All last week I kept hearing promo’s about the NHL All-Star Weekend in Nashville on my favorite SiriusXM station The Highway. I enjoy hockey, its fast paced violence appeals to me on many levels and, I know a lot of guys who love hockey, so I have been on the fringes of it for several years. I even enjoy going to games a couple times a year when the opportunity arises. (Go Grizzlies!)
Throughout the weekend I had heard blips and seen various tweets about a certain enforcer named John Scott. But it wasn’t until yesterday morning, on my long, snowy drive to work, that I actually heard the whole crazy story of how he got to the NHL All-Star Game and what he was put through because he won the fan vote.
I gotta say, it was only after reading several articles about this guy and then finally reading his blog A Guy Like Me did I realize just how much I could identify with him. Yes, I could identify with a 6’8″ tall, 275 lb giant of a man that plays professional hockey. And I became an instant fan!
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have heard the words ‘too big, too slow’ in regards to my fighting. When I fight with the men, its not too much of an issue, but when I fight the women, its right there, in my face, constantly. I’m a mere 5’9″ and 204 pounds, not a giant in comparison to John, but when you line me up with most female fighters in medieval armored combat, I feel like one.
Most women I fight are half my age (I am 49), several inches shorter and most weigh between 125 – 170. In this sport, I’m the tank, the brawler, a type of ‘enforcer’. I am built to suck up damage and I am able to give it. I’m not expected to run as fast as a flanker and while I do have to be able to pick up the guard’s duties when needed, my real job is to get my ass on the fence and NOT go down. But if I do, I damn well better be taking 1-2 people with me.
I was never a fighter when I was younger. I never had to be. I was always the biggest girl in class and while I occasionally had to ‘throw my weight around’ as it were, I was mostly left alone. Because most people didn’t want to be the one who was wrong about the fat girl, and pick a fight with me just to get their ass kicked. Not that I really could have, but I talked a good game =)
When I started fighting 20 years ago in the SCA, I was a movable wall. I really just had to stand there and block. I was good with a shield and I could stand my ground. You had to go around me, because you were never getting thru me. I was slow, I was big and I was hard to get past. That was my strength. Make me run, and I was fucked, but why make a wall run.
So I got by, with bulk. Once I lost 250 pounds, things changed. I suddenly bounced off shield walls, people could force their way through me and I couldn’t block a wall advance with just a solid stance. I had to change the way I thought about my body and about the way I fought.
When I started fighting steel my entire world changed, not only in how I fought but how I looked at the world, and how the world looked at me. I was suddenly a poster-child for fat girls everywhere who wanted to lose weight, who wanted to fight and who wanted to be Xena Warrior Princess. I was fine with it, and I was happy to share my story, but it wasn’t what truly defined me, even though that’s what everyone started out focusing on.
Somewhere along the line, things changed. I wasn’t JUST the fat girl who lost 250 pounds and picked up a sword. More and more, the story became about me as a woman, who fights and the weight loss was just a component of my story. I no longer felt like I was only here because I had bariatric surgery, was able to keep most of my weight off 9 years later and liked violence.
Nope, I am here because I am a fighter. An athlete. I’ve won a gold medal. I’ve lost the bronze medal fight. I’ve competed as one of the first women fighters ever allowed in this sport. Currently I am one of the oldest women fighters out there. I am here. I hurt every day, but I love representing the United States of America and until my last dying breath I will be proud of what I have done. Because I earned it. Every step of the way, with hard work. I will never be the BEST fighter out there, that’s for someone much younger and skinnier than I, but I will be damned before I quit trying to earn my spot. That opportunity to smile for a crowd, to be a Knight for every person, young or old, that ever wanted to wield a sword and know that I have worked my ass off to get where I am.
So while I may not be much like NHL All-Star John Scott, I can definitely understand his journey and I applaud the way he handled himself this weekend. He seems like a great guy, a true team player and one hell of a good Dad. He was the Captain of the Pacific Division (winners), he ended up winning the MVP at the All-Star Game, the first write in winner ever, and even THAT was a crazy story. He made me a much bigger hockey fan and no matter where he ends up being traded next, I will be there watching and cheering for him!
Thanks John Scott for being too big and too slow and still being an All-Star.