Wednesday, April 1, 2009

High Rollers

As a born and bred champion, I’m still a little hung up on the fact that we bowed out in the first round to Siena. Losing is never fun, especially when winning is an acceptable alternative. It hurts a little bit to watch the tournament now, not so much because we aren’t playing anymore, but because I find very few things in this life more annoying than when Digger Phelps asks himself questions and then answers them right away. Why do I not like it? Because it’s an awful way to get a point across.

Since our season is over and since watching Digger Phelps and company simply isn’t getting the job done for me, I decided to enjoy my spring break in beautiful Tucson, Arizona. Keller goes to school at U of A and because 80 degrees and sunny wasn’t in the forecast for central Ohio, this seemed like a no-brainer to me. Throw in the fact that I witnessed the greatest sporting event of my life on Saturday and it’s easy to see why Arizona was the place for me to be this week.

For college basketball players, the off-season is a completely different animal than the season is. During the off-season, players often undertake major transformations, as some lose a ton of weight, some put on a ton of weight, or some choose to grow out facial hair. While the latter is certainly applicable to me, I have gone through a much bigger transformation in my life. I am a roller derby fanatic and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

After I landed in Arizona, Keller and I looked up things to do in Tucson besides attempting to be cultured by speaking in broken Spanish. That’s when Keller came across the Tucson Roller Derby’s home page. All we knew about roller derby was that chicks on skates beat the snot out of each other, which was all we needed to know to be excited. What we didn’t know was that there is much more to a roller derby experience than what we originally thought. Here’s a recap of how our roller derby experience went.

6:15 – We leave Keller’s apartment and get into his car. Keller hits the shuffle songs option on his iPod and Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” starts playing. We both immediately realize how awesome the night will be.

6:37 – The large lawn sign and the balloons on the mailbox tell us we are either at the place where the roller derby is going to go down or we are at Sarah’s 7th birthday party. Lucky for us, it’s the former.

6:39 – We walk into the indoor soccer “arena” where the bout (that’s really what they call their matches) is going to take place. A woman wearing a fanny pack tells us it costs ten dollars to get in. I ask her if we are at a roller derby or a junior high soccer game in which she was the team mom. She assures me we are in the right spot.

6:40 – Since her fanny pack didn’t have a credit card machine, the team mom tells us that she can only accept cash. We have none. I recite the “you should carry more than a dollar in your wallet, David” line from The Weatherman, a movie that 99% of you probably haven’t seen. We are told to go to the ATM at the movie theater right around the corner.

6:45 – We arrive at the movie theater that has the ATM. The elderly man taking tickets says that they don’t have an ATM and he doesn’t understand why anyone would think that they did. He then explains that they used to have an ATM in the 70’s and that’s probably what caused the team mom to think that.

6:49 – We find a nearby gas station that has an ATM. Keller gets his money. I forget my PIN because I rarely use ATMs. I try to remember what my 18-year-old self would have thought was an awesome PIN and I type in 8008 (have your kids explain this one to you). It doesn’t work. I’m forced to borrow money from Keller.

6:55 – We make our way back to the indoor soccer complex, which wasn’t that complex at all. Anyway, as we buy our tickets a man holding a bunch of bracelets explains that if anybody plans on drinking alcohol, they would have to show him their ID and get a bracelet. Keller does exactly that. I don’t want to drink, but I really like the bracelet, so I get one. Plus, I don’t want the ladies thinking I’m not 21.

6:59 – The announcers do the starting line-ups and inform the audience to stand for the national anthem. Based on the type of people in the audience, I halfway expect the national anthem to be “Dixie.”

7:00 – The national anthem is not Dixie. It’s better. It’s “The Star Spangled Banner”, only it’s being played over the loud speaker because someone (probably the team mom again) is holding a microphone up to a boombox. Oh by the way, they were playing the version of the national anthem done by KISS. I couldn’t make this stuff up (OK, so I definitely could, but I swear this is true).

