Monday, April 29, 2013

The skaters we all are....even if we don't want to be.

Nobody is perfect, and we all are annoying at some point in life and in our derby career.  I've been guilty of being "That girl" at practice some times, but for the most part, the following skater-types aren't evil....they're just really really really annoying.

1. The skater who gets distracted by any movement while being explained drills.  I am totally guilty of this.  If our practice gets split up into two drills, and we're having a discussion in ours, if I see movement going on in the other one, I totally focus on that.  I hate that I have to constantly remind myself to stay with what MY coach is saying at the time.  It's hard!  I have the "squirrel" attention span when I put on wheels.  Ugh.

2.  The skater who never has the right wheels for the bout.  This skater never reads the emails the captains send out and is always woefully unprepared for the bouting surface.   I don't mind it if it happens once or twice, but if you make it a habit, you are annoying!  Stop relying on everyone else to have your gear there.

3.  The skater who signs up for any extra thing, and then can never make it.  Is there an invitational in the area?  A pick up practice with a nearby league?   Your team is doing some bonding and playing kick ball?  This skater signs up for all the things but never can make it because she signs up for all the things in her real life too.  This is the skater who is being hung by her own good intentions; try to be realistic when you sign up for extra activities.

4.  The skater that is always late and has to be re-explained everything.  Your team is intently learning a new strategy at the beginning of practice, and after it has been explained and people have grasped it, and then "Lucy I'm Always Late" comes floating in and has to be caught up on the whole new strategy.  I know people can't always be on time for every practice, but habitual tardiness just effs up the whole vibe of practice.  Be on time, tape the track down, and do your team warm ups.  Make it happen, cap'n. 
Go ahead, you know you want to look.

5.  The skater who has problems finding the right sports bra.  There is one skater in every league who seems to have issues finding an appropriate sports bra to wear during practice.  Try as you might, you can't look away from the boobies!  It's just an awkward situation for everyone, except the skater with the brassiere fail.
6.  The new skater who keeps giving everyone advice.  Ah newbies, they're so cute and have all the enthusiasm, but sometimes they cross the line and think they're experts after a month or two of derby. Nothing is more precious, and sweet and annoying than having a newbie try to dish out advice to seasoned skater, committees or coaches.  Shh!

There are many more annoying skaters we all end up being at one point or another, and I'll do part two later this week.  If you have any suggestions, let me know.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Taking Advice as a Veteran from Veterans

About a year ago, I wrote a blog for newbies about how to take advice in derby; often advice is given through clenched teeth and a harsh tone of voice, so it can be a little hard to swallow for newer skaters.  Now, add some experience and a little ego, and it can be that much harder for a veteran skater to take advice from another veteran skater.

There is definitely a pecking order in derby.  It starts with amount of experience, the number of games you've played, how much play time you get in, whether you jam or not, and skating skill.  Derby is competitive; people are not only competing against the other leagues, but for spots on a roster.  If you are in a very talented league, it's quite possible you keep an eye on the other players and step your own skills up to stay one step ahead of the competition.  Unfortunately, this atmosphere can hinder teammate to teammate communication when it comes to feedback; it can engender a lot of "Who the hell does she think she is?" reactions.

Nobody likes to hear that they aren't perfect, especially from a peer, but this is a sport where the number one complaint I hear from skaters is "I don't get enough feedback!"  We all would rather hear the feedback come from captains, coaches and refs, but sometimes you can learn the most from the people who skate right next to you in jam after jam.


1.  Listen.  What?  Exactly.  Most of us suck at listening to each other; we're in a hurry to get out what we want to say or defend ourselves.  Really listen to what your peer has to say.  You don't have to agree with everything she or he is saying, but the first step is listening.

2. Take it in.  Give the feedback a moment to sink in before you strap on your butthurt panties. Even if you think the person is full of crap, sometimes they have something worth saying and learning from.  I know it's hard when our emotions and adrenaline are running high, but take a moment and really think about what the person is saying to you.

3. Listen to the tone.  Is the person giving you feedback in a bitchy tone?  She's probably just venting, but if her tone isn't hostile, she's probably trying to help you out because you are her teammate.  Even if her tone is slightly hostile, you can still learn from the feedback.  PS anything said in the heat of a jam is probably not feedback.

