Wednesday, December 28, 2011

To all the refs I've met....before.......

Now, let me post a disclaimer on this blog post, because I love love love the zebra herd!  Refs, you guys and girls are amazing and you do great great things by giving us your time, effort and sweat equity.  You put up with the rolling eyes, the mutterings, and sometimes the outright insubordination.  I have worn your stripes and feel your pain, so please take this blog with the love and gentle humor it has, and don't get your stripey panties in a wad.  DERBY LOVES REFS!

I know that each derby league has its share of characters, but the zebra herd has its own recognizable personalities as well.  Here are some of the more prevalent ones.  Can you find your co-referees?  Can you find yourself?

#1  The Hot Refs
  Oh lordy, every league has a hot ref, male or female.  They skate out and you can hear a collective "siiiiiigh" from the skaters.  Unfortunately, most of these refs know they are smokin' hot and do take advantage of it, so look...maybe not touch.

See how pretty she is? 

#2  The Vindictive Ref vs the Slacker Ref  Yeah, so these two refs aren't necessarily in the same league, but they do end up in the same bout, which is the universe's way of balancing out opposing forces.  The Vindictive Ref seems to have a bone to pick with every skater and loves having ULTIMATE POWER  (probably because they have dealt with too many Bad Psychos)!  They tend to call a lot of minors and majors with a little too much venom; but that's ok, because the Slacker Ref let's just about anything slide, including an elbow to the jaw. There is such a thing as balance in karmic forces.
Notice the drool!  Notice the hipster beard!

#3 The Fancy Pants Ref  Derby is an outlet for people to express themselves, and these refs are the kings and queens of that!  Fancy Pants refs have been seen wearing Derbyskinz, really crazy leggings, bustiers, mohawks on their helmets, and face paint.  Unique doesn't describe some of you zebras!

What will they be wearing next?

#4  Refs with Cameras on Their Heads  These are the refs of mystery, technology and possibly MEN IN BLACK!  There always seems to be at least one ref a with a camera on his or her helmet; it is interesting to speculate about what happens to this footage.  Is it only seen by other refs?  Is it watchable at all?

Big Brother is Watching!

#5 Refs with Inlines   All refs on skates are welcomed; that is the fact and the rule, but derby is a quad sport, so derby girls worship the quad skate. 
Still...skating is skating.

#6  Really Awesome Skater Ref  Grr!  These refs are jam skating during time outs, mohawk with ease, and backwards skate like nobody's business.  We are envious of you!

Teach us to jam skate too.

#7 Significant Other Refs  Ah, derby girls are great at recruiting; they will even bring in their boyfriends, husbands, girlfriends, and life partners to join and help out with derby.  Yea for refs! Unfortunately, this can cause issues, especially if a Significant Other Ref and a skater bring personal issues onto the track.  For the most part, the Significant Other ref is blessing, and derby girls are happy to have you there!

We know you came for your significant other.  We hope you stay for the love of the sport!

#8 The Best Ref
  Every league has a predominance of awesome refs; they show up to practice, keep the skaters calm, make incredibly difficult calls, and help us interpret the many rule revisions.  Thank you for your continued dedication!  We love our refs!

PS.  Funny side note; when I started drawing these cartoons, I was drawing people, but I felt like some of the people were WAY too recognizable, so I turned them into zebras.  I like how it turned out.

Do you know these people?

This blog has been inspired by Flat Track Voodoo's Derby Spirit Animals.  Check out the rest of the comics on this site, they make me giggle each and every time.  If you want access to any images below, let me know.  They're all my artwork and original. If you're interested in seeing more of my work, please check out my website.  My Site

After three years of meeting new people in derby, I've discovered that every league has certain recurring characters in it; here is a run down of the ten most popular and interesting characters I've met during my derby career; do you know these people?   Can you recognize yourself in them?

#1  The Love Bug  The Love Bug loves everyone and is the most positive person you will ever meet in derby; she surrounds herself with unicorns, smiles, hugs and actually farts rainbows.  Don't underestimate the Love Bug, she will lay you out on the track, but she will smile down at you and offer you a glitter sticker after the game.

She'll hug you and make you breakfast in the morning....

#2  The Walking Rule Book  The Walking Rule Book has studied the rules so much that she is the one that everyone in her league consults when there is a wonky call on the ref's part.  This girl can quote numbers of rules!  Really?

Yes, she's based on a real person in my league.

#3  The Fun Psycho  The Fun Psycho has crazy catch phrases, never stops trying, and will never let the hopeless odds of any given game get her down.  She will lead the charge every time!  I love the Fun Psychos I meet in every league.  They'd take on Gotham with five girls and only four pairs of skates.
Actually quote from a fun psycho.

#4 The Bad Psycho No league in the world wants the Bad Psycho; she might punch someone out on the other team, or throw a helmet at the refs.  She is not someone you want representing your league in public or private.
Not a fun character.  Hopefully, as derby progresses, we see fewer Bad Psychos.
#5  The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing  The Wolf tends to appear to be a goof-ball that seems like a weak player, until that first whistle blows.  I also refer to this player as the Stealth Ninja.  Don't get lulled into false security with the Stealth Ninja.

She's tricksy...keep an eye on her.

#6  The Brainiac  The Brainiac is playing derby on a different level completely; she can see complex strategies ten steps ahead, and has the vocabulary of a Samuel Beckett play.  Unfortunately, she might communicate on level that most other skaters can't understand.  Still, if you can fathom her vocabulary and reasoning, she will elevate your game.

Her catch-phrase is "They're being willfully ignorant!"
#7  The Scary Girl  She's the polar opposite of the Love Bug, but she's a great asset on the team, even though you're never sure if she's thinking about stomping you or not.  Let's just put it this way, I'd rather have the Scary Girl on my team than against me.

Great skater...just completely unapproachable.

#8  Fall Apart Bunny  Fall Apart Bunny comes in three flavors, Injury Fall Apart Bunny, Emotionally Devastated Fall Apart Bunny, and Sickly Fall Apart Bunny.  Once again, she's a good skater, but you can never be sure she'll be able to skate.
What will her injury be today?

#9 Old Skool  Gotta love the Old Skool skater; she remembers when you could clockwise block, cut the track, and give the other team the finger.  She's playing by the new rules, but wishes that the older game would come back, just for a little while.  If you don't want to hear about the good ol' days, avoid her at after parties.

Or buy her a drink and enjoy the stories.
#10  The Troublemaker (AKA Loki)  The Troublemaker is the life of the party and the league, but sometimes hanging out with her is like riding a roller coaster without any brakes!  When will she go too far?  Who knows?

