Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Recycling old wheels: a comic

Just for fun, a comic about how to do bad craft projects with recycled wheels.  Christmas is coming up, right? 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Winding down after derby

Everyone has been there, you have a late night practice or game, and you get home and just can't turn off your derby brain.  Your body is having trouble letting go as well, with little leg spasms when you lie down, just to remind you that you've been skating as hard as you can for two or three hours.  Those phantom twitches can be really annoying, but they aren't as bad as the derby dreams/nightmares you get after an intense practice.

Most of us have occasional trouble sleeping after an intense game or practice because of the endorphin high we're surfing.  How many times have you rushed out of practice or a game because it was late and you needed to get home?  Guilty!  I am a repeat offender unfortunately.  Sometimes I have to get home because it's super late and I have a million things to do in the morning, or the practice space is closing and we aren't allowed to sit and stretch and slow down our breathing, or I have to leave an away game directly after because I have a long drive to conquer that night.  Any of these excuses sound familiar?  Many of us just don't take the proper steps to restore our balance before we try to sleep.

1.  Stretch after practice.  I know that most leagues have great and elaborate stretching routines they do before a heavy practice, but it's far more important to stretch and warm down after.  Before you play, you should be doing "smaller" but similar movements that you're going to be doing on the track to warm up,  These smaller movements tend to stretch your muscles in a more natural way than "Stretching" actually will.  Unfortunately, so many of us ditch the after exercise stretching, and our bodies are paying for it.  Without that after work out stretch, you're asking for you muscles and tendons to seize up. Stretching after exercise protects your joints and body from stress injuries, so leagues, take the time to stretch right at the end of practice!
Before AND after!!!!!

 2.  Drink chocolate milk.  Oh oh oh...I know a beer sounds amazing after practice, but chocolate milk is way better for you.  It has the right balance of carbs and proteins that your body needs to recover.  It speeds up recovery better than sugary "energy" drinks and doesn't interfere with your muscles recovery the way that any alcohol can, including beer.  Besides, who doesn't need more calcium?  Also, make sure you have enough water, if you're thirsty, you already are dehydrated.

3.  Ice down your joints.  After any heavy exercise you should be icing your joints for ten minutes.  Do I suggest you hunker down in an ice bath?  It's tempting some days, but in all seriousness, icing your knees and ankles can help speed any little tears you have developed in them during your exercise.  Icing your joints can cut down on potential injuries as well, so get some ice bags and do your thing!

4.  Get enough sleep.  Sleep is what renews our bodies and minds, so you should be getting at least 7-8 hours every night.  Don't you snicker at me, that's what you're supposed to be getting!   Turn off the tv, put down the electronic crap and get to bed.

5.  Turn off your mind.  Sometimes this is easier said than done.  My brain likes to replay everything that happened during practice or the game.  "Man, I really screwed that up!" or  "That was freakin' awesome!"  Either way, I find myself lying awake, reliving my prior activities sometimes.  It helps if you can clear your mind and control your breathing when you're trying to sleep.  Focusing on your breathing takes more energy than you think, and it distracts your brain from from its self flagellation or celebration.  With the chocolate milk, the icing and the stretching, you might deplete the level of adrenaline just enough to let your mind finally drift off.

It's hard to power down after a late night work out, no matter what that work out is.  I personally believe that derby might be even more difficult to mentally and physically let go because it is almost like fighting a battle; we're in fight or flight mode for a couple of hours, and that can be exhausting.  It's controlled chaos for sure, and sometimes we need to remind ourselves it will take some extra TLC to get our minds and bodies to be calm.  Take care of yourself.  In the end, all we have are our bodies, and we abuse those enough DURING derby.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A letter to the entitled

Every once in a while I go on these rants in my head, and sometimes I feel like writing them down.  It's not always the best idea, but knowing derby and derby pet peeves the way I have come to know them, I'm sure I'm not alone in my thoughts and grumpiness.  Occasionally, someone really gets under my skin because they seem to think that they're above doing the simple daily things that keep a league running, or they don't show up to practice often and magically expect to make a roster.  From some of the comments I've received, the rest of you have similar issues, so I decided to write a mock letter to the entitled just to let off some steam.  No, this isn't about you, unless you're an entitled pain in the ass, then yes, it's ALLLLL about you.

Princess Pain in the Ass.
 Dear Little Miss Precious Pants:

Yes you, I see you over there sitting and getting your gear on as slow as possible, while the rest of us are laying down the track.  I know that you sauntered in ten minutes late and I know that you have to get changed, but you could come out here and help us tape down the track and THEN get the rest of your gear on.  It's possible that you think my life's ambitions are fulfilled by ripping tape and getting this rope down so we can all skate, but I do it only because I want practice to start soon.  Also, I've noticed that when you do manage to get your gear on (I know, it's so hard sometimes!) that you warm up instead of relieving one of the track crew.  Thanks for that extra bit of annoyance today.

Actually, I shouldn't be complaining that much, because you're here and skating!  What a nice surprise! I suppose if I had the same kind of spotty attendance that you have, I wouldn't want to waste my precious time taping down the track either, or working really hard on drills, or following through with endurance.  Sometimes people need to sit out of endurance due to injury or illness, but it seems like every time we do suicides, suddenly you have somewhere else to be, like Poughkeepsie or possibly a mime workshop across town.  More than likely, if I really looked, you are probably sitting at your seat texting the cure for cancer to someone very important instead of suffering with the rest of your team. I'm sure that you don't need the endurance that badly, not like the rest of us.  Also, I know it's hard to get those volunteer hours in every month, but you keep plugging at it; one of these days you will actually get them done!

Every time a roster is announced, you pout when you don't make it.  You roll your eyes at people who do, and make snarky comments.  Do you really not see the correlation between you not coming to practice on a regular basis and you not making a roster?  You really don't, do you.  I don't know whether to pat you on the head or just wish you'd go away!  The crappy thing is that I think you'd be a great player if you showed up more often than a guest star on a lame sitcom.  But, until you figure out whether you rally want to put the effort into this sport instead of concentrating on wearing your jersey in public and looking cute, then I really want you to lose your skates and forget where our practice space is.

I'm sure you're a lovely person when you're not half-assing derby.


Tongue in cheek?  Sure.....yeah...I was just kidding.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Fresh Meat Problem.

