Sunday, September 13, 2015

Things that will probably annoy you in derby

No matter how much you love this sport, it can be super freakin' annoying for just about everyone involved. Sometimes derby can be so annoying that you just want to hang up your skates and walk away, but let me tell you, it will even out and be less annoying if you give it some time. Annoyances in derby come in cycles, and depending on how vulnerable you are at the time, you might blow up at the smallest of them, or they actually grow into being a serious issue.
Stop the Butthurt. Photo by A Boy Named Tsunami

1. Talented skaters who really suck at being teammates. Talented skaters are great! Talented skaters who don't know how to work with other people are the devil. Sometimes they can be taught to get along with a team, but some people will never learn to play nicely with others. Ego, lack of work ethic and inability to be trainable are all reasons why they can be annoying and then some! If you're one of these skaters, reevaluate your reasons for being in a team sport!

2. Communication break downs, especially if it's usually one person who seems to have that issue. We're all special special snowflakes, but some people are more snowflakier than most. Communication is usually the cause and the solution for most of a league's issues, but every league has that one skater who either doesn't read emails, or reads them incorrectly and gets butthurt when no butthurt is required or implied. (Also, please please please never reply to ALL!)

3. Gear that doesn't last or doesn't stay put. This one has been annoying me lately because velcro is the suckiest thing on earth to fasten protective gear to our bodies. IT NEVER STAYS PUT! I don't know one skater who isn't constantly fiddling with her gear because something is slipping or catching on something else. I don't have an answer (and don't say prodesign because it has velcro too and people fiddle with them as well) but maybe one day some awesome industrial designer will take up our cause and come up with awesome protective gear. (please)

4. People who deliberately don't clean their gear. I call it smelly kid syndrome. We all sweat and sometimes we forget to air out our gear properly, but there is always that one skater who brags about keeping his or her gear in the back of the car, tightly sealed up in the gear bag....during the summer. Clean your damned gear! Do it for your team!

5. Teammates who don't have the same level of commitment that you do. You could be uber competitive and some of your teammates aren't, or you're not as competitive and you're tired of the ones who are. Being on either side of this issue is annoying as hell and can destroy leagues if you can't reach a middle ground.

6. Skaters who complain about other skater's behaviors while behaving in the same exact manner. I know it's human nature to be a hypocrite, but I cannot tell you how many times I've run into this with derby folk. One person will complain about another person's penalties on the track WHILE COMMITTING THE SAME DAMNED PENALTY! It's funny in an annoying way, but it happens so often. People complain about someone else while behaving in the same way happens in human society in general, but damn, you have higher hopes for your teammates.

Hopefully your tolerance for annoyance is high at this moment!

Friday, August 28, 2015


After watching last week's D2 playoffs, I thought it would be funny to make a Bingo card with all of the people we tend to see on the feed, whether they are skaters, spectators, refs or NSOs. I hope you have fun with this week's Bingo game.

For more fun, cut it up and rearrange the squares for a viewing party interactive game.

Friday, August 21, 2015

BINGO: Shit announcers say

Now, we all know that derby announcers are the best announcers ever, but when you watch play offs all day long, you do tend to catch some oft repeated phrases in their lexicon. This is tongue in cheek, ladies and gentlemen. I have nothing but mad respect for our announcers.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Don't Be Veruca Salt in Your Derby League

Do you know who Willy Wonka is? You probably do, and that means you probably remember the most bratty of bratnicks from the book and movie, Veruca Salt. Lord. Veruca was a child nightmare if there ever was one. She wanted everything, and she wanted someone else to give it to her. Her favorite line? "I want it now!" She was so vile even the other bratty kids on the chocolate tour gave her wide berth, and for good reason! She was the ultimate soul sucker and everyone in the audience loves to see her come-uppence, when she gets dumped down the garbage chute. 
Oh piss off, Veruca.

Sometimes I see Veruca Salts coming into derby, and I just want to reach out and shake them before I push them down the garbage chute, so to speak. I know some of us don't think we're headed down the garbage shoot, but sometimes we come into derby with a lot of ego baggage. If your motive to being in this sport is glory, then for your league's sake, I hope you change what motivates you; being there just for yourself is slowly killing the morale of the league.

So how can you discover the warning signs of becoming Veruca Salt?