Please hold on to the bar!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

What's that smell? Oh wait, it's me.

We've all done it, come home from a brutal practice, and left our sweaty gear in our bags, possibly in the car.  "I'll air my gear tomorrow when I have more time" is usually what most of us are thinking; then it turns into "I'll air my gear when I get home from work."  Eventually, we have procrastinated so much that we end up not opening our gear bags until we go to practice again.  Surprise!  Now our gear reeks and possibly is still wet!  Yea!  Doesn't that sound appealing and healthy?

Yes, you.  You stink.

Well, it's actually really bad for you to skate in wet gear, and your teammates don't love smelling your reek either.  We all understand that there is always going to be a certain level of derby pad stink when we're playing, but sometimes stink crosses the line to awful stench, and that's not healthy for anyone.  Our league has a Stinky Pad award we give out at the end of the year, but in all seriousness, it's not an ideal situation for us to be skating around in wet, stinking gear.

First of all, wet gear is a breeding ground for mold and fungal infections; putting wet gear on your skin every other day is most likely going to cause irritation or a possible infection, such as ring worm, impetigo,  or even MRSA.  Gross.  The BEST thing you can do to keep your pads from getting disgusting is dry them out when you get home from practice.  I actually have a drying rack that is specifically set up and used for drying derby gear.  Opening all of the velcro and hanging each pad so it's as open to airflow as possible is the best way you can dry your gear.  Some people dry their gear in the sun, but this can age the elastic parts of your pads, so I wouldn't recommend it on a regular basis.  By the way, when was the last time you really opened your bag and let it air out?  Yeah, you might want to do that too.  Bags can harbor the same reeks that lurk in your pads.

What if you're playing in a tournament situation and can't dry your pads overnight?  Well,  I learned from the Texas Rollergirls that wearing something on your arms to block direct contact with your wet pads can make your situation more comfortable.  I tend to take a long sock and cut the foot off and wear them like gauntlets.  That way my wet pads don't rub on my skin; also, if I wear the gauntlets the first time, they're the ones that tend to get wet, and my pads stay dryer.  Win win! gauntlets!

Ok, you dried your gear every time you've used it, but it still reeks; some people have strong body odor, and that can change with what you eat and drink on a daily basis. Your final option is washing your pads; I realize that washing gear can be trying on people.  Velcro opens and catches in the washing machine, and washing your gear can start to degrade the elastic parts as well, but sometimes it's a necessary evil.  I try to minimize my washing of pads to once a month, and then I use warm wash, gentle cycle and Tide Sports Brand detergent.  It tends to cut through the residual derby stink that remains in pads, even after a good washing.  According to some hockey moms who blog incessantly on this subject, Gear Wash works really well at removing odors and creepy crawlies.  I have sensitive skin in general, so I try to stay away from detergents that I haven't used in the past, but it might work for you.

Aurora Thunder has a great home made detergent that's she's willing to share with us.
Homemade Laundry Detergent (Super easy!)
Most ingredients can be found in the laundry aisle of any chain store.

2 C of fels naptha, zote, or other bar soap

1 C of Borax
1 C of Washing Soda (not baking soda)

You can also add a few drops of essential oils if you like. Tea Tree Oil is recommended for its antibacterial properties.

Grate the bar soap and mix all ingredients together. Store in an airtight plastic container. Use 2-3 teaspoons for a full load of laundry (I use the full 3 tsps for derby pads). This is a low sudsing formula so it's safe for front loading and HE machines.

On the sensitive skin note, I am not a fan of constantly spraying gear with Febreeze and other sprays; I do worry that my skin will have a reaction one of these days, so I avoid it as much as possible.  To help deodorize my gear on a day to day basis, I throw a dryer sheet in the bottom of my bag or use "sneaker deodorizer balls" in my skate bag.  (Thanks to Percy Q-tion for the tip!)  Neither of these items comes into direct contact with the interior of my pads, but it does cut the smell back a bit.  I haven't won that Stinky Pad award yet, and I hope I can keep avoiding it by maintaining my gear.
Stinky Pads award...not it!

If you have any suggestions for staying cleaner in your gear, please share!  Make derby a less stinky place for all of us!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Blocker love: Blocker hate

As promised, I gave the blockers a chance to respond to what really annoys them about jammer behavior on the track, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the list be so small.  Even though it is a much thinner list, most of the suggestions have a common theme to them, so they seem to be universal complaints!  So, let's all hunker down and try to solve some of these issues.

#1 Take the hole  That sounds filthy, but it's about your blockers trying to open up holes for their jammers. Blockers are trying to do two jobs at one time, and they are hustling!  They have to stop the opposing jammer and get their own jammers through the pack, and manage not to get blindsided by another blocker.  If your blocker is working for you and she opens up the inside line, do not hesitate!  Skate skate skate!
She works hard for her jammer!  All photos by A Boy Named Tsunami

#2 Don't just wait  Blockers are ok if you get a little pushy with them; blockers by nature don't have personal space issues the way jammers do, so if you need them to get out of your way or block a particularly persistent blocker, give them a little shove.  Do be mindful though that sometimes the blocker you're about to move might just have the other jammer locked down; to quote Rigor Morticia "do not yank me off booty blocking the other jammer just to get a little more keeping the other jammer sucked in the pack is getting you your 15-0 jam, sis."  Remember, sometimes the blockers' other job is destroying that other jammer.

Working hard to keep that jammer from messing up your grand slam.

#3 Pick the right side  Most blockers, when doing offensive blocking, will try to indicate to their jammers which side they are pushing the other blocker to.  It's safer for a jammer to try to pass a pair of blockers locked in mortal battle by passing on the side of their blocker.  This usually means that if your blocker is on the outside, you pass on the outside so she can contain that other blocker and keep her away from you!  Sometimes jammers get tunnel vision and they don't see the "set up" their blockers are giving them. 

#4  Don't give up control too quickly  I see this one a lot; sometimes jammers call the jam too quickly.  Either they lose track of the other jammer, or they're just so happy to be able to call the jam, they do it.  Watch your bench coaches; they should be the ones telling you whether to keep going or to call it  Trust that they understand the bigger picture, and look to them for guidance.  If your team has a comfortable league and a blocker in the box, you not calling the jam until the other jammer is about to score may eat up some of that penalty time.  Conversely, if you're not paying attention to the bench coaches and you SHOULD be calling the jam and you're not, that is just as bad.