Ah, every league struggles with how to treat their fresh and meaties.  In the old days,  a lot of fresh meat was was brutally beaten into shape and then tossed to the wolves in full on scrimmage.  Thank goodness derby has changed and evolved, but I often wonder if the swing has gone the other way just a little too much.  It's a really difficult line to walk; you don't want to beat the crap out of your fresh meat and destroy their egos, but you don't want to coddle them, build them up to where they whine about every little hit, and then put them in a game where they aren't ready to for combat.  Combat is definitely how I tend to think about derby games; you are going to be hit, targeted, have serious strategy used against you and the possibility of receiving an injury.  How do we train people to be prepared for combat without being too harsh or too easy?

At her first invitational!
Many leagues deal with their newer skaters in different ways.  Some leagues have separate practice times for fresh meat, and some leagues don't have the space or practice time to be able to do that, so they kind of get pushed into the corner while the "big girls" play.  If your league has the space and time to have separate practices for your fresh meat, this is the best thing you can do to keep your league going!  Train your fresh meat, because they are the future of the league!  I truly believe that fresh meat training needs to be done by those who understand the game the best, and therefor shouldn't be just thrown at any skater who happens to be injured at the time.  It takes a special kind of person to be a good trainer.  Please read the following excerpt from an email a trainer of fresh meat shared with me.

"I've trained fresh meat for about a year and a half now... there are two things I've learned about training them. First, don't accept anyone's bullshit or insecurities. THEY are the ones that had enough brass to get some skates and try for it, and that's the hardest part. The reality of derby isn't for everyone (it's not just looking cool in a slutty costume, it cracks me up when this dawns on someone after their first "real" practice). If they make it back for at least three practices then I want them to fight for whatever it is that got them there. Eventually every single person I've worked with has gone through a hard time, asking themselves if it's worth it, if they can hack it, etc. For my part, as a trainer/coach it's my job to let them each know I have faith in their abilities. Some people aren't ever going to be an all star, might never even get rostered, but if they can handle that kind of reality and still want to try because it's something they enjoy then shut up and do it. Yes you can get up, yes you can lift your foot off the ground for more than a millisecond, yes you can do a crossover with some level of success... all that crap feeds into a person's level of self confidence, and if someone believes in themselves enough and has at least one person in the background that they trust saying they are capable of something then they're already a better skater. Every once in a while I'll shut down my "watch derby/think derby" channel and instead just compare a skaters' athletic abilities with her self confidence... It's really surprising how many mediocre skaters there are that succeed because they have spines made of diamonds. Then there are those that come off as terrible skaters but actually have some great skills, just no brass.

Second thing, kinda tied to that, is stay positive. As a trainer. I'm human, there are days I'm hard on myself and don't think I can do anything personally, but if I walk in the door and try to tell my baby birds they can fly it's going to get ugly. Some people do take longer to get to some levels and it's frustrating, even to me. A while back I had a friend that was dying from lung and brain cancer. It was awful to get my daily message from her sister about it, then somehow put on my happy face and go tell people that they needed to lift their right foot higher... I mean seriously, she's literally drowning to death in cancer cells plus she can't recognize her own family anymore, and you are telling me you CAN'T LIFT YOUR F-ING FOOT?!?!?! Um, yeah, it was hard to not scream that at a couple people. What's funny is there aren't a lot of people that knew about it, I didn't talk about it and tried really hard to keep that away from derby. I tested my patience, but worse it made it hard to still be positive and encouraging. I had to remind myself that cancer sucks, dying sucks, my friends dying sucks, that's my life right now. The skater in front of me has a little voice in her head telling her she's not good enough to do this one tiny thing that seems big and scary. I can dwell on the suck or I can be the only voice she hears aside from her own. I can be part of the reason she finds a pinch of good in some piece of life.

I like to think I'm a good coach for fresh meat because I focus on encouragement and seeing what someone can do. I know where just about every skater I've trained is right now in their derby career, I follow what they accomplish, and I get all lame and teared up sometimes when I go to an event and see them do something that I know for a fact I taught them. Once my baby birds leave the nest I can't really teach much more, but I love to watch them fly."

 Even a dedicated fresh meat coach is still at odds with her philosophy.  Is there an answer that makes the fresh meat feel accepted and loved without coddling them?  It's so hard because we all are so new at derby.  We don't have the traditions and tried and proven coaching plans for ANYONE.  As derby progresses, hopefully someone will crack the code on the best way to train everyone!  Until then, we all just have to keep on trying the best that we can.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Another one just for the ladies: the P word and sports

All derby girls know the truth of this statement, but here goes if you've been living under a rock for your derby career.  When a group of women spend inordinate amounts of time together, they're menstrual cycles will ultimately synch up and it's possible for the whole league to have their periods at the same time.  It can be nightmarish experience, but what else can your menstrual cycle control?  Can it have a direct effect on your sports performance?  Can your sports performance directly affect your period?

There have been a lot of ridiculous myths in the past that have been connected to periods.  My two favorites are the  "Don't wash your hair during your period" and "don't exercise during your period."  I don't know if these are just some weird leftover from when "science" thought women were incapable of doing any kind of physical labor because we were the inferior sex.  It's funny; if you exercise regularly before, during and after your period, it can actually reduce a lot of the unpleasant symptoms some women get.  Take that, 1950s era doctors!

So, can your period control your sports performance?  The answer seems to be yes.  Evidently, the week before you actually menstruate, your psychological health can take a nose dive.  Some women tend to feel slightly depressed or fatigued during this time, with lower back pain, and feeling that way absolutely can change how you perform in derby. Also, female athletes are also more prone to joint injury during this time in their cycles due to hormonal fluctuations.  What does it mean for female athletes?  It means that the feelings of fatigue and depression and clumsiness that many women feel during PMS is real.  You need to understand what your body is going through in order to play at your best level.

On the flip side, during this exact same time in the cycle, women have a 10% increase in their endurance.  According to some studies, such as the one found here, women are capable of storing more glycogen in their legs, which leads to greater endurance.  It even suggests that women who are in training to run should consider running a marathon during that exact window.  Unfortunately, this exact same benefit takes away your ability to sprint as well as you do in the other part of your cycle.  Also, exercising during extreme heat can be detrimental to women in the premenstrual phase of their cycles because most women already are experiencing an elevated body temperature.  Whoopee!

Aren't hormones weird?  Oh yes, if you're on the pill, none of this really matters to you because you have a continual and low dose stream of hormones that avoid these peaks and valleys.  Yea you!

