Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Derby discoveries

Yes, I know there is a Facebook group dedicated to "What I learned from Derby" but derby definitely teaches some universal truths to all people involved.  Here are a few that I've learned in my time on the track.

1.  Derby girls (and guys) stink really bad, unless you've been working out with them.  I have discovered that when you are bench coaching derby girls and you aren't sweating in your nasty gear, being in a group huddle can be a nauseating experience.  Speaking of derby stink, I don't care how much you wash your gear, spray it with Febreeze, drizzle it with vinegar, baste it in tea tree oil, it still is going to build up a hideous smell.  Sometimes you're just going to have to buy new gear to defeat the funk.  Derby funk has made me more aware of other kinds of funk in my life, like my dogs, garbage and Axe body spray surrounding the douchebag in line at the grocery store.  Agh.

2.  Some people will never ever ever get over the high school mentality.  It's a sad but true fact. Some people must have been horrendously unhappy in high school and feel the need to reenact their emotional drama out again and again.  There is no need for the cool kids' table in derby society!  I have learned to avoid derby drama hotspot situations, but there are some others out there who seem to be drawn to drama like it's gourmet chocolate.  I used to have a coworker who just lived to eavesdrop on people's personal phone calls, just so she could spread gossip.  Avoid, avoid avoid!

3.  It's not how many times you get knocked down, but how fast you get up.  Once again, it's such a cliche, but it is true. That's the optimistic part of the lesson.  Derby has also taught me that I really don't like getting knocked down either, but that's a different story; in both derby and real life, I strive for stability.

4.  Always take care of your feet.  When I was a teacher, I made sure my feet were happy because I was on them 8+ hours a day.  Now that I'm turning them into horse hooves with my hours and hours of skating, that I need to make sure I'm paying attention to the skin, the nails and the bones in my feet.  I stretch my feet every day by picking up a towel with my toes, which is a gross mental picture, I'm sure, but it helps keep your arches from collapsing.  You don't have to have a pedicure every week, but you should maintain your foot health.  Here is a site for foot health and I promise it won't send you to some creepy foot fetish site!

Sometimes derby feet aren't gross, but most of the time they are.
5.  You can't win them all.  Derby is a game, and there will be someone who wins and someone who loses.  If you get butthurt because you lose a game, then you need to reassess why you're doing derby.  Your self esteem shouldn't come from outside sources.  Did you play your best?  Were you a good teammate?  Did you learn something?  All of those things should be why you should feel proud of yourself.  In real life, nobody is getting out of here alive.  In the end, death trumps all, so did you live your best life?  Were you a good person?  Did you learn something? 

6.  You don't have to love everyone on your team, or in your life.  I don't have to be bestest friends with forty girls, which is a relief because that's a lot of estrogen to deal with, but I do have to be able to work on the track with them.  I have found some very good friends through derby, and I hope to keep them in my life after I hang up my stinky gear for the last time; derby is full of women from all sorts of walks of life, age groups and backgrounds.  Not everyone is going to be full of love for each other.  They just need to be full of mutual respect, just like you would for a coworker at the office.  On the track, you all have the same goal, so you can all work together and get it done!

7.  Don't compromise your morals and beliefs.  Any sport gives the players, coaches and everyone else involved "opportunities" to bend rules or give in to temptations.  I have come through almost four seasons of not compromising my morals no matter what the situation is.  That would be the biggest defeat for me, to have given in to the temptations that are out there.  I live my life in the same way.

8.  Life will still be here even when derby isn't anymore.  I had a life before I started derby, and I will have a life when I finally hang up my skates.  I love this sport and most of the things associated with it, but I also love my art, my family, my dogs and my life!  I think Joy Collision said it best in the DNN interview.  Joy Collision said "I'm definitely going to retire … If I was ever to leave my derby job, I would maybe consider coming back and skating if it felt right. But honestly I've had a pretty full derby career, I've pretty much run the gamut. I've played a lot of derby and I would feel comfortable walking away. That's OK. That's fine with me. I've had a lot of fun. I would still coach it and I'll be involved and I'll volunteer … I'll still be into it. But I don't have to play it. I'll just find another hobby." If Joy Collision can say something like that, then you can too. 

So many derby folk are worried about what their life will be like when they retire, and I know it can be a hard transition, but eventually every derby skater will have to make it.  Will you have a life to go back to?  Yes!  Absolutely!  Can you take lessons you learned in derby and make your life experience better?  Of course! 


  1. WOOOO!!! another fantastic post!!!
    (and I've ALWAYS picked things up with my toes and feet..I had an aunt who had lost an arm to cancer. From my earliest thoughts, I recall trying to do things like my Auntie Sher.. and ever ripped off one of the dolls arms to make her just like my aunt :) It creeps people out, but it helps to know how to manipulate your further digits)

  2. Life after derby is amazing.. and, truly, derby has a big hand in making that afterlife amazing. When it's time to retire, you'll *know*, you'll *want* to, and there will be no doubt. So until then, jam out with yer clam out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I cannot thank you enough for writing this! I am going through #6 and the "team leads voted me off the team" so it's nice to see that I'm not all alone is this derby world.
    Much Derby Love
    Mystic Blaze