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Derby is finally coming to Milpitas! We have an awesome rink here, Calskate, that has been devoid of derby because no one was willing to take on the hours (9:30-11:30pm - yeah, brutal). And now, finally, my hometown has derby!

The founder is named Jennifer, and she skated for a year-ish with Nor Cal. We spoke on the phone Wednesday, and she seemed very friendly, very welcoming, and very eager for assistance and input. I felt comfortable with her right off the bat. After having a not-so-great experience with another league's founders, I wanted to be sure that any league I check out from now on has "skater-owned, skater-operated" as their vision, and Jennifer does.

So, last night I went to their practice, along with a friend who is interested in coaching. The coach is Kelly (male), a speed-skating coach who has a lot of champions under his belt, so he knows his stuff. A lot of the same principles apply in terms of basic skills, but it was interesting to learn them from that different perspective. He is tough, but he is fair - I think he has something like over 40 years of skating experience. He emphasized skating at a controlled speed.

The other women in the league seem really nice, and though they are relatively new to skating, I can see that they are determined hard workers - no slackers here. I was glad to see that. Nothing is more frustrating than girls who want to be in derby but don't actually want to DO derby. These women seem like they're definitely in it to learn the sport, not just to have the image, and I appreciate that a lot.

Practice included some core/cross-training (no slouching in that department!) and going over some basic skills that I definitely needed to go over (duck-walking, weaving around cones, etc) - nothing I've never done, but things I would like to brush up on. The floor at Calskate is maple wood, and a little stickier than San Jose Skate, but not too much - I definitely felt comfortable on it.

I know SVRG tryouts are coming up in a couple weeks, after WFTDA testing is done, but to be perfectly honest, there are at least a dozen girls who I think are better skaters than I am (not saying I suck, just saying they're better), and I'm fairly sure that there will not be a dozen spots open in their league. I am pushing all I can to be the best that I can, but other people's ability levels are not something I can control, so even if I am at my personal best, I can't do anything about the fact that other people's personal bests are better than mine. So I don't think I have a shot at making it in. Since leaving the Mizfitz, my plan has been to try out for SVRG because, well, what other options do I have? But now I have an option, and it's right in my own hometown. And I actually like being in a new league starting up, and watching it grow - quite frankly, it's exciting. I feel like I can contribute more to the Maulers than I would be able to with SVRG, just because they are already huge and full of girls who are doing awesome things.

So, I'm really excited for derby in a way that I haven't been for a long time - honestly, I was on the brink of quitting derby entirely because I was very soured by my previous experience and I just wasn't sure I enjoyed it or saw the purpose of doing it anymore. But now I feel like I'm "back," and more excited than ever. I think this could be the start of something awesome. So, I'm a Mauler now :)

BTW - the name (which was my idea, yay!) comes from the fact that Milpitas is home to the Great Mall of the Bay Area. Jennifer had already been throwing around some ideas with the word "Mauler" in it, so it just clicked in my head - the Great Maulers :)