Monday, April 30, 2012

They're Just Doing Their Jobs: Some Ref Love

I can't believe the ref missed that call!  He calls me for a back-block AFTER that girl totally low-blocked me!  We've all been there, that's for sure.  I think the one thing that unites just about every derby player in the world is the urge to ref-hate at times.  Team Zebra hates everyone equally, right?  I decided to write this blog today because I had some pretty awful moments of ref grumping at practice today.  I kept most of it in my head, but I still need to redeem my derby karma!
Well, let's remember ladies and gentlemen, that these guys and gals come out, give us their time and their attention to help us.  Unfortunately, we don't always remember this and we get frustrated.  We expect perfection, or at least for them to make calls that favor us, right?  I asked some refs to weigh in on us haters, and here are some of the responses.

Don't hate, appreciate!  Photo by A Boy Named Tsunami

Seeing a penalty is a three step process. We have to see who initiated contact, what the contact was, and the impact of the contact. If we miss any one part of those, we can not call a penalty. As a ref, it is important to position yourself to see the occurrence, but if you're only seeing the contact and the impact but not who initiated, or the initiation and the contact but not the impact, then there is no informed way to make a call. I think all refs and skaters will agree that missing a penalty should be avoided, but a missed penalty has less overall impact on the game than one that is incorrectly called.  Admiral Packbar

Reffing is a skill just like skating is a skill. It takes the same amount of time to become a good referee as it does to be a good skater. If skaters recognized that refs aren't perfect and are indeed learning? Same as refs should recognize that skaters aren't perfect and are still learning, the world would be a better place. Can't we all just get along?  Stiff Penalty

Reffing roller derby is one of the hardest sports to officiate. There's not many other sports where 7 different officials can all see the action and call it 7 different ways. Bottom line, as already kind of discussed, the officials have to see the start, middle and end of the action. If we don't see it and we are not 100% sure of the call we cannot call it. If there was a penalty and we're not sure it's a major then it is a minor call. If we're not sure it's a minor then it's a no call. Also, it's important to keep in mind that a hard hit does not equate to an illegal hit. Often times you will have a manager argue a hit that was completely legal. If a skater is on the ground holding their face and there was no call, then it would be unfortunate that we missed a call, but it happens. It's an unfortunate but important lesson for the future. Don't let the stress get to you. What you see on the track and what you call is based on what you saw on the track. Back your calls with facts when they try to argue them. It always works better during the discussion when you can break the play down.  Ludichris Speed

Something else to keep in mind to go along with Ludichris Speed is that it's very difficult to judge all of this while in motion. There is no other sport where the players and officials are constantly in motion. Every other sport has a fixed point that they can judge off of where we are always in motion.

Also it's very difficult to see a penalty occur when there are 7 other girls in the pack with you. If any one of them get in our line of sight or even another ref does and we cannot see the entire penalty then we cannot call… really sucks when you know something happens but you can't do anything about it because we didn't see it all.  
Verbal Assault

When I'm worried about missed penalties, I sometimes think of this story:
A man was driving down the highway, making good time, led and followed by several other cars. Passing through a town, he saw flashing lights in his mirror, and obediently stopped on the shoulder of the road; a police car pulled in behind him.

The police officer stepped out of his car, and walked slowly up to the driver's window. He said, "Sir, you were doing eighty in a sixty zone. I'm afraid I'm going to have to give you a ticket."

Watching dozens of other cars roll past, the driver asked in frustration, "Why did you stop me? All those other cars are going just as fast as I was!"

The officer paused a moment to frame his reply. He finally asked the driver, "Sir, do you ever go fishing?" The driver, somewhat perplexed, replied, "Of course...."

The officer then asked, "When you go fishing, do you ever catch all of the fish?"

As referees, we are not always able to issue a penalty for every illegal action. But, as a player, your illegal action is not acceptable just because another player's illegal action wasn't penalized.  Anonymous

If skaters were as perfect as they want the referees to be, there would be no need for referees, only scorekeepers. I'm waiting for the day a skater comes to me and says "Hey, you just missed a back block , I would like my penalty now please". I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen but the irony is pretty obvious don't you think? I don't know about the rest because I have only worked with new teams that have no WFTDA standings to worry about but usually they are just glad to be having fun and everything is forgotten about fifteen minutes into the after party. I think most new skaters realize that refs have just as much to learn about Derby as they do. Oh they are going to complain but from what I've seen win or lose at the end of the bout their discontent is quickly overshadowed by the sheer excitement of Derby....... HottRod

Refs are people too. We volunteered to be at practices and bouts, and we aren't looking for a "win." Even though Team Zebra has remained undefeated (like the Harlem Globetrotters). Very few refs are as well known to the world as some skaters are, we aren't there for that. Just to be supportive in what you women are doing. That is why so few refs are ever asked for a signature after a bout. We shake each others hands and then drift into the mist on the outside of the track after a bout or practice.

