Sunday, November 22, 2015

Finding Your Tribe...Again By Stack'ddd Chassi #9er

You will never have a relationship with a group of girls like the one that forms with your first roller derby team.  Talking like sailors.  Laughing like sisters.  Discovering a more confident you (even when you thought your cocky arrogant ass couldn’t gain more pride).  Laughing to the point of tears which started to help stop the not so happy tears in the parking lot after a rough practice.  Sharing wavering emotions and ungodly smells.
Photo by A Boy Named Tsunami

There are many autobiographical chapters of your own derby experiences that almost every skater can relate to--that first moment your skate hits the track as fresh meat, that time you shared your mouth guard, that life changing bout, acquiring your derby wife/husband/widow and the showing of the inevitable bruised body part that you didn’t know could be injured (or shown) in public.  Now take all those stories, challenges and wins...and start over again...because you transferred; perhaps hours away or across time zones (shout out to Sadie Hellcat and Malice).  But not every skater has had the opportunity to work on those transitions and therefore this move can be tougher than a backwards hockey stop.

Movin’ ain’t easy.  However we boast how this great derby community is nationwide where you have the boundless comradery to where you go could go anywhere without knowing anyone, if you just reach out to your fellow derbyites.  I have allowed some derby acquaintances to know where I kept my spare house key to snag a shower/nap while in town and let strangers sleep at my house for an invitational.  As I have been on the receiving end, I tested the “Derby Generosity Without Borders” theory on a larger scale and reached out to a team I didn’t know in an unfamiliar place.  

I, and my wonderful referee fiance (that’s another story), relocated to Chattanooga where I know absolutely noone and nothing in this highly rated scenic city.  With a simple FB message, the Chattanooga team immediately responded with housing resources and welcomed us to join.  It wasn’t until five months later that I was settled enough to attend a practice and meet the new tribe.  

Gleaming with big smiles and asking the staple “When can you skate/join?”, it reminded me of my early days of bootcamp--butterflies, clammy hands and overwhelming joy and fear.  Similar to that first day of school feeling, where you are so excited and nervous to make new friends (peeing a little is okay) but you don’t know where to start or who to sit by.  So in the few months of my new surroundings, here are a few things I have learned to try and abide by, on and off the track...  

Rules To Follow Upon Entering The New Tribe:
  1. Don’t “One time at band camp”
“Well my team used to...with my league we did this...When I was..”.
You can recall the days/years you spent with your former league but you have to give it a rest.  Lend ideas of how you learned how to skate or play but you have to recognize when it is helpful vs obnoxious.
  1. Don’t be eager beaver to help
Just contribute to the team as a great, dependable skater.  Let the pot simmer cause if you start off boiling, you going to burn your tongue (sounds like the spokeswoman for Popeye’s chicken but you get what I’m saying).
     3.  Remember, you are not going to get along with everyone
    Don’t really need to say more than that. Texas offers clinics and programs to help the transplants adjust so that it is not overwhelming.  If a team has a “Welcoming Committee” or some other resource for the skaters from another stater (you like that?), then it would help on all sides with questions regarding policy & procedures.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Calling It Off by Killy from Philly A frank description of dealing with concussions

Anyone who reads my blog knows that concussions are an important issue for me. You can't train harder to avoid a concussion in derby; it's about the laws of physics, and it can happen to anyone who straps on skates and plays derby. I've seen concussions derail many skaters, ending their careers too soon. Thank you Killy for sharing your experiences with concussions on this post.

Calling It Off
by Killy from Philly

I am not one normally lost for words. It has taken me a long time to find the words to talk about my head injuries. Out loud. To talk with my doctors, teammates, my captains, my family and friends. Sometimes skaters I barely know message me for advice because they heard that I had concussions. The loss of your mental capacity is scary enough. It's been challenging to share openly about the symptoms without people being concerned, and suggesting I need to stop skating. I haven't always had the words to educate people on an invisible injury with invisible symptoms.
Photo by Tyler Shaw

You can’t shake off a concussion or skate it out. For me, the hits have added up. Sometimes loud noises leave me exhausted. Sometimes the words don't come out of my mouth when I expect them to. Sometimes I get headaches. Sometimes I get tired easily and I have to rest more frequently than I used to. Sometimes I get angry faster and become more impulsive. Sometimes I become sad for no reason. I can only share my own experience. Other people might have different experiences with their concussions. I am not providing medical advice. There are trained professionals for that. Yes I have a good helmet. No I don't have a face shield. I assume a certain level of risk on the track. All skaters do. With three concussions, continuing to skate is not a choice I make lightly. But it's a choice I have made nonetheless for the last year. In the last year, the high blocks have added to my concussions- hit by hit. 