#5  Don't give up  This is a big one, and I know how it is to be a jammer who is struggling either because she's just exhausted from running through the pack a million times (perfect scenario) or she's stuck in the pack behind a Cthulu-like blocker.  It takes the wind out of all of your blockers to give up; I will throw my body in front of a million blockers for a jammer who is digging in and trying with all of her might, but if she starts giving up, it kills the morale of the pack. 

#6  Thank your blockers  No blockers wrote this on my post of Facebook, but I really do think that jammers should always thank the blocking paths.  If I am lucky enough to have a couple of grand slams on a jammer run, I ALWAYS thank my blocking pack, because they gave me the room to do my job.   

I'm lead?  Sweet!  Thank you blockers!

#7  Stay out of the box  Nuff said on that one.

#8 Jammers, you can hit too  Jammers, make that opposing jammer regret the rule that you can engage her anywhere on the track.

Once again, we're all in this together.  Jammers aren't infallible; they aren't cyborgs.  Nobody expects anybody to be perfect, but we should all strive to be a better and play a more productive game.

Thank you for your input!
Riva Derci
Holly Gohardly
Busty Rhymes
Poisonberry Shortcake
Magikly D'Vicious
Aurora Thunder
Kat A. Killzem
Feelin' Froggy
Lisa Cherry

Friday, December 16, 2011

You have a problem: derby hoarding

Who hasn't seen that train wreck of a show called Hoarders?  Let me sum it up for you; people have too much crap and too many issues!  Are we all just one step away from being hoarders ourselves?  Well, I'm here to tell you that a lot of derby girls are hoarders and it is time to fess up to it!

Actually, you did on Facebook.  Socks win!  Spiffy graph brought to you by Hawaiian Donkey Punch

Now, let's define hoarding.  When I have a collection of old, worn out wheels that I hold onto for no reason, it's because I'm thrifty!  When you do it, you have a problem!  I'm kidding, but only a little.   Right now in my derby box, I have thirty two wheels that are no longer bout or practice able.  Why the heck am I keeping them???  I know that I have some vague idea that I could use them for outdoor skating, but do I need thirty two wheels for that?  The answer is a definitive NO.  I should throw out or recycle the other twenty four, and yet they're still sitting in my box. Do I really think I'm going to have a catastrophic wheel crises where I would need 32 extra wheels?  No.  I know I'm not the only one who has this problem; my good friend Beth Row carries a huge and heavy box around with her crammed with wheels for every occasion.  When we get to the bout, she decides what she wants to wear and then she has to dig through a bunch of wheels to find the ones in the best condition.
Look at the dust on some of them...oops.

Let's see what else I have in my box; ok, I have a ton of bearings that I actually use when I swap out wheels, or need to replace a bearing or clean my other set, so that doesn't count.  Hmmm.  I have three old toe stops; I know I should keep two of them for outdoor skating as well, but what would happen if one of them broke too?  This is the kind of thinking that let's me keep trash!

Every time I upgrade my pads, I tend to hold onto them; I kept my original Protec knee pads for almost four years until two weeks ago when I decided I had enough clutter in my house, and I finally pitched them.  Yea me!  Unfortunately, I still have my 187s hanging around for no purpose.  It's nice that I have two and a half pairs of wrist guards piled in the corner of my spare room, but why do I need so many? I don't even want to get into how many handkerchiefs I have or stockings that only have a few rips in them!

I have a serious problem.

So, how can we fix our hoarding issues?  Honestly, I think hoarding can be helped by turning it into sharing.  Every league has a crop of newbies who come to us with nothing; some of them will skate with the crappiest of wheels and bearings, or terrible protective gear. I'm sure that someone somewhere gave you or let you "borrow indefinitely" pads or wheels or a shirt or something.  It's time to pay it forward: organize a newbie gear party, and have your vets bring in their extra crap that might still be useable.  Think about how much happier you'll be with getting rid of stuff you aren't using, and giving it to someone who will appreciate it.  (Please don't share mouth guards.)  If you don't want to give away all of your cool derby shirts,  MC Fyte suggests you can turn them into a really cool quilt.  Think about how awesome that would be for someone to do for a retiring derby sister?  If I could sew, I would totally attempt that!

If you have suggestions on recycling our hoarded gear, please share!  Stop the madness!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jammer love: Jammer Hate

I personally consider myself to be a blocker who occasionally jams when my team needs me to take a shift, so I'm in a pretty good position (ha) to tell you that although jammers love love love their blocking packs, there are some things we blockers end up doing to make our jammers' lives a little less than idyllic.  Here are some of Facebook's top picks.

#1  Pack is running too fast.  Well, when your jammer has lead, why are you letting your pack get faster?  It's such a instinct to keep moving forward, and we all do it, but we need to learn to take control of the pack and slooooooooow it down.  Remember, what we as blockers think is slow, is not the same as what your jammer wants as slow! 

#2 Blocking your own jammer.   Oops.  Ha ha, I've done this; it tends to happen to me more when I'm at an invitational, or during practice when we've split up randomly for scrimmage in practice.  Sometimes I forget who my jammer is.  Yes jammers, sometimes we blockers get distracted by shiny shiny things on the track and don't pay attention.  Sometimes I am concentrating on holding the line so hard that I don't realize my jammer is trying to shove me out of the way. The best thing you can do as a blocker is be aware of where your jammer is, but if you still end up blocking her, workout some kind of code between yourselves that she can shout in your ear to make you move your butt!  Quadzilla suggests you yell "friendly!" but Beth Row and I tend to just start yelling "it's me it's me...meeeeeeeeeee!" in a rising, desperate tone.  And to be fair, this same exact thing has happened to me when I have jammed, and I have ended up literally throwing my blocker off of the line.  This too is an awesome option.

#3 Letting the other team recycle.  I know for a fact that you feel like a rockstar as a jammer when you think you've cleared the pack, and then WHAMO!  One or two or three opposing blockers run to the front of the pack and suck the jammer back in.  To stop this from happening, we really need to strive to keep our jammer from having to work twice as hard; keep those blockers from recycling!  You can almost see blockers sort of relax and let people slip out of booty blocks.  You're never off duty as a blocker!

Really?  Where did you two come from?  Photo by A Boy Named Tsunami

#4  Inappropriate jammer assists.   Timing is everything.  There is a three person wall in front of your jammer, and you decide to whip her or push her to give her some speed. AGH!   I cringe when I see someone give a jammer an inappropriate assist.  I know we want to help, but getting your jammer sent to the box for a major back block is not helping!  Learning to give an appropriate whip takes experience and practice, and your jammer will appreciate a well timed butt push.  Conversely, jammers, you'd better be aware when your blocker is working her proverbial butt off to block in someone and give you a whip!  Nothing makes blockers grumpier than when a jammer ignores help.

