With less than two weeks to our first official bout of the season, it's crunch time for the Old Capitol City Roller Girls.
That means brutal practices full of sit-ups, stretches, push-ups, planks and endless pack drills. We sweat and bruise and toil under fluorescent lights until our sides hurt, our feet blister and the pungent scent of 'derby stank' fills the gymnasium.
All for the greater cause of becoming the most formidable team we can be, so tough and reputable that other roller derby teams quiver in their Riedell boots at the mere mention of our name.
We're a hungry bunch, with anticipation building towards our packed June schedule. The veterans are rougher, ramming each other during jams well past the "50% hits" strength limit set by the coaches. They grow feistier with each push and fall. Most of the new girls --or fresh meat, as they are called-- stand back and watch, their faces an uncertain melange of keenness and apprehension, save for the few who possess the bravado to join the fray.
I imagine some of the fresh meat feel by practice's end they are in for more than they bargained for, but my eyes scan them all with due acumen. There is unbridled potential there, but with shaky legs on skates and tepid attempts during drills the elite won't make themselves known for some time, adding to the mystery.
But for now we're simply glad to have them here.