Many refs spend as much money on gear as skaters do. But add to it that a lot of them have to drive many more miles if they ref for other local leagues, and do more scrimmages and bouts. Gas expense, mileage, and even hotel rooms add up. So, they spend just about as much money (sometimes even more) to be a volunteer.   Percy Q-Tion

Far too frequently, skaters argue with refs about nuances of the rules that they (skaters) don't know/understand. Yes, refs make mistakes, but if they are like me, they read the rules over and over, follow/participate in a number of referee-focused online discussions and boards, and watch other refs at work in addition to practicing by reffing scrimmages. Doing all of this helps me to mitigate my number of erroneous and missed calls. I agree with Em Forcer that having thick skin helps, but so does knowing my stuff and not having to worry about what skaters are yelling when I know I am right and can cite rules to back it up.  Tart of Darkness

 Two words:  Thick skin!  EM Forcer

As a new ref I know I'm going to miss things. Best answer I give is that it's a learning process for me too. I make calls that I'm willing to stand behind and try to keep improving with each bout. My goal is to be a ref leagues are glad to have on hand, because they know I'll be fair.  Dee Twenty

What everyone already said I was going to say. Definitely know your stuff and have a thick skin. But I think skaters sometimes forget that we are there for their safety and there are rules for a reason. And a good ref can tell the difference between acting and an actual penalty. Vanna Down by the River

We all need to remember that even though roller derby is "for the skaters, by the skaters" it takes a hell of a lot of people to help us run this amazing sport!  When a ref does his or her job well, people tend not to notice; and when they don't, everyone does.  It's a tough position to be in, but they volunteer for it!  Please help me and everyone keep that in mind next time we get a case of the ref grumpies.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Move With a Purpose

 I had a really douchey boss who decided that his "motivational phrase" of the year was going to be "Move with a purpose."  He told us that in every staff meeting.  "If you're crossing the floor, move with purpose" and "if you are moving boxes in the warehouse, move with a purpose." After a while, a lot of us employees would make smart remarks among ourselves, like "I'm moving with a purpose to get my Diet Coke out of the fridge." or "I'm blowing my nose with a purpose", "I'm updating my status with a purpose."  Weren't we clever?  Of course we were being snarky jerks, but I decided that he had a good phrase, he was just using it wrong.  That phrase belonged in derby, not in the work place.

When you come to practice, what is your purpose?

Let's say it again for that really is a rad question mark.

Are you just showing up to practice because you have nothing better to do?  Are you there because you have to show up for attendance? Do you come to practice just to socialize? If so, you have no purpose or focus.  You need to find one quickly, otherwise you aren't helping yourself or the team.  I know it can be hard to be motivated about drills, especially if you're tired, had a bad day, or just don't care about the drill in general.  I realize not everyone can be "full on derby" at every practice, but we all have to remember that we are at practice for a reason, and it's not just to take up space.

1.  Remind yourself what your role is in the drill.  Are you supposed to be working with a wall? Are you working on toe stops?  Are you supposed to be the offensive blocker?  Are you there to help someone else learn a skill?  Sometimes in a drill, you have to be a "blocking dummy".  It sucks, but sometimes at that very moment, the drill isn't about you.  Don't be a jerk and mess it up for someone else.

2.  Focus on the drill.  Sometimes this is easier said than done; being around our friends can be distracting.  Most people don't want to be rude when someone starts talking about the funny thing that happened at work today; you want to join in the conversation.  Unfortunately, this is the kind of behavior that takes focus off of the drill, and not just yours!  People around you become distracted too, and you've robbed others of their best focus.  Try to stay focused on the drill as long as you can.  Remind yourself why you are there.

3.  Push your comfort zone.  Sometimes people slack off in the drills because they don't want to look stupid or clumsy.  Those are the people who aren't going to be getting the most out of drills, and therefore won't be improving their derby game.  If you aren't comfortable doing a drill, then it is a drill worth doing!  Clearly you need to work on the skill the drill is teaching!  One of my favorite derby players (Quadzilla) said in a class "If you aren't falling, you aren't trying hard enough."  I know it sucks that we all can't magically master a technique, but that's the reality of our sport.

4.  Remember that SKATING IS FUN!  We work hard because we LOVE this sport!  All of that hard work you're putting into learning a technique or strategy will pay off.  It may not be right away, but it will happen! 

So, when you find yourself distracted or frustrated at practice, gently remind yourself of your purpose for being there, and it will definitely clear your mind.  Also, I think I need to write my former boss a thank you note for his motivational phrases.  Yeah, I'll get right on that.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Derby retirement: Now what do I do?

I love derby: this sport motivates me to watch footage, talk derby, learn new things and increase my skills.   Most of my friends on Facebook are derby related, and of course I write my blog.  A large part of my life is spent thinking and practicing derby.  I think most people feel this way about our sport.

I have met many amazing people in derby, people I may not have met otherwise, and I cherish their friendships.  Some people become true friends outside of derby, but most people will probably remain just "derby folk" in my life, and that's ok.  I understand that everyone will have to leave derby at some point, or at least not be as active in it.  Life becomes demanding, knees give out, and eventually bruises and injuries become too much.  Some people retire gracefully, and some people have it forced upon them, but either way, it can put a strain on the friendship of someone still in derby, and someone who has decided to retire.