1. If you find yourself saying "I want something" and it's not followed by " I think it will help us get better, and I volunteer to head it up or start a committee to look at how we can implement it." then you're just expecting everyone else to hand you what you want. Derby doesn't run like that. When I was a kid and I wanted a new Barbie doll, my parents said "It's good to want" and put the ball back in my court. How badly did I want that Barbie? I saved my money and bought one on my own, which made me really proud abd realize asking for stuff to be given to me wasn't the way to success. Derby doesn't run like that. I often say that I want a million dollars, but I clearly want someone to hand it to me; I'm not going to go balls out and put all of my energy into getting a million dollars. I hear people often say "I want more high level training" and when I  say, "and what do you mean by high level training?  I get blank looks. People who say "I want" really are saying "I want someone else to do this for me." "I want" is definitely a selfish, passive sentence. If you have a want, have a way and the energy to make it happen!

2. Sometimes I feel like people forget that they are in a group of people all struggling for the same goals in derby. The goals may be the same, but our paths get all sorts of twisted and maze-like. We don't lose sight of the goals, the problems that happen usually occur in league dissension is HOW we get there. How do we get to the goal? Veruca Salt doesn't care about any of that. She only cares about her personal goals, and fuck the rest of the people on the tour with her. Do you care about the success of the league more, or is only about you? Make it about the league, first.

3. Remember how Veruca would stomp her foot and raise her voice and generally get on everyone's nerves?  Don't have tantrums on the track! People should minimize their drama. I understand that every damned person in the world has drama. We're human, and emotions are emotions. Don't bring your drama to practice. Learn to make peace with strong personalties! You're in a sport that attracts strong, alpha women and men, so you're not going to always get your way. You need to come to peace with that; although if you want to be Veruca, you can stomp and pout and throw temper tantrums. I'm sure someone will help you down the garbage chute.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Do you suffer from Gambler's Syndrome?

The other week, on my podcast, Beth Row and I started discussing how you deal with derby egos, in your teammates and yourself. What makes people feel like they are so amazing, that they won't listen to feedback from coaches, refs or teammates? What came out of my mouth surprised me a little, because it was one of those things I have been thinking about, but sometimes you need to hear it out loud before it really gets cemented in place. The words that came out of my mouth were, "Some players suffer from Gambler's Syndrome."

WTF is Gambler's Syndrome?

I'm glad you asked, Citizen, because I basically made it up last week. Meaning, I haven't really found anything specifically about this thought process on teh interwebs, but I know it exists because I see people falling for it over and over again. Hard core gamblers fall for it, fans fall for it, coaches fall for it, and derby players who don't sit down and analyze their style of play, statistics and footage, fall for it. It's the fallacy that the one good thing the player did on the track makes them excellent. It may be one hit, or one apex jump, or one grand slam in a game of several errors.

I drew this for Bambi. She doesn't suffer from GS.
Gambler's Syndrome comes in two flavors, positive and negative. We all suffer a bit from Gambler's Syndrome, but we don't all suffer from it in the same extreme. Some people tend to remember what they want, and sometimes we like to color the world with rainbows and glitter farting unicorns. They remember their one great hit they did in a game, but they don't remember all of the times they weren't paying attention on the track, or left their walls when they shouldn't have. All these people remember is how awesome that hit was, therefor, they are always their heads.

On the other side of the coin, you have people who remember only the one-time mistakes others make. Say you were skating in a game and you got a forearm penalty. The coach or your teammate who suffers from the negative version of Gambler's Syndrome will latch on to that one penalty, and now you will be always known as the player who has a problem with forearms. Isn't it funny how that works? No, it's really not, but I had to say it.

The only way to combat Gambler's Syndrome, either the positive or the negative version, is to study footage with your team. When looking at footage, try and look for the trends you and each of your teammates have on the track. Is the team leaving the inside line open? What are the majority of the team's penalties? Does your team take advantage of the pack definitions? Do they have good track awareness? What do they do consistently well?  Is your team a defensive machine? Watching footage with your team constructively, will help clear out some of that Gambler's Syndrome from your league!

Don't forget to check out derbysupply and you get a free gift if you use the code Qpon

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Not so great teammates you don't want to be

I've been in derby for a long time; I'm finally comfortable saying that. Derby is funny in a way;
Things that make us go HMMMM!
people can be quite snobby about your "veteran status" at times. When do you become a legit vet? It's always a question, and I think I finally feel comfortable in saying I've been here a while, and get off of my lawn, you damned kids. I kid, I kid. But seriously, I've been around the track a few times and I have seen people piss off their league mates, and not even realize they're doing something annoying. Sometimes you will do some of these things, and sometimes you'll be pissed at the league member who acts like this. Just remember, when you join a team, you can't be in it for yourself anymore. People are counting on you.