If you are suffering from obnoxious PMS, it might be because of your diet.  Many women are not getting the amount of calcium needed to keep their bodies running smoothly, and your PMS might be a signal that you are in need of certain dietary changes.  If you are big into eating fruits and vegetables, your PMS symptoms might not be as bad as someone who runs screaming from salads.  Also, if you stop smoking, drinking a lot of caffeine and generally avoiding red meat, you might alleviate some of the more cumbersome symptoms, such as the water retention, cravings and fatigue.  See?  Quitting smoking has allllllll sorts of benefits! (Sorry for the mini-lecture, not really.)

If you are an athlete who works out so much you have less than 17% body fat, you're in danger of not getting your period.  It's not a healthy way to be, since it can actually lead to early onset osteoporosis.  Luckily, most derby girls don't have this issue since we like having muscle mass and some solidity to us, but if you know of someone who is over training, remind them that some fat is necessary for a healthy life!  I'll take mine in chocolate and peanut butter form, thanks!

As more women get more involved with sports, there will be more studies of how our hormone fluctuations can affect our performance, but for now, the best thing you can do is listen to your body.  You are the best expert on you that exists!  Learn your ups and downs and learn how to work with them!   Also, I find that soaking in a tub and reading a really sappy book when I'm all hormonal helps, especially after a tough practice.  That's not supported by any research, but it helps me feel better.  :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Watching yourself on footage

It happens to everyone; you had what you thought was the greatest move ever in the history of derby, and then you see the footage.  How could you have such a distorted memory of how you played?  It's human nature to exaggerate how badly or well we've done in a game; adrenaline makes fools of us all during game play, which is why it's such a great learning tool.  It's a reality check that can help you learn to evaluate your skill and game play level more accurately as you play more games.

This might be easier said than done for some people.  So many of us are over the top hypercritical of ourselves, and watching footage can be one of the most uncomfortable things we ever do in derby.  Some people would rather do suicides and burpees for an hour than watch themselves on the screen, especially in front of other people!  I have known people to go into a mild anxiety attack just thinking about watching themselves play, and I empathize, but it's a really great tool to have in your arsenal.  Watching footage can make you aware of both you faults as a player and your strengths.  It's hard the first couple of times you sit down to do it, but it is completely worth it.

The horror!  The horror!

1.  Watching footage will show you that even though you made mistakes in the game, you did some smart things too.  Yes, you may have gone to the box 6 times for silly penalties, or you may have ignored the jammer practically sitting on your butt in almost all of the jams, but nobody plays a game without doing one or two good things.  When you first start playing, you are going to make a lot of mistakes; being aware of them will make you a smarter player in the long run.

2.  You can see your form better.  How many times have you heard, "Get lower" in your derby career?  Now let's admit it, how many times have you thought "I'm as low as I can're just crazy!"  The truth is that if you can see how tall you're standing in the pack or on the track.  I can almost guarantee that you're standing way taller than you thought you were at any one moment in the game.  Use the footage to watch how you skate, if you hesitate when you enter the pack, or you use your forearms more than you want.  Keep those things in mind when you're practicing.  They won't be corrected over night, but with persistence, you can make improvements.

3.  You can see if you really earned those penalties.  Most skaters think they are persecuted in some bout, but footage doesn't lie, although the angle of the camera does come into play.  You can see if some of the calls you received during the game were deserved, so you can forgive that evil ref who clearly had it in for you.  Also, you can see the penalties that you didn't get called on, which I can guarantee are probably equal to the the "erroneous" ones you did receive! 

4.  You can witness how you present your emotions on the track.  Memory is a tricky tricky thing.  Sometimes we don't remember how we react to stressful situations, but if you're being filmed, you can see the reaction, along with everyone else who was watching or playing in the game.  Sometimes you can read exactly what you're thinking on your face, and that means the other team can too!  Learn to skate with a poker face if you can.

HOW YOU SHOULD DO IT!  (The pre step is to do it with paper and pencil!!!!!!)

1.  Watch footage by yourself or with a close friend first.  If you are one of these skaters who absolutely hyperventilates about seeing footage, make sure you do it in a "safe" place first.  If you can raise your comfort level and lower your fears of embarrassment and failure, you will have an easier time watching the footage.  You can get your "OMG" moments out.  Things that people usually say in the first five minutes of watching themselves play:  What was I thinking when I wore that?  Why did I line up like that?  I don't remember this jam!  Get over the minutiae and start concentrating on the game.  PS, it's absolutely ok to yell at yourself.  It will act as a release for some of your anxiety.

2.  Start noticing the things you did right.  This is the most important step to watching footage; you have to acknowledge what you did right.  We are so good at picking ourselves apart, that we forget to give ourselves the credit for doing the right things.  If you are absolutely incapable of giving yourself credit where credit is due, then you need to rely on your close friend to help you out.  It might work better at first to start by cross critiquing each other; you give her positive feedback on her performance and she can do the same for you.  Watch the footage that way one time, discuss it, and then swap roles.  It will be easier to see the positive things you do when someone else has just pointed them out to you.  After a couple of times of watching footage with the swap, you'll most likely be able to watch the footage on your own without someone else giving you positive feedback.  It is so crucial that we understand the moves that we're good at on the track!

3.  Notice patterns of your behavior.  Everyone does dumb and random things on the track at some point.  Sometimes you fall down for no reason; sometimes you go for a big hit that is completely out of character.  To really understand the patterns you fall into, sometimes you have to ignore the screwball "outlier" behavior we do on the track.  You're looking at patterns!  Are you always by yourself?  Are you always in the back?  Are you often the runt?  Are you often in the front booty blocking?  Are you in the box consistently for back blocking?  Are you aware of where both jammers are?  Once you notice the patterns you have when you skate, you can work on the skills to prevent yourself from falling into the same old bad habits.  If you always back block, you need to work on your footwork and your core strength.  If you're always in the back as a runt, you need to work on your endurance.  Are you always by yourself?  You need to work on trusting a partner and skating next to people in practice.  Just because you have bad habits doesn't mean you're a lost cause!

4.  Do NOT compare yourself to other skaters.   I don't care if you skate with Bonnie Thunders or Little A; you can only compare yourself to yourself.  To be fair to yourself and your teammates, you are your own yardstick.  You are absolutely allowed to compare your past performances with your more current ones.  When you do, acknowledge the improvement you have made, and the further improvement you need in your skating style.