I had quite a few of my derby friends and sheroes retire a year ago; I knew it was the right time for them to leave the sport, but it was really hard to go to practice and realize they wouldn't be there lacing up their skates next to me.  When you skate with people for a while, you get used to them being there.  I knew that these people always had my back out on the track, and I really missed them.  At first, I hoped that some of them might change their minds, and then when they didn't, I found myself reminiscing about them to the newbies.  I'm sure that the rookies were like "That's great, but who is it again?" Sigh.  It was a hard transition to make for both the retiree and myself.
Love these ladies!
Sometimes, it's hard to be around my retired friends and NOT talk derby most of the time; derby is a huge part of my life, and I want to share it with people everywhere!  But I do make a concerted effort not to talk about derby constantly with them.  At times, I find myself editing what I was going to say, even though I want to tell them about about that great hit I made on a really badass skater, or how someone lost a wheel off of her skate in the middle of a jam and managed to get lead jammer!  At times, I find myself seriously editing what I say, and that does lead to some awkward quiet moments.  (It's like ignoring a three hundred pound gorilla with PMS stinking up the living room.)

We all muddle through somehow, and even though they aren't active in derby anymore, my friends are super supportive of my derby choices.  I hear them cheering me on in every home game, and I still ask for their input in my blogs and derby life in general.  It takes a fine touch, but I think we have reached a good balance in our social lives.

Of course, most of us aren't considered balanced in our "normal" lives.

 KG Bebe left derby a year ago, and has shared some of her experiences below. 

1. Be prepared for a physical withdrawal.  Endorphins are addictive, and so it may take you a while to re-normalize.

2. You will now have a LOT more free time.  It's a good idea to find something else to fill it so you don't go stir crazy and lose it.  Some of these things should involve other people.  Being by yourself after having been in a large group for some time can make you paranoid and crazy.

3. You may want to give yourself some time before going to games.  Chances are, you're going to want to be back out there.  It's going to drive you nuts when you see people doing stupid shit on the track because they're out there and you're not.  Don't torture yourself before you're ready to handle it.

4. It will be hard to sit there and talk about derby, particularly after you've long run out of stories that are relevant.  It's good to figure out what other topics you and the derby people you want to keep in your life have in common.

5. Don't be afraid to admit that there are people with whom the only thing you had in common was derby, and it's okay to let those people go.  Or in some cases, shove them away with great force.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Shut up and skate! Derby poster

Have you ever just felt like sitting down on the sidelines during practice?  Well, we all have!  It's the skaters that keep going that are successful as players, and teammates.  The other day on Facebook, I saw this "Just keep running" poster, and I thought I could adapt it to make it into a cool derby inspiration poster.

You can download the large file here, but please give me credit if you repost it.  Credit my portfolio site, or my DA account

You can skate through all the excuses.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mish Mash: Derby tricks and tips

If you hang around long enough in derby, you will learn secrets and sacred tips that skaters have passed down from generation to generation; ok, I'm exaggerating, but you can learn some cool things!  I am sharing some of the tips I've figured out over my four seasons, and have asked some derby peeps to share as well! 

1.  Are your toe stops unscrewing themselves even though you have screwed in as tight as possible?  You could consider using some Teflon plumber's tape and wrapping it around the stem of the toe stop to give it a snugger fit.  Teflon tape might save you from having to get the toe stop hole re-bored in the future.

2.  A dab of sunscreen on a wash cloth will get rid of those pesky permanent markers numbers on your arms without scrubbing your skin raw.  Of course, some people like to wear their numbers on their arms like badges of courage; but if you're in a wedding the next day, use that sunscreen!
Lita Revolution also shares that Vaseline will take permanent marker off your arms without ruining your manicure;  I wouldn't know anything about that because I haven't had a manicure since 1999.
Yes, I like my sunscreen strong and my skin pale and pasty.
3.  Speaking of numbers, ever sweat yours off during a game?  L8tr SK8tr shares that he recently learned that if you rub antiperspirant on your arm over your number it helps keep the Sharpie on when you sweat.  I may have to try that at our May bout, since Dorton does not have any air conditioning, and I can sweat in an igloo.

4.  It looks like deodorant might be the new jack of all trades, because here is another tip!  According to Gillie O'Tene, her fellow skater Agenda "puts Secret deodorant on her wrists, elbows and knees before she puts on her pads and they NEVER smell!! Of course she could be a freak of nature with non smelly sweat but it apparently works. It must be Secret though, she told me Degree doesn't work as well. She uses the scent changing kind that goes from powder fresh to Watermelon when you sweat. Yes it really exists."  It makes a weird kind of sense, but I've never tried it.  If you're feeling brave, let me know how it worked!
5.  Cheesecloth makes a great wheel cleaner, and it is cheap.  With a little bit of water, cheesecloth can scrub away gum, gunk, and even help take the "finish" off of your brand new wheels.  I always keep a sheet of cheesecloth in my skating kit for messy wheel emergencies.  Daisy DoWrong adds that cheap hand sanitizer and a rag will work to clean your wheels off trackside. Personally, I feel like you can't go wrong with hand sanitizer in general in your skating bag.  Sometimes we don't have the option to wash our hands! 
Percy Q-Tion shares that gum can be taken off of wheels with mayonnaise, which sounds gross, but I guess it's effective!  Just be sure to clean the mayo off of your wheels after! 

