Monday, May 6, 2013

Are You a Shark, a Dolphin or a Jellyfish?

Skaters are varied and special and individual snowflakes of precious individuality.  Aw.  Anyway, in the soupy sea of derby, we only fall into three classifications when it comes to our development and our study of our sport. Wait, what?  We're supposed to study our sport?  That depends.  How hungry are you?  Are you a shark, dolphin or jellyfish when it comes to your derby appetite?

Sharks never ever stop swimming; if they do, they don't get the oxygen they need from the water.  I'm a shark skater.  I go to extra training when I can, visit other league practices, volunteer to go to newbie practices, study reffing...anything to improve my skating!  Shark skaters watch endless footage, and talk way too much derby.  Is there an opportunity for cross-training out there?  If so, I'll be there with bells on, if that's what I need to wear.  Sharks are often very hard on themselves and fear that if they don't keep learning, keep honing their skills, then they will lose ground.  Shark skaters are probably super annoying to other classifications of skaters; I've been told by a couple of people that my schedule would overwhelm them.  To be fair, it hard to stay in the shark mode your entire derby career; even the best of us needs to power down from shark mode for a while and try the dolphin life at times.
Hey, you guys having an open practice I can crash?  Image found here

Some skaters love playing the game, but don't have the same kind of singular devotion a shark has.  These skaters are dolphins; they play hard, but they only stick around to play derby when it's fun for them.  If someone sends them footage to watch, they MIGHT get around to it, but only if they have the time.  Extra training sessions?  Maybe, if they don't have something else to do that day.  Is it close by?  If it's close by, they'll probably be there....maybe.   Dolphin skaters don't want derby to be more than a dangerous hobby, and that's ok.  The derby habitat has plenty of room for sharks and dolphins to coexist.  I believe most derby players tend to change from dolphins to sharks and back again over their careers.  You give what you can to this sport and real life always should come first.

How many of you have swum in the ocean, only to get out because the water was infested with jellyfish?  Go home jellyfish, nobody likes you.  Jellyfish just sort of float around on the track and only digest what happens to accidentally float into their orifices?  Do jellyfish have orifices?  Jellyfish do nothing to get better in derby; they don't embrace new strategies, or bother to learn them.  Sometimes they show up for practices, if the tide brings them that way, but for the most part, they just ruin everyone's day by just flopping around on the track.  It's time to EVOLVE, jellyfish and turn into something interesting that gives back to your team and league.  For the life of me, I will never understand why anyone joins derby to just sort of skate in circles, but to each her own. If you're reading this, please don't be a jellyfish!  Spines are a good thing!


  1. Beautiful article and spot on - as always!

  2. Elektra, I love what you say (as always). I'm trying to build an ocean over here with OneWorld Roller Derby for this very reason..... the way I see it, the problem isn't the jellyfish, it is that they are swimming on the same coast as the sharks.

    Sharks should be able to swim with sharks and sharks alone, on a travel team and have their only requirement be to cross train.

    Dolphins want to look like derby more than they want to work at derby, but don't have the same drive as the sharks and they should skate with other dolphins. Before they can be allowed to swim with sharks they should be able to eat one first and that takes TIME and work.

    Jellyfish see something cool in derby, they need something good in life and while their skills aren't there yet, they might have the CAPABILITY to get better but need access to be able to put in the time, and that is the only thing that will......tell..... where they fall in the food chain.

    OK, so look at it this way. If more derby leagues had a structure where Jellyfish could be together (all sharks need to start somewhere, right?) and get FREAKIN SWIMMING lessons, then the ones who are learning how to be strong could step up and scrimmage with the dolphins and their drive, skills and grit will keep them moving up the food chain.

    If someone knew that one of the jellyfish was able to break away from home / kids/ place where MAYBE she is being broken, told she is worthless or getting beat up, maybe BEING a jellyfish is the thing that could save her life. Sure, she has no business going further without putting in the work and gaining the skills, but the collective cold shoulder turns sharks into aiding and abetting mean girl sharks by not stepping in to ever notice them.

    If every shark could make it a point to say "Hey jellyfish, show me your stance" or "nice crossovers" or a three second comment like that , it could be the very thing that saved the jellyfish's derby future or even her life. On the flip side, if a jellyfish or dolphin realized the same thing about a shark who pushed through it to earn her status maybe they would stop resenting them and cheer them on.

    SO In my ocean, I want Jellyfishes over here, on a certain day or night, Dolphins there, and sharks... PICK your FIVE, you know what you are doing. The jellyfish and dolphins each need a chance to step up on occasion to be with the next group up, but not stuck together on a daily basis. Sharks shouldn't need to be skating with anyone else besides other teams, other than the occasional dolphin scrimmage so they can learn too.

    If the criteria is as BLACK and WHITE (pertaining to skills) then we can all shut up about it (excluding YOU , you better never shut up please) and figure out how to let people get out of it what they put in, then MAYBE derby could start being a place to make a climate change.

    Woo HOO! Elektra, keep it coming!

  3. This post brings to mind a fascinating documentary called Jiro Dreams of Sushi ( about this man's attempt to master sushi making. He has some amazing accomplishments and you can't help but admire his work- yet at the same time I find it very sad. There are so many things that he didn't achieve in the single-minded pursuit of his goal (relationships with family is one). It makes me ponder the work/life/derby balance and the fact that excellence comes with a price. Are some people jellyfish because of lack of desire, lack of ability, or a different trade off decision? I honestly don't know the answer, but it is a good question to ponder.