I have learned to take care of myself after a concussion, to share how critical it is after one not to jump back in too soon. I have learned how the concussed person is not the best judge when it comes to their condition because, hello, they just got hit in their head. Quietly I talk about the nightmares and depression that kicked in afterwards. If you suspect you have a concussion, you probably do. One of my concussions was from the whiplash off a hit; my head was never touched. I share about how to ease yourself back into physical activities after a concussion. I have learned to come back to practice slowly. I have learned to turn down jamming when I just got back from a concussion.

I talk more loudly about how no helmets can prevent a concussion. It doesn’t matter what the commercials say or how many safety certificates they have. A helmet can reduce your risk but they cannot prevent a concussion. It’s about informing yourself about head injuries because it's a matter of when, not if. I ask about WFTDA and different leagues' concussion protocols. I read articles and medical journals on concussions in the NFL. The medical field is still learning about traumatic head injuries. There’s a lot they do not know.
Then there are things that I've come to terms with: it is difficult for referees to see and call high blocks. There are too many things they need to see. As a referee, the head is one of the last places you look. 

I no longer feel the rules can protect me. No amount of cross-training will prevent another concussion. Changing up my skate style or stance is not enough to prevent another injury. Jamming less helps but it wouldn't eliminate the risk. Getting a high block at practice has become the rule, not the exception. I have sustained enough high blocks this season alone to break two pairs of glasses at practice. In the four years of skating, I have not broken a pair in the first 3 years of skating. I know I will be at risk for another hit every time I put on skates. I acknowledge concussions can happen doing non-skating activities. I know I cannot take another hit. I know I must stop playing derby.

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Pet Peeves of Roller Derby: by Motown Mayhem

Once again another guest blogger has stepped up and taken the helm of my blog for a week. Enjoy! Q

The pet peeves of roller derby

By Motown Mayhem

Roller derby is one of the most awesome things I’ve ever been involved with athletically.  I
Hey Joe, whaddya know?
frickin’ love it, and plan on playing until I absolutely know I can’t anymore. I’ve been playing roller derby coming into my 5th season. I have played on the same team for all those years, before my league’s first real season. We’ve had many of the same players, and we’ve had the same coach for all those years.  However, over all this time I have to say I’ve developed many pet peeves. I think they’re kind of universal though. With that said, here are some things I see happening in roller derby that I absolutely cannot stand with all the deepest part of my soul. Solutions, suggestions, and/or recommendations are greatly appreciated since this is something that has bothered me for some time. Enjoy!

1.  “Work the drill!”

You’re learning a new drill, or doing a drill that has been done before. It’s being shown, and then it’s asked “anyone have any questions?” Usually, there is always questions if it is a new drill.  Totally cool and understandable. It’s when it’s a drill that’s been done for some time, practically years, that when people want to ask questions for 5 minutes I get bothered.  Same question asked 5 different ways with same explanation said 5 different ways  just to come to this saying, “Just work the drill.” Why not say, “I don’t have any more time to explain this to you because you just don’t get it.” Why not have your athletic leader’s take the people who seem most unsure and questions work with those people during the drill. Why does the whole team have to listen to the same drill being explained because either a. said person hasn’t been at practice enough or at all to know the drill, or b. said person just like a theoretical explanation because you enjoy lecture, or to make the athletic teacher look like a fool. We only have a couple hours to practice. Deep questions should be explained during cool downs or after practice if it comes down to it. A team meeting going over the drills before practice may be helpful. But don’t blow it off with “work the drill.” I hate that shit. 