6.  Always have duct tape.  Ah duct tape, what can't it fix?

7.  Dryer sheets placed on or in your wet elbow pads and gaskets can help freshen up your gear in between washings.  You can stuff them into your skates if they get stinky too!  (This works with smelly shoes as well.)  Rockaway Beatch filled two old socks with crystal cat litter, and sticks them in her elbow pads to dry them out quickly; she says it works like a charm, and I would have never thought of that because I don't have cats!
KG Bebe reminds us that vinegar in the wash can cut through the stinky pad smell, but make sure you dry your gear thoroughly, or you will smell like a Massengill product, and nobody wants that.
 8.  Old socks make amazing arm gauntlets that keep your skin from coming in direct contact with your elbow pads and wrist guards.  The more I skate, the more I hear about people developing contact dermatitis from the plastics in our protective gear.  Put a barrier between yourself and your gear if you can! 

Electric Cher passed on her tip of using her daughter's outgrown tights to repurpose as fingers-less wrist/arm warmers to wear under wrist-guards. "They help trap some of the stanky sweat and can be thrown in the wash after every use. Simply cut the legs off the tights as well as the tips of the toe area. Then simply make a little slit for your thumb. Works like a charm!"

Speaking of re-purposing clothing for derby, Celia Fate and Misanthrope the Mordant cut the sleeves off of their t-shirts and wear them on their heads.  Fate swears the sleeves are the only hair accessory that actually stay in place!

9.  Dee Spies shared one of the most hilarious tips ever: Panty liners hide the camel toe in Derby Skinz.  I know that a LOT of derby girls worry about that one. 

10.  Buy your own skate tools.  People are tired of lending you theirs, especially if you don't give it back!   Also, if you buy new plates or skates, find out what tools you might need to maintain them.  Spare parts are always good to have on hand, just in case!  My dream is to have each skater have her own tools, and to stop relying on coaches to have them.  Remember, our motto is For the Skaters, By the Skaters, not "rely on your coach to do the mechanical stuff."

11.  Ever get bad foot cramps?  Beth Row keeps packets of mustard she takes from fast food places in her skate bag. Evidently, something in mustard counteracts muscle cramps of all kinds; the same chemical is in pickle juice, but that's not as portable.
Imagine your skates smelling like this!

12.  Levee BreaksHer carries a shoe horn with her to put her skates on.  "Fellow skaters sometimes laugh at me because I use an old one my grandma gave me, but the heels and heel spline of my skates is pristine 2.5 years later so suck it haters. I take care of my $#!+"  I've had my boots for four seasons without issues, but I also wear Miracle Wool socks that don't cause friction issues.  

13.  Are you getting blisters?  Dujuana Keys uses make-up pads for blister cushions. Dell swears that rubbing deodorant on your feet BEFORE you get a blister can prevent them.  See?  Deodorant is the new duct tape!

14.  Finally, one for our awesome NSOs!   SmackTavish, a penalty wrangler, shares "We use a small wipeoff board to relay penalties to the trackers. As an eraser, I wear one stretchy kid's winter glove on my writing hand."  That's pretty smart thinking!

I want to thank everyone who shared one of their derby tips with us.  If you have any you would like to share, please post it in a comment!  I know I'll probably end up writing another one of these derby tips blogs.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Phoenixes do rise: Coming back from a derby injury

Image found here.

We all worry about injuries in this sport.  I'm not talking about owies, or bad rink rash; I'm talking about serious, potential game ending injuries.  Some people get injured and choose to leave the game, but some skaters fight through surgery, rehab, physical therapy, and getting wheels back under them again.  I really do feel these skaters are phoenixes, and I admire them immensely.  Not everyone makes it back from an injury to skate the track again, and that is ok too.  I don't know how I would react if I was injured.  I'm not sure I would risk re-injurying myself, but my hat is off to those brave brave women who jump back into the fray.

Unfortunately, coming back from derby isn't just a struggle for the injured skater: it's also a struggle for her league mates.  Everyone is happy to see the returning skater, but there is definitely a fear that you might re-break a freshly healed skater.  When I'm in a jam with a freshly returning skater, I get a little nervous about hitting her; I can't help it.  I don't want to be the one who accidentally trips her, or hits her just right/wrong.  I know that it isn't fair, but just remember that a lot of people do feel that way when a returning skater comes back.  Trust me when I say that this apprehension goes away after a couple of scrimmages, so if you are coming back from an injury, cut your teammates some slack, and know that they will be back to pummeling the crap out of you soon enough!

The following stories are from women who have overcome different injuries or situations.  Some injuries kept them off skates for a couple of months, while others had to deal with more serious issues, like cancer.  Please read them and take strength from these brave phoenixes of derby. 