Appropriate jammer help.  Photo by A Boy Named Tsunami

#5  Don't be a point.  Blockers, how many times have you been in this situation?  Your jammer has a quarter of a lap lead on the other jammer, and she MIGHT get a point or two before she has to call it, but there are two of her own blockers in the back of the pack, just skating.  Have either of those blockers been you?  It is really disheartening for a jammer who is hoping to get one or two points has to call it prematurely.  Don't dawdle at the back at the pack!

To be fair jammers, blockers are trying to help you to the best of our abilities.  Sometimes we do a great job, and sometimes we blow it, but remember ladies, these girls repeatedly throw their bodies in front of some mean beasts just for you!  Don't forget to thank your pack each and every time you are out there.  Have faith in your pack because they definitely have faith in you.

Yes blockers, you will get your chance to share your pet peeves too. 

Thanks for contributing!
Magikly D'Vicious
Beth Row
Busty Rhymes
Molly Flogger
Summer SkoolYa
Krush Groove
Rock E Horrorshow Unit 1038

Announcer love: Professor Lou Botomy in his own words

Announcers...they can help a game or hurt your game.  Here is one of my favorites, talking about how he got involved in derby: he's loud, he's proud, he's PROFESSOR LOU BOTOMY!
Photo by Bill Rhodes

Got my derby start in Feb 2006 when longtime friend Bone Crawford (Gotham) invited me to the first Dust Devil. Asked Roxy Rockett if she was a derby girl when I was getting on the plane, I was that guy. I fell in love with derby and the amazingly cool people involved. Went to every Carolina bout I could after that and was a volunteer as well doing track work. Started recognizing people at the Skate Ranch in Raleigh from Wilmington and one day at a beach bar, was asked by one of the players (Eso) if I would like to help with the Cape Fear team. Duh!!! As we worked towards our first bout, CFRG asked me if I would announce the game. I had never been an announcer or ever done any work with my voice sans playing the dj making mix tapes as a kid. Although I really wanted to be a coach, I reluctantly said yes to the announcer gig. The next trips to Raleigh I paid close attention to Rockerboy and the crew and got some tutelage from Bob Noxious. On bout day, Professor Lou Botomy escaped from inside me and we have been running amuck ever since.

A few bouts into my new life path, Bull Lee asked me to announce a game for a team named Rogue from Fayetteville. No way I could say no to that. So my travel life as a derby announcer now has its cornerstone. With teams sprouting up everywhere and very few derby announcers, it was nearly assured I get busier in the future. I said to Durga (RDD) early into year 2, " I really want to get where I am doing 30 games a year". Be careful, sometimes you get what you wish for. Nearly did that by the end of the year. One year I was juggling 14 teams. At the end of this year alone, I will have done 41 events. (41 events= 70 games announced and 5 coached) Does that mean I travel a lot? 4 events in my home town this year, you figure it out. Since that first bout, I have announced games from Long Island, NY to Florida and almost every state in between. Won't even get into the number of cities and venues. Hope to add a few more to that this year.

As a derby announcer I have a mantra, make the players look good and keep the fans as informed as needed. It is not about me. (why I don't really like being announced that much or tell people who I am while announcing) I try to say every player's name during the game if I can, although they don't hear it most of the time. They do hear their name if they are being sent to the penalty box and I mention it, and do make sure to thank me for that later. I do try to keep the fans informed while trying not to be too long winded. Run too long on any one thing and they tune you out.

I have always loved playing sports and being active. I like to play more than watch, I like to be involved. I was being scouted for a full ride to college as a soccer player when my knee was destroyed. I tried to play for a couple more years rec style but the knee just wouldn't hold up. Luckily I found surfing a few years later and is still one of my loves 23 years down the road. Knees are starting not to like that much either though. I purchased some quads not long after I got into derby. I took a bad spill one night while dreaming of starting a mens derby team and my knee did not work the next morning when I got out of bed. My quads were retired soon afterward in hopes to being able to surf for another 15 years.

When I was young, my Dad would take the family to many pro baseball games. (Dodgers, Brewers) These are great memories. A couple years after I started announcing derby, I went by the local baseball team to see if they needed an announcer and they did. Have been working with them for three years now. So every summer I get to think about our family at the ballparks when I was a kid and times were simpler. Thank you derby.

I announce the way I do because I love the game and get excited about it. Some say I go a little gonzo and that is fine with me. I get to talk about amazing athletes and work with them on a regular basis. Better yet, I get to know these same athletes personally. I get to see creative minds working at their best in and out of derby. Through derby, I have met some incredible people and become a better person myself. If you cant get excited about that, well, I just don't know...

I am very lucky to have found derby and been given a place in this wonderful community.

If you have an announcer that needs love, make a suggestion!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I used to have pretty feet...before derby

When I was a wee newbie, I skated every chance I got; skating so much made me awesome, made me mighty, and really really wrecked my feet. Not only did I get blisters, I got blisters on top of blisters on top of blisters!  At one point, I actually went to the Urgent Care because my blister got infected, and everyone was worried I had MRSA.

PS.  It wasn't MRSA, but the doctor was fascinated with the prodigious amount of pus coming out of my blister.

Before I would skate, I would tape up almost every part of my foot and I would still get blisters, or I would just wear parts of my skin out until I was bleeding. I kept thinking "One of these days, my feet will get tough enough to skate without pain!" but it just wasn't happening. I should have gotten stock in tape! Eventually, I bought new skates, and my new boot made things better, but I was still getting blisters.

Lucy Lastkiss saved my feet.
Finally, one of the veteran skaters came over and pointed out that I was wearing the wrong socks.  Lucy Lastkiss, a serious badass, told me that skating in cotton based socks can lead to moisture retention, and therefore blisters. I had fallen into the trap of wanting to skate in cute socks.  Lucy suggested I get some Miracle Wool socks; she used them for hiking and a lot of outdoorsy stuff.  I like this style myself.  Q's socks.  Wool socks tend to wick moisture away from your body, and offer less friction against your skin.  I like the socks with the thicker bottom to them because I tend to jam a lot and I put a lot of pressure on the balls of my feet when I'm sprinting.