2.  I want to play but I can’t make it to practice to get requirements.

I get it. Derby is a very demanding sport if you want to play. You got to meet requirements of sorts, and that means you have to be present to achieve this. But time and time again I have heard people moan and groan about how they want to play so bad, and then never come to practice.  And I’m talking about once every few months, if that. Or they’ll pop in for a while, make requirements, and then fall off the face of the planet when they make roster.  Yeah, that was helpful to your team. If you can’t commit, then you can’t commit. Don’t say you want to play and then flake out. I never doubt people’s team spirit, but derby = dedication on a team level. If you can’t do it, that’s fine. But don’t go competing for a spot if you can’t do it, absolutely, through and through.

3.  Hi, I’m new to this team, and I’ve played for eternity with other WFTDA teams and I think your team needs to change their plays to play like me.

Welcome to our team transferring player! Good to have a teammate who knows the rules and has developed skills. Awesome stuff! Can’t wait to train together! Oh wait, you don’t like our plays? You don’t like how we play? Okay, I get it. There are players who don’t think fast on the track as others. I mean, all teams have players who are quick to act and think and use their team, and then there are others who need to be reminded and coached at the same time while playing. That’s fine, and completely acceptable. So a transferring skater comes in and wants to change everything that has been taught for some time because it doesn’t  make sense to them? Why not tweak the plays you see where there needs a strengthening? Why yell at your teammates when they are playing the plays they have always played when they don’t work with you? Being the loan blocker doesn’t help the game. Work with your team, and be a team player. And if you’re new to a team, the team doesn’t adapt to you. You adapt to the team. That’s being a team player. I know, I know, you think we suck. But we can’t suck too damn bad if we’re an established team who does win games. Take it or go make your own “Team USA” since you’re so grand.

4.   Arguing with the coach/athletic trainers during practice.

I don’t know about anybody else, but I don’t pay dues to stand around for 5 minutes for a step by step argument on something like “I didn’t break the pack, they did, and you just don’t like me” or some other bull.  I’m sorry, but unless I’ve got popcorn and a soda in my hand I don’t want to watch a drama unfold.  I didn’t pay for that.  I pay for the team to train, and learn together.  Argue after practice, but I damn sure don’t want to be involved in your soap box issues.  Time is money, and I think all derby teams can agree that money is tight when it comes to some things.  And that includes practice time.  Nothing good comes from trying to compete for intellect in derby.  I think we can all agree not everyone is an expert in derby.  Get over yourself, and get back to practice.  Because I don’t know want to get creamed at our next game because cumulative time was burned up having some “tift” in the middle of practice. 

5.  “My name is so-and-so, but I’m bitching like Bonnie Thunders and think your technique is wrong” persona

There is and will only ever be one Bonnie Thunders, Atomatrix, Demanda Riot, Wild Cherry, Urkn, Queen Loseyourteetha, and the list goes on and on. And you know what else? There is only one you!  Be yourself. Don’t put your skills off as exactly like someone else.  Guess what. When players like that play together I promise you that they don’t give a crap about the positioning of your arms when you form a wall. All they want is you to know how to make a good, strong, solid wall using your skills that you know when in a line, or you can get through a pack to score points legally. When players come in acting like they are badasses because they “study” someone else so much then hooray! But you aren’t them, you are you, and be you, because you are awesome, Ms. So-and-So. At least you were until you opened your mouth saying you know all of someone else’s moves.  I didn’t know you were someone’s doppelganger. Get over yourself, and come play. F.Y.I. you can watch the best players play all day, but I guarantee you that none of those players achieved what they have alone. They did it as a team. Watch the plays, not the just the player.

I have to say that this is just me sounding like I’m butt hurt because, well, I am. Derby leagues train real hard so that roller derby, in general, will become recognized on the level it very well should, and I do that with my team. Derby leagues struggle, and gosh darnit, fight for those athletic people sitting at ESPN to take them seriously. When you throw in a bunch of bullshit it just makes the dream that much harder to see. The dream can become a nightmare. People quit because they can’t handle that kind of stress. And then there are people who hang with, but still have the stress. You’re only as strong as the players on your team. If people act like a bunch of condescending assholes then you’re getting weak. If someone has problems learning the team’s plays then you’re getting weak. If people enjoy arguing over stuff that can wait then you’re getting weak. If you think you’re the Michael Jordan of derby then you’re getting weak. Pet peeves come and go, and boy could this list continue.  But I think I will just leave it at that.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

How to Be a Good Sport by Tara "Silver Fawkes" Moscopulos

 I've been pondering sportsmanship this month, and Tara shared her views of sportsmanship in derby with me.

“Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.” -Aurelius 

Recently, I had occasion to find myself on the receiving end of a high block. To put it plainly, I got a big ol’ bony shoulder to my right jaw. The hit was so hard, it knocked the plug out of my right earlobe. And it knocked me on my butt. I saw stars, little pieces of glitter in the corner of both eyes. I dropped like a sack and rolled around on the floor, not even aware of where I was on the track. The jam was called off and the person who had hit me skated over with my plug in her hand. She leaned down to me and said “are you okay?” I started laughing, mostly because I couldn’t get up, but also because I was completely loopy from the impact. I whispered back to her “did you feel that?” (translated-“did you feel how hard your shoulder hit my face”) and she whispered “oh yeah.” She offered me her arm, and I yanked myself to my feet and skated to the bench.
Forgive your derby mistress for face punching you (KDDB V DDG 2015) Photo by Chris Ramsay

Want to hear something really funny? Very few people on that track were aware of why I went down and what had happened. Why?  Because of mutual respect and the unspoken understanding that IT WAS NOT INTENTIONAL.

Because I am a good sport. And she is a good sport.

DISCLAIMER: BEING A GOOD SPORT DOES NOT APPLY TO DOUCHEBAGGERY. If you get biffed by someone and it’s either: A) totally bullshit and they do not acknowledge it or B) totally dangerous and needs to be addressed, then being a good sport does not apply.

That very same evening, I pulled two crap moves. Hit one person in the face and practically pushed another down. The two incidents did not get penalty calls, but I made it a point to acknowledge my actions and do the “good sport” thing and tell both persons that I was a spazz and I screwed up. And they responded with understanding and humor. BECAUSE THEY ARE GOOD SPORTS.

You see, each and every one of us is going to do something completely stupid on the track. Be it pulling someone down when you lose your balance, high blocking the jammer or blocker coming in hot, back blocking the person in front of you, low blocking someone because you fell weird. It happens. What is unique is how we, as teammates and opponents, react to accidental feats of stupidity.

If you are the dork that does something incredibly or even egregiously dumb, own it. Don’t make up five hundred excuses for why it happened. “Well, I wouldn’t have tripped you if Fancy McSkaterpants hadn’t pushed me” No one wants to hear that and frankly it speaks on your inability to take responsibility for your own actions. Even the rule set indicates that no matter what someone did to you that may have contributed to your penalty worthy action, you are responsible for your own body at all times. We are all going to be that dork. I don’t care how awesome you can skate, you will do something dumb. A true champion is humble is all that she does. Be a teammate, not a douche. Own your mistakes. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, allow yourself the vulnerability of a “oh shit” moment and the payoff comes when the roles are reversed.

If you are the person who has been wronged, don’t be a complete dick. We get it. It sucks to get bopped in the jaw. Or the knee. Or the back (in the illegal area, mind you a large part of the shoulder-blade is a LEGAL target zone, just in case you back block complainers forgot) Get mad, but do it somewhere else. On the track temper tantrums should never be excusable. Nothing is more detrimental to morale or team concepts than a cat fight on the track over a shitty hit. You most certainly will not be able to do that during a game and I can promise you that if you DO indulge in a juvenile hissy fit, the team you are competing with will file your tantrum among “THINGS TO KNOW WHEN I AM TRYING TO BEAT (INSERT LEAGUE NAME)” and “GOSSIP TO SPREAD ABOUT (INSERT LEAGUE NAME) AT THE NEXT GAME”

Again, see the disclaimer above. If you cannot say for certain that either of those two exceptions exist, quit bitching and allow your teammate the chance to acknowledge and correct. I can assure you, no one wants to play with the girl who whines and complains after every jam about what someone else may or may not have done to her. Roller derby is a contact sport. There will be contact. Illegal contact most assuredly. If you can’t handle that you may get hit in the face, or tripped, or pushed, maybe you should find another sport to play.