The martyr- Oh yes, derby will suck your life dry if you let it. Between practices, cross training, volunteer duties, travel and board positions, it can steal away time and energy from daily living. We all feel the tug of war derby forces us into. But, the martyr thinks he or she is suffering waaaaaaaay worse than everyone else in the league. "I'm doing sooooo muuuuuuuch worrrrrrrrrrrk!" Yes, everyone is doing a lot of work; for the skaters by the skaters is a curse and a blessing, but trust me when I say EVERYONE feels like they're doing a lot of work. We don't see everyone's day to day struggles, so sometimes we forget that we aren't the center of the work horse universe. Everyone has his or her struggles figuring out the successful ratio between derby and real life; sometimes you can handle it, and sometimes you have to give real life a little more time and effort. Just be aware when those trying times come, and they will, that you have to communicate to your league and let them know what your situation is. Getting overwhelmed and being pissed about it doesn't help anyone.

The Person who wants feedback, but only positive feedback- This could be you or me at times. We all want to hear what we're doing well, and it's hard to hear what we're not doing well. Derby skaters say they want feedback, until they receive less than glowing feedback. You have to take the good with the bad to figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are. If your coach observes a trend with your skating, and it is something that is hampering your ability to play derby, wouldn't you want to know? I'd want to know!

The Tardiest- Everyone is late once in a while to practice; it happens. Traffic is crazy, or your car breaks down, or you have to work late. Life happens, and most leagues have contingency plans for the occasional tardy skater, but if you're someone who comes to every practice late because  of choice, I guarantee people notice. They also notice when you dawdle putting your gear on. I don't understand how some vets can take longer than newbies to throw on their gear! Some leagues give half credit for attendance if skaters are too late, but our league has taken the stance that each skater is an adult and if they choose to be late or slow to gear up, they miss out on warm up time and drills.

The Rules don't apply to me person- Does your league have requirements for membership? To play in a game, do you have to make your volunteer hours, attendance and other obligations? Some players don't think the rules apply to them; maybe they're very talented, or they feel entitled, but whatever it is, it's a an attitude that impacts the entire league. Guess what, the rules apply to everyone equally, otherwise this little endeavor called roller derby isn't going to work.

The Ghost- The ghost is a league member who is there one minute and gone the next without any warning or communication. Ghosts don't answer or check emails, and don't let anyone know what is going on! Will she be at practice? Has she quit? Who knows? If you need to take time away from derby, just let your league know. Communication is so powerful, and people won't think you're pissed off with the league, because you've let people know what your plans are.

The Clueless- The clueless reads his or her email about as often as the ghost does. The clueless never reads the league news letter, doesn't know when meetings are, and never gets into the league documents you send out for votes and whatnot. "I didn't know we had to bring sneakers!" Of course you didn't, clueless, you don't read email. I know that league emails get overwhelming, especially if people keep replying to all, but you need to keep up with emails since that is how most people communicate nowadays. Some leagues use Facebook for their communication needs; whatever works! But that means you have to buy into whatever your league uses, and actually read it.

The Inappropriate Facebooker- This is the league member who emails her captains saying that she can't make it to practice because she's sick, and then posts selfies of the bar she's at. Whoops. Look, if you're going to miss practice, be honest about it. Most of us have Facebook, and you know your league mates are your friends on Facebook, so are you being passive aggressive or just completely self centered? Just be honest. It's ok to take a break from derby once in a while; just don't lie about it.

Hopefully you haven't done these things, but if you have, then maybe it's the time to reevaluate your behavior...if you want to be a good teammate. If not, well, keep on doing the same things.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

An Experience in Derby Retirement by Beth Row

Photo by Joshua Craig

Beth Row has been my teammate for six years, and I have missed her ever day this season since she retired from derby. She was my lifeline to sanity, and I miss her calm feistiness on the track. Even though I have missed her, I know that she's very happy in her derby retirement, so I'm very glad she offered to update me on her six month mark of derby retirement.

Hurticanes vs. Bootleggers 2010
As it nears the halfway point in the season for most roller derby leagues, people begin to think about retirement. With the big push to get into tournament shape, the doubts start to creep in. Can I do this for another year? Is this my time to retire? When is too much of a good thing, just too much? What if I get hurt?

How many times have you said that you were going to retire and then decided you couldn't possibly give up this sport that you love? How many times have you told yourself, next year, next game, next practice; just one more.

This time last year, I began my countdown to retirement.

I'm one of those people that is an all or nothing kind of person. If I'm going to do something, I'm going to give it every thing I have. During the 2014 season, I felt I had nothing left to give derby. I couldn't be one of those people that shows up to practice the minimum number of times and plays in a game. That's not my style, that's not who I am. 

