New Recruits and Headshots.

Image

Headshots came in today, so here is a photo of yours truly.
“I want to look regal, but also like I could kill somebody.”
Mission accomplished? I think so.

In other news, yesterday I went to the recruitment meeting. There was a good number of women who showed up, and one in particular who stood out to me. She’s already purchased all her gear, looked up videos of the team and our bouts, and is so into it. It’s really inspiring to know that there’s going to be some new enthusiastic folks coming into the team.

I didn’t interact much with any of the women who came, but one of my captains said something to be that struck a big chord: “Isn’t it weird to think that only a few months ago, that was you?”
Holy fuck. Yeah, it is weird. I remember sitting in those cold metal chairs, watching the skaters do their thing, and thinking, “How can they DO that?” Now I can do that. I am on the other side. I’ve gone from being distant admirer to fully immersed. And that realization got my heart racing.

It got me thinking – if I can learn to skate, carry my body on wheels, hit, block, and jam in a matter of a few months, what else can I do in that time frame?
This is why derby is bigger then derby. Derby teaches things that school never could.

(Photo credit: Michael Di Giglio, 2014)

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Welcome to Hell, preacher.

Today sucked.
Practice sucked.
Everything was dredged from the gutter and thrown in my lap.
I’m writing while still upset, so I’m willing to bet I’ll look back on this post and laugh at myself. But right now, I’m pissed.

Practice was a shit-show for a lot of reasons. Not in terms of the A and B teams, who are preparing for bouts and doing a damn fine job of it. No, for the first time ever, I spent all practice feeling an indescribable animosity toward my fellow freshmeat skaters. And I noticed I wasn’t the only one – there seemed to be some unspoken tension developing between us all. I didn’t like it, and mostly it made me fucking angry.

I don’t like going to practice and having to work with other skaters who are only half in it. I understand not having a skill down or having an off day. But it’s the same offenders every time, who aren’t paying attention or trying as hard as I KNOW they can (because I’ve seen it.)
But I’m not going to dive deeper into personal frustrations, as it goes against my own code.

However, I will say that despite my efforts to not let it get to me, it got to me. Mental questions of the night, “How am I supposed to work with my blockers as a jammer if they can’t even work together?” “Why are we not reforming the pack IMMEDIATELY after the jammers get through?” “Why the fuck is she over there?” “Why is she complaining?” “Why are only me and one other player jamming?”

I usually don’t get frustrated to the point of wanting to lash out, but I came close a lot tonight. To our coach and our refs even, who (thank god) read my mood really well and were firm but reassuring throughout the night. I have to give my thanks to my favorite ref tonight, because he really pulled me back from losing my shit when I cut the track like a fucking fool. Thanks dude.

Toward the end of practice, I was jamming, got through the pack with stealth and efficiency, flying fast and feeling good, and had to end it as soon as I got through because I lost a toe-stop. Which, sure, was mildly annoying, no big deal. Except the threading of the screw is completely destroyed to the point where I can’t even get it back into the skate. I bought the fucking things less then 3 weeks ago.

Throw into the mix all the personal bullshit I’m dealing with, and my head is a boiling, bitter stew. Usually derby is my escape from the ‘real world’ stresses. But tonight, it contributed. And I feel like shit.

To end on a positive note, I’m going to the recruitment meeting on Saturday, which means meeting new potential skaters and informing folks about the game. And getting to talk about derby all I want for a while. It should be a relief.

Going Mental (Its All In Your Head)

Today’s practice was a really good one. As soon as I got on my 8 wheels, I felt invigorated, stable, and ready to go. I zipped around the track for warm-up, and it felt like home.
During drills, I fell significantly less then usual, jammed hard, blocked harder, and used my voice. Communication is key here. And if that means screaming, “PACK IT UP, DON’T BE PREDICTABLE, ON THE INSIDE, GET HER,” then by God I will scream.
Also I’m patting myself on the back for one particularly glorious jam in which I swept through the pack with ease (thanks to my blockers) and called it off at the prime moment. Sounds simple, but for me it was an important first.

However, today’s biggest highlight was a Tender Meat skater coming up to me and giving me some tips on my skating and how I can get faster:

  • EXTEND those legs.
  • PUSH HARD at the end of the extension.
  • THROW your weight into it.
  • STAY LOW.

So she went around the track with me a number of times to show me and make sure I was getting it. I was surprised because she said that she watches me skate a lot and that I’m stable enough to extend more, to which I was like woah. I feel stability is one of my weak points, and I have for a while. But she was basically like, “Nah, you’re stable, and once you extend and really push you’ll actually be more stable.” Which makes sense, because something with two feet is more solid then a pillar on wheels.

What I realized through this conversation and lesson is that so much of what holds us back is completely mental. Yeah, I can skate around the track 600 times and not get any better or faster if I tell myself that I’m going to fall the entire time. What I should be saying is not, “With speed comes loss of stability,” but rather, “How can I gain speed and stay solid?” Getting stuck in a way of thinking results in getting stuck in bad habits.

With that, I expect to be making my 25 in 5 soon.

The Little Toenail That Couldn’t

Tonight held a mighty intensity that I was completely unprepared for.
And so was my toe, but more on that later.