Every bruise I have incurred has a name on it. I know who has committed fouls on me. But unless the referee calls it, I am not going to spend my precious time making sure everyone from here to Buffalo knows that I am sick of getting kicked in the shin. If you go into this sport with a victim mentality, consistently focusing on who has wronged you, (more like perceived wrongs and not actual ones) you will miss out on one of the things that makes this sport unique: camaraderie.

Is it possible to go have beers after and THEN say “Hey bitch, you hit me right in my jaw, you owe me a beer!”? I think it is. I think it should be mandatory.

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Are you a sore loser?

Losing is pretty sucky. I know that from a young age we are told "don't be a sore loser." Who hasn't heard that? Whether or not we're good at losing, or good at dealing with losing, we're going to have to face it in roller derby. The nature of our sport is to have a winner and a loser and some of the time, you are going to lose. So how do you reign in that sore loser instinct?
Photo by A Boy Named Tsunami

1. Congratulate the winners immediately. Don't wait, because that old saying of attitude is gratitude is true. High five the winners, shake their hands, and tell them congrats. You might not mean it, but do it right right right away. Telling the winners congratulation helps take the spotlight off of you at that moment so you can go and nurse your wounds without the world judging your immediate reaction. Unfortunately, people do judge us. In derby, we don't always have the benefit of a nice, quiet locker room where we can possibly sulk or have some privacy. Even if you don't feel like slapping hands at the end of the game, just do it. People notice when you don't partake of the ritual.

2. It's ok to be mad or upset or whatever. Nobody said you can't be pissed off about losing a game; it's ok to be mad and disappointed. In fact, if you weren't disappointed in losing, you probably weren't busting your ass during practice. You are allowed to feel bad about a loss, but feelings aren't actions. Don't ACT on your feelings, but you are allowed to have them. The winners are allowed to have feelings of pride, so the losers of a game can feel disappointment, anger and sadness.

3. Give yourself a buffer. It's hard to work through negative emotions at an after party where people are celebrating, drinking, and carousing. If you need space, give yourself some space. There have been times in my derby career when I didn't go to an afterparty because I didn't want to be a smoldering wet blanket so to speak.  Sometimes you can create a safe buffer space at an after party with quieter people, or teammates who understand that you need some time to get over the loss.

4. Consider what kind of impact this loss has on your reality. Are you going to get a smaller paycheck? Nope. Are you going to be punished? Nope. We used to kid around and say "we're docking your pay" when someone was taking a loss particularly hard. Yes rankings count. Yes hard work and practice counts, but still in the end, it's not cancer. It's a game. It doesn't change who you are as a human being, unless you let it.

5. Celebrate your victories, even if they were small. It is a rare thing to play a game without any redeeming moments. You know you did something right during the game you lost. Pay attention to the things you did that were positive and worth celebrating. Whether it was sticking with your wall, performing a functional juke or even a killer plow stop. Don't forget the good things you and your team did, even if you lost.

6. Remember, we learn more from losing than winning. It sucks but it's true. I was listening to Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me today, and he lost the game they made him play. They were giving him a bit of a hard time, but he said "If I didn't get those questions wrong, I wouldn't have learned anything today." He's one of the smartest people in popular culture, and if he can accept and learn from being wrong, you can learn from losing a game. How many times has your team won a game and you thought "It just clicked." What did you learn from the magical "clicking." Nothing repeatable, at least not as repeatable as the lessons you learn from loss.

Still, losing isn't fun at all, but you can have a different attitude about it. Learn from your losses and let them make you mighty, instead of tearing you down.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Do You Suck at Communicating?

Ah Dell! Photo by A Bot Named Tsunami
The longer I've been in derby, the more I am convinced that every problem a league has comes down to a problem in communications. Teammates not getting along? Communication issues. Committees not being productive? I'm going to bet that someone isn't communicating to the other members. Someone is butthurt? It's probably a communication issue.

Communication is tough under perfect circumstances, and when you add physical interactions, endurance issues, and just sheer fatigue, communication is one of those skills that just takes a veritable beating. It's hard to remind ourselves that we all want the same things; we want our leagues to be strong, healthy and a great place to be. Too bad our mouths get in the way sometimes!

