Dread isn't skating this year.
When Dread decided to try out for the sport, it wasn't like the current regimes in the competitive markets. One didn't go through a round of cuts or need references from other leagues, your mom, or DNA tests. She inquired about joining, was told about the Fresh Meat clinics, and went for it. She broke her tailbone early on. Unlike a lot of other skaters in her year, this didn't' come naturally, but she stuck with it. She persevered through a season of not being teamed. Her organizational skills and positive spirit won her a spot on the Executive Board. Dread was, and is, a force for good.
When she was teamed, she got on the Nutcrackers. It was the one team, out of all of them that she wanted to be on. And it was the best fit I've seen for her since, well, me. That year, she was a terror on the track. The Wall of Ass, her and Xena Paradox, was an unstoppable force. Her speed and power seemed to come out of nowhere. It was as though all she had needed to excel and become a good player was just to be on the team and be given a chance to be on the track. She is modest. She won't tell you that she's anything special. That year, and in the two after, she was all that and more. And I would hear that from other people.
Simply put: Dread became an athlete even though she hated most of that jock bullshit and she was able to pull out the stops when it was necessary. She didn't lose her love for her teammates. She held herself to a high standard. And she didn't waver from her stances.
What derby gave to Dread over the years was more than injuries and suffering. In this matriarchal, often dysfunctional society, she was a voice of reason. My home league, NHRD, loved Dread. She would share everything she learned at her practices with the founders of Skate Free or Die in a parking lot in Nashua. She cared about people. When time, drama, and stress became too heavy, I worried for her.
In 2011, I worried a lot. There was a lot I was unhappy about, some of it was how she was treated, some of it was how she treated herself. If you're a derby widow, you know that you're going to hear a lot more about what happens on a league or team than an average person. You are confidant, husband, and friend. I knew how she felt, knew when to keep my mouth shut when it came to giving advice, and did my own thing. That's the thing about Dread, she loves the fact I am not attached to her like a remora. When I started announcing, it was for another league. But I still felt obligated to do other jobs in hers, as it was helping the most important person in the world to me, my wife.
Reading her post, I get choked up. This season, she is not skating. She is not actively involved. I still am, though in a wholly different capacity. We're going to see where this goes.