5.  Watch it several times.  Yes, it takes a lot of time to watch footage, but you really need to watch it several times to look for several different things.  One viewing can be for positive things, one viewing can be for points to improve, and one viewing can be for your team's dynamics.  In my opinion, you should never just watch footage once.

So, if you're lucky enough to get footage of yourself, you should be excited to watch it!  Don't get upset, and don't make it into something bigger than it is.  It is a learning tool, and it can be a very valuable one at that!

PS...if you do have a videographer that works with your league, please remind him or her to take periodic shots of the scoreboard.  Sometimes it's hard to hear announcers, and not every league has fancy graphics to post the scores at the bottom of the screen.  Also, don't just follow the jammers out of the pack when they're just speed skating!  Sometimes the real action is from the blocking pack!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The mystery of derby wives

Derby has a lot of things that confuse people about it, but one of the more interesting phenomena is the idea of the derby wife.  Derby wifedom seems to have sprung from the intense bonds formed between some skaters.  Hellarad has a whole list of interesting derby definitions, but if you're too lazy to click on the link, here is their nicely worded definition.  Derby Wife: (n) A skater’s best friend in the entire world of derby. Derby wives are ethically required to always have each others’ backs, even to the point of arguing and fighting when they know their derby wife is in the wrong. It is, however, completely acceptable to bust the chops of one’s derby wife later if one is forced to argue or fight in such circumstances. 

That pretty much sums it up.  Back in 2009, I met my derby wife in my league, Riva Derci.  During my first year, I went through some pretty rough transitions in derby.  At one point in my rookie year, I was co captain with her, she helped me through a pretty traumatic injury, and she was just someone who made me feel she would always keep me grounded in derby.  After a while, we just sort of looked at each other and said "I guess we're derby wives."  We never had a ceremony, or made a big deal of it, but she is my one and only derby wife.  When she left derby at the end of 2010, I was sad, but she still has my back and is my sounding board when I need to vent about derby, my life, or whatever in general.  Riva and I hang out; she models for my art projects and we enjoy various nerdy things.  I've also gently threatened any gentlemen callers she's had to make sure they knew I was watching them and to treat my wife right!  I'm thankful to derby that I got to meet such an awesome person who has become a true friend.
Did I mention nerdy stuff?

Our first invitational together!  I will never have another derby wife.
Sometimes the idea of derby wives gets a little out of hand.  Having a derby wife went from being someone who you just felt a really strong connection with to a relationship that you had to have!  Not everyone needs to have a derby wife, or feels comfortable with the idea of one.  It's a fun concept, and one that some derby players take very seriously.  Rollercon often performs derby marriages, and even though it is in fun, it has a sense of decorum.  Wearing a  "I'm not gay, but my derby wife is" shirts is a great way to raise the eyebrows of any non derby folks. The real question is, does the derby wife still have a place in derby anymore?  Does it just bring a sorority sense to the sport, or does it really serve a purpose to make the derby experience more unique?  Honestly, I have no clue, but I seriously doubt that derby wives are going anywhere any time soon.  After asking various skaters about their derby marriages, and I've come up with a faux sort of etiquette rules when dealing with derby wives. 

1.  You feel pressured to get a derby wife.  Personally, the best part of finding my derby wife was the finding.  I wasn't looking for that kind of relationship, but I was happy to find it.  If you feel pressured by derby peers to get a derby wife so you're more firmly ensconced in the league, then maybe you should reconsider your league's culture.  Nobody "needs" to get a derby wife, but if you find that special someone, then don't fight it!

2.  Your derby wife has left your league or derby, and you feel like you need to "divorce" her.  Well, if your derby wife is such a good friend to you, then you two need to sit down and talk about your marital status like adults.  Just like any marriage, if it isn't meeting both of your needs, then maybe it's time to reevaluate the situation.  I personally will never have another derby wife again, but I'm an old fashioned kind of gal.

3.  You have derby wife envy.  You're a happily married derby couple, but then you meet this lady, and you have instant chemistry.  Do you leave your current derby wife?  Do you become a derby bigamist?  Once again, I know this isn't a real life marriage, but you should really be able to sit down with your derby wife and talk about the direction of your relationship.  Do you both want to go in for polygamy?  Do you want to have derby mistresses?  How about derby extended families? Stop me when you think I've gone over the edge with this, and according to the responses I got, I haven't gone too far yet!

4.  Your derby marriage is having a negative impact on your real life relationships.  Be careful of this one; spouses and significant others put up with a lot of things in derby.  Make sure that your derby marriage doesn't cause too many waves with your real one.  If your real life significant other and your derby wife don't get along, then it is up to you to see if you can smooth the waters over.

Whether or not you indulge in derby marriage, there are people who still uphold these traditions.  I think a derby wife is a fun thing, and for the most part can enhance your derby experience, but I've also seen derby marriages bring more drama into an already explosive culture.  In other words, they can be just like any other marriage in the world.  Just make sure you're focusing in on the important part of derby, and not all of the frivolous trappings that go along with it!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Announcer Love II : Sashion Victim

I sat down with Sashion Victim...well, we sat down over a Google document and shared some questions and knowledge about what it takes to be a successful announcer in roller derby.  

How did you get your start announcing?  Where you an outgoing public speaker in real life? What brought you to derby?
- SV: I got my start announcing when I worked in independent professional wrestling.  I attempted a wrestling career and failed miserably, but while I physically failed at learning how to perform, I knew the names of the moves and the stories that the wrestlers were trying to tell, so I was recruited to become an announcer when we first started releasing DVDs.  I can credit my ability to speak coherently from my theatrical training while in high school.

I got into derby in kind of an odd manner.  I first knew of derby when I did a panel at a science fiction convention about pro wrestling, and the convention organizers had also booked a derby panel but ran out of space, so they combined our panels.  While I didn’t get brought into the fold at the time, about a year and a half later, I met Frankendoll while she was in a relationship with one of the wrestlers.  She actually wanted to recruit me to coach, but when one of Dominion’s announcers quit, I was asked to fill in.  The first time I announced was also the first time I ever actually saw derby.  Fortunately, I had Professor Lou Botomy there to help me, and to this day, Lou remains one of my favorite people to work with.  My first game was on February 28, 2010, and it was Dominion’s All-Stars vs. River City’s Poe’s Punishers.