Want to get better at communicating in your league? Follow these suggestions, and if you follow them in real life you might see improvements all across your daily interactions.

1. Know that people come in one of four flavors when it comes to communicating in groups. Nobody is just one of these types by themselves, but when we interact in groups we tend to shake out as one of these four types of people.
  • "Why?" people want all the reasons for doing something. "Why are we doing this drill?" "Why are we doing this particular strategy?" "Why aren't we taking a water break now?" Why? Why? If you aren't a why person, dealing with the constant questions can seem like they're questioning your authority, but really, that's just how their minds work. Know that one in four of your teammates might be a why person, so be ready for the barrage of why questions when you introduce something new to the league. Don't get miffed with the why people; their questions can make you reexamine why you're making the decisions that you are.

  • "What?" people want all the facts about it. What people aren't as in your face as why people, but they do want to know all about the new thing you've introduced. What people tend to like minutiae too, so if you can come up with some interesting facts about the new strategy, like it was invented by the Texas Rollergirls to combat something Gotham was doing, they might take to the strategy faster. When What people are engaged and interested in something, they want to know all the things!

  • "How?" people want only the information they need to get it done. How people are pretty no nonsense and just want enough info to get the task completed. They're very task oriented and tend not to care about the trivia or the why your league is doing something. How people are excellent to have on a committee because they are doers! How people tend not to want to think about the consequences; they just want to get shit done. They also may find the what if, why and what people to be super annoying. Get. Shit. Done.

  • "What if?" people are more interested in the consequences of doing it. Rare as they are, what if people are excellent to have around in a league because they are long term planners and worriers about the future. When you have what if people on your committee, you can trust that they will be considering the future issues with what your league is attempting to do.  They can also totally derail a committee from making a decision because they have their thoughts too far into the future.

2. Know what you're good at and what your weaknesses are. Some people are natural face to face communicators, while others are much better at the written word and need to think out what they're going. Some people despise email, but if your team uses emails or some kind of forum to communicate, you have to check your emails! Some people believe that checking emails once a day is sufficient; I don't agree with this at all because sometimes things come up that are time sensitive! You might be missing an important announcement if you're only checking your league email once a day. If you suck at checking emails, know that this is a weakness, and force yourself to try to be more diligent. If you are terrible at face to face communication, then you need to attempt to engage the face to face communicators in person. It won't be easy, but if everyone is aware of their weaknesses and is working on them, communication is bound to improve.

3. Don't talk when someone else is talking. It's so basic, and yet we all are guilty of it at some point in a meeting or a practice. We get snarky, or tired, or we develop fatigue based ADHD. Derby definitely doesn't bring out the patience in everyone, and it takes patience to listen to people.  Even harder is not ignoring what the person who is talking is saying because you're concentrating on what you're going to say next. Nobody said derby was easy, so should you be surprised that communicating in derby can be difficult? Nope.

4. Don't blurt out the first thing that comes to your head. Think about what your statement adds to the discussion. When you're hanging out with your friends, sometimes blurting out the funny thought is amusing and refreshing, but when you're on a task, such as practice, committee meetings, or BOD meetings, blurting out and unformed statement will most likely derail the meeting. People will listen to you better if they think you're putting thought into what you say. 

5. Don't withdraw from the discussion. People who withdraw are very obviously displaying their distaste for the subject, or the group or the opinion of the group. Being withdrawn is a huge red flag that you are not happy, but you don't want to communicate and try to resolve the issue that is making you unhappy! Withdrawing is a very passive aggressive step people take when they are basically throwing a quiet tantrum. Please don't withdraw from a discussion; it has consequences for your team's ability to trust you and rely on you. Crossing your arms, leaning away from the person talking, or putting your hands on your hips can all be non verbal signs that you're checking out of the flow of conversation.

This list is not comprehensive, but it may help you and your league think about the communication issues you have; I'm betting you have at least a few, since most groups of humans do. No league is going to be perfectly in synch at all times, but if we can work at communication, we might cut back on the issues leagues face.

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    Sunday, October 4, 2015

    People you will meet in derby.

    Derby is such a diverse sport when it comes to personalities; it takes all kinds to make a team successful, and even more to make a league successful. After asking for input on this subject on Facebook, the floodgates opened! Some people took it as an opportunity to complain about some stereotypical people you run into derby, while others sang the praises of those amazing people who just make derby life worth all of the effort. Here are some of my favorites below, and thank you everyone for contributing! And now, the good, the bad, and the others!

    1. The Derby Gypsy- This is a player who moves from one league to the next, either because she's just a nomad in real life, or looking for something she just hasn't found yet. Either she wants to step up to a more competitive league, or a closer league, or a newer league. Maybe she just likes to travel, but the Derby Gypsy can be a breath of fresh air in your league, or a disruptive force; it just depends.

    2. The Brett Favre- The Brett Favre is the great player who retires, unretires, retires again, comes back and just can't make up her mind. Retiring from derby is a huge issue that some people seriously struggle with, but the mistake that the Brett Favre makes is announcing every time she retires. Just take a break, or if you do decide to retire for real this time, do it quietly. Or, just don't use the word retirement!

    3. The Prodigy- The Prodigy comes in as fresh meat to the sport, but does everything well and is destined to be on the A-team. Part of you wants to hate her, but she's nice and humble, and just naturally better at skating than other people. You're not in competition with her, but you can use her success to inspire yourself to train harder!

    4. The Rudy- The Rudy is the opposite of the Prodigy when it comes to natural talent, but The Rudy is one of the hardest working skaters in your league and will develop skills and talent through sheer repetition and practice! People tend to underestimate The Rudy, but don't! They're very inspiring teammates to have. Hopefully each and every one of you reading this has The Rudy as your spirit animal.

    Curve Appeal is our Grace Under Fire. Photo by Kathryn Wall
    5. The Grace Under Fire - When a serious injury happens, she's right there coaching the injured person through, telling you what needs to be done, and generally kicking ass. The Grace Under Fire is a great person to be on the Board as well, since she is the one that tends to see situations without any of that pesky emotional thinking happening. Anyone can be The Grace Under Fire: coaches, NSOs, refs, skaters or volunteers. Your league is truly blessed if you have more than one!

    6. The Angel Minion- This is person who loves the sport but has decided that skating isn't for them, so they volunteer A LOT.  Read this three times folks, we could NOT have roller derby without Angel Minions. Nope. No way. No way in hell! They support the sport, put a lot of effort into running a game as a ref or announcer or volunteer or NSO, but they don't do it for personal glory. Make sure you're appreciating your Angel Minions, or they might go extinct.

    7. The Bad Seed (aka The Storm Cloud)- These are skaters who come into practice is a craptacular mood and proceed to infect everyone else with their shitty mood or attitude. Sometimes they say snarky things under their breath, or they make faces, or they just give up in a huff and sit out drills. I'm a big fan of not bringing your problems to practice, but some people just cannot separate their personal issues from practice time. Hopefully The Bad Seed in your league either figures out that she's bringing down the rest of the league and changes her attitude, or she'll eventually decide she just doesn't like derby.

    8. The Ghost- The Ghost teammate is supposed to be an active skater, but only shows up on picture day or when the media is coming to practice to do a story. The Ghost really doesn't hurt a league, but some skaters really find them irritating. I like to give Ghosts the benefit of the doubt; maybe this is exactly what makes them happy about roller derby? Who am I to judge?

    9. The Lip Service- The Lip Service makes statements like " we all need to cross train and we should all be committed to this!" but when the time comes she's not there, or she's busy, or excuse excuse excuse. Lip Service people always get others fired up, but I can't help but roll my eyes a bit when I hear them be all gung ho about something, especially when 99% of the time they won't be a part of the activity, no matter what it is.

    Glenn Hurr, the Equipment Guru.
    10. The Equipment Guru- They can tell you everything about every wheel, bearing, and/or pad, and they have the tools and toolbox to save your skates when they decide to fall apart right before the big game. They also usually have the perfect set of wheels to let your jammers borrow if they didn't bring the right ones for the floor you're on. Every team needs an Equipment Guru, but skaters should LEARN from them and become responsible for their own skate maintenance. Don't worry! The Equipment Guru would love to talk to you about gear for hours, and hours, and hours.