The downside of Miracle Wool or Smart Wool socks is the price; they are more pricey than regular socks.  When I bought my first pair, it cost me fifteen dollars, but I have never worn a pair out.  I own about three pairs which I rotate through on a day to day basis.  Since I have worn these socks, I have not gotten a blister, not even once.  I also am starting my fourth season with the boots I bought in my rookie year.  I surprised the Riedell rep at Rollercon when I told him how old my skates were.  He was shocked by the fact that they were in such good shape, and I really do attribute the lack of wear and tear to the socks.  Also, I haven't had to tape my feet for years; I don't even carry it for emergencies anymore.

These socks may not work for everyone; I know that some people are allergic to wool, but I have been lucky so far.  Tannibal Lector of Oly told me at Rollercon that she skates barefoot, which blew my mind.  She also told me that "You don't want to go anywhere near her skates because they reek."  That, coming from a derby girl who deals with many nasty smells on a daily basis, made me shiver.  Some people like to skate in really thin socks as well, and for them I would suggest the Miracle Wool thinner sock.  And of course, some people will always want to wear the cute socks.  Lucy Lastkiss had a great suggestion; "wear the miracle wool socks and cut the feet out of the cute socks to wear over them."  She's such a savvy lady.

If you're still suffering from blisters, here is a guide for caring for them.  I do NOT suggest that you do any kind of surgical stuff to yourself unless you sterilize your implements well.  MRSA and infections are no joke.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Twelve Days of Derby

Because we are firmly in the Christmas season, please to enjoy my take on the 12 Days of Christmas!

On the first day of Christmas, derby gave to me:
a blister on my big toe.
Gnarly blister toe by Hotmess Express

On the second day of Christmas, derby gave to me:
two buns of steel and a blister on my big toe.

Buns by Amity Little

On the third day of Christmas, derby gave to me:
three grand slams, two buns of steel and a blister on my big toe.

Art by A. Fox

On the fourth day of Christmas, derby gave to me:
four awesome blockers, three grand slams, two buns of steel and a blister on my big toe.

On the fifth day of Christmas, derby gave to me:
Four awesome blockers, three grand slams, two buns of steel and a blister on my big toe.

On the sixth day of Christmas, derby gave to me:
Six major penalties, a five hour league meeting, four awesome blockers, three grand slams, two buns of steel and a blister on my big toe.

Art by  Scream Weaver

On the seventh day of Christmas, derby gave to me:
Seven refs a whistlin', six major penalties, a five hour league meeting, four awesome blockers, three grand slams, two buns of steel and a blister on my big toe.

Artist Formerly Known As KGBebe

On the eighth day of Christmas, derby gave to me:
Eight wheels a spinnin', seven refs a whistlin', six major penalties, a five hour league meeting, four awesome blockers, three grand slams, two buns of steel and a blister on my big toe.

On the ninth day of Christmas, derby gave to me: nine dollar shin guards (yeah, I said it!), eight wheels a spinnin', seven refs a whistlin', six major penalties, a five hour league meeting, four awesome blockers, three grand slams, two buns of steel and a blister on my big toe.

On the tenth day of Christmas, derby gave to me: ten random bruises, nine dollar shin guards, eight wheels a spinnin', seven refs a whistlin', six major penalties, a five hour league meeting, four awesome blockers, three grand slams, two buns of steel and a blister on my big toe.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, derby gave to me: An eleven month season, ten random bruises, nine dollar shin guards, eight wheels a spinnin', seven refs a whistlin', six major penalties, a five hour league meeting, four awesome blockers, three grand slams, two buns of steel and a blister on my big toe.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, derby gave to me: Twelve leagues at Nationals, an eleven month season, ten random bruises, nine dollar shin guards, eight wheels a spinnin', seven refs a whistlin', six major penalties, a five hour league meeting, four awesome blockers, three grand slams, two buns of steel and a blister on my big toe.

Many thanks to Hotmess Express, Amity Little, The Artist Formerly Known As KGBebe, A Fox, Scream Weaver and Sylvia Wrath (retired) for their input!

We could be such good friends:

Hello.  My name is Elektra Q-Tion and I am a derby stalker. Now, before someone gets offended, please understand that I am not making light of the real danger and crime of stalking; I'm talking about finding your derby heroes and trying to learn from their styles.

First of all, do you know how lucky we are in this sport?  Our sport is at this amazing point in its history where we can actually interact with the major movers and shakers.  Do you think that amateur basketball players and easily see Kobe play live?  I get to practice with some of the most outstanding players in the WFTDA, but since I'm around them all of the time, I really don't need to stalk them.  We are really in the perfect moment to be in derby.  This is why it is so important to be careful how we approach some of our derby sheroes.

My first derby stalker fail came last year when at ECE, the Bootleggers played Gotham's B-team, the Wall Street Traitors.  Ginger Snap and Hyper Lynx were both playing and I was star struck; I actually was on the pivot line with Ginger when I said "If you hit me and leave your number on me, will you sign it later?"  Ginger gave me a blank stare and slowly moved away from me.  Sigh.  I blew that one.  I wanted to yell "I'm harmless!  I promise!"

After that gaffe, I stalked my sheroes through footage; I studied Suzy Hotrod, Mo Pain, Kelly Young, Athena, and a Joy Collision.  I made sure I read their blogs and interviews; and I watched their games on DNN constantly.  I was obsessed with their awesomeness, but I didn't impact anyone else with my fan-gooberness.

My second and more successful derby stalking happened at Rollercon this year.  I saw that Quadzilla was going to be there teaching, and I was like a giddy school girl.  I made sure I signed up for every one of his classes and showed up super early each time.  Yes, I had random thoughts about putting him in my suitcase and bringing him back to North Carolina so he could make my state MIGHTY, but I didn't go any further than asking him his opinion about ab work outs and of course his Antik skates.
In case you've been living in a hole for the last year.  I'm still sad that my feet are too narrow for the boots.  But as I was saying, I was well behaved.
Ok, I still took a couple of pics of him when he wasn't looking.

Yes, we are lucky that we can talk to the super stars of our sport, and most of them are pretty approachable!  Every person who is star struck just wants some of that amazing ability to rub off on them, just for a little while.  We still have to remember that they are people who need their space and don't need us following them around and stalking them on Facebook, unless they have a fan page for just the occasion! I try to approach my heroes is a much cooler manner than I did at ECE; I still feel weirdly awkward at times because I'm trying to be so casual and polite to them, but I think I have it under control....mostly.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Coming to a practice near you....

