The California sun glints off steel as onlookers wait for a fight to start. The audience is busy fanning themselves and pulling sticky, cotton shirts away from sticky skin. The fight is 3 vs. 3, and the clanging of armor echos through the parking lot.
A few of the meathead-y onlookers laugh, but most cheer as the teams come together. It is all noise and arms melting together on the hot asphalt.
“You’re drooling.” Nathan, a coach and good friend, nudges me. I nod my head, but don’t take my eyes off the fight.
“I know that look.” Todd says with feigned exasperation. Nathan laughs, the sound barely carrying over the din of shouts from the now scattered fighters. Two tall, hulking knights are left standing. Not for long. One swings an axe towards the head of his opponent, giving just enough time to push him up against the railing.
The crowd shouts a collective, sympathetic “oooohhh!” as the knights fall to the ground.
“I’m going to do this,” I say, as the knights begin helping one another up. They exit the field and another group of fighters take their place.
“No.” Todd responds, halfheartedly.
“I’m going to do this.” My limbs feel jittery, like they do before a competition. My body always knows my next move before my brain fully comprehends.
“Just don’t get killed.” My husband’s acceptance of my crazy hobbies makes me smile. He points towards a knight who has come around to answer the crowd’s questions.
“Go! Talk to him!” Nathan nudges me again.
“Are there any women who fight?” I yell to the knight as he comes closer.
“Yes, we have a women’s team.” His hair is matted and there’s a mixture a sweat and dirt (or was it blood?), streaking his skin.
Nathan is jabbing me in the ribs. Hard.
“There’s your girl.” I follow his finger to a woman in gorgeous armor, pulling off her helmet.
“She’s Alanna!” I whisper. It’s as if all my favorite fantasy novels of knights and women warriors have come to life in Carson, California.
“Well, go on.” Nathan and Todd both give me a shove towards the lady knight.
“I can’t.” I shake my head, suddenly nervous.
“Hannah, it’s like I’m looking at your future self. You have to talk to her.” Nathan goes back to watching the fight.
Todd nods vigorously as they leave me to my excitement.
“Are there many women fighters?” I ask, feeling as though I should have said something smarter.
“No, there’s only a few of us. But we’re hoping interest grows. I’m the captain of the USA women’s team.” She’s tall, built, and has an air of confidence that would make anyone stand up and take notice. “We took home the gold in Spain.”
“Could someone my size fight?” Again, I felt stupid as my thoughts turned on me, You’ve never been needed on a team before.
“Of course! You’d make a great guard, you’re built low to the ground. Good center of gravity.”
I smile. Never before has my center of gravity been worth mentioning.
“If there’s only a few of you, how would I train?” If I couldn’t train with her, I wasn’t sure I wanted train with anyone. My nerdy heart knew this, and so did my higher power.
“When we travel for competitions.”
“Oh, okay.” My heart sank a little. Could I commit to this crazy, brutal sport with only the knowingness that I had to fight? Yes. “I’m based out of Salt Lake City.”
“What? Me too!” The knight laughs, “I’m Amy.”
To this day, I am convinced that those two little words, “me too” bring more joy and understanding than any other phrase. I’d love to tell you that the rest is history – wait, no I wouldn’t! Why am I telling you this? Because I get to show you my ups and downs as I make my way through an emerging sport. Whether or not getting hit with weapons is your idea of fun, I believe that life-learning can be communicated through a wide variety of activities. My goal has always been to demonstrate that there is always more than one avenue to living life to the fullest.