How did the AFTDA get its start?  Are there any certifications announcers have to go through to be eligible to announce on broadcast events like regionals or Champs?  How would an announcer who isn’t attached to that level of team make it on or DNN?

- SV: The AFTDA got it’s start as a genesis of the Voices of Reason group that started after the 2006 Dust Devil, and the goals of the AFTDA is to assist with training and development with announcers worldwide.  We have a certification process that includes a test, and certification confirms that you know not just what the game is about, but also how to properly announce the game with respect to the skaters and your own neutrality.

For a long time, announcers were assigned to games based off of league familiarity and association.  With the new project that is, our goal is to put forth a solid product, and that does ultimately mean that announcers may not get games that their league is playing in.  If you are not attached to that level of team, if you are a solid presence on the microphone, you stand a great chance of being selected.  Using myself as an example, River City is not yet regional-calibre, but I was able to participate in the last two East region playoffs due to my strength and knowledge.  It’s much the same for announcers such as Lightning Slim from Tri-City, or Dan Gliebitz from the Seaside Sirens, both of whom were not participants at the East region playoffs but were given opportunities behind the mic and did marvelously.  If you’ve shown you are capable behind the microphone and will do right by the game, you stand a great chance of being on mic.

How do you prepare for a bout?  Do you research the rosters and records of the teams beforehand, or do you walk in cold?

- SV: I prepare personally by watching an episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000.  Something about that show helps me loosen up mentally for calling a game.  As far as derby-related preparation, I always do the best I can with whatever stats are available to know who I’m going to call.  I feel it’d be a disservice to the fans and the skaters to be uneducated about who I am about to call a game for.  In a tournament situation, you have no idea who you might call on days two and three as those schedules are put together based on performance, so I try to go in knowing everything about all of the teams participating.

Do you ever cringe when you read a “derby name”?  Do you feel like derby names help announcers or cause more distractions from the sports?

- SV: I personally don’t have a preference when it comes to derby names for the skaters themselves; if someone wants to skate under their real name, that’s fine by me, just tell me if I’m pronouncing it incorrectly.  There are some names that I am asked not to say due to the explicit nature of their names, but I always let the home league determine what sort of language requirements they want.

Speaking of distractions, what do you think about announcers that have “Outrageous personalities” and tend to overshadow the game?  Is there a good balance of professional and interesting announcer?   Can you cite an example?

- SV: I am fine with people having a more boisterous personality, so long as it doesn’t impact their call.  I think the best balance of professional and interesting would be the Reverend Al Mighty, from Providence.  Rev. Al is very well known for being outrageous, but as soon as he’s behind the microphone, his knowledge is fantastic and he doesn’t try to overshadow the game.  The way I look at it, we’re the narrators of the story, not the story itself.  As soon as we try to become the story, we’re not doing our job properly.

It seems like some announcers have good chemistry when working together.  How does the ebb and flow work in announcing?  Do you think that announcers should constantly be talking, or should there be some quiet time?  (I’m guessing this might depend if you’re just streaming audio or not.)

- SV: Some announcers take a few games to build up chemistry, and some just naturally have good chemistry right out of the gate.  The most natural chemistry I ever had with someone without having spoken with them prior to announcing together was when I worked with Dirty Marty my first time at Charm City, although I think that has more to do with how great Dirty Marty is moreso than anything else.  The same thing happened the same exact night when I announced with O’Chit, who not only had I never met, but she had never announced before.  It went wonderfully, and I’m proud to say Chit is one of my closest friends now as a result.

I prefer announcing by having a conversation with my partner, so there will be a natural ebb and flow of the game itself and the call will reflect that.  I do think that dead air is a matter of difference between broadcast and house.  I personally subscribe to only having about ten seconds of dead air at a time for broadcast, because the viewer (or listener) at home is relying on us to tell the story.  For house, you can afford to be a little more laid back since a lot of the time, fans are focused on watching the action.  I always try to be quiet when the fans are cheering, as there’s no way they can be cheering and both hear and understand what I’m saying, so I wait for the roar to lull before talking again.  Plus, it saves my voice!

When Plastik Patrik announced the Montreal game in French, I was driving and listening to the stream on my phone; I was amazed at how well I could understand the flow of that game in a bilingual broadcast.  Do you think we will have more bilingual broadcasts in the future?

- SV: One thing to remember is that Plastik Patrik actually announces in a bilingual fashion for Montreal.  One announcer (typically Single Malt Scott) will call portions in English, and Patrik will call in French. is viewed internationally in dozens of countries, and I feel that, eventually, there will be enough demand for language specific broadcasts the more derby grows worldwide.  As it stands, I personally hope that we see more bilingual broadcasts because it does help those who are not English speakers with their growth and knowledge of the game.

Are there people you don’t want to announce with?  Why?  

- SV: There are announcers that I’ve been hesitant to work with due to concerns about our chemistry, but I will always do what the tournament organizer tells me to do.  Either I’ll be proven right by our chemistry being off, or I’ll be wrong and it’ll go great, and then I’ll kick myself for being a doofus.  There hasn’t been an announcer that I have outright refused to work with yet.

Some smaller and newer leagues have announcers who tend to coach from the microphone, by announcing when the jammer is standing in the penalty box, etc etc.  What can be done to correct that behavior?

- SV: The most important thing to note is that the home league is responsible for what the announcer says behind the microphone.  If the announcer is coaching from the microphone, giving away positions, what have you, it reflects on that league.  While our recommended code of conduct says that neutrality is the goal of the announcer, there are some leagues (not just small or new leagues, but larger, more established leagues have been guilty of this as well) that prefer that their announcer conduct themselves in that manner.  At that point, it is your decision as a skater or an interleague representative for your league to determine if you want to play that league, or up to your captains to ask the head referee to do something about conduct detrimental to gameplay.  Word spreads fast in our community, and if teams aren’t playing a league because of announce coaching, then either they will correct the issue or be satisfied with who they are playing.

How do you keep a blow-out game interesting?  

- SV: It can be very difficult.  I was the producer for Gotham vs. Carolina at the East region playoffs this year, so at halftime, I asked the announcers to focus on making it more about human interest.  Every point Carolina scores now is a win for them.  Even holding Gotham scoreless is a win.  It’s all about finding the smaller victories, even though the score is very out of balance, and promoting those smaller victories as a learning experience that can help them in future.  I always try to look at the bench of the team that’s being blown out as well, and point out that even if they are losing significantly, they are still fighting and keeping it together.  But admittedly, it’s one of the most difficult tasks in derby announcing.