4.  Consider the source.  Some skaters are quick to point out that you forearmed them in a hit, while they're sticking their elbows up your nose. Some skaters are hypercritical of others, and no matter how you interact with them, they are going to be negative.  On the other hand, there are those skaters who couldn't give good feedback if you paid them money.  Every move you make is "Awesome and amazing" even if you fell and tripped over your own feet on the way to the bathroom. That feedback is useless.

5.  Check your ego.  You aren't Bonnie Thunders, and you ain't perfect.  Get over your ego and maybe you'll learn something.


1.  Pick your time.  Right after someone kicks your feet out from under you is probably not the best time to offer "feedback".  Face it, you aren't going to be delivering it in any kind of tone or constructive manner if you're pissed off.  Take time to cool down.  Also, judge if they are ready to get feedback.  Right after they have jammed through a power jam may not be the best time to critique their blocking style!
This is probably not the time to offer feedback.  Photo by Joshua R. Craig

2.  Pick your battles.  Is this really important feedback, or are you being a bitch?  It's a fair question.  Is this a pet peeve YOU have or is it something that will dramatically cut down on her penalties or up her game?  Really think about it, because if it is something petty, then just zip your lip and move on.

3.  Consider having a third party deliver it.  This can be tricky, but if you know the person won't be receptive to a peer giving them feedback, then you might want to appeal to a higher power.  Talk to your coaches or captains; put your feedback in their hands, and they can judge if it is worth passing on.  Take yourself out of the equation and let those who get paid the big bucks handle it.  (I kid about the big bucks.)

4.  Let them know you're struggling with the same issues.  It helps to give feedback if you can share the same problem and offer solutions of how you've been dealing with it.  A problem shared is a problem halved!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Falling While Standing Still

It's a normal situation, in the middle of practice, the coaches are talking about some bit of strategy and all skaters are standing there listening.....until someone falls for no reason. If nobody gets hurt, then everybody giggles and makes fun of the fallen.  "Oh, must be that invisible floor snake again."  Everyone has a good laugh and practice goes on.  Unfortunately, sometimes things don't go as planned, and someone gets seriously injured.  It happens more than you think.

Two years ago, I was just standing while talking to someone right after a bout.  The next thing I knew, I had lost my balance an landed hard on my elbow, splitting open the skin and causing me a fun filled trip to the emergency ward.  I have no idea how I lost my balance, but it happened and I just blamed my fall on being a little tired; I didn't think about it again until I started noticing that other people getting seriously hurt while standing on skates, including people skating at open skate, referees and on skate coaches.

What on earth was going on?  This year we had a brand newbie that fell while standing in her skates and she dislocated her elbow. After that incident, I posted a question on my Facebook feed and got about thirty answers of people describing their standing still injuries.  They ranged from breaking ankles, to bruising tailbones, and messing up elbows.

Why do people fall unexpectedly while standing still?   When we stand in shoes, we are constantly moving, so if you took a long exposure film of us, we would look like we were swaying a little bit. Because we have our feet anchored on the floor securely, our bodies make micro adjustments, and we rarely fall down.  Unfortunately, balancing on skates is a different animal.  Our center of gravity is higher and if we have been doing heavy skating, we get tired Sometimes we lock out our knees and make recovery that much more difficult; usually we are concentrating on something else, like talking or discussing strategy when it happens, so relaxing the core muscles and going stiff legged is a perfect storm for falling down.
Remember the creepy swaying from Paranormal Activity?  Image found here.

So how can we stop it?  For veteran skaters, you should always be aware of you stance, keep knees from locking out and place your feet in a position that will keep them from rolling.  A few people I know who have tackled this problem keep their feet in pointed towards each other in a very mild plow stop, but how can you keep newbies from falling?  Plow stop foot position may not be easy for them to do, so I suggest you tell them to drop a a toe stop while standing in skates.  In other words, put a toe stop down on the floor to keep them from rolling and losing their balance.  It might be the one small action that keeps someone from missing months of derby. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The New Minimum Skills.......and?

A lot of people are in a tizzy because the WFTDA just released their new minimum skills requirements, god....they're different!  You can find the new requirements here if you've been living under a rock for the last couple of days, and you hadn't heard all of the dismayed moaning going on.  Really?  I'm shocked that people are shocked.  These minimum standards are exactly that; they are minimum standards.  Skaters should be striving to do so much more, and if we are going to continue to elevate this sport, we need to start at the bottom and bring everyone up to a higher level. 