I love traveling to other league practices. Sometimes I'm out of town and am jonesing for a derby practice over the weekend, but other times I just like to go and see what other leagues are doing and how they run their practices.  Personally, I think it makes me a stronger skater to get out and skate with strangers; I have to approach each player as an unknown.  One of our skaters, Misanthrope the Mordant says she treats every skater as if they skated for Gotham, which is pretty awesome, since she's such an amazing skater herself!  Also, going to another league's practice let's you just concentrate on skating; you don't have any administrative responsibilities for that practice, and wouldn't that be a relief once in a while?

I have been lucky to visit the lovely ladies of Palmetto, Cape Fear, and Gate City this year; each one of these leagues have opened up their floors to me with gusto.  I've also been lucky to practice with our men's team, Collision. It made me feel very welcomed, and I really learned some things from each league.  I can not thank them enough for letting me come to visit!  I've also been invited by other leagues to come and practice, and I will try to hit more of them next year, I promise!

I urge you to branch out and see where you can travel, but there is definitely a protocol when trying to attend another league's practice.  Follow this list, and you should have a successful experience.

1. Contact the league you want to visit, OFFICIALLY.  You may have a friend on that league, but you need to go through proper channels.  Make sure you get permission to come; usually this means contacting their training director or training email.  Also, please ask if you need to bring different shirts; most leagues use black and white shirts for scrimmage, but some leagues use different colors.  Be prepared!  It would also be helpful to have your name and number on your shirt; remember, people don't necessarily know your name!  Also, please have your USARS or WFTDA number with you, as you might need to fill out paperwork before your skate.

2.  Show up!  If you say you're going, go! It's just rude not to go.  I know things come up, like sickness or car trouble, but if you can't make it, make sure they know you've canceled.  Don't be that girl.

3. Don't be butthurt if the league you are visiting asks to evaluate your skating skill before you are allowed to practice with them,  Some leagues have stricter standards than others, and they want to make sure that both parties will be safe playing together.

4.  Also, don't be butthurt if training emails you back and declines your visit; sometimes leagues want to have a closed practice because they have a game coming up, or they are concentrating on specific skills and don't want an extra distraction.

If you follow this guide, you should have a great experience!  Remember that you are representing your league too, so be on your best behavior!

And that may lead to a deeper friendship where you end up screaming on a roller coaster together!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Stop it! JUST STOP IT!

Hold on ladies and gentlemen, I am firmly stepping up to my soap box and strapping on my preaching helmet.  Deep breath in....are you ready?  STOP SMOKING!  JUST STOP IT!  I SEE YOU THERE...PUT THAT STUPID CIGARETTE OUT!

Notice I didn't call you stupid, just that cigarette you have hanging out of your mouth.

Ok...I'm calling myself stupid.

It blows my mind that derby people, strong and smart derby people still smoke!  Is it 1958? I'm pretty sure it isn't.  We all know that smoking causes cancer of the lips, throat, lungs and esophagus; how many public service announcements have we all seen?  Smoking also causes emphysema,  which basically suffocates you in the long run.  Doesn't that sound delightful?  If you really want to freak yourself out, please read this blog about post surgical recovery and cigarettes.  The writer is a plastic surgeon and he discusses what can happen to people who smoke after surgery.  Hint, their nipples can turn black and fall off.  Yeah, that's what I said.  READ THIS AND BE AFRAID

I wouldn't be this adamant about quitting smoking if I hadn't done it myself.  It is tough and it sucks; I started smoking because it helped me with my stress and anxiety.  It was a crutch and I found that I did it more when I was out having a drink with friends. Sound familiar?  I was mostly a casual smoker, and when I finally decided to quit, I found it really really difficult!  I had to break myself of the habit, which meant I had to break out of my unhealthy patterns.

Most people are able to quit on will power alone;  I don't care what the ads say, willpower is what is going to get you through this.  It all starts with you;  do you really want to quit?  That sounds like a weird question, but many people love love love their cigarettes.  I have been tempted to remove a cigarette from a jammer's fingers at an after party, but I didn't want to draw back a nub. 

Now look people, you are all tough sons of bitches on the track; I've seen you skate after getting hit into the audience, breaking your nose and playing with a tampon hanging out of it.  I've seen you play with broken fingers, broken collar bones and rink rash from hell.  Why are you still smoking?  You are way tougher than any addiction to some stupid plant!

If you want to improve your game, your life and your health, please please please quit smoking! Here is a list of tips that may help you if you commit to it!

Sermon over.

Make your life better!

Sweating the small stuff: nagging injuries

Oh boy, you pulled your groin muscle...again!  Or, you fell and sat on your skate, or you slammed your hand down on the floor and might have broken your finger.  How did you jack your neck up in your sleep? You kicked a door frame in the middle of the night and your little toe feels like it's ten sizes bigger than normal...I could go on.

These are the nagging, annoying and performance killing injuries that can make playing derby pure drudgery.  A player who gets one of these injuries can hover in that "not quite ready to bring it" area of physical and mental prowess for weeks if she doesn't let herself heal.  See Bonnie D. Stroir's blog on injuries.
Ah, if Ballista just had worn some shin guards.

It is hard to tell derby girls to rest and recover; we have a lot going against us, like the instinct to keep going no matter what, higher than average pain tolerances, sheer stubborness, and being just a wee bit crazy to play this sport in the first place.  Add that to the fact that we LOVE to skate, and nobody likes to just sit on the sidelines, and you have a serious recipe for disaster.  If you're interested in a study done on contact athletes vs. non contact athletes and pain tolerances, click here.

How do you know when to sit down and take a break?  This is a tough question to answer, especially for yourself.  Here is where an observant coach or captain should step in and make you take a little break, at least, that would be the ideal situation. If someone else stepped in, players wouldn't feel like they were slacking, or "being wimps".  Some injuries do not seem "dramatic" enough to bench a player; I recently suffered a ridiculous pull in my right shoulder, and I kept skating because I am an idiot.  After playing a few jams at practice, I finally listened to one of my fellow skaters who told me to stop being so foolish.  To be honest here, if it hadn't been for Shebola, I probably would have kept on playing until I really hurt myself.

Some players refuse to sit down because they don't want to be judged as "lazy".  I'm going to make a suggestion that we help our teammates out by not being judgmental.  When you see someone walk out of a car with a handicap sticker on it, and they seem to be walking fine, do you judge them or do you give them the benefit of the doubt.  Do they have a heart condition or a pain condition we can't see?  If you're willing to do that for a stranger, then you have to be willing to give your teammate a break too. 

