Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Communication Breakdown

Here's a little secret to life that took me a long time to figure out; almost all hurt feelings stem from miscommunication.  How many times have you had a severe case of butthurt because you and your friend, or captain, or teammate had a miscommunication?  I'm going to guess it's happened more than once in your derby career.  So many people act like they forget the basics of communication in roller derby just because it's a team  I often wonder if people think everyone can read their minds; guess what, we can't.  It's time to learn how to communicate better.

Image found here
1.  Force yourself to listen to what the other person is saying.  The WORST thing you can do in a situation is talk over someone, or walk away from them while they are trying to explain how they are feeling.  Sometimes all it takes is to have someone HEAR what they are saying!  I know that you have a lot of things going on in your head at that moment, like "I know exactly what I'm going to say next!  I'm going to tell her how wrong she was about that last jam!!!!"  Just quiet that thought and really hear what the other person is trying to tell you.  This is not the time to practice your distraction skills, or your debate skills! 

2.  Be honest but don't be cruel.  Being honest is tough for people; we're trained to be polite and to tell little white lies.  Unfortunately, little lies turn into ginormus lies over time, and if you feared the initial hurt feelings, just wait until the lie is discovered and then you'll see some drama.  If someone asks you for feedback about their skills, you need to be honest and constructive.  The following is not constructive advice.  "You suck because you're sloppy.  Stop hitting me in the face all of the time, I'm sick of it!"  Also not constructive "Everything you do is just wonderful!  Never change!"  Tell them the truth, but give them feedback on how to fix it; also tell them what they're doing well!

3.  Watch your non verbal cues.  Sometimes we send out nonverbal cues and aren't even aware of them. Now, don't get all "human lie detector" on people; sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, as they say, and sometimes crossed arms don't mean anything other than someone is cold or feels awkward about their arms hanging by their sides.  On the other hand, there are some signs that are just plain hostile.  Rolling your eyes, walking away, and raising the tone of your voice are just a few ways we show that we are not open to communication.  Just think about how the typical teenaged girl reacts in sitcoms and you have a template of how NOT to behave when you're trying to communicate with a teammate. 

4.  Try to keep emotion out of it.  Easier said than done, but it has to be done if you don't want to turn it from a discussion to drama.  Try not to say things like "I'm mad as hell!"  "You hate me!"    You can use phrases like "I feel hurt when you bench me for a game and don't tell me why."  That's a good way to express your feelings without getting hysterical. If you feel emotions taking over, take a deep breath and try to bring it back to the facts.

5.  Don't bring up settled arguments from the past.  This is a big problem with couples, but it can be just as deadly to a team's sanity. "Two years ago you made me feel stupid for using my toe stops.  Now everyone uses toe stops!  HA!  You NEVER LISTEN TO ME!"  This isn't helping.  I know you remember feeling frustrated, but this is the present.  Concentrate on the issue at hand.  Women and elephants have long memories, but it's not making it easier to communicate with your team if you keep reliving every single injustice you've been put through.

6.  Think about what you're going to post electronically before you post it.  Nothing annoys people more than passive aggressive posting.  Also, even if you don't mean to, sometimes your posts can be read as passive aggressive because "tone" doesn't come across well on FB, texts and emails.  Think about what you write before you hit send.  Unfortunately, some people are just LOOKING for something to be butthurt over, especially on Facebook.  You can't control their reaction to anything you post, but consider the tone before you post it.

7.  Don't assume that "everyone knows how things run" in your league.  You have newbies to incorporate, transfer skaters, volunteers, and things change.  "That's how we always do things" is not a means of communication.   Captains and coaches, be clear of the expectations you have of each skater.  If your league has specific requirements for volunteer hours, or community outreach, you need to spell them out in a timely manner.  Remind people!  Sometimes derby skaters have the attention span of the dogs in "Up" and they need someone to give them a gentle kick in the butt to get their work done.  I know we don't want to babysit each other, but let's face it.  If you don't give people nudges, they will forget about it....and then the butthurt sets in when they are punished, or benched.

These tips aren't the only ones that can help you communicate better in your league, but it's a start.  I personally am on a campaign to eradicate butthurt in derby, and if you communicate better with your leaguemates, you are well on your way to helping me make derby a butthurt free zone. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

The only thing we have to fear....

I know that life is scary sometimes, and derby can be even scarier.  I am amazed that so many women and men watch people get knocked down, bruised and broken, and still say "I think I can do that!"  Derby peeps are brave; we take the jammer panty, even if we're terrified.  We try and try to jump the apex, even when we've been slammed down on our left side so many times, we have a "dead spot" on our upper left thigh.   We