What hasn't changed?
You still need to be able to skate.  Duh.  You have to have good derby posture, smooth crossovers, stability, t-stops and plow stops.  You still need to be able to do "knee taps" and "double knee slides" which means you shouldn't be slamming down on your knees when you do a "fall".  You have to block and avoid obstacles, just like before, and that's about the crux of it.
Yes, you have still have to plow stop.

So What Has Changed?

1.  27 laps in 5 minutes.
The first issue some people are upset about is that they upped the requirement to 27 in five minutes.  It's really not that gigantic of a change, but I can already hear the panic in the posts I've seen on Facebook.  It seems like so many people tend to have mental issues with making 25 in 5, and now they've made it even more laps.  Whenever I see someone post that they're having issues with their lap time, I know that the root of her problem is that she needs to work on her form.  You can lose weight, quit smoking, and work on your strength training, but if you have lousy form when you're skating, you are sabotaging yourself.  To make your laps, you absolutely need to practice good form.  That means no standing up, strong and even crossovers, and remembering to breathe.

2.  Being able to move without rolling.
I don't know if anyone else thinks it's a little ironic that the minimum skills are encouraging "not skating" but it's what the game has become.  They've added the non rolling grapevine to the list of skills all skaters must do to be able to bout.  It's all about edges, and if you don't have control over your edges, then I suggest you start exploring what it feels like when you have successfully used them.  It's going to take a lot of practice and experimentation, but the grapevine is a good place to start.

3.  Where did the baseball slides go?
Yes, most skaters have never ever ever used a true baseball slide in a game, scrimmage or drill, but it's still an important skill to know.  When I was learning that particular fall, I really thought "Good gravy, are they just making us do this to torture us?"  The answer of course is no.  Baseball slides teach you the muscle memory to avoid breaking your tailbone.  We all try not to fall over backwards when being hit, but sometimes you can't avoid it; the baseball slide teaches you to turn and take that fall on one cheek.  Anything is better than a broken tailbone!  I am a little surprised they took those out, but I still suggest each league continue to teach them.

Hey WFTDA, why for you no make hockey stops required?
They still haven't required a hockey stop, even though it's a pretty standard skill for most interleague skaters.  Hockey stops are so important in the game at this point, that I personally think it  should be a minimum skill.  This isn't 2009, when only a hardcore few could do a hockey stop; quick stops and transitions they way you win games; I was surprised that they weren't included.  Don't be surprised if they show up in the next minimum skills update.  Or at least I can dream.

So, there you are.  Has the WFTDA raised the bar?  Yes, but it's not insurmountable for new skaters.  Derby is a dangerous sport, and you have to be skilled to play it.  Long gone are the days of women and men barely capable of skating being in a bout, and thank goodness for that!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Things No Derby Girl Has EVER Said.

We live in a great time, where derby is exploding all over the world, and yet I think there are definitely some universal truths

Ten Things No Derby Girl Has EVER Said. 

1.  I had the perfect amount of play time in that game.
 Is there such a thing?  I love playing, and I would play in ALL THE JAMS if I could.  I'm sure most of you feel the same way.   There might be that freak of nature out there who thinks she played too much, but I haven't met her yet.

2.  My wrists don't stink at all after wearing my pads for four hours at scrimmage.
I don't know what it is about wrist guard funk, but it is stubborn and long lasting.  Sometimes even after a shower, my wrists still smell putrid, and I wash my pads! I used to wear socks under my pads, but I quit doing it because it got hot.  Guess I need to get back to that habit.

3.  I have enough wheels. 

4.  Cleaning bearings is so much fun! 
If it was that much fun, no derby girl would ever need to but new ones, right?  But from what I hear, most skaters would rather buy new ones than clean the ones they have.  Cleaning bearing isn't onerous, but it's not really fun either.  I guess it's like flossing.  Some people do it, and some don't.

5.  I'd rather be sitting in a league meeting for six hours than skating.
 Especially if it's a really heated league meeting, where feelings are getting hurt and policy is being challenged.  Ooh...sign me up.

6.  Every single one of those ref calls was perfect and I can find no fault in anything they did.  Even if we think the refs were decent, most derby girls never fully believe that every call a ref made is right or justified, especially if it was against her or her team.  The best we hope for as players is that the refs are fair, and make equal amounts of good and bad calls against both teams.

7.   The thought of new gear does not excite me.
Liar.  I'm always looking at new gear.  New gear is totally porn to derby girls.

8.  I don't care how my butt looks in these leggings.
Oh that's never been uttered; we all care about what our butts look like when out on the track.  Sometimes we want it to be big looking, impressive, or hot, but it's all important to us.  Which leads us to the next thing no derby girl has ever said......
I have no idea what's going on here.  Photo by frayededgeconcepts

9.  I love every picture taken of me while I'm playing derby.
I'm pretty sure that the most beautiful of derby players make jammer faces in some of their pictures.

 10.  Drama doesn't effect my league.
Oh I wish this one was true.  Let's try and make this one true eventually!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cycle of Ninja and Samurai

When I first started playing derby, one of my fellow freshandmeaties was horribly shocked when one of the vets told us the best time to hit another blocker was when she wasn't looking.  "That's terrible!  That's sneaky and underhanded and I am really disappointed in a sport that promotes that kind of thinking!"  She didn't last long in derby, but not because she was morally superior to derby; she felt like people shouldn't hit her because they were her friends, but that's a different story.  I want to focus on the idea of being sneaky.  Should you be?  Should you be a samurai or a ninja on the track?

People underestimate me.  I've been called skinny, gangly and wiry; even though I'm tall, I don't have a lot of bulk to go with my height.  Most people would put me in the "not a big hitter" category, and I've grown to accept that as part of my "public derby identity" which has worked well for me in the past and now, because people rarely see me coming, until it's too late.

I was going to just put a black box....ha! Art by me.
When someone underestimates you, you have the power of invisibility.  People are overwhelmed on the derby track in every jam, especially blockers; if they don't think you're the biggest threat on the track, many times they mentally dismiss you. You exist in their blind spot, and that can be an amazing thing, especially if you're doing offense for your jammer.  Am I sneaky?  Hell yes.  I wait for a blocker to get distracted and then I attack; blockers who turn their heads away from me, or let me sidle up to their side without trying to reposition, or hold me off.  Those are prime targets! Smoke bomb!

Now that's a boutfit,  Image found  here.

Unfortunately for ninjas, if you're really good at your job, someone will eventually notice the mayhem you're causing and you lose your ability to be invisible!  That's when you need to don the helmet of the samurai and charge into battle.  Samurai are the heroes of the track, and they are usually targeted by the other team as a threat.  If you've lost your ability to be a sneaky ninja, then you need to step up as that threat on the track and be a distraction to the other team.  Samurai don't hide what they do; they charge in and take all challengers on.  But Q, I'm not that good!  I need the sneaky!  Don't worry, my warrior friend.  Just being a distraction can be a huge help to your jammer on the track.  Once you've been identified as someone who is getting something done, you are taking attention away from your jammer or from other blockers who can now enjoy the ninja role.  Eventually, if you aren't effective as a samurai, the other team will stop targeting you and you can once again enjoy the perks of being a ninja. 

It's a derby cycle I see play out over and over again.  Sometimes I don't even see the ninja like feats of players on the track until I sit down and watch the footage!  There are derby ninja on your team, and I bet you don't even see what amazing things they're doing.  Don't just keep an eye on the samurai; be ready for that sneaky ninja attack!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Two Things I Promised to Never Do for Derby, and I Did Them

I vowed to myself that I would never do two things for derby, and I've broken every single promise I've made to myself about derby.  Oh well.  At least they've all worked out for the best, but damn, I hate breaking a promise to myself!

The first one is that I would never ever ever ever ever ever go to a chiropractor.  Never.  Ever.  Did I say ever?  To give you some history, my mother hates doctors, all kinds of doctors, and therefor, I hate them too.  I also have levels of hatred for doctors; some are a necessary evil, some are an inconvenient evil, and some are complete cranks.  In the past, my mind was firmly made up that chiropractors were complete cranks, and to be fair, every time I watched a 20/20 special on the medical field, the part they would inevitable do on chiropractors always showed them in a sleazy light.  Even though I have had back pain most of my adult life, I have never been tempted to venture down the chiropractic lane. 
Image found here.
Our league has a chiropractor as a long time sponsor, and when I first heard that, I tried not to roll my eyes too loudly, because hey, he was a sponsor.  Evidently many of our rollergirls went to him, and he offered free treatments to active skaters; great...awesome....reminding myself not to make quacking noises too loudly when someone gushed on and on about their chiropractic session.  Finally, last year I was desperate enough to try anything; my lower back was so tight, and I could barely bend over to tie my skates.  Not only has his intervention helped me in derby, but it's helped the consistent headaches I used to get from my crappy posture (which isn't completely my fault!  Hooray!)  I can touch my toes now without dying!  I can look over my right shoulder without partially blacking out from the pain!  These are very exciting things in my world.  I will gladly sit down to a dinner of my words about chiropractors and how they can help athletes in a contact sport especially ones that understand derby! (especially if they taste like duck.)  Our team's chiropractor is Dr. Outten and his site can be found here.

So, as some of you might know, I've been torturing myself with P90x since the end of November; it's been a struggle, but I still do it it every day. I seriously hate doing the core workout; it practically makes me cry every time I do it, but for some reason I keep coming back....just like I keep coming back to derby, even when it hurts me.

Why did I start P90x?  I decided that I really needed to up my game, and I had hit a plateau; after four years of derby, I was stuck and the work outs I was doing outside of practice weren't getting me to where I wanted to go.  Plus, getting older is kind of a drag on your body, so I decided to look around for something new to me; crossfit didn't really fit into my financial situation, as much as I liked what it was doing for my fellow teammates, and I do prefer working out in the privacy of my own home.  I did NOT want to try P90x.  Psychos do it, and I am not that crazy, but desperation leads to all sorts of interesting decisions, and I borrowed the dvds.

What a painful first week it was for Q!  I really wondered about my sanity, about the sanity of the people in the ad, and who thought any workout dvd would make me cry like a little girl after four years of derby?  Well, P90x did.  After the first work out, I was an aching mess.  After the first week, I had to keep telling myself I could make it through another day.  After that, I was hooked.  Now I feel weird if I miss a day.  How did this happen?  I even do the damned yoga, which I personally think is three times worse than the other days combined.  Also, Tony Horton, the coach for P90x, is super annoying.  Typical Tony Horton quote, "Halfway done, party’s almost over, what a bummer."

Has it paid off?  I would have to say yes; my core is stronger than it has been, ever.  Combined with my lack of back pain, I've noticed my hits are stronger, my balance is better and I can resist getting hit.  Core strength has really upped my game in ways I didn't think was possible, including controlling my "forearm" calls.  Hooray!  Would present day Q have been able to talk 2009 Q into doing any of these things?  Oh hell no.  I was and am a stubborn person, but I've noticed I've become more willing to try new things because of derby.  What will it have me try next, vegan bacon? 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

No Hangovers at Practice...please.

Yeah, ok.  This post will piss people off, but please remember that derby is a sport and not a lifestyle in my world, so when I hear about people coming to practice intoxicated or hung over, I shake my head and wonder what the hell they are thinking. I personally don't drink often; it makes me feel kind of icky, and I really don't need the empty calories alcohol packs on, so I tend to avoid it.  Do I condemn people for drinking?  Heck no.  Drink all you like.  Just don't bring it to practice with you.
Picture found  here.

In the five years that I have been involved with this sport, I've seen a handful of people come to practice or games under the influence of...something.  Unfortunately, I HEAR about it a lot more often. For some, it's alcohol, and for others it's marijuana. Sometimes you can smell it on the person, or you can see it in their eyes, or some people tell you exactly what is going on.  By no means should you be skating while under the influence of anything.  Let me repeat that.  DON'T SKATE EFFED UP.  I don't care if you need a beer to take the edge off, or think you're so focused when you're doing marijuana; this sport is a dangerous one, and we are all taking a risk while participating in it under normal circumstances.  It is not fair to your teammates or your opponents to get on the track when you have been drinking, or smoking, period.   You are negating the skating insurance for yourself, your team and possibly for the facility your practice or game is scheduled in. DO NOT DO IT. If you are unable to stop drinking or smoking before you play derby, then maybe you should stop playing derby.

Now, let's talk about going to practices hungover.  Yes, I know that most people have tried it at least once.  "I have practice on Sunday mornings, and I need to make attendance."  Ugh.  I hate that excuse, but if your really want to go to practice hungover, look at what kind of impact it will have on your performance. Most experts agree that drinking the night before a heavy practice or game is a terrible idea for many reasons. First of all, you're going to be dehydrated, which is never a good thing when playing derby.  You'll get more fatigued faster because your liver doesn't have a chance to clear out all of that lactic acid as quickly as you normally would. You don't make as quick of decisions as you would when not hungover  and your heart rate can be abnormal due to the effects of alcohol.  Hey, did you know if you drink, it actually slows down your recovery from an injury?  The experts say that if you're going to exercise hungover, you should 1. Keep it gentle  2.  Limit the duration  3.  Watch your hydration before and after.  Really?  Why bother going to derby practice if you're going to keep it gentle and limit the duration? How about not drinking to the point of being hungover the night before a practice?  You can plan the way you imbibe before a practice. It's not like your derby practice "snuck up on you." Everyone makes mistakes, but if you are constantly coming to derby practice hung over, you're not doing yourself or your team any favors.  Maybe it's time to consider where you place derby in your priorities.  I'm not saying you have to quit either activity, just maybe plan for either one better.

Wanna read more about why you shouldn't come to practice hungover?  Read some of this.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Fine Art of Wearing a Hockey Helmet and Other Things That Annoy People.

I'm an old hand at bucking the status quo when it comes to safety gear and everything else in derby; after getting nailed in the shin twice at scrimmage, I decided to get some shin guards.  Of course, back in 2009, I took a lot of crap for wearing shin guards, but I have continued to wear them, and my shins remain unscarred.  When someone who made smart ass comments about my shin guards gets nailed in the shins by another skater, I smirk.  Sorry, I just do.  I know that people have differing opinions of what is acceptable in derby, but every victory, even a moral one is sweet.  So, when I brought up the idea of getting myself a hockey helmet, I wasn't surprised to hear the negative comments about my hockey helmet hankering.

 Last year, after watching several derby girls get strange head injuries and a couple of close calls myself, I decided to get a hockey helmet.  It's funny just how much push back I got from skaters about this decision. "You're going to look stupid." "You're going to look 'special'." "The helmet covers won't fit." "It's not safer than skater helmets." "It's going to be really hot." I heard it all, and I totally understand that part of the derby community never wants to embrace change; we were told how things worked in derby, and we look down our noses at new and different things, and yet still I felt strong enough in my decision to do the research, talk to the experts and plunk down my money.

First of all, I already look stupid when I skate, and I've come to grips with the fact that I'll never be a poster girl.  I'm six feet tall and gangly as crap; I have terrible posture and I often have a pissy look on my face because I'm trying to concentrate on the awesome game of derby.  I'm very lucky that my tongue isn't hanging out of mouth in every picture, and I hate how my uniform fits.  Wearing a hockey helmet isn't going to make me look that much worse, that's for sure!  Also, I kind of really like how my helmet looks now.  After I skated in my hockey helmet for the first time, I completely fell in love with it.  I've never had a helmet fit me better, and I felt like I had better field of vision.   After talking to people who have switched to a hockey helmet recently, they feel the same about having better vision.  Yes, due to the lack of the "sweat saver" lining, which does little to nothing to protect your head from any impact, I sweat more.  But let's face facts, I sweat a lot anyway; if I'm not sweating, then I'm not working hard.

I was a little worried about the helmet cover not fitting, but it worked just fine. I was also worried it might pop off, but it's fit fine whenever I wear it and I've never lost one.   Some of my hockey helmeted sisters haven't learned the fine art of panty placement on a hockey helmet yet, but they will, they will. Here's a quick guide for anyone struggling with controlling their panties, and you know that we all need more control over our panties.  

How to wear a jammer cover on your hockey helmet.
To be fair, hockey helmets may not prevent concussions; ongoing studies are showing that athletes in contact sports would have to wear a helmet made of 18 inches of hard foam all around the outside to prevent concussions.  Imagine how we would all look, skating with giant three foot wide helmets?  My reasons for wearing the hockey helmet are because the helmet does protect from initial contact better than skater helmets; they cover the lower back of the head better and have the harder foam lining which does increase your chances of avoiding a concussion.  Plus, they just fit better.  For one of our parades, I put on one of my older and "prettier" skate helmets, and I couldn't get over how badly it fit.  Why was I putting up with a crappy fitting unsafe helmet?  Because I didn't want to look stupid....which is stupid.

Finally, it's important to acknowledge that it's ok to try new things; people are going to poo poo your protective gear, your awesome new Derbyskinz, your skates, your helmet stickers, everything! You have to do what works for you.  Derby is sport that isn't for the weak minded, so it's ok to go out and try something different.  Then you can smirk when you see one of your critics get kicked in the shins.

Read more about brain trauma here.  If your league doesn't have a policy on dealing with brain trauma and head injuries, it's time to get one!