Injury March 13. Denial of injury and off skates for a week. Played Boston and Providence March 20/21. Knew things weren't good. Doctor appointment that week. Heavy antiinflammatories for a week and an MRI. Doctor said "torn meniscus completely obliterated acl and severe bone bruise". I decided to get a brace and try to play anyway. The pain was overwhelming (the meniscus was folded over) and so I decided to have surgery.

 Surgery May 13 2010. Back on skates September 15thish. My PT could no longer see me so I just stopped. First scrimmage back November 3 2010. Felt super wobbly. Still weak. Went to new PT and he said "heck no techno" so I did another 5 weeks of 2x a week of PT. Wore a brace when I returned to full contact for about 4 months. First Allstar bout back was Feb 2011 against DC. Got better slowly...pain subsided. Strength returned. It's like it never happened...except I am way more aware of my stability and strength now. I think more about my positioning and what muscles I use to stabilize my knees.
Daisy Rage, Carolina Rollergirls  (And my big derby sister)

I dislocated my shoulder back in June, had pretty extensive surgery in October, was in an immobilizer for 10 weeks, and have been in physical therapy since. I just came back to derby 4 weeks ago, although I started skating with a speed team back in January because I wasn't cleared for contact but wanted to work on something!
Nicole Flanagan, Charlotte Speed Demons 


I started with BRRG when it very first started, then went to Mexico for a week and three days after I came back was in the hospital with L leg paralysis and spasticity. Was walking again in 3 months, and started derby 2 years (to the day) from that horrible, horrible morning.

I still can't feel my left foot and have proprioception issues with it. Makes learning juking, muscle memory stuff, etc difficult. I don't know I've locked wheels with someone until my knee senses it.

My ex-husband never thought I'd be good enough to play derby with my brain thing....eff him. I'm captain now and I kick ass, one practice and bout at a time.
PS.  I was still taking antispasmotic meds when I started derby.
Rigor Morticia, Blue Ridge Rollergirls


I just came off four months of medi leave because of chemotherapy to treat leukemia. I skated (badly) the entire time I was on medi leave and kept coming to practice, but it wasn't easy. I wasn't able to do any contact and I missed bouting. Some of my derby sisters were very supportive, others weren't.

Basically everything just came on very very suddenly and in a matter of weeks I went from playing in bouts to sitting everything out. Over the course of treatment I was able to do less and less. Some girls really helped me out a lot, staying overnight with me after treatments, stuff like that. When I finally came back it was almost like starting from scratch again. I had to build back my endurance, and relearn how to take a hit. Most girls understood that. There are always going to be douchebags who don't understand the concept of relearning, but I'd say 99% of the girls have been great. Medi leave reminded me how important derby is in my life, though, because missing work, missing going out with my friends, none of that compared to missing that second whistle feeling.

The thing is, the girls who were jerks have always been jerks, and always will be. Medi leave just makes you hypersensitive to people's comments.


Sept 30, 2008 first time on skates evvvvvar!   Beth Row and Sunni D'lite held my hand and took me around the skate ranch on a single lap.. (so i have 3 derby moms, Fate, Big Spoon and Sunni) tried to teach myself to skate til Sept 2009 (was a big Fail)

Ballz took me under her wing in Sept 2009 to teach me how to skate (had to unlearn bad habits first then learn the right way) I did CRG tryouts (kinda like a dry run) in June 2010 knowing i didn't have all the skills needed, but i had to go through the process to understand it better.

Aug 2, 2010 i was broken when a kid at Wheels ran into me purposely (shit happens in Durham), first surgery Aug 12, 2010, had a plate and 8 screws put in, I fell in Sept and bent the plate and reinjured the ankle bad enough to require surgery #2 on Oct 6, 2010. I wasn't cleared to walk without crutches until March 2011, got back on skates in May 2011 and am working hard to gain back my strength as I was non-weight bearing on the ankle for almost 5 months and basically lost all muscle tone in the left leg.

I still have issues with numbness in the left leg; I would say I have about 1/2 the feeling in the leg from the knee down since there was significant nerve damage because of the falls and 2 surgeries. I can't always tell when the left skate is completely on the ground so I kinda sound like a horse clip clopping my way around the track.

Derby is a major part of the fabric of my life and has been since I became a fan of CRG in March 2005 and a volunteer in 2006. I have worked with the Charlotte Roller Girls on and off since 2007, the Rogue RollerGirls since 2007; occasionally, I have worked with Cape Fear, and Camel City. I can not imagine not trying to skate again and fulfill my dream of actually playing Derby at some point. I figure I have paid my dues and I will be damned if I will give up now no matter how frustrated or upset i get with my inability to do certain skills I am 63 years young and believe I will be at least 65 before I actually am a full fledged sk8n rollergirl.
XX Factor, CRG volunteer and awesome all around human being! 

If you have worries about being injured, and let's face it, most of us do, please check out Bonnie D. Stoir's recent  blog post.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

The music that makes me go fast and go boom!