Many announcers just talk about what the jammers are doing in the pack; this is one of my pet peeves along with the phrase “natural grand slam!”  What pet peeves do you have when you announce or listen to other announcers?

- SV: Blockers don’t get nearly enough love.  Plain and simple.  I do try my best to point out great blocking whenever I’m on a call.  I agree with you in that it is a pet peeve when announcers focus solely on the jammers, because they are not telling the full story.  I have an issue with rough transitions into sponsor reads, as some announcers will simply read off the copy without working into it.  My personal suggestion: if you can’t find a natural fit for the sponsor read, just say “the next jam is brought to you by” or “our game is brought to you in part by.”  It makes it so much easier.

Other pet peeves of mine include announcers who constantly reference themselves.  There was an announcer who’s name I forgot, but she had a dinosaur themed skater name, and when she announced a game, she constantly threw in that she was a dinosaur.  What possible context this had to the game, I don’t know, but apparently she felt it was important to say she was a dinosaur at all times.  I also don’t enjoy when announcers decide to use timeouts to go on editorial rants about gameplay.  There is a time and a place to discuss your issues with the game and the rules therein, but during the course of a game is not that time.

Some leagues scramble for announcers.  How can they recruit and keep an announcer happy?

- SV: Every announcer is different, so there isn’t one exact rule to keep them happy.  Personally, I’m happy if I’m told fans are coming back to games, or if skaters feel that I’m doing right by them behind the microphone.  Also, you can never go wrong with feeding us.  We’re a hungry bunch.  We do like feeling appreciated, and little things like that go a long way.

As far as recruiting, I think there has to be a genuine interest in the game itself.  I would rather have someone who has a mediocre voice but a passion for the game over someone with a great voice but no love whatsoever.  You can always feel passion in someone’s voice, and maybe their enunciation isn’t clear but you get caught up in their energy.  Unfortunately, a lot of leagues try to recruit by focusing on voice, and that’s not the best way to go about it in my opinion.  The best way to recruit an announcer, in my opinion, is have them come to a scrimmage so they can learn the game (maybe more if necessary), then the next scrimmage they come to, hook up the microphones and see how they sound.  While I first announced knowing nothing about the game, I was terrible, and decided that I was never going to sound that bad again, so I came to as many practices and scrimmages to learn as I could.  That’s where passion for the game kicks in; if you want to learn, you’ll eventually sound great.

Do you have anything to add?

- SV: Just know that announcers... well, the good ones, at least... will always enjoy constructive criticism and feedback.  If you have an issue with something an announcer said, let them know!  A good majority of us want to see as many people watch you skate as possible, so if there’s something you think will help with our goal, then let us know.  Announcing isn’t easy, but neither is skating.  We are all in this together.
Sashion Victim announces for River City and Carolina!

If you have questions about the AFTDA code of conduct, check it out here!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Shiny! Distractions on and off the track

Everyone has had one of those days where everything and everyone is a distraction to our game.  It's too hot at the venue, the fans are loud, your favorite handkerchief wasn't in your bag.  We let little things steal our attention; just think of distractions as mice nibbling away at your stash of attention cheese!  How do we keep our cheese in tact and keep the mice from stealing away one of the most important weapons we have in our arsenals?
Don't let this mofo get your cheese.

There are two kinds of distractions in derby; one is internal, and one is external.  Internal distractions are what we bring to the plate when we come to play.  Every single one of us has and evil monkey that lives in our heads, and he messes with our attention.  Do not feed your evil monkey!  Only you can fight him.  The second type of distractions we face are external distractions; we have little if no control over external distractions, but we can control our reactions to them. 

Internal distractions:

1.  You're having a bad day /bad week/ bad month.  It happens to the best of us.  I'm pretty sure that 2009 for me was one of my most miserable years, and when nothing seems to be going well in your life it can sap your ability to play the game.   The best advice to follow when this happens is to become very zen.  Lose yourself in the moment of skating; focus on what you're trying to achieve right this very minute, not what is going wrong in your life.  Focus on the NOW.

2.  You don't feel comfortable in your gear.  Once again, this can be a pretty common phenomena on the track.  You've put on something new, or you had something break, or you forgot something and had to borrow someone's gear while you played.  All of those things bleed our concentration away.  I used to skate on Lazer plates, and the first time some other skater stepped on them and broke a truck, I no longer completely trusted them.  In the back of my head I was worried that I would break them in the middle of a terrible fall or crazy maneuver, so I would limit myself to "safer" moves on the track.  After finally changing my plates out this year, I realized how limiting that concern was.  Get comfortable as you can with your gear.  Be prepared before practices and bouts; make sure you have everything packed and ready to go so you won't have to worry about it.  Also, try clothing and boutfits BEFORE you skate in a game.  Don't wait until game day to try that new pair of leggings, or booty shorts!  Try them out at practice!

3.  You're skating with someone who makes you feel like crap about your performance.  Hoo boy.  This one is tough, because even though that skater is putting out that vibe, you're letting her mess with your head.  Don't let this person be more important to you than she is to herself!  Remember, you're doing the best that you can, and if she cannot accept that, than the problem ultimately lies with her.  As much as I hate to say this, it might be a good idea to discount a lot of what she says until she settles down.  I don't like recommending this, because even a jerk can give good advice occasionally, but in self defense you might need to mentally shut her down for a while.  The best way I have done this is to say "Ok" when she unloads on you and to move away from her when possible.

4.  You lack confidence.  There have been games where I have been straight up terrified that I was playing against a certain team.  Fortunately most of those games happened early in my career and I have gotten inured to fear of failure.  Now when I step up to play another team, I know that I can only do what I have been trained to do.  I trust in my training, my teammates, my coaches and my skill.  I know I'm not alone out there, no matter what.  This is the best part about playing a team sport, the team support!

5.  You're not at your physical best.  There will be at least one game in your career where you will have some physical ailment.  You're sick, you have a headache, you pulled a muscle, or you have a huge blister burgeoning on your foot.   All of those things are going to distract you from your game; you need to acknowledge them and try to minimize their impact the best that you can.  Stay hydrated, use muscle balms, tape your blisters up the best that you can.  You're a human being, and you will not always feel perfect. 