I realized it was time for me to retire, when we took our regular Summer break from derby and I didn't miss it. Not once. I didn't miss anything about it - not the skating, not my teammates (sorry!), not the practice, not the demands on my schedule. I knew right then, it was time to leave. I told my team I'd finish out the derby season and I did. It was time for me to go.
Photo by Badjon

If you’re considering retirement, I thought I'd share a few things that you will encounter on your journey to finish the season:

Teammate after teammate said to me: "Aww, you're not leaving. You'll change your mind." or "You can't leave us."
My response: You're not going to guilt me into coming back. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. That's why I didn't retire last year – in 2013. Please don't make me feel guilty about my decision.
Don’t let people make you feel guilty for this decision. This is your life, not theirs and you have to live with yourself after this decision. If you make it on your terms, you’re more likely to not regret it.

Everyone on the planet: "You know you're going to miss it."
My response: Sure. I'll miss the sport, the competitiveness, the “us vs. them” feel on game day (After the bout has started and the nervousness has gone away because I've had the crap knocked out of me the first few jams, of course.) But I won't miss the drama, the women cutting each other down because they are insecure themselves, the lack of respect, the lack of effort, and the lack of responsibility for actions.
So yes, you might miss it. But derby should be part of your life, not your whole life.

She doesn't like talking about the time she reffed.
Anyone who knew that I went to every practice and every invitational ever: "But what will you DO???"
My response: Um, live? Like everyone else who has never heard of derby? I developed what I call an “after derby bucket list.” I have wanted to start a food blog, and have never been able to because I didn't have any free time. And what little "free time" I did have while playing derby, I wanted to spend sitting on the couch watching some horribly brain-sucking show because I didn't want to do jack POOP! I want to get over my fear of swimming. I want to learn how to ride a bike. I want to go to a gym and take classes like normal people. I want to skate for fun. (For fun? What's that?) I want to grow my own veggies and get a dog. I want to be able to go to the beach when I want to get away and not have to plan around 4 back-to-back derby weekends.

Make a list of things you’ve always wanted to but couldn’t because the rigors of derby life wouldn’t allow. Make a plan to complete those goals and it will keep you from getting the post derby blues.

Newbie X, who has just found this newfangled thing: "Oooo. You should totally switch your plates/pads/helmet/toe stops/wheels."
My response: I have THREE months left. I'm not paying a shit-ton of money to use it less than 3 months! If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Even if it is broke, I'm putting duct tape on that shit, so shh...I don't care about your newfangled thing.

Only spend money if YOU want to. And this goes for more than just the newest gear/bearings/skates. This is a life lesson.

The thing no one who is already retired tells you about: It's hard to stay motivated. I didn't want to learn a new position. I didn't want to try my hand at jamming. And to be honest, learning the new skill isn’t going to help the team. I could do that, but then the team be in the same boat in three months! So why not train up someone who will be around? I wasn’t closed-off to new strategies. If it helped the team win, I was in it to win it. But I certainly wasn’t into switching up my training for personal gain at this point.

And now? After I actually retired?

During those 8 years of derby, I was a fearful girl at tryouts, a timid newbie, a frustrated freshmeat, a skater, an injured skater, a rostered skater, a captain, a jammer, a blocker, a pivot. I was a friend, a teammate, a coach, a BOD member (twice!), someone you didn't want to mess with (more than a few times) and a trainer. I was a Debutante Brawler, a Trauma Queen, a Tai-Chi-tah, a Raleigh Ruckus, a Carolina Hurticane, a Palmetto borrowed skater, a Bootlegger, and finally a CRG All-Star.

I am a little sad and nostalgic for the times I've had, but I know there are more adventures waiting for me. I may not have become a Scald Eagle or a Sexy Slaydie; but I gave it my all and I am proud of where I ended up.

He is super cute.

And no, I won't be back. I won't pull a Brett Farve. But I won't forget what being a Carolina Rollergirl allowed me to become - a strong, less fearful, powerful version of myself, ready to take on more of life's challenges.

As for an update on the bucket list, I still haven’t found time to get my food blog up and running, but I do cook A LOT more! I have taken swim lessons, but it’s a fear-based thing, not an ability thing. So, I’m working on it. I can kinda ride a bike. I do go to a gym and I LOVE their barbell strength classes. I’m currently training for a half marathon, after having done the Krispy Kreme Challenge in February. I do skate for fun, occasionally. I am growing tomatoes and jalapenos; though the peppers are wildly more successful than the tomatoes. And I have a 6 month-old puppy, named Tucker, who is the cutest thing EVER.

See? Don’t believe those horrible depressing articles you see on the internet. ;) There IS life after derby!