So, what music gets your blood pumping before a bout?  Music is so important to a person's mindset; it can calm us down or get us going!  I love it when I'm warming up for a bout and the DJ is doing a great set of music.  I hate it when the DJ plays a ton of mellow music and I'm getting ready to battle against some heavy hitters!  I especially hate hipster music before I'm going to be running for my life as a jammer, but to each his own!  I'm going to put a list of music here that gets me ready for any bout; you can agree or disagree, but I hope you take the time to listen for a bit. (By the way, I listen to a lot of music that has some pretty vulgar words, so please skip anything with a star next to it.) You might find something that works for you too!

Welcome to the Mind of Q.

1.  Run to The Hills by Iron Maiden.  Click here to listen.  It's perfect for the jammer that has to keep her feet under her for jam after jam after jam!

2.  Get Back by Ludacris. Click here.  In fact, I think that almost every Ludacris song lends itself to derby.  You have Stand Up, Move Bitch and many many many others. 

3.  Bombs Over Baghdad by Outkast.  Here to listen.  How can this not get your feet moving?

4.  Army of Me by Bjork.  Listen  This song reminds me that I'm not alone out on the track; I have an army of like-minded women out there who have my back!

5.  N.W.O by Ministry*.  Click here.  Once again, this song gets my blood pumping and ready to fight through walls.

6.  Dig by Mudvayne*. Here it is.  This song gets me ready to hold the inside line, dig in, and keep the other jammer behind me.

7.  F***ing Hostile by Pantera. Click here.  Are you seeing a trend?

8.  List of Demands by Saul Williams.  Here.  The line "I ain't afraid of you" is one I repeat to myself when I'm on the jammer line.

9.  South Texas Death Ride by Union Underground*.  Click here.  This song has a heavy and slow groove to remind me to keep that pack slow when I'm blocking. doesn't always work, but I try!

10.  Go Green Ranger Song on the MMPR soundtrack.  Click here for giggles.  Yes, I'm serious.  Sorry folks, but when I need to keep my feet moving, I think of this song.  It makes me laugh and not take jamming so seriously.  I mean, the Green Ranger was super hot and had the best zoid, so who wouldn't want to be just like him?

So there you have a little bit of my derby play list.  I asked people to share their favorites on Facebook, and the following list is what was sent in to me.  Enjoy!  Expand your musical tastes!  Please add your favorites in the comments.

Run To The Hills by Iron Maiden on repeat for the entire hour and fifteen in takes me to get to Greensboro. Everyone else in the car is totally pleased about it all the time, especially my 14-yr-old nephew, Theron Ass. (Alexandroid - GSORD)

I actually like chill music ... Amos Lee anything and maybe some Ray (LaMontagne)... helps me find my center and keep calm before the storm. -- Blonde Burgundy

KATY PERRY FIREWORK! Susie Millerlightnin Williams

Fuck Dem Other Hoes - Khia (Threatte Midler)

Maneater by Hall and Oates - Shush the Crush

I've got a feeling-black eyed peas. Best song to have in your head on the jammer line. --velvet assassin

Ion by Apocalyptica -- Paris Kills #69! 

Hank Williams Jr.'s "I'd Love to Knock The Hell Out of You"  Camo Rodeo

 Push It by Salt n Pepa. Yeah, I go old skool. (Linear Accelerator)

 Shipping up to Boston by Dropkick Murphy's-- Erin Go Brawl, #912

ALL OF THE SKRILLEX!! (Molly Flogger, Gotham) 

Let Me Hear You Scream by Ozzy. :-) Twisted Armani

Walk by Pantera Swetin Bulletz #502 of The Rome Rollergirls

Terror-"keep your mouth shut" Shiv Tyler #13 REGULATORS

Ali in the Jungle by The Hours (Conspiracy Fury)

Hard in da Paint - Waka Flocka Flame (Risky Biscuit) and I change it to "Hard in da Tape" in my head for derby hehe

Every angry song on Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill.  Ballista Blockheart

When the Levee Breaks," Led Zeppelin... this shouldn't be a shock... derby name is Levee BreaksHer. It centers me and gets me to focus on who I am as a skater.

Offspring (come out and play, original prankster, and pretty fly for a white guy,) and so many other artists and songs - Shadow Of Beth

Black Betty by ram jam  JoyrydHer CraZzy

Social Distortion: Don't Drag Me Down.  Violet Outlaw

Overcome - Terror Snuff Film Starlet

Thunderstruck, AC/DC  Aurora Thunder

Crown on the Ground by Sleigh Bells. Grave Robyn

Grounds for Divorce, Elbow  KG Bebe

Music is the universal language.  Mine just speaks a little rougher than most.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Are you a bad teammate?

If you read the title of my blog today, you probably answered "Of course I'm not!  I'm an awesome teammate!" You might have even made a "pssht" noise and a dismissive gesture, and thought about not reading the entry.  But, I'm glad you did, because at one time or another, we've all been a crappy teammates; usually we don't even realize we are doing it, but it happens.  Check out this list and see if you've done the following.  It's time to make yourself a better teammate.

1. Are you a glory hog on and off of the track?  Remember, it's not all about you!  If your teammate has the jammer under control, but she needs a bridge so she won't get out of play, don't run up and try and take over blocking!  Sometimes you have to be the one to play a secondary role and let your teammate shine.  Trust her!  She's got it!  Also, I understand that jammers tend to get a lot of credit and admiration from the fans, but please jammers, remember who got you through the pack and stopped the other jammer!  Remember to give credit to your blockers!  You didn't get a 30 point jam all on your own!