7:03 – I notice the two teams playing each other are called the “Copper Queens” and the “Iron Curtain.” I decide that I’m going to cheer for the Iron Curtain (who perfectly played their communist shtick by the way) for the same reason I briefly liked the Toronto Raptors in my youth—their uniforms are sweet. Keller decides to cheer for the Copper Queens and we make a friendly wager about the outcome of the bout (just kidding, NCAA! Don’t bet on it!).

7:05 – The bout starts and the announcers immediately catch my attention. The three of them look like washed up rock stars and after reading their bios in the program, I learned that they are actually washed up rock notquitestars. I was close. Nonetheless, they are attempting to announce in the way the MXC guys do, only their jokes don’t have nearly enough double entendres with the word “balls.”

7:10 – After giving random standing ovations and getting my chants of “Lets go Cur-tain! (Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap)” shut down, I realize I’m extremely confused as to what’s going on mostly because I have no clue what the roller derby rules are. I decide to look them up in the program. (For those of you interested, you can read all about the rules here. For those of you who could care less about the roller derby rules and just want to see Alan Jackson water ski with a cowboy hat on, click here.)

7:19 – A chick gets laid out. It’s awesome.

7:27 – The Copper Queens are pulling away from my beloved Iron Curtain. I am now much more into the bout (still can’t believe they call it that) than I ever thought I would be. The only bright spot on our team is a chick who goes by the name “Luc3f3r” (she was number 33). She skates as well as anyone I’ve ever seen (Note: The only people I’ve ever seen skate are in the movies Blades of Glory and The Mighty Ducks) and she has an attitude that says “I’m the best thing to happen to this sport and if you try to steal my spotlight, I’ll take a crowbar to your knee.” Basically, she’s Tonya Harding.

7:34 – I become bothered at how much the roller derby uniforms make the girls look like they are Legends of the Hidden Temple contestants. I then spend the next five minutes debating with myself whether the shrine of the silver monkey was really that hard or if the kids on Legends were really that dumb.

7:39 – I decide that the kids were really that dumb.

7:41 – It’s halftime and the Copper Queens are blowing the Iron Curtain out of the water. It’s becoming evident to me that Luc3f3r has no help on her squad whatsoever. She’s like the Barry Sanders of roller derby. She’s like the Dwyane Wade of roller derby. She’s like the Pamela Anderson on the show VIP of roller derby. You get the idea.

7:45 – The announcers tell the audience to make their way to the east side of the “arena” because a band was playing the halftime show. The band that was playing was “Psychostar”, a four woman rock band made up of women old enough to be my mom. Anything I write cannot possibly capture the essence of “Psychostar”, so I’ll just link you to their MySpace. I recommend checking out “Hell to Pay”, but I’m only one man with one opinion.

7:49 – A man wearing a Stone Cold Steve Austin t-shirt with a beard down to his chest is dancing with a woman in a Harley leather jacket and an eye patch. I check to make sure neither are my relatives then proceed to point them out to Keller.

7:55 – A group of women raising breast cancer awareness give a speech about donating money and try to persuade the audience to donate by throwing t-shirts into the crowd. Because I “play” on a basketball team and rarely get a chance to participate in t-shirt tosses, I get pumped. I catch two shirts and I donate zero dollars. I had no cash, remember? Don’t judge me.

8:01 – The second half starts. Iron Curtain starts mounting a comeback pretty much solely because of the play of Luc3f3r. At this point, I’m taking the match as seriously as the diehard fan(s). Also, I’m beginning to develop a mild crush on Luc3f3r. By the way, Luc3f3r appears to be anywhere between 15 and 16 years old. Again, don’t judge me.

8:14 – A pileup occurs on the track and somehow Luc3f3r manages to jump over everyone. On skates. I stand up and scream a much less effeminate version of “You go girl!” Keller gives me the “you know that she’s younger than your sister, don’t you?” look. I give him the “I really don’t care because she can skate better than I can walk” look.

