My journey to becoming a dame

Ivana FalkUup
Ivana FalkUup

My derby journey started in February 2013, I was invited to an open scrimmage and instantly became  “derby drunk.” I had to be a part of this right away, nothing was going to stop me! I was determined to be the fastest, hit the hardest, and live in derby history as one of the very best ever. Then I came to my first practice. While I had a pretty decent amount of skating skills under my belt from growing up at the skating rink, meaning I could stand upright, I was nothing compared to these girls. They were fast, steady, knew the rules, and they were a family. I was never going to be anywhere near these girls’ skill level and I let that attitude start to deflate my bubble.

By the end of March I was defeated, I couldn’t pass the skills, 25 in 5 minutes are you kidding me? There was no way, 22 laps was hard enough but 25, no way! Falling however, I had become a master at, well falling on my butt, and I am a mom of two they needed me at home right? So that was it, I took my skates off and was defeated. I stayed friends with most of the girls on the team through Facebook and they had a great season. While I was happy for them I was super jealous they were living and skating what I had wanted so badly. While I had given up my derby life I decided that I needed to get in shape so I started working out and getting healthier. I dropped 40 lbs and was feeling much better physically. Fast forward to the end of summer, CFDD was posting about their fresh meat clinic and I could feel that hunger come back. I needed to live my dream, but I had all the excuses. Kids, time, pain, you name it I had a excuse and the attitude to match. It only took one conversation with a dame and I knew it was my time. I was ready! I may not be the best but darnit was going to give it my best try.

My first practice back had to have been the most nervous I had ever been on skates, at the time, naturally the team welcomed me with open arms. Oh great, WFTDA changed the minimum skills to 27 laps in 5 minutes,

wonderful. 22 was my best last time, how on earth am I going to get 27? This was the beginning of the fresh meat class, building skills. I can do this. It didn’t happen overnight, it wasn’t easy, but I slowly started getting better. I was knocking skills out without injuries, first run with 27 in 5 I got 26 ¼! I had improved 4 ¼ laps. I was so close, I knew this was my time. I would become a dame, I knew it. After trying several times I finally passed my 27 in 5 . Two weeks later I graduated from fresh meat and officially was a dame.  I got to pick my name and a number, but more importantly I got a CFDD official jersey. I had wanted that for so long and finally it was reality. I had put myself in the mental state that I will never make it, to finally making it. Cloud 9? Just a little.

Shortly after I graduated from fresh meat I was able to play in my first scrimmage. Scared was not the right word to express how I was feeling. Nervous, nauseous, scared, but mostly excited this was going to be so much fun, as long as I didn’t get killed out there. It was a black and white scrimmage, our team split up with other people I had never met. I didn’t know a thing about those other girls but WOW I had so much fun! This was exactly what I had always wanted. Shortly after our scrimmage we had our first home bout, I initially was rostered as alternate. Which was so exciting for me, I did it. I had overcome my personal mental and physical roadblocks and made the alternate list. I wasn’t going to skate but I made the list. My name, Ivana FalkUup, was on the list. Then it happened, one of the rostered skaters went on the injured list. I was prepared for the bout, not skating was ok, I had made the list that was enough. Then Sonic told me, “Ivana, you have been bumped up to rostered skater.” I swear while she was telling me this my thoughts were, “don’t pass out, don’t pass out.” I kept repeating this over and over. I couldn’t believe it, I was going to skate, not in a scrimmage but in a real WFTDA bout. How did this happen?

The day of the bout was awesome. I had my brand new jersey on with the CFDD logo, my WFTDA patch was sewn on, and my name was on the back of my jersey. I was ready, nervous but ready. In such a short time I had passed my skills and made it to being an official dame. Now I was about to skate with my team and take the victory. My palms were a hot sweaty mess, my heart rate never went under 150, but this was it. I went out twice during the bout, first jam I hit the opposing jammer and got her good, I was really proud of myself and I didn’t fall. Second jam wasn’t as pretty, but I still didn’t die. Cornfed took the win! I may not have been out in a lot of jams but I made it to the bench and that was enough for me.

Every practice is a new opportunity for me to learn something new. Every practice is another chance to prove to myself how far I have come. Every practice is my time to shine. I may never be the fastest, or the hardest hitter but what I have become is a Dame and that is better than a quitter.

Ivana FalkUup


Amanda Falkenstein

Ivana with Betty Fhite during her first bout with the Cornfed Derby Dames.
Ivana with Betty Fhite during her first bout with the Cornfed Derby Dames.
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