2.  Do you lose control emotionally?  A ref called you to the box for a cut track major, and you KNOW you didn't do it.  After you fume in the box for a minute, you go back to your bench with the angriest face and cursing under your breath; what a joy you must be to sit next to on the bench! You need to shake off the bad things that happen, the back blocks that weren't called, being passed over for line ups, everything!  Ever hear the expression fake it till you make it?  Sometimes you have to smile first on the outside before you feel it on the inside.  Remember, both smiles and frowns are contagious on the bench.  Which would you rather be spreading?

3.  Not cheering your team on?  Sometimes we forget that others need to hear that we are pulling for them.  Granted, some people are worried about "blowing smoke" and making false sounding compliments.  I suggest you state the obvious and find something positive to point out to your fellow teammates.  Sometimes it might be the way they held their ground, or they way they kept going, even when they were being pummeled by the entire pack.  You know what you'd like to hear after you come away from a rough jam; let them hear it from you.

4.  Do you bring your personal baggage to the game or practice?  Bad day at work?  Break a nail?  Bad hair day?  Boyfriend/girlfriend being a jerk?  Hormonal?  Your personal crap should be tabled as soon as you strap your skates on.  Let me repeat that.  DO NOT BRING YOUR PERSONAL CRAP TO PRACTICE OR A GAME.  Nobody wants to smell it.

So there we are.  Have you been guilty of being a bad teammate?  I know I have, but my experiences over the years have taught me to be a better teammate.  Do I occasionally have a relapse?  Heck yeah, but I am working on it.  My teammates help me too!

Sometimes you have to hug it out.  Photo by a Boy Named Tsunami

Monday, April 9, 2012

How to Feel Miserable as a Derby Player

I saw a version of this for how to feel miserable as an artist, and I thought "Damn, I bet a lot of derby players make themselves just as miserable by making these same mistakes."  I know I have done several of these things, and they have killed my mental game.  Don't fall into these same traps!

1.  Constantly compare yourself  to other players.  Who hasn't said "I wish I could jam like Suzy Hotrod!"  but you have to make your own goals and you really can only compare yourself to your past performances.  It's not easy when you have awesome and amazing people in your league to compare yourself to, so a little comparison may spur you on to work harder, but too much will kill your spirit.

2.  Talk to your family about what you do and expect them to cheer you on.  Everyone loves having a cheering squad, and I'm so thankful when my friends do come and I hear them screaming for me, but I don't do derby for them.  I play derby because I want to challenge myself.  Our coach, Heavy D asked us at one of our practices if we are intrinsically motivated or extrinsically motivated?  If you are extrinsically motivated, you only do it for the spotlight.  If you're intrinsically motivated, you do it for yourself and your team.

3.  Base the success of your derby career on one game, one jam, one play.  What happens if you lose that game?  Do you quit?  Give up?  If you do, then maybe derby is not the sport for you.

4.  Stick with only what you know.  When you stop developing as a player, you stagnate.  Always challenge yourself.  Are you terrified to jam?  Try and do it at least once a practice!  Want better footwork?  See if you can learn some jam skating moves.  Keep striving to improve!

5.  Undervalue your expertise.  Guess what?  You do know a lot of stuff about derby!  Stop doubting yourself.  You may not know everything, but you do know enough to play this game!

6.  Bow to societal pressures.  There are people all over the world that will line up to tell you what you should or shouldn't do.  Stop listening to them.

7.  Set unachievable goals/overwhelming goals.  "I am going to be the best jammer ever!"  Well, that is a recipe for ego disaster right there.  Think about goals like "I'm going to work on my lateral jukes." or "My endurance is not where I want it to be, so I'm going to do endurance training this month."  Both of those skills will go a long way to making you a better jammer, without setting you up for failure.

Have you been guilty of these mind traps?  I know I have!  Let's all strive not to be miserable in this sport we all love!  I promise I'll try hard too!

Sometimes you have to take yourself less seriously....and wear a Thor helmet.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Why do you ref? Percy Q-Tion

 Ever wonder why someone would step up to one of the toughest jobs in our sport? 

The most often asked question I receive as a roller derby ref isn't related to the current rule set, but is "why did you get involved with derby?" I've had to answer it so many times, I thought I'd share with you as Paul Harvey always said, "the rest of the story..."

In 2009, I was searching for something to engage my mind & body while recovering from a traumatic brain injury (TBI). I studied yoga, tai chi and qi gong, but they weren't competitive enough for my spirit, and my doctor forbid me from participating in anything that would endanger my head by encountering other head injuries, including a concussion. Cage fighting, boxing, rugby, lacrosse, football and soccer were "out." But then a friend of mine, Elektra Q-Tion, began rolling down her own track of becoming a roller derby skater and she encouraged me to at least go "watch" it. I went to a lot of bouts that summer and was captivated by the WFTDA sport. After attending 8 bouts for a couple of local leagues, I was hooked, I had to get involved.

