As I said earlier, I passed. This is a huge, ginormous big deal. I really didn't think I was going to pass. In fact, as of January or February, if you had asked me, I would have said it would probably take me at least until the end of 2010 to pass minimum skills.
Today's min skills assessment (let's abbreviate it to MSA from now on), for me, was a story of pluck, determination, and crying like a little bitch. I cried when I thought I was not going to pass. I sobbed when I passed. The tears flowed. Sigh. Well, if I ever get to be a trainer, I hope I will be as nice and understanding as Bones, Cruel Anne and Boxxx were today when some intermediate girl cries on my shoulder.
The things I thought were going to trip me up were skating 25 laps in 5 minutes, doing a crossover (this is the most efficient way to maintain speed while going around the curves at the ends of the track; you cross your outside leg over the inside leg, and push off toward the outside with the inside leg), and the two-footed jump over a three-inch-tall object.
What *did* trip me up was receiving a push assist, zigzagging from one side of the track to the other, and the motherfricking jump.
The push was pure dumbness on my part. My legs were too straight, and I wobbled when my partner pushed me. That's very unsafe: if someone is giving you a strong push from behind (on your behind), you need to be in the proper position (knees bent, butt out) or you could fall and get hurt.
The zigzagging was another silly mistake: I was skating too fast, and that meant I wasn't getting enough zigs and zags in. I needed three per straightaway and two per curve, and I wasn't getting them.
But the 25 laps in 5 minutes? I was able to do it, just fine. They let me stay to the inside of the track rather than be in the pace line, and I was able to keep up with (and even pass part of) the line. That was *awesome*.
As for the crossover ... I have been doing derby for six months now. I have lost count of the number of people who have tried to teach me to do a crossover (and given me excellent advice on it). Somehow, it just finally clicked today -- RIGHT when I needed it to. Bones said she had never seen me do a crossover before today. I think that's because I really hadn't done one. When we were starting to do crossovers for evaluation, she said "Exaggerate them." Somehow, exaggerating the movement with my outside (right) foot just made the movement of the inside (left) foot click into place for me. I did it!!! (Now I have to practice it *a lot*, because -- surprise, surprise -- it works the muscles in a new way.)
When Bones told me I passed the crossover part, I was absolutely thrilled.
Unfortunately, though, by that point I had already failed the two-footed jump. We were jumping over the head of a push-broom. We had to skate up to it and jump with both feet, landing with both feet at the same time on the other side of it. We had to clear it completely. Until today, the only object I had managed to jump over, two-footed, was a child's toy baseball bat -- probably 1" off the ground.
I knew it was possible that I would be able to do the jump. It's one of those things that you can go from "I can't" to "Holy shit, I did it" pretty quickly. But the fact that I had never done it yet was pretty scary.
We each got two tries. The first try, I cleared it but my feet didn't land at the same time. The second try, I didn't clear it (I grazed it, enough to knock it out of position but fortunately not enough to cause me to wipe out). After everyone had jumped, Bones let me try one more time. This time, I cleared it and then fell on my ass.
I felt pretty miserable after that, but I had already decided that even if I knew for sure I had failed, I would finish the MSA as strongly as I could. I may cry in front of these girls, but I will *not* give up.
We got through the rest of the MSA (and I did everything else successfully!). Afterward, the trainers came to each of us individually and offered us the chance to try again on the skills we had not passed. I think if someone had not passed a *lot* of skills, they would probably just be told they had not passed the MSA. I don't know what the cutoff is; I just know that it's at least 3.
I re-did the "receiving a push" test. No problem, once I remembered to stay in proper derby form. I re-did the zig-zagging and made it. And then there was the jump.
Bones went off to watch someone else re-do some skills, and left me alone with the broom head. I must have tried 7 or 8 times to jump that damned thing, and each time I ended up doing a one-foot jump (in other words, my feet did not hit the other side at the same time). Not good enough, at all.
The other intermediate girls who had finished testing were watching me and shouting encouragement. I don't know what clicked in my brain, but I jumped -- and cleared it, and my skates landed at the same time. The girls cheered. I screamed, "I did it!" And then I looked over at the trainers and realized not one of them had been looking. Not. One.
I skated over to Cruel Anne, and at this point I was crying. I said, "I did it, but no one was watching." God bless Cruel Anne. She said, "So do it again!"
I did. I did!!! That time Bonesy was watching. She said I had to do it one more time, because it's important that we be able to repeat the skills. Perfectly reasonable. And if I did it twice, I should be able to do it three times.
I was. I did it!!!!!!
And with that, I passed minimum skills. And ... yes ... burst into tears. Of course.
The awesome thing is that all seven of us intermediate girls who were taking the MSA passed. (So did the two travel team members who were doing their annual re-certification, but that was kind of a foregone conclusion.)
I was really lucky to have such a great group of intermediates to train with. We've motivated each other, encouraged each other, and really bonded as a group. It's been great, and now we all get to move up to advanced together. Yay, us!!!
I am also so thankful to the travel team girls for all of the encouragement they have given me, and to the fabulous trainers for never giving up on me.
This is just the beginning of a lot of hard work. I'm excited as hell to get started!