Heroes

Tomorrow is the last game of the season with my beloved home team. It’s been a long season of bouting, and we’ve had our share of challenges, self-doubt, and games where we didn’t win at scoring the most points. Right now, however? The only thing I can feel is excitement and optimism.

When I look at the people I skate with every week, I can’t help but be amazed. There were some very large skates to fill at the beginning of our season. We may have felt scattered, unsure, and quiet then. We may not have been sure what our role would be on this team, or even what kind of skaters we were yet. I know I had all of those feelings.

Still, as the season has worn on, we’ve grown by leaps and bounds–not just as individuals with skills and strategies, but as a team that works together. More and more often, I go to practices and scrimmages, and see my teammates have moments of brilliance they’ve never had before. I get to have moments with my teammates where everything clicks, and we’re perfectly complementing each other’s actions.

We’ve come together and combined our powers for awesome. We’ve found leadership within our own voices, to fill those empty, quiet spaces. We’ve become stronger, harder-hitting, and more controlled. We’ve gotten smarter, more aware, more focused, and more connected with each other. We’ve found confidence in realizing that, hey, we’re actually really good at roller derby. We’ve made world-class players struggle and sweat and fight for every single point they try to score against us.

I remember being completely blindsided when I got drafted to this team, but those wise captains knew what they were doing–I look around at your faces, and I know that this is exactly where I should be. The soul and the spirit of this team strengthens and inspires me, and it’s what makes us as strong as we are. “Family” was a word that came up at the beginning of the season, and it rings true. Support means trusting each other on the track, and caring about each other’s well-being off the track. We challenge each other and we lift each other’s spirits. We never stop fighting, and we do it with grace.

I always used to dread being asked who my personal hero was, growing up, because I always wanted to find my own path, rather than emulating someone else’s. I never had a good answer for that question.

Now? It looks like I have not just one personal hero, but 18 of them. I see how hard we work, how much we care, how much of our hearts we pour in, and how much we sacrifice to make ourselves better in this sport. When I look at what each of you do to make this team great, that’s nothing short of heroic. The beautiful thing about it? We don’t just do this to improve or fulfill ourselves–we do it because we want to be better support for each other.

Because of you, I understand what being a part of a team truly means, more than I ever have in my life.

Look how far we’ve come. Look at all the things we can do now, that we couldn’t have done a few months, or even a scant few weeks ago. Look how much more we’re going to do, whether it’s tomorrow night, or in the Fall, or in the 2015 season.

Together, we are heroes, and there’s no limit to what heroes can do.

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