If you have one of these nagging injuries, please remember that it isn't going to get better with people slamming into you.  Communicate with your coaches and captains; let them know your situation and ask them for their feedback.  Chances are, they're going to want you to take it easy because they want you healthy and whole.  If one of your teammates asks you why you aren't playing, you can be honest with her, just don't be defensive.  We've all been there at one point in our careers; you're a human being first, and derby player second, so please remember that even though people see us a super heroes, we're flesh and blood... and sometimes, the flesh needs to sit down and get healthy.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mouth guards: You kiss your mother with that mouth?

May I ask you a personal question? How long do you keep your toothbrush? If you answered "I get rid of my toothbrush after three or four months, or after I have a cold" then your dentist is incredibly proud of you, and I bet you floss every day too.

Let me ask you another question, how long do you keep your mouth guard?  Did I just hear crickets?  I'm pretty sure I did.  Most derby girls keep their mouth guards for way too long, and guess what ladies, that's kind of gross.  In fact, I'm pretty sure the zombie apocalypse will happen because a derby girl has kept her mouth guard forever and will go feral.

Photo found here

First of all, are you rinsing your mouth guard after every practice?  Most of us throw it into a our skater bag and hope it's there for the next practice.  This is the first no no of mouth guard maintenance.  After each use, you really need to rinse your mouth guard and let it completely dry before it gets jammed back into your bag.  The drying is key; if you let it stay damp, it just allows bacteria to grow and get really disgusting.  Some experts say you should brush your mouth guard with toothpaste and a brush, but this will also wear the plastic out after a while.  Some skaters soak their mouth guards in denture cleaning solution, or even peroxide.  Even with this kind of treatment, plastics break down, bacteria grow and funkiness ensues. 

Here is another tip; according to some dentists, you really should be brushing your teeth before you put your mouth guard in,  Clearly, these dentists have never been to a derby game or practice; I myself have chewed gum while wearing my mouth guard (oops) and people are always drinking energy drinks before putting their mouth guards in.  Evidently, the MMA association has made a mouth guard spray to help keep things sanitary; I have no clue if it's worth the money, but here is the link. Mouth guard sanitzer

Do you leave your mouth guard in a hot car?  This is the third no no with mouth guard maintenance.  If the car gets too hot, your mouth guard can deform and lose its proper shape, which doesn't protect your teeth at all.  Experts say that you should be checking your mouth guard for wear and tear every month or so.  Are you a mouth guard biter?  If so, you really need to take make sure you don't have any holes in it.  Are you looking at your mouth guard now?

Finally, the longest time you should be keeping your mouth guard is six months; it doesn't sound like it's long enough, but even if you follow cleaning protocol to the letter, the plastic can still grow some pretty nasty creepy crawlies, including staph.  Ew.  Your gums are easily irritated, and all of that gruesome stuff can enter your bloodstream quickly. 

Did I scare you into throwing your mouth guard out yet?  If so, check out my favorite mouth guards in the world.  You can talk clearly with them, they fit tightly, and they are way more comfortable that having an awkward hunk of plastic hanging out of your mouth.

My favorite mouth guards

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Derby Little Secret: crop dusting and poop decks.

Ok, this is not for the easily offended, but I'm going to talk about a couple of under the table secrets of derby.

First of all, before I joined derby, I was a NORMAL WOMAN!  I did not talk about bowel movements in public, nor did I share my bathroom routines with anyone; it would have been unheard of.  Only men talked about pooping.  I always figured men talked about it so much because it was a creative outlet for them, but when I joined derby, I finally learned that talking and thinking about pooping was going to be a part of my routine from now on.
Everyone Talks About Poop

To be honest, I didn't think about it that much until I started getting into contact drills with my league; up to that point, we fresh meat were sort of working by ourselves with a dedicated trainer.  We didn't really get to listen to all of the "real derby talk" because we were segregated into a safe area until we weren't complete menaces to ourselves and others.  When I joined scrimmage, I began to learn a few things that didn't have to do with skating.

Derby girls talk about poop, a lot.  Before a bout, we are concerned with what we eat because we don't want to have any intestinal issues during the game. I personally check out where safe places are that I can have some "private" time and not feel pressured; I also share these safe places with the rest of the team, just so we all can feel comfortable going into a game. Some players will talk about how many times they have gone that morning, or if they've gone, or what they could eat or drink to make themselves go, but not go too much!  That would be a disaster!  The best advice I've ever given any newbie before their first game is to make sure they GO before they play.  I think Dave Green, a derby photographer, put it best "Hey, I'd rather not have to Photoshop poop out of the derby shots!"

Derby girls also talk about passing gas.  When someone skates through a pack and farts, it is called crop dusting. Yes, we have a name for it!  Before I joined derby, I would have been pretty shocked to hear some of the statements made about flatulence; now it just seems to be the norm to me.  If you notice that someone crop dusted, you just roll away on your skates.  I've never been so happy to have wheels on my feet at all times.
Skate away!
 Please don't get me started on the burping.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Deez Nuts!

Hi!  I'm Q and I'm one of the mechanically declined folk of the world. Are you?  If so, skate maintenance may be a fathomless mystery to you.  Being one of the declined skaters, I often follow around and bother people who are proficient with mechanical issues.  At first I used to do it just to get them to "help" me (by having them do it for me), but now I actually want to learn junk, and stuff.

Let's talk about axle nuts; everyone has eight of them to contend with, and most of us don't think twice about them until something goes terribly wrong with them.  The reason we don't really have to think about them is that axle nuts keep our wheels on, until they don't.  The inside of an axle nut has a nylon layer that deforms around the axle to keep the nut from being shaken loose by any kind of vibrations and jarring we put our skates through.  Unfortunately, the nylon gets less grippy each time we change our wheels out.  Now, think about that.  How many times have you changed your wheels out in the last six months?  I've cleaned my bearings three times in the last six months, and changed out my wheels at least twice.  So, what does that mean?  Should I change out my nuts or not?
Who says they're no nuts in derby?

Yeah, I said nuts.

According to Sin City Skates, you should change out your axle nuts after changing your wheels ten times, but other experts suggest that if you can put your axle nuts on by hand, then it is time for new axle nuts.  If they have ever fallen off while you were skating, then it is beyond time to change them! 

The good thing about axle nuts is that they're cheap, like six dollars a set cheap!  If you have the 8mm axles, your local skate shop should have a set in stock; even your skating rink might be able to sell you a set.  If you have the 7mm axles like I do, you will have to plan ahead.  If you want to get fancy, they have some colored nuts you can order called Astro Nuts.  Ooh look! They have purple!  Sorry, I still get distracted by the shiny.

