You put your left wrist guard on your right hand, and when you try to switch hands, the velcro on both wrist guards gets tangled. You take a deep breath and try not to let the frustration overtake you and look around acting cool while once again wishing you were invisible. Finally, all the velcro is in the right place.
You fasten your helmet and pop in your mouthguard. The last thing to put on is your skates. You pull the laces tight. You’ll need to tighten the laces again, maybe more than once over the next couple of hours. Right now, you don’t care: you just want to skate. You ease out onto the floor, trying not to wobble too much, dodging the faster skaters. You run through a mental checklist: wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads, helmet, mouth guard. Someone in front of you crashes and you wince as they hit the floor. You roll back to the stage and pull on your padded shorts. There. The hard part’s over… now the fun begins. *** Pussy Foot