Last Girl Standing This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Five … Do I really want to do this? Four … Breathe, Casey, just breathe. Three … Remember what you’ve been taught. Two … Am I crazy? One … Throw it in reverse and pray for ­survival!

My countdown initiated the impact of that first collision, one I will never forget. The only sound I could hear over the screaming crowd and roaring engines was the crunch of my ’92 Caddy Eldorado’s trunk into my competitor’s car. This glorious noise was what I had been waiting to hear ever since watching my father’s first demolition derby 11 years ago, and now, I was following in his footsteps.

To some, putting a 17-year-old in a beat-up car with the sole purpose of destroying other cars is insanity. But having a 17-year-old girl in this position is another shock altogether. This was all too evident when I pulled up next to my rugged competitors last August to participate in my first demolition derby. I was scared, not only because of the dangerous stunt I was about to perform, but also because of the barrier I was breaking. I was the only teenage girl participating in the event.

During my life, I have seen strong women challenge the limits society has set for them. As I have developed, this challenging nature has been integrated into my personality. I set extremely high standards for myself in everything I do, whether it is sports, theater, education, or student government. I know I can do more with my life than is traditionally expected of me, and this derby was one way to push the envelope. The fear that consumed me those first five seconds was just another challenge to overcome.

When I was in this chaotic arena of flying metal, proving myself evaporated from my thoughts. Here it did not matter if I was 17, a girl, or even a rookie. I was just a competitor, and I wanted to win. My 16-year-old metal baby survived long enough to earn me third place out of 15. It is difficult to explain the
rush of adrenaline I felt during the combat, but I
will ­never forget the feeling when the other drivers ­approached to shake my hand, not because of who I was but because of my skills in the pit. Although I did not win the cash prize, I won something I truly wanted: respect.

It is easy to compare college to a demolition derby. In the pit, there is no place to escape the challenges of collisions, just as there is no other place to further academically challenge myself but college. For some people, their engine could blow on the first hit, leaving no choice but failure. Others, however, manage to survive until the end through any wreck or rupture.

I’m sure I will not come out of the arena of academia unscathed. But I do know, as I begin my countdown to college, that through my confidence and strength as a young woman, I will wear my dents and scrapes with pride, always ready for the next competition, the next learning experience, and the next opportunity in life.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

LaLaLindsy said...
Mar. 9, 2009 at 1:10 am
i totally agree with what you are saying and i believe everything you said was true. that must be amazing...
 
Lisa M said...
Nov. 6, 2008 at 7:48 pm
Great Job Casey - You are an inspiration to many and I am so proud of what you have, and will, accomplish.
 
Cath said...
Nov. 5, 2008 at 3:31 pm
Casey, awesome job! Well written and enjoyable!
 
kg671355 said...
Nov. 5, 2008 at 1:38 pm
Casey L.'s article "Last Girl Standing",was incredible!!! What a talented writer...
 
toni c. said...
Nov. 4, 2008 at 7:56 pm
Good Job CASEY!!!
 
Kathy said...
Nov. 4, 2008 at 7:42 pm
Wow and double wow! Casey - This is a very impressive article. You write so well that I can almost feel like I was in your shoes (glad I wasn't though!!) I am so impressed!!!!!!!! You go girl!
 
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