15 minutes / roller derby tournament prep

My first week assignment for a creative writing class is to write 15 minutes every day. Not everything I write will be posted here.


Preparing for away games used to be weird and full of to-do lists and rituals. Today my alarm was set for 7:46 am and I woke up at 7:33am, turning the alarm off so I wouldn’t have to hear the ringer. Doesn’t matter what noise you choose to wake up to, you will begin to hate it. Make sure to not use your favourite song. Save that for when you’re singing in the shower several minutes later.

My gear bag was sorted as it would ever be. Elbow pads and knee pads got a passive “okay” in the smell department. I did not change my wheels, a choice that would most likely annoy those who noticed. I wear each set of wheels into the ground, carve them into misshapen ovoids. The edges of the wheels are typically chipped and rounded. It’s better this way. They are used up and imperfect and are filled with hard work. They feel normal and familiar.

I tried to eat breakfast but it didn’t feel right so I didn’t. I drank two generous cups of coffee. Black, with an ice cube. So the surface of the coffee didn’t burn the roof of my mouth. The secret is to make your coffee extra strong so the ice cube doesn’t dilute it much.

Eating before a tournament is complicated. You don’t want to eat more than usual but you also don’t want to accidentally not eat very much at all. Nervousness or excitement can mess with your stomach, it’s true. There’s a gathering of nerves right above your belly that is fully responsible for that butterfly feeling. Something to do with the parasympathetic glands, which is basically our fight or flight mode. That feeling can stave off hunger during time of preparation.

But I have everything I need. My gear so I can skate. My backpack of clothing. Various other effects. Sneakers, jerseys, my trusty ukulele.

Some people bring random things that they can use to distract their body physically when they need to focus. In terms of sports psychology, it makes sense to do this so you can visualize properly. Sometimes I think about how monks preform repetitive tasks, sometimes totally meaningless. Raking sand into designs, calligraphy, gardening, stretching. Something to consume the attention of the body so the mind can meditate on something else.

I have a teammate that knits. I strum away mindlessly. It works for me.

Get ready for the car ride. It’s going to be a long day. Don’t think too much about how it’s bad for your muscles to be sitting so long. Just focus on tomorrow. Think about everything that will happen, and how everything has already found its place.

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