8:23 – The bout has come down to the final jam and it’s closer than it probably should be because Luc3f3r simply doesn’t like to lose. I make up my mind that I’m getting her autograph on the autograph page in the program after the bout (The program also had a word search, but I only do word searches on Waffle House kids menus). I then question what steps in my life led to me being blown away by a high school girl on skates. This is the first time it’s happened since Julie “The Cat” Gaffney made me want to play hockey in 1994.

8:25 – The bout is over and Iron Curtain came up a little short. I am genuinely disappointed, so much so that I do the “too slow!” high five pullback to the Copper Queens when I acted like I was going to congratulate them on their victory. I then find Luc3f3r and ask for an autograph. She tells me that she’s got to go to her team meeting in the locker room and she’d be back in a minute. My anxiety builds.

8:26 – Keller points out that Iron Curtain t-shirts are for sale on the west end of the “arena.” I borrow money from him, buy one, and immediately put it on over my pink and black checkerboard cutoff. My general interest in roller derby suddenly became a fanatical interest. Also, Keller informs me that he has a camera, meaning a picture of Luc3f3r and me is a possibility. It just keeps getting better.

8:29 – Luc3f3r comes out of the locker room. I grab the towel from around my neck (I refuse to acknowledge our game with Siena is over) and wipe my sweaty palms a la Kyle Madsen. I approach Luc3f3r and immediately ask her how old she is. She says 18. I let out a huge sigh of relief.

8:30 – I continue my conversation with Iron Curtain’s MVP. At this point, it’s so awkward I feel like I’m watching a Quizno’s commercial. I tell her that she should demand a trade cause her team sucks and she’s clearly a prodigy. She doesn’t laugh, mostly because it wasn’t meant to be a joke. She can tell I’m a true fan and agrees to take a picture with me.

100_1689 No word on whether or not Luc3f3r sold her soul to the devil for fantastic roller derby skills

At this point, my night was complete and it wasn’t even 9 yet. I went into the roller derby expecting to laugh about it for five minutes and then be bored out of my mind. Instead I developed loyalties to a team that is almost as strong as my loyalties to the Cubs. I also developed a crush on a chick that I thought could land me jail time, but fortunately didn’t. If anybody in the Trillion Man March ever gets a chance to go to a roller derby, either go or stop reading this blog.

As you can see, I definitely made proper use of my time off. Spring break gave me a chance to clear my mind and get ready for the rigorous offseason workouts consisting of playing frisbee on the Oval and “accidentally” throwing it in the direction of that group of sunbathing coeds. We start working out next week, which means I start seeing The Villain on a daily basis again. It also means I get to play music in the weight room that nobody but myself wants to hear. Should make for a solid off-season.

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Many of you have been following the blog for quite some time and have undoubtedly noticed Gusalina in the comment section, begging for me to autograph and send him some cards. I had no idea what he was even talking about until about a couple of weeks ago when I was given an envelope with cards in them by one of our managers. I wanted the Trillion Man March to know that I finally did sign Gusalina’s cards and I had a few pictures taken of me doing so as further proof. Enjoy your cards Gus and please stop leaving comments on the blog begging for me to sign them.

gusalinavert

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Since Streak for the Cash just started a new round of streaking, pretty much everyone in America, including myself, has a streak of 1 going (assuming you all picked Spain over Turkey in soccer, which is a no-brainer decision). Therefore, there will be no Streak shout-outs on this entry. I will resume them next entry, so get to streaking. For those of you who aren't in the group, but would like to join, go here.

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I’m bypassing fan submissions for the awesome YouTube video to show a video that captures yours truly basically making a fool of myself. Keller is friends with members of the diving team at U of A and as such we were granted access to the pool a couple days ago. (Quick aside: I’m terrified of heights, so much so that I get scared to climb ladders, even if it is because I’m cutting down the net after winning the Big Ten championship.) This video was taken when I was persuaded to jump off the 10 meter platform at the pool. Please forgive my Speedo and complete lack of any discernable masculine feature whatsoever. And for the record, I’m not showing this video because I find it entertaining, I’m showing it because it is a monumental accomplishment for me that I want to share with the world.




I'm still in pain.

Your Friend and My Favorite,

Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder