New Recruits

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Category: Derby Life

Does No One Here Care About the Rules?!

Does No One Here Care About the Rules?!

Another spring; another rule set.  What’s a girl to do?  Alas, it’s the sport we play.  The rules seem to change like the weather in March, and if you want to enjoy the sport you love and not spend the entire time in the box, then you have to hit the books! Luckily, I’ve become somewhat familiar with the new rules using my large brain and will gladly give you a run-down of how these new rules affect you.  So come, join me, we’ll walk through the glorious meadow of new rules together.

Now I have to hand it to WFTDA, this new rule set ain’t half bad. Some really great changes have been made that really tickle my fancy. First: 30 SECOND GORRAM PENALTIES. 30 seconds! Bask in the delight, people, Christmas just came early.

The Good: Power jams won’t be so brutal. With only 30-35 seconds to score points, a jammer will only be able to make around 3-4 passes if they slice through the pack like buttah, which will only result in around 15-20 points; maybe even less than that depending on how great your wall is. This is a game changer. It will definitely make bouts a little more evenly keeled and better represent the distinguishing qualities between teams.

The Bad: When 30 second penalties were announced, there were praises of joy throughout the land! People danced in the streets! Maidens were kissed by strangers! As great as it is to spend less time in the box, skaters failed to realize right away that they’ll fail out way faster, and if your jammer isn’t disciplined, she can fail out before the first half ends (and then you’re out one of your jammers for the entire second half). This means that your team has to be incredibly disciplined and play clean. I think it’s even more important to stay out of the box now than it ever was before, and whoever can stay out of the box will take home the win.

Synopsis: You guessed it! It’s the same as it’s always been. Stay out of the box.

Yielding: Thank GOODNESS this rule got changed. This was by far the most asinine rule of all time. Having to go back a full lap for having a sliver of a wheel behind the line was lame, and frankly a bit dangerous. Now a player can yield (give enough time for the opposing team to gain position) and then re-enter the engagement zone.

The Good: It makes more sense. Being able to yield instead of going back behind the entire pack while staying in bounds is a lot safer. The old rule set caused a lot of necessary run-ins and collisions.

The Bad: Sometimes an opposing skater isn’t paying attention to how close she is to the line, and you can draw that penalty.  Now, you can’t. She’ll just have to wait a few seconds and rejoin the pack.

Synopsis: I like this rule!

Cutting the Track: How many times have you tried to go back to prevent a cut and one little sliver of wheel has thwarted you?! No longer! We are free from the chains of cutting when our true intention was to yield! Well, not totally, you still have to make sure that both wheels don’t go back on the track, but this rule is the best rule ever (in my opinion).

The Good: The reason why I like this rule change is because it tried to take into account intent. I intended to yield, and because my intentions were pure, I don’t get punished for making a stupid mistake. Now, this rule doesn’t actually measure intent per se, but it does give you a break when you’re obviously just trying to get to the back of the pack and you’re skates just aren’t agreeing with you.

The Bad: It’s going to be a little harder to draw that track cut penalty now, which can really help a team out. With that, if you manage to draw the track cut penalty, it’s a 30 second power jam. Going along with what I said earlier, this will mean less power jams in general and more evenly scored bouts when teams are mostly of the same caliber. Essentially, there will be less bouts where the team has a “bad day” and the score is a blow-out. It’s also a lot harder for refs to watch for this, so mistakes will be made, and it might get a little heated because of it.

Synopsis: Hey, don’t cut still.

Well that’s all I’m going over today, folks.  I know not all of the rules were addressed, but make sure to read them over yourself at here. Knowledge is power! And knowing the rules will give you an upper hand in any bout. See you on the track!

Cheers,

The Original Skankster

Non Skating Officials – Heart and Soul in Roller Derby

Non Skating Officials – Heart and Soul in Roller Derby

For many years I had been interested in roller derby, despite having never attended a bout. It wasn’t until I met two co-workers, Unchained Malady and Mollytov Maguire, who spoke so enthusiastically about their league, FoCo Girls Gone Derby that I finally decided to go to their 2013 Season Opener home team bout. I was sold.

After attending a New Recruit Informational Meeting shortly thereafter my derby dreams began to blossom. I was GOING to be a skater and I was GOING to skate in my first bout before the end of the year. I admired and idolized other skaters in my league, listened to their advice and pushed myself to become a better athlete. However, my body had other plans…

Towards the end of my 5th practice as a new recruit I sustained a patellar dislocation to my knee, a common injury amongst female athletes and the 9th I had experienced the same injury. Discouraged, I began the long road back to skating. For those considering skating themselves, I have since found training tips and gear to help prevent knee injuries like this.

Once seeded the love of derby can only continue to grow. Before I even began skating as a new recruit, I was invited by the league to attend scrimmages and learn the rules of Women’s Flat Track Derby as an NSO (thanks to my derby wife, ZZ Stardust.) Team Flamingo (nickname inspired by the pink official’s shirts) became my home as I worked to get back on skates.

For the Non-Derby readers, NSO stands for Non-Skating Official. NSO’s are volunteers, sometimes injured skaters like me, who LOVE the game of roller derby and want to be involved. We do a variety of jobs during a bout, including penalty tracking, inside/outside whiteboard, scorekeeper, lineup tracker, penalty box timing, Jam timer, and collecting/submitting bout stats as Head NSO.

It may not sound as glorious as being a skater, but it’s also a lot less work. It can also make for an awkward vibe when players with your league try to talk to you in the penalty box and you have to ignore them. Or maintaining neutrality by not cheering for your friends or gasping at a hard hit. Oh, also there is 100% less dancing…

But for a Bout to be a Bout, we NEED NSOs. Imagine the chaos were there no one to keep score and determine the victor? Or make sure that players serve their penalties for unsafe play? Or keep time to determine the end of a jam? Collectively, NSOs make roller derby happen!

Luckily for me, if there ever was a perfect league to learn NSOing positions, FoCo Girls Gone Derby is the place. FCGGD boasts four dedicated WFTDA Level 2 Certified NSOs: Bladeybug, JewJew Bee, Shake n Break &Whistle Blower (also a skating official.) All of which are happy to teach, share WFTDA knowledge and advice.

The more time I spent learning various NSO positions, saturating myself in numbers and statistics, the shape of my derby dreams shifted. The aspiration to join the Micro Bruisers travel A team was replaced with the desire to travel MORE by officiating tournaments, and someday gain the knowledge and experience to officiate a championship tournament. I’m already looking forward to NSOing at Slaughterhouse Derby GirlsMayday Mayhem tournament, and hope to go to Casper, Wyoming for the Wyoming Roller Derby Cup. These opportunities allow NSOs to develop their skills and meet officials and skater from all over the country.

Mind you, not every NSO gets certified or seeks to travel, just as bout after parties aren’t for everyone in the league. Many NSOs love the league and devote what time they can to volunteer wherever they’re needed. It’s an easy sport and community to love. Everyone’s experience with roller derby is different and there’s a spot for all.

This month I’ll be celebrating my one year derby anniversary. Looking back, it wasn’t the year I thought I’d have, but I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. I look forward to what the future holds, and should my knee hold up I plan to get back on skates for Team Zebra as a skating official. Yay, roller derby!

Derby Love,
Danger A-Gogo

P.S. Hello reader, thanks for stickin’ with me so far. Perhaps you’re interested in officiating yourself, either an NSO or skating referee? Well we’d LOVE to have you! Email us at official@focorollerderby.com

The Showdown

The Showdown

The first week in March is designated each year for the Wild West Showdown, a round-robin style tournament that features a ton of hungry leagues looking to rise in rankings, and “showdown” is the perfect word to describe it.  We all show up, angry that the TSA confiscated our skate tools, wet (because in Bremerton, WA apparently ‘sun’ is an abstract concept), and freaking out because someone forgot something essential like a WFTDA patch or their uniform.  Somehow, someway, we all manage to make it to a very large steel building that smells like hot dogs and derby pads and we get ready to bout like we’ve never bouted before.

Now the WWS has always been bittersweet for Foco; it giveth and it taketh away.  We always manage to win a sweet one, lose one that we totally should have won, and lose one by not as much as we were predicted to lose by which good for rankings but feels just yucky.  We started out our three-bout in three days schedule by watching Coach’s favorite movie of all time that he quotes on the daily, Remember The Titans (and then we were super grateful that coach doesn’t make us do up-downs in 90 degree weather).  Our first bout was against the Slaughterhouse Derby Girls, our local rival that we have a standing competitive score with.  Don’t ask me why we traveled 700 miles to play a team that lives 40 minutes away, but the Wild West Showdown gods had decided that this was where we would make our stand against Slaughterhouse.  It was neck and neck for a while, until a few power jams got the best of us, and by halftime we were 75 (Foco) and 109 (SDG).  We weren’t far behind, but we knew we had to take back the bout.  This was our win and we knew it.  We had been busting our little behinds for months; doing cross-training, running new strategy, and practicing worst-case scenarios so we could take home that sweet NoCo Trophy.  With hard work and some great strategy implementation we took that bout with 205 points with SDG at 161.  It felt awesome.  Both teams played with amazing talent, and heart, and SDG remains one of our most favorite teams to play. And because we won, coach had to wear Hammer Pants!

Our second bout was against Sicktown, a tough team that Flat Track Stats gave us an 11% chance of winning.  We knew we would have to fight hard, but we trusted in ourselves and in our teammates.  At half-time we were far behind.  They’re pack was very good at recycling to keep our jammers at bay, and they did a very good job at thwarting our offense.  The referees were trying their best, bur unfortunately their calls made no sense, and it’s really hard to fix penalties when you don’t understand why you’re getting them.  Coach brought us to a corner and gave us a pep-talk!  We talked about what we needed to change and how we needed to play in order to win.  In the second half, we really played some great derby.  Our packs were tight, our hits were well-timed and hard, and we were putting points up on the board.  We lost the bout, but only by 18 points.  It was a devastating loss because we felt like we should have won, and that we lost the the referees.  Sicktown was definitely a formidable opponent and hopefully we can get a rematch in the future.

Our last bout was with Port Scandalous, which we had a 1% chance of winning against.  Spoiler alert!  We didn’t win.  As a team, we felt like we played incredibly for the first 45 minutes of the bout, but we felt like we fell apart in the last 15 minutes.  At our team meeting afterwards the conversation turned from the bout we had just played to how we’ve grown as a team.  Last year we felt like a team of individuals and this year we feel more like an actual team that supports and encourages each other.  This meeting, after the loss, was actually my favorite part of the whole trip.  We realized how much we all appreciate each other.  We admitted secrets, insecurities, and had some great laughs.  Altogether, I would say that Wild West was a success, with the exception that half of us got the derby flu on the way home and now we’re all sick in bed.  Alas, the things we suffer through for this sport.

Cheers,

The Original Skankster

Right-Sizing your Derby Involvement

Right-Sizing your Derby Involvement

This week The Original Skankster and I sharing this little blog-o-sphere with a side-by-side piece about how we make derby fit our lives. I firmly believe that derby can be the right fit for everyone, and there are degrees to which you can be involved. From the intensity and glory of the Micro Bruisers to the recreational type fun on the Punchy Brewsters, you have to find what works for you. Deciding what your derby goals are, and being flexible with them is a really important step in figuring out your role in the league. Skank is speaking from the role of a Micro Bruiser. She has been on the traveling A team for as long as I have been in the league, so she knows a thing or two about about a thing or two, knowwhaddimsayin? I will be speaking from my own experience as a Punchy Brewster, member of the traveling B team. Our goal here is to help people who are coming up or  currently evaluating their own role to find the right fit for them and being satisfied with your decision.

Here is the lovely and indomitable, Original Skankster’s take on rollin’ with the A Team:

More opportunity – playing on the travel team means that you naturally get more opportunities to play derby.  By being on the WFTDA sanctioned team, tournaments, scrimmages, and bouts are more likely to open up to you.  Other teams are also more willing to travel to you in order to bout.  By having more opportunities with ladies that you don’t skate with day in and day out, you have the chance to become a much more experienced, more adaptive player which improves your game in the long run.  You get more playing time, more experience with other leagues, and the chance to meet new people.  Networking is huge in derby, not only for making friends but for solving league problems as well.  Have you ever run into another skater and asked their advice about an issue you were having?  I have!  And I’ve gotten some great guidance when struggling with a derby, or life issue.  When you’re able to sew new seeds of friendship, you or your league is more likely to be invited to a tournament or bout opportunity.  And it goes without saying, other leagues throw some great parties!

If it isn’t hurting, it’s ain’t helping.  The truth is, if you’re not being challenged at derby, you won’t get better, and playing against the tough skaters who are all vying for that same spot on the team won’t leave you coasting.  It’s harder to plateau if you’re learning from and being exposed to the players who know what they’re doing.  Also by traveling, you’re exposed to different skating styles and different strategy.  By observing and playing against these teams you’re able to come up with great ideas in order to counteract these strategies.  Being on the travel team is a constant challenge and I love being able to see myself improve.  It’s hard work, but it’s why I love it!

And what about hanging with my derby ladies?!  Road trips and traveling to bouts has always been a major highlight about derby.  Our B team definitely gets to travel, but there is more weight for travel with our A team because of WFTDA requirements and opportunities for WFTDA play.  With a weekend away from life, we get to pump some tunes, drop our guards, and have some fun!  I’ve made some of my most precious memories on derby trips- singing along to The Little Mermaid with Miz, rapping with Sug and Poppin’, petting puppies with Ktal and Spice, and dancing in the street with my entire team.  When I went to RollerCon, I was by myself, and I was pretty much adopted by derby friends I had made while skating with my travel team.  It really was like a big derby family, and being a part of something where people are warm and accepting was incredible.  Skating on the travel team definitely opens more doors for you, not only to network with other leagues but to strengthen the friendships you have with yours!

I love being on the travel team, but it’s a lot of time, and more importantly, it’s a lot of work.  When you’re a member of the top team, coasting isn’t something we can afford.  As a member of the travel team I need to be an example of dedication, good work ethic, positivity, and camaraderie.  At times it can be very stressful.  It’s also hard work to watch what I eat, lift weights and go running outside of practice, implement new strategy, and go 100% at practice at every practice.  Am I a perfect league member?  No.  Sometimes I take a day off, but nothing that came easy has ever really been worth it to me.  I want the challenge.  I want to see myself improve.  I want to look in the mirror and know that with every move I make I’m becoming more like Wonder Woman.  So, if that’s what you want from roller derby, the travel team is for you!!

I, Mollytov Maguire, prefer a different role in the league with the traveling B team. Here are my thoughts on that:

The traveling B team may not take us as far and wide as the A team, but I still get to travel. Going to neighboring states to play in bouts with other skaters does give me the opportunity to meet new people, but there isn’t the same amount of pressure on my to worry about our ranking. Being on an unranked team gives me more flexibility to be experimental, to really play. What I mean is that Punchies are purely for fun and that is the experience I am interested in. I am in the very serious derby business of having fun on the flat track.Yes, I work hard to be OK at derby, but I am there to hang out with my girlfriends, get some exercise, and not have to be at work. I firmly believe both teams are fun, both are creative, adaptable, and exciting, but I don’t want to lay awake at night thinking about how I *might have* single-handedly lost the bout for everyone on the track (because if you don’t know me by now, that’s TOTALLY what I’d do). No pressure, less time, so fun.

If it isn’t hurting, uh.. well, that’s good for me. I don’t like being sore everyday but it’s OK some days. I hate it when I am so sore from practice the night before that I regret getting a car with a manual transmission. I like working out knowing that I am building a healthier me. I do not work out so that I don’t let down my team, however. Sorry ladies, I can’t take on that kind of responsibility. My satisfaction lies in knowing that I gave 100% of what I had to give, and that’s enough for me. Maybe my 100% looks a little different than someone else’s, and that is what derby is about; being able to “right-size” that stuff.

I guess the main thing I love about being a Punchy is that I do get to coast. I feel like it’s the right derby/life balance to suit my goals. Sometimes I am more intense than others. Sometimes I am stoked to be there and sometimes I come just because of the attendance policy. I don’t want to be the next Bonnie Thunders. I mean, it would be TOTALLY FREAKING AWESOME, but that is not something I want to work that hard for. Seriously. I love derby, and I love the community, but I also love the life that I spent 30 years building before derby came into it and stole my heart. Like with any relationship I’ve ever been in, I’ve always told my significant other that I want to wantthem, but I will never be the girl that needs them. When I need derby or I feel like derby needs more of me than I want to give, it’s time to re-evaluate things.

Really, I think Skank and I are getting at the same thing; we both love derby and we both love our roles. We’ve each sat down and thought about what derby brings to our lives, how much time we’re able to put into our derby goals, and came up with the solution that fits our lifestyles the best. Also, I love that there is room in my league for someone like me and my slacker ass “17 pieces of flair” attitude, and someone like Skank who asks us all to be more and leads by fearless example with a spirit that is nothing short of admirable.

Derby Love,

The Original Skankster and Mollytov Maguire

Offical Review: Being Gay in Sports

Offical Review: Being Gay in Sports

The views expressed in this blog entry are the opinion and do not necessarily reflect or endorse the views of Foco Girls Gone Derby, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association or any other sports entity.

If you’ve If you’ve picked up a copy of the sports section lately, you might have accidentally confused it for the lifestyles or opinions section based on the large number of articles about “gays in sports.”  Just a few articles I have read in the last week include:Being Gay at the Sochi Olympics, Michael Sam Comes Out As Gay: Missouri Football Star Could be 1st Openly Gay Player, America is Ready For Openly Gay Athletes, Poll Shows and my personal favorite:How to Behave Around Your Gay Teammate in the Locker Room.

Before I delve into this topic (see disclaimer above), I should be transparent about why I am writing this piece. I am a gay man who officiates in the sport of women’s roller derby.  Does my role as an official make me an expert on LGBTQIA individuals involved in sports? Certainly not.  But as a gay man who is also a sports aficionado it feels completely appropriate to write about the recent buzz in both the LBGTQIA and sports communities.

As a young kid, I grew up with team sports.  I can remember at an early age being involved with the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO).  My mom would cart my brother and me, once a week to practice and to games on the weekends.  This was my first real exposure to team sports and although I can’t tell you our win/loss record for each season I participated in with AYSO, I do acknowledge that the experience allowed me to feel like a member of a team and also afforded me the opportunity to eat a lot of delicious orange slices after each game!

My second foray into organized sports was recreational volleyball, which, at the time, was largely considered “feminine” and I was one of the two boys on the team.   While I loved being on the team and played for three seasons, it was the first time I wondered if my teammates, coach, or spectators speculated about my sexuality.  You see, I knew I was gay very early in life and although I didn’t come out until I was fourteen, this was my first intersection with sports and my sexuality.  It was the first time I wondered if being gay meant I couldn’t play sports or be on a team.

It wasn’t until I went to high school, where all students were mandated to play team sports in lieu of physical education classes, when I actually panicked about being gay and on a sports team.  By that time in my life, I had come out to myself and my family, but wasn’t out to my friends or classmates.  Having attended a boarding school where you live, eat, and sleep with your classmates, it’s not an easy secret to keep and my “sparkling” personality didn’t really help either.

My first season of high school sports, I was invited to play on the varsity soccer team.  Apparently my youth soccer experiences paid off in the skill department.  Our first several games of the season were home games, which meant I didn’t have to travel to other schools, but more importantly, it meant I could go back to my dorm room after the game and shower in the privacy of my own room.  However, it was my first away game that I dreaded, for fear of having to shower with my other teammates before we boarded the bus back home.

Let me shed a little light here for a second; when I was in high school, I was more terrified of showering with my straight teammates than they likely ever were of showering with the presumed gay guy on the team (see sparkling personality reference above).  I had a lot of the same body image issues that lots of young people face when you’re going through puberty.  The only times that I ever looked at someone in the locker room was more for comparisons’ sake of  “Oh wow, my body doesn’t look like that, “ or “Am I supposed to have hair there?!?”  My cursory glances, and those glances of my teammates alike, at other’s bodies were more about the growing body image issue that we have in America, which is a different topic for a different day.  I survived through two years of high school varsity sports (soccer, swimming and tennis) with my head down and always being the first in and out of the rampant heterosexual environment known as “the locker room.”  I provide this backdrop as context of what it was like in the early 90’s to be a young gay athlete.

When I joined Foco Girls Gone Derby in 2012, I was never required, nor did I feel compelled to disclose my sexual orientation.  I joined with the hope of becoming part of a team again and to engage in a sport that I felt passionate about.  What I appreciate most about the sport of derby is that it has a relatively open door policy and that you have the right to be who you are without judgement or retaliation.  While I cannot speak for all leagues involved in either WFTDA or its male counterpart, Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA), thus far I have always been treated with respect and welcomed with open arms by players, coaches and fellow officials.

It is encouraging that the revelation of gay athletes is as celebrated as it is, but also disconcerting that in 2014 an athlete’s coming out story is still national news.  While I’m excited that Michael Sam is now “out” and has prospects to be the first openly gay NFL player, and the international response to Russia’s anti-gay propaganda laws, especially in light of the International Olympic Committees objections, at the end of the day, fans and athletes alike still care about one thing: sports.

For my fellow athletes: treat your LGBTQIA teammates the way you would treat any of your straight teammates.  Joke with them, interact with them both on and off the track, court, field, etc., help fight the heterocentric nature of the locker room, and while you’re at it, challenge body image issues raised in the locker room, and most of all, don’t make judgments of an athlete’s ability simply because of their sexual orientation.

For fans who love sports, neither I, nor most athletes, need a standing ovation for being gay athletes.  Simply acknowledge gay team members as an athlete who’s out there doing what they love while providing you entertainment and enjoyment.  Support athletes when they make great plays and prevent yourself from using hateful words like gay, queer, or fag for players who make bad plays or are on teams you cheer against.

Michael Sam’s coming out may open the door to a new audience for the NFL, but it likely won’t have any huge ramifications on existing fan bases.  I, like many others, will not cheer any less for the Denver Broncos, despite their blundering performance in Super Bowl XLVIII, in place of a team that drafts the first openly gay player.  I also don’t expect a mass defection of fans from a team that chooses to draft Sam.  There have always been and will always be LGBTQIA athletes but it is first and foremost the responsibility as athletes, officials, and fans alike to display the highest levels of dignity, respect and sportsmanship to all, both on and off the field.

Whistle Blower

Handing Over the Reigns

Handing Over the Reigns

I’ve been in management positions for most of my adult life; I’ve managed multiple restaurants and even have a degree in management.  After a few months of playing roller derby, I knew that I wouldn’t be content not having some say in the organization of the league.  So, as a doe-eyed newbie I ran for captainship of one of the home teams, The Deathrow Dolls.  I captained the Dolls for almost a whole season before I decided to run for the Co-Captin of the competitive travel team, The MicroBruisers.  I captained the Bruisers for almost two seasons before finally deciding to step down at the end of last season and oh boy!  Has it been a ride!

When I thought that managing a team of roller derby ladies would be no different than my previous management experience, I couldn’t have been more wrong.  This is no restaurant, we don’t get paid and managing those ladies will be a challenge I will never forget.  Being a competitive team captain means a lot of things; choosing rosters (possibly leaving out skaters you consider good friends), writing lines, leading practices, championing the team in athletics committee meetings, keeping morale high and even disciplining unsavory actions (dun, dun, dunnnnnnn).  My co-captain, Slim Skatey (and later Miz. Eerie Bizness) and I have a special obstacle to overcome as well- it was just us.  No coaches, nothing.  The coaching staff was just two ladies that had to figure out how to be “The Boss” while still skating as a teammate.

I know I’m probably making captaining seem like the WORST.  IDEA.  EVER.  But, alongside the issues and stress, I had a lot of great times that far outweigh the hard parts.  I got to wear my captain “C” ) “A” in the beginning) with pride, because I knew that this was a team that I helped create.  I got the pleasure of being told, “Great practice, Sug!” after practices I have developed and put together (a very daunting task, btw).  I got to introduce new strategies and watch them succeed (or fail, but let’s not talk about that).  When morale was high, I could turn up my chin and know that I had had a part in it.  I got to take my team to two tournaments!  And, finally, when we won…WE WON!

Now that I’m no longer a captain of any team, I find myself trying not to become the dreaded “backseat captain.”  But, it’s hard not to have a say in the team that, for two years, I worked so hard to build up.  Luckily, I couldn’t have asked for a better coaching staff to hand the reigns over to; Coach Paul, Assistant Coach Hayl, and our two wonderful captain The Original Skankster and Princess of Wails are AMAZEBALLS and I am so excited to see what they will do with this team.  Their motto for this season is “Athleticism, Discipline, and Teamwork,” wowza!

So, to my successors: Have fun wrangling us through the bountiful derby merch at Wild West to get to our bouts (FYI, it will be like herding cats in a room full of catnip).  Don’t wallow in your defeats.  Enjoy your victories.  And, finally, soak in as much as possible, because one day you’ll be like good ol’ Suga Smaxx having to pass off the torch.
Now, let me get back to my stress-free derby life…NOT!
Much love,
Suga Smaxxx
Roller Derby is (also) for Introverts!

Roller Derby is (also) for Introverts!

I love people. I love watching them. I love listening to them (when they know I am listening and when they don’t). I don’t really love interacting with them though. As much I love being a part of social situations, I don’t really want to be social in them. I am like a cat in that way. I want to be in the same room as something social, but it’s sometimes really hard for me to be social, even with my close friends. I kinda just want to be in the same room and not have to talk. Sometimes. Not all the time. Sometimes, when I get enough booze and fried food in me, and I won’t shut up.

Roller derby is perfect for me because we have a thing that we’re doing. I don’t have to ask people gently probing questions about their lives, their personal history, their families, their health, their happiness because we’re doing something. We’re derby-ing. I can tell them “Jammer standing!” and “watch the inside!” without hesitation but when you ask me about my day, I am flummoxed. I like to go to a place where I get to be with my friends, but I don’t have to talk about my feelings in front of everyone. I make left turns, I skate it out, and I feel like I have done something. I saw some people today and it mattered that their faces were in front of mine. Roller derby is a fun, safe, place full of people I like and trust, who don’t need to make me be things I am not. They only ask that I push myself harder, whatever that looks like for me.

I think introverts make awesome teammates because we are:

  • Very self-aware
  • Thoughtful
  • Enjoys understanding details
  • Interested in self-knowledge and self-understanding
  • Tends to keep emotions private
  • Quiet and reserved in large groups or around unfamiliar people
  • More sociable and gregarious around people they know well
  • Learns well through observation*

Don’t get me wrong, I love my extroverted friends, colleagues, and teammates, but an introvert will wait and watch before they give feedback. We’re thinking about what we’re going to say before we say it. We do this on the track, in committee and board meetings, and in our relationships. We try and really understand a situation.

I think the hardest thing for me is all the social opportunities surrounding derby. The after parties, the pre-game talks, the time when you’re gearing up and down. Those things are like the first day of school for me STILL and I have been with my league for more than 2 years! There are new people, there are cliques, there are the “popular girls” and despite my best efforts, I know that I am not every one’s cup of tea. And that’s OK, it’s just stressful sometimes. I get in my car and panic a little about who I am going to do endurance practice next to. Are they going to judge my squat-jumps and burpees? When I gear up, can they smell my wristgaurd stank like I can? OH GOD. Hopefully I am with someone in my inner circle, then I give no f**ks about those things.

Moral of the story, everyone has their hurdles, but being an introvert shouldn’t stop you from PLAYING ALL THE DERBIES! because there are a lot of benefits of being an introverted type of person, on and off the track!

Derby Love,

Mollytov Maguire

What’s Your Roller Derby Spirit Animal?

What’s Your Roller Derby Spirit Animal?

Ever wonder what kind of skater you are?  Do you ever feel inadequate with the skill-set you have? Wishing that you could just skate like that one girl on the team you envy? Wait, really?  WHY?! Roller derby is about a place for everyone; every body type and every skill-set. Every skater is unique and guess what? We need all of them. You might go around thinking that you’re not as valuable as the other players on your team, and you would be very, very, wrong. One day you’ll go up against this bad ass team of chicks and there will be one girl that no one can stop but you. You’ll just get the way she skates when no one else does. So buck up little camper!  Roller derby is not a sport about feeling sorry for yourself, it’s about taking control. Now I’m sure I didn’t capture all the roller derby spirit animals but I assume they’re a lot like Pokemon and you can just add more when you come across one.  Read on!

 

The Honey Badger

Cuz you don’t give a shiiiiz.  Honey badger don’t care.  She don’t care one bit.  The honey badger is the lady who hits hard, hits fast, and manages the pack with her feisty skating.  She tornadoes around, faster and with more direction than you thought a skater could, and is the skater that makes every jammer sweat when she’s on the other team.  Is she always with her wall?  Not necessarily. This one likes to go rogue and fly solo while she plays offense for her jammer and picks off the opposing players one at a time, leaving more than a few bruises in her wake.  She’s mean, she’s scary, and every hit feels more and more like defeat.

 

The Bull

This skater is the most fearless skater on the track because she knows the WFTDA rules like the back of her hand, or should I say, hoof?  So when something doesn’t sit right with her she digs her heels in, takes a deep breath, and charges ahead at full speed.  Calling time-outs to challenge a call is her specialty and instead of playing reckless, she plays smart. Opposing players fear her, because they know when she challenges she has a good reason.  Her teammates go to her for advice, council, and questions, wanting to know as much about derby as she does.  If you’re a bull, stay that way.  If you’re not, pick up a rule book and get studying!

The Wolf

Do you ever find yourself herding all of the other skaters so that they’re where they need to be?  You’re always nipping at their heels by yelling, pointing, and physically moving them with your body?  You’re the wolf; mother of the pack.  You know that keeping your pack together will mean life or death for the jam and you’re not taking any chances.  Newer skaters look to you to tell them what to do, where to go, and how to improve.  Off the track, you’re more of a mother, giving advice to inexperienced skaters and explaining that last jam to anyone with a ‘deer in the headlights’ look.  On the track, you’re a wolf, keeping everybody in line and forcing them to improve their game.

The Emperor Penguin

A very interesting fact about the Emperor Penguin is that mates for life. It finds its “soul mate,” looks all over the beach for the perfect pebble, and then presents it to its true love and they are together forever.  Awww… If you are an Emperor Penguin on the track, it simply means that you skate better with a partner in crime. You tend to use the people around to you to land your hits, booty block, and force the track cut on that pesky little jammer when your partner drags her. This girls is your derby soul mate and you know each other like the back of your skate.  There are also penguin skaters that work well with any partner, but the principle is the same, they know that 2 pairs of skates are better than 1.

The Springbok

This little skater is a jumpy, hoppy, all over the place jammer.  You get low as you approach the pack and then spring into action, flying past everyone in front of you.  If you manage to get caught, it won’t be for long. You’re great a juking, stepping, toe-stop work, and you leave people behind in a flash!  You know one of the most important lessons in derby, levels matter.  You’ve also taken a few lessons from Patches O’Hoola Han and have learned how to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge!

The Ram

You’re a great jammer, but you’re not a springbok.  Instead of hopping around and trying to dodge your opponents, you power through with incredible force.  Because you’re solid on your skates and know people can’t hit you out easily, you bide your time and just muscle your way through.  Hearing a “No Pack!” is your favorite sound, because you’ve managed to power push the wall to the brink.  As much as the pack tries to slow down with you forcing them forward, they simply can’t.  No amount of snow plows or hockey stops can stop you from getting through, and the team depends on you to go up against those tough blockers that dominate the track.

Didn’t find your spirit animal?  Not to worry, there are dozens of them, all equally important for a team to be successful.  Whatever your spirit animal is, just own it.  You don’t have to skate like your derby crush, or Suzy Hotrod, Bonnie Thunders, or Jackie Daniels.  We all now that it’s not about what you got, but what you make of what you got.  No one’s born a great derby player, so stop comparing yourself to others, and just become the absolute best of what you are!

Cheers,

The Original Skankster

Battle-ing Jamming

Battle-ing Jamming

If you’ve ever read a roller derby blog then, inevitably, you’ve read about the dreaded jammer panty. Also known as the plague panty. If you’re unfamiliar, the jammer panty is the helmet cover that the jammer (point-scorer) wears on the track.  Think of it as a giant target plastered to your head.

The reason behind its dread? Jamming can suck. A whole lot. Even people who are really good at jamming have the fear of the jammer panty. It means up to two full minutes of being caught in the other team’s sights and having the snot hip-checked out of you. It means endurance, speed, and agility. Things that don’t always come naturally to – ahem – some of us.

I’m just starting my 8th (what? really? holy crap!) season of playing roller derby. I only started volunteering to jam LAST season. No one dreaded the panty more than me. When someone would ask, “Who wants to jam?” I would quickly put the pivot panty on, or sprint to the track to avoid it. I wasn’t small, agile, or fast like a jammer should be. In fact, I didn’t want to be.

I played derby for many seasons, content to be a blocker. I’m a bigger girl, was even bigger when I started. I could take a hit, and I could lay people flat if I was able to get the timing right. I didn’t cross train, I wasn’t athletic. I couldn’t run, I fought constantly with my asthma. What I got out of derby was enough for me back then- a little bit of effort and the fun of skating.

Something changed a few seasons back. I decided I wanted to be healthier, and derby is a great way to achieve that. I put more into my practices, started hitting the gym. I lost some weight, and in the 2011 season, I finally earned my first MVP award in a bout. That still wasn’t enough suddenly. I KNEW that I could do more- that the only thing limiting me was, in fact, me. I started the Couch to 5K program in the beginning of the 2012 season. I kept going to the gym. I kept getting in better shape. I made the active roster for the travel team. It was one of my proudest moments.

I was still afraid to jam.

My asthma was part of it; it still is. Running has helped me get a better handle of endurance, but there are times I still need my inhaler, and jamming definitely stresses the body. But I was getting sleeker, faster, and more agile. And so, halfway thought last season, I decided I would MAKE myself jam. Every scrimmage. At least once per half. It wasn’t easy, but it got easier. I got lead jammer! Hey, this time I actually scored points! It wasn’t scary anymore. I decided to jam in a home bout and I got lead AND scored points! Sure, next time I jammed I got shut down and the opposing team mopped the floor with me. But you know what? I went out again.

I even gave it a shot in a competitive travel bout. That…still needs some work, but it’s good to have goals, right?

Derby practices used to have an underlying note of anxiety for me. When was I going to have to jam in a drill? Would they make me jam in scrimmage, even? I don’t feel that anymore. I can even say I’m EXCITED to jam. I volunteer to do it, I like the feeling of getting through that pack, scoring those points, and being able to call it off.

Hey, it only took 8 seasons, right?

Mollytov 2.0

Mollytov 2.0

My Derby Resolutions:

1. Eat like a champ. But seriously,like a champ because I AM a champ. Or will be this season. I don’t want to say that I eat like crap, but I also don’t eat all the things I should. I don’t drink enough water either and I will do this too. I am doing this right now in fact. I need to have more leafy greens, more vibrant reds, and less Yellow #5. This one is going to be HARD.

2. Jam. I am really gonna do that this year. I am not going to say “No” to the panty if I can breathe and stand.  In scrimmage. I can’t say that I will commit to bouts. That sounds traumatic. I can say that this is MY YEAR to be awesome at derby. I know that more jamming will make me a better blocker and I will see the game that much better. I think it will (in the long run) make derby more fun for me. The dread that I feel about being asked to jam and knowing that I am going to  turn it down will be a thing of the past! Instead, a fresh new kind of hell will take it’s place. That hell is jamming. Some things are worth the struggle. Hopefully, it won’t always be my own personal derby hell.

3. Go to the gym. I will commit to going to the gym. I am going to include more yoga in this because when you do high impact all the time, it’s hard. I need me some quiet, stretchy-breathing time. Time that I don’t think about lists and committee work, and doing the dishes because that is a problem for me. But really, if I am going to be honest with myself, I need to work on having faster feet, not breathing. OK, both at the same time and I am going to do that on a treadmill and with some free weights. Peer pressure might also work, keep me honest people.

4. I will strive for better work vs. life vs. derby balance. I need to leave certain things on the track and keep my drama to myself. No excuses. No punishments. Just better compartmentalization. I will also not obsessive watch my blog stats, Facebook stats, website stats, or any others that aren’t relevant at that time. No screens allowed on date night. That is going to be a hard habit to break, but a very worthy one.

5. My final resolution is to be as nice to myself as I am my friends. If they screw something up, I don’t punish them. I talk them down from the ledge. I give them room to learn from their mistakes and I don’t sit in the bottom of the shower crying about them at one in the morning. This is something I am going to give myself this year.

Welcome to 2014 everyone.

Derby love,

Mollytov Maguire