So, SCRIMMAGE NIGHT. Which I didn’t participate in since I’m still FM, but when your league is full of that much rigor, its a contagious virus floating around the practice space. And even we freshies, who after a short time of drills were sent off to the side to do our own work, were focusing on positioning, using a partner, hitting, finding holes, and making holes. Which was all great because often when we practice with the rostered skaters, we don’t get the opportunity to discuss a move beforehand, and then work on executing it. Everyone was into it. Everyone was hitting hard as hell. Everyone was busting ass, and I swelled with pride.

We watched the second half of the scrimmage. I tried taking in as much as I could – noting footwork, effective blocking, when to call off a jam, jumping the motherfucking apex. It’s an overwhelming amount of information to absorb, but my understanding of things is improving. Now its a matter of integrating it into my own skating.

After the scrimmage was over, we fresh folk took the track to work on drills, and this is where the tragedy of my toe took place. A while ago, I dubbed my right big toe my ‘Derby Toe,’ because its become a black bruise. Being as I am, I brushed it off, whatever whatever. But tonight while jamming, I fell, someone’s skate hit mine, and there was such an intense shooting pain in my foot that I had to call it off. It was later revealed, after peeling off a smelly sock, that my toenail might be moving out. It’s falling off. I don’t really know what to do about it at this point, but for now, love and care and Bactine.

Anyway, last note of the evening is that I could have moved up to Tender Meat tonight. However, since that is not what this post has been about, you may have guessed that I didn’t. I only skated 22 out of 25 in 5 minutes – which isn’t bad, but it also isn’t good. New wheels and harder hustle needed as soon as possible.

Derby dyke out. Skate safe, folks.

“You’ve got to put your butt right in her vagina!”

Let me start out by saying how much I love the women I skate with.
Tough, aggressive, intelligent, motivated, hilarious, warm-hearted women who know how to knock each other down and pick each other up all at once. I’ve never felt so connected with so many great people.

Even in moments where I might grit my teeth at some attitude or the occasional snide remark, I always find myself congratulating that player later on a good hit or well executed jamming. It’s becoming obvious that there’s no room for grudges in derby. There’s too much going on, and to let yourself get caught up in some hurt feelings is a waste of time – not to mention helps absolutely nobody. Best thing you can do is take it like a hard hit. Brush yourself off, get back on your skates, and fucking get shit done.
(If you’re truly hurt by somebody, talk to them about it later like an adult. Don’t bog down the energy of practice time with a shit attitude.)

I love this league.
We can go from laughing about fart jokes to pushing each other to get better (literally and figuratively.) I’ve noticed that we’re always looking to help each other out. I think sometimes that the world at large can seem very selfish and cold. To be in an environment where it is okay to ask for help and know that there’s folks who have your back is a completely new experience. This kind of kinship is rare.

So just some league appreciation for today. Feeling the derby love strong.
Once you put your butt in someone’s vagina, your bound for good.

Skate Through The Blues

Practice Thursday night. One of those practices where it all starts off wrong:
Woke up 5 minutes before having to leave, got there late, realized I forgot shorts and had to borrow from a teammate, missed part of warm-up, fell and had one of my wheels slam into my goddamn cunt less then 10 minutes in.

Anyway. I was in a piss-poor mood.

But what I’m beginning to find is that even when I get on the track with a scowl and a bitter disposition, it doesn’t stick around for long. I start off bristling at criticism and mentally beating myself up for mistakes. But once I get steadier on my wheels, start pushing through blockers during drills, and realizing that my teammates are doing their absolute best to make me a better derby kid, it subsides. I get into the action and nothing else matters.

Our coach said something before drills that made so much sense it almost pissed me off that I didn’t realize it sooner:
“I like seeing you guys fall, because that means you’re upping the intensity. It means you’re trying for something you haven’t tried before.”

And let me just say that I fall a lot, so this was a big, uplifting slap in the face. A good reminder to keep in the ol’ mental arsenal.

In conclusion: We all have days where nothing goes right and sometimes going to practice feels shitty, but it’s important to remember that we play this game and live this life for a reason (whatever your reason may be.) Sometimes all you can do is skate through the blues.

Skate Hard, Hit Harder: An Introduction

I know why you’re here.
And I know why I’m here.
And chances are, you’re either skating alongside me in spirit somewhere out in the derby ether, or you’re drooling over skates and footage and gear, eagerly waiting for your first practice, or you’re curious to know more about the sport on wheels. Well, I open my arms to you, whoever you are, because we’re all in this together.

But let me bust out my honesty here by saying that I started skating in October 2013. I haven’t been doing this long at all. Still Fresh Meat, still can’t take a hit without falling on my ass, still can’t do backward crossovers, still confused on a lot of rules and gameplay. So I’m no expert, folks. I’m just a dyke on wheels who is coming to the realization that derby is changing my life and I have to talk about it.

So here we are, ya’ll. This is my space to tell you my experiences, thoughts, and knowledge about the greatest game ever played. And I hope, in exchange, to hear the experiences, thoughts, and knowledge of anyone else who has found themselves falling in love with roller derby. 

We can only go forward from here. Or fall on our asses. Either way, we’re getting somewhere.