I wrote the following for the OHSU Sports Medicine blog, where they’ll be featuring blog posts from me and several other RCR skaters on the regular! People who know me know at least some of this already, but here’s my history in a nutshell.
Skater Name: Shaolin Spocker
Origin: my love for cheesy kung fu movies (Stephen Chow, don’t ever change), and my equal-or-greater love for Star Trek.
Skater #: 1701 (as in, NCC-1701, the Enterprise’s registry number)
Team: Fresh Meat
Day Job: running my own company as a photographer, designer, and web developer, specializing in small and local businesses.
My athletic history isn’t as long as you might think, looking at me now. Part of the reason I chose my derby name is because, before I started skating, I did wushu (basically, flashy acrobatic performance kung fu) for 7 years. I ran my first 8K race in last year’s Shamrock Run, and then skated endurance practice later that same day. Pushing myself physically is a pretty familiar feeling, these days.
Before I found wushu in 2003, though? Yep, Nada. I’d dabbled a little in softball and basketball in middle school, and swim team during high school, but I wasn’t particularly good at any of them. My brain and my body were a big mess of disconnects, and athletics were just never a thing that came naturally to me. In college, I continually gained weight, and eventually topped out at over 230 pounds. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to be bitten by the martial arts bug in 2003, and eventually lost over 50 pounds over the course of the next several years.
I got into derby much the same way that I got into wushu: I had a friend who talked me into it! My friend Marykae–who’s now skating with the Stateline Derby Divas in Wisconsin–and I had batted around the idea of trying derby for months, and in July 2010, we finally screwed up the nerve to try our first Intro to Derby class, feeling totally unsure if we’d like it or not. We did the class, and then looked at each other and knew instantly we’d both be buying our own gear that same day.
A couple of weeks later, we joined up with RCR’s Wreckers program, and even with seven years of martial arts fitness under my belt, being on skates was definitely The Great Equalizer–I could barely even stay upright! But, I got to where I was skating every weekend, and I started to feel that same obsession creeping up on me that I did when I started wushu. In December of that year, I tried out for Fresh Meat and made it onto the squad, and that turned 2011 into one of the most challenging years of my life, both physically and emotionally.
It’s now a little over a year since I first got onto Fresh Meat, and I recently had to spend 2 1/2 months off-skates due to a severe ankle sprain, so I just re-joined Fresh Meat a few weeks ago, and started working my way through the ranks again. I’m deliriously happy to be back, though, and rehab and cross-training has really paid off in coming back from that injury.
When I first started skating, I just thought it’d be a nice way to cross-train for wushu, but the challenge of derby, and the community around it, had so much to offer me that I didn’t even know I was missing. I thought I was a fairly empowered person coming into it, but derby really has changed how I think about myself, and how I think about the world, and it’s shown me that I can do so much more than I dare to think is possible. I think it’s done that same thing for a lot of amazing skaters before me, and will do that for the many amazing women who come after me. That’s a pretty damned beautiful thing to be a part of.