External Distractions

1.  The venue is annoying.  In roller derby, you will never have the optimal skating venue.  We aren't there as a sport yet, so you have to be adaptable.  Is the floor wonky?  Adapt your skating style.  If it's too slick, take smaller steps.  If it's too sticky, change what kind of stops you do. I'm a firm believer in doing some research on venues where I'm going to skate.  I ask the home league questions; I ask other leagues who have played there what they experienced.  A little preparedness goes a long way.

2.  The fans are obnoxious.  Enh, they're fans.  They've come to have fun, and some of them are rabid supporters of the home leagues, so they might boo the visitors.  To combat this distraction, you have to completely be focused on the game at hand.  Eventually fan noise tends to become background noise for me because I'm concentrating on my teammates.

3.  The refs are terrible.  Ok.  Not all reffing is terrible, but I think it's a pretty common belief held by derby girls that no matter how they play, the reffing was bad.  Sometimes it is bad, but you can't do a thing about it.  You have to let that go and play your game.  If you find that there is a pattern of egregious ref calls, you have to communicate this to your captain and let her and the coach bring it up to the officials.  You yelling "BULLSHIT" at a ref is never going to solve the problem.  Trust in your captains and coaches to handle it.

4.  The other team is talking shit and being jerks.  This isn't typical silly talk on the track, I'm talking about when another team is relentless in the shit talk or celebrates an egregious penalty performed on one of your skaters.  I've seen it happen, and it can be really tough to ignore, but you have to do it.  This is an old sports tactic, and it's been around so long because it works!  I have seen teammates taken out of their mental game by snotty comments from the other team; they get angry and start revenge hitting, which is exactly what the other team wants!  Ignore them.  When the other team tries to talk to me in a hostile way, I just tune them out.  They sound like  Charlie Brown's teacher to me because I'm only concentrating on what my team is saying.  Also, if a team does do a lot of shit talking on the track, I tend to think that's all they have going for their game play, so I kind of pity them.

Hopefully this will help you protect your attention cheese from the distraction mice!  

Friday, October 5, 2012

Just for the ladies: Peeing your panties on the track

If you've been around derby for very long, you know that weird things can happen on the track.  You learn your all of your body's weaknesses, whether there are preexisting conditions, or odd new aches and pains, you learn all about your body in derby.  Sometimes you learn that your body has a strange weakness that just blindsides peeing your pants when you're hit.

Some skaters treat peeing their pants like a sort of like a rite of passage into the derby world, but I've never had that issue; yes, I've received hits so hard that the moved my fallopian tubes into my lungs for a second or two, but I've never experienced stress incontinence.  I know that it's impossible to completely avoid some incontinence situations, but hopefully this description of incontinence and  some of these tips will help you minimize the occurrences you experience on the track.

So what causes incontinence?  Shocking, one of the biggest risk factors of incontinence is being a woman.  Great!  Also, childbirth, coughing over a long period of time due to bronchitis, getting older (once again, great!), obesity and smoking can open you up to the terrors of tinkling on the track.  Most of the accidents on the track are usually chocked up to stress incontinence; you know you have stress incontinence if you pee a little when you sneeze, stand up fast, exercise intensely, or have sex.  That last one seems to be a little problematic, but it's listed as one of the symptoms, so I had to list it.

Much of stress incontinence can be controlled by behavioral changes; if you do change your behaviors and are still having issues with incontinence on the track or in daily life, please talk to your doctor about it.  It might be something that is easily solvable!  If your bouts with stress incontinence happen infrequently, then maybe following some of these behavioral changes will cut down or eliminate your need to wear a panty liner while you're jamming!

Did you know your bladder can hold up to two cups of urine?

1.  Avoid caffeine and alcohol which are all diuretics.  Right before practice, I tend to taper off drinking any Diet Coke products up my water drinking.  I think of it as "flushing my system" before I have to skate.

2.  Avoid fruit juices, carbonated beverages, and spicy food before practice.  Actually, that sounds like a great idea even if you don't have incontinence issues.  All of those things tend to irritate the bladder, which can lead to accidental, well accidents!

3.  Go to the bathroom more often.  When I get to practice, I go and pee.  After I gear up, I go and pee.  Usually that's enough to keep me from feeling like my bladder is full.  If I have any doubts, jumping up and down tends to make me feel like I should urinate one more time before I take the track.

4.  Eat more fiber.  There is a correlation between having regular bowel movements and not having stress incontinence.  Nom nom fiber!

5.  Lose weight.  Evidently, the heavier you are, the more you're courting stress incontinence.  Find a healthy diet, and a healthy exercise plan and you might feel better about a lot of aspects of your physical health.

6.  Do your kegels.  Yeah yeah, but they're good for you in so many ways.  In this link, the Mayo clinic suggests you do them three times a day.  Wow.  That's a lot of time spent thinking about weird muscles, but it will help stress incontinence.  If you aren't the kind of woman who can lie around and work on her kegels like that, other experts have suggested exercising them while you're in traffic, especially at red lights.  Who knows, it might be a funny experience for you, but always remember to empty your bladder BEFORE you do your kegel exercises.  I think that one is pretty self explanatory.

7.  Stay calm.  When we're nervous, we have to pee more, and our bladders go into hyperdrive.  Deep breaths and calming thoughts can help.

If you still find yourself having the occasional accident on the track, just try to remember that you aren't alone in your situation.  There are many many derby sisters who proudly wave the yellow flag with you.  Maybe one of these days, you'll cause someone else to wet their panties when you hit them!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Afterparties: Dinosaurs or Definite yes?

Ah the afterparty.  Everyone wants to win the after party, right?  Actually, it really doesn't seem like every team is really putting their all into winning the after party anymore.  It seems like after parties might be going the way of the dinosaurs.  Is this a good or bad thing?  Well, it probably would help to look at why after parties tend to be fading away.

1.  When derby first started, it was more of an event as opposed to a game.  The event included the game, the attitude, the wheel of punishment and of course the after party.  As derby the concept of derby has changed to one of more athleticism, after parties have become less and less of a focus for a lot of leagues.

2.  With age comes wisdom.  Waaaaay back in 2004, many leagues had a lot of younger and feisty skaters who played hard and partied harder.  It's now 2012, and age does take its toll on after party recovery.  Add in babies, demanding jobs, and time commitments from hell, and you have a large part of the derby population who just doesn't find the after party to be that much of a priority.