Astro Nuts

So, go inspect your nuts and see if you need to put some fresh ones on!  Please don't overuse your nuts!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Art and Derbyface

If you are familiar with me, you know I dabble in art. Because I'm a multi-tasker, I try to combine my loves; to combine derby and art can be a difficult thing.

I know a lot of artists involved with derby; some of my local favorite photographers are Joshua Craig, A Boy Named Tsunami, Bill Rhodes, Joshua Billingsley and Punk Blocker.  What these people do is fantastic; they have an eye for the game and catch the most amazing moments.  They have one of the hardest jobs, to document the game and make us look awesome at the same time.  That's pretty difficult to do with women suffering from "derby face".

If you've played the game for any amount of time, you know we all exhibit the symptoms of derby face.  Don't make me call you out; I'm pretty sure I could find an incident of derby face for every player ever.  I don't care if you're Suzy Hotrod, or Nellie Newbee, there is a picture of you somewhere making some crazy looking face while you're hitting someone or avoiding a hit.  Don't get me wrong, some of us make awful faces just standing still; I admit, I am one of those people.  See some of the pictures below.
Even Joshua Craig cannot avoid taking Derby Face
Special kind of derby face..."jammerface"
Moong awkward face
Courtney Mann caught a whole lot of derby face here.

It's a proven fact that you can see a higher incidence of derby face when people are jamming; I call this "jammerface" and giggle every time I see pictures of it.  I don't know what it is about jamming, but the faces we all make are pretty damned amusing.  Some jammerface involves a tongue hanging out, or just squishing up the features.  On the other hand, some of us have scary jammerfaces, like Moong's up there.  Personally I'd rather see a player have derby face than a blank look of panic, because then I know they are engaged in the game.  Whenever I see a girl with a thousand yard stare going on, I get nervous for her.

Once again, I'd like to bring it back to the AMAZING photographers who are charged with telling our story on the derby track, and manage for the most part to avoid making us look awkward and strange.  It's OBVIOUS that each one of these people are incredibly talented. Please support each and every photographer who donates his or her time and energy to this game we all enjoy.
A Boy Named Tsunami
Bill Rhodes
Joshua Billingsley
Punk Blocker

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Athlete or weekend warrior?

Why did you get into roller derby?  A lot of people do it for the fitness aspect, but then are completely sucked into world of roller derby. I was turning forty the year I started, and I decided that either  I was going to jump out of a plane or tryout for roller derby.  Guess where I ended up?

Before I tried out for derby, I was very into fitness; I worked out at least five days a week and loved being active.  I always liked moving around, but I hadn't been involved in organized sports for over a decade.  When I first started skating again (after a twenty year hiatus) I was in pretty good shape; my endurance was high and due to my bike riding, my legs were strong.  I also did weights and ran.

Last year, someone asked me if I considered myself an athlete; the question really made me sit and ruminate for a while.  Was I in shape? Yes.  Did I play a sport? Yes....but was I an athlete?  Maybe.  It was funny, but I didn't think I was hardcore enough to call myself an athlete at the time, even though I was making five practices a week and training outside of derby on a regular basis.  It was purely my perspective that kept me from calling myself an athlete; I felt like I hadn't earned it yet.  Looking back, I now understand, it was pretty ridiculous.

I am definitely an athlete; if I didn't have derby, I would still pursue active training in other disciplines, such as running, or biking, or even martial arts.  If wheels disappeared from the earth tomorrow, I would still be out there pushing myself. My league is now in derby break and I'm making myself take up yoga, because I need to be more flexible to be a better skater; I'm also focusing on yoga because it is a challenge, and I suck at it right now. Every day starts with yoga, and I gnash my teeth every time my balance is tested, but I keep pushing through because I am an athlete.

What would you be doing if you couldn't play derby?  Would you still be active?  Would you be pushing yourself mentally and physically to take up new challenges?  Or, when you aren't playing derby, do you find yourself being more sedentary?  Are you an athlete or a weekend warrior?  Which one would you rather be in real life?  I'll pick athlete, thanks.

Try your local Crossfit...I think they are a fabulous organization.

What you got under them fuzzy things?

A lot of you may know me as that tall, awkward player who wears the ridiculous pink furry legwarmers at Debutante Brawler games.  Even though I love my legwarmers, and thanks to people like Fairy Brutal, I have a plethora to choose from; but they do hide a dreadful secret from the world.  Yes, I wear shin guards.

I know, I know!  The shame of it all!  How could I be such a dork!  Well, I'll tell you, I love my shin guards and you can have them when you pry them off of my hot sweaty shins.

I started wearing the shin guards during my rookie year, after an unfortunate back kick I received from another league member.  When it happened, I had to crawl off of the track while trying not to scream obscenities.  I did mutter them though, and promptly got some ice on my shin.  The bruise was amazing, and developed into a negative rainbow of mostly greens and purples.

I felt ridiculous, because this ludicrous accident prevented me from skating the rest of that practice, not to mention how painful it actually was.  I sat on the mushrooms at our practice space and pondered my options.  Why hadn't I worn shin guards? I wore them without fear during soccer practice, and this sport was no less brutal.  Why did I feel so silly thinking about wearing shin guards?  After that practice, I stopped by the local sporting good store and checked out the selection of shin guards.

The really sad thing about shin guard shopping was, they were so cheap!  I could have prevented an extremely painful injury for nine dollars and change.  I almost slapped my forehead!  How much of our gear can be bought at that price point?  I finally settled on a pair of pink ones with ankle protectors, and at the next practice, I put them on and skated out to the floor.

I have bought a different pair since then, and I always wear them during scrimmage and drills.  At a recent bout, another skater fell with her knee directly on my ankle, and the paramedics informed me that the ankle protectors saved my ankle from breaking.

So, hear me now.  Have you had a bruised shin because of weird skate intrusion into your personal space?  I have seen so many fellow skaters get kicked in the shins and have horrific bruises and injuries that could have been prevented, but so many of us fight against wearing shin guards because we don't want to wear extra gear?  Really?  Some skaters have told me that they won't wear them because they're ugly.  I always say "How ugly are your shins going to be if you keep getting kicked in them?"  It's not like a shin kick is something you can train to avoid; weird falls and pile ups happen all of the time, whether you're skating as a newbie or a vet.  I personally would rather be comfortable and protected.

These are the shin guards I use now.  I get no money or endorsements from Adidas and Dick's Sporting Goods.