I went to a "Round Up" event with a local league (NEO Roller Derby) to learn a little more about how I could be part of a sport that was active, challenging, and how I could be involved without being "hurt." The competitiveness, physical aspects and mentally challenging aspects of it appealed to me. Yeah, I signed the papers that night... I was caught... I became a referee...

I needed to be challenged mentally, so learning all of the rules of the sport did that. Yeah, unlike most of the skaters, I've actually read them. Translating what you read on paper as a minor or major and then having only a few nanoseconds to process it as you are skating next to a pack, keeps the mind engaged.

On the physical side, you have to learn (as a ref) how to keep up with the jammer or pack, observe penalties, keep how how track of how many people on each team are in the box because you sent them there, be prepared to be taken out by other refs or out of bounds skaters, dodge the NSOs on the inside or even outside of the track... Basically "how to do your job." All of that appealed to me, so I signed.

And that is why I stay involved and volunteer to do as many bouts as possible for as many leagues as possible. Oh yeah, and attend practices. I get to keep physically active by skating miles per week and I get to keep mentally challenged by watching for penalties according to the rules. And best of all, I get to meet people, be around people, and interact socially.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Strategic fashion: Roller Derby uniforms

I am a volunteer fashion victim; let's get that out of the way right at the beginning of things.  I wear ridiculous clothes on a regular basis in and out of my derby life, so I probably shouldn't be dishing out fashion tips; but, these are not necessarily "What Not to Wear" kind of tips, but rather how can you make what you wear work for you.

First of all, let's talk about helmets and covers.  I know that the first thing we do when we join derby is get every sticker possible and stick it on our helmets, or we buy a weird colored helmet which sticks out like a sore thumb when we're in a pack of our teammates.  I'm guilty of this as well, but since derby has started down the proper path of becoming a more mainstreamed sport, I have started seeing teams adopt the same helmet for all players.  Personally, I think that Charm City has the coolest and most interesting helmets in derby at this point, and I love it when I see an entire pack of them out on the floor.  Yea for a team signature!  It's pretty intimidating to see all of the players wearing the same helmets and jerseys; it feels like the team is unified.

To add to this, some teams are now making all of the players wear the same colored helmet and they also get the covers to be the same color!  Brilliant and sneaky!  This is probably one of the most distracting things you can do to the other team, and I'm sure, eventually the WFTDA will crack down on this, but it is really a great move on your team's part if you can pull it off.  Most of us use peripheral vision on the track when we're watching for the jammer to come up on us, and if every single member of your team has on the same color as the helmet cover, then you are giving your jammer an advantage of getting through the pack.  Of course, getting a group of derby players to agree on anything is kind of like herding cats, so I do wish you luck with that.  Triple Eight has helmets in almost every color of the rainbow, and they are pretty inexpensive, so they might be an option.
Philly was way ahead on the helmets being the same color as the panties. 

My second tip is looking into the Philly dresses they wear!  Beth Row and I used to argue about these uniforms because I was dead set against ever skating in a dress, and I thought she was letting her "girly girl" nature override her good judgement, but now I have seen the light.  "The light" was when I saw one of the B.A.D. jammers grab and take a whip off of the dress her blocker was wearing, and whip the entire straightaway!  That was impressive as hell and completely won me over.  Also, the dresses seem to be forgiving on every body type from the bodacious Teflon Donna to the wispy Mo Pain.  Everyone wins!
They fit all different body types.  I'm sold! Photos by A Boy Named Tsunami

If you're not going the dress route, then the next topic that comes up is sleeves or no sleeves?  Personally, I hate sleeves, but I see the utility in them.  Sleeves can protect you from weird shoulder injuries, ie sliding across the floor and your skin sticks to the surface injuries, and you can put your number on them so you don't have to wear arm bands or write on your skin.  Having had one person mess up my number when she was writing it on my arm, I am almost tempted to look into getting sleeves, but then again, I hate feeling material on the underside of my arm.

Let's talk bottoms.  Ok ladies, please, for the love of all that is derby, stay away from light colored bottoms.  Nobody looks good in them, and they show all panty lines.  Stay away from natural materials too, since they tend to cause more friction on the floor and retain moisture.  In the words of Candy Korn, "Jammers are always rearranging their bottoms on the jammer line.  Just once I'd like to see a bout where jammers aren't adjusting their underwear!"  She has a point; if your attention is on your clothes, then you aren't fully ready to jam.  Also, if you do decide to wear black bottoms, please make sure that they are not see-thru! In some light, black bottoms tend to become shockingly revealing, showing the world your choice in underwear....or your choice not to choose any!

Finally, for the men.  I'm sorry guys; derby uniforms are tough for you.  You want to protect your legs from rink rash, but big baggy shorts look like they would be cumbersome and hot.  You could choose "mantyhose" but that seems to not work on anyone.  I don't know how to solve the riddle of your uniform, but please please do NOT put on Derby Skinz.  Derby Skinz on guys look like you are smuggling a teensy tiny monkey who is juggling walnuts and pickle.  It's just not pretty to look at.  Don't punish the audience because you want to be funny.  Thanks!