3.  Sunday morning practices are more popular.  There was a time in derby when you would play a game that weekend, and then take the rest of the week off from practice.  Those times have mostly changed for competitive leagues.  Practice time is too important to pass up, so many leagues drag themselves to early Sunday morning practices after each bout.  Also, to maximize travel dollars, many leagues host "hangover bouts" in order for the visiting league to play another team in the area.  Combine these two aspects of Sunday morning skating, and you have fewer skaters interested in the after party.

4.  After parties have a bad reputation.  It's true, even though it might be unfair.  It could be because after parties are synonymous with inebriation and crappy behavior, which makes some people hesitant to attend.  I've been in derby since 2009, and I have seen my fair share of bad behavior of skaters towards other skaters, skaters towards fans, and fans towards other fans.  Also, if you are not interested in drinking, after parties may not be your cup of tea.  I know many skaters that have decided to not drink alcohol anymore, and being around an environment that is alcohol centered tends to make them uncomfortable.  It's all about perspective.

So, are after parties worth saving?  I think they might be, but not in the raging traditional form they used to be known by.  After parties can be a great way for leagues to reduce animosity after a game; remember, in the end, it was just a game.  Derby skaters should support each other, and the after party might be the one and only place where you would be able to meet someone who skates for another league in a social setting.  Also, after parties can be a great place to meet and talk to your fans, if they show up.  I've been to after parties that were really just for the skaters and officials and volunteers.  If you want to save your league's after parties, then here are some tips to keep people attending them.

People mixing from different leagues, and having fun! 

1.  Have it in a big enough venue.  Sometimes after parties are held in the tiniest of clubs or bars.  There isn't a place to sit or gather, and it's really hot and miserable.  Also, think about bathrooms.  If there is only one toilet per gender, then you're going to have a lot of people standing around waiting to pee, which is never fun.  I understand that sponsors are sponsors, but try to anticipate the best place for your party.

2.  Have food there.  I can personally say that two of the best after party spreads I've ever had was the the Nashville Roller Girls and the Blue Ridge Roller Girls' after parties.  They had amazing food that was free for skaters, volunteers and refs, and it was AWESOME!  If I have to choose between drinking alcohol or eating, I'm going to choose food each and every time.  I hate going to an after party where the choice in food is greasy grease grease or way too expensive for my wallet.  Also, if I have to wait an hour for food, I'm not going to be hanging around for long.  Skating makes me hungry!

3.  Have a great DJ.  If dancing is your thing, make sure you get a good DJ for your party; last minute DJs or DJs that don't understand the musical culture of your league, it's a recipe for disaster.  DJs, sometimes we just want to hear the song the way it was created. We don't care how clever your mashup of  Flo Rida vs. Katy Perry is, just play the song.  On a personal note...I HATE KARAOKE.  I know people love it, but it's the fastest way to drive me away from an after party, after not having food that is.

4.  Hold it in a smoke free venue.  We're athletes.  Hanging out in a smoky filled club is just not the best thing for us.  If you have smokers on your league, find a place that has a smoking area; athletes should be trying to protect their lungs.  (See my smoking blog if you want to read my rant against smoking.)

5.  Provide a designated driver for the visiting league.  When I posted this question on Facebook, one of the responding skaters said that their league provides a designated driver for visiting skaters, and I thought that was a pretty classy way to make your after party enticing.

6.  Don't be the kids at the cool table.  Stop clustering into cliques and ignoring everyone else. After parties are for everyone, and your league should be open and ready to socialize with others.  This is one of the reasons I think dancing is a better mixer for after parties than karaoke; it gets people out on the floor together, and nobody is the "star".

I'd like to thank Hawaiian Donkey Punch from the Carolina Wreckingballs for suggesting this topic.  His league is having a great event coming up.  If you're in South Carolina, you should check out some women's and men's derby.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Disappointment in Derby

Hoo boy, I hate dealing with disappointment, especially in derby.  You didn't pass pack assessments, you didn't make a roster, you didn't play much at all when you did make a roster, you didn't get MVP, you didn't win the game of the season; all of these things disappoint us in derby.  Sometimes derby gives us the highest of highs, and the miserable lowest of lows.  Unfortunately there is such a painful opportunity for disappointment to spoil everything, unless you learn to cope with it.

1.  Admit you're disappointed.  You don't have to throw a fit in public or freak out, but we're all adults and instead of living in denial, you should admit you're feeling disappointed, especially to yourself.  Disappointment can drain your life of happy experiences if you let it; it gains power the more you ignore its existence. Admitting it makes it easier to deal with; nobody thinks you're an inhuman robot who feels nothing.  I used to be a giant fan of "never let them see you cry" until I realized how much I was hurting myself by squashing my emotions. 
Sad face.  :(

2.  Get some distance and perspective.  Sometimes you have to give yourself some space and time away from whatever caused your feeling of disappointment.  Do something that makes you feel happy and positive; if derby is causing disappointment in your life, take some time and do something that makes you feel successful; when my derby path disappoints me, I tend to go and work on something I enjoy and am successful at; for me, art is that thing.  Before you had derby, you had something that made you feel successful too.  Revisit it and gain strength from it.  Hint, partying, drinking, binge eating or sleeping does not give you that feeling of success; these are activities that just make you avoid thinking about disappointment.  Do something productive.

3.  Shift your expectations.  Don't be attached to a specific goal.  Sometimes your expectations are way too high for the situation.  A good example of this is "I'm not going to commit any minors in this bout at all!" and then you do.  Make sure your expectations are realistic.  "I'm going to try as hard as I can to improve my skating skill" is a better expectation than "I'm going to make the next roster."  You're in control of how you improve your skills, but unless you're the captain and coaches, you're not in charge of choosing a roster.  All you can control is you.  Too often I see promising players get so disappointed with not making a certain roster, that they quit the sport entirely.

4.  Sometimes disappointment is a good thing.  Whaaaaaaa?  Yes.  It can show you that you need to change your thinking, your goals, or how you're going about making your goals.  Disappointment can make you more aware of things you need to adjust in your life, and if you take the time to work on those things, the closer you'll get to achieving your goals.  Let's face it, if you have strong disappointment that you didn't accomplish a particular goal, it means that you are extremely passionate about derby.  Good!  We're not getting paid for this, we're destroying our bodies slowly, so you must be getting something out of it.  If you weren't a little disappointed at times with your performance in derby, it would mean it wasn't really that important to you.

At times when I'm dealing with disappointment, I look at the small victories in my derby career; sometimes those small victories are being able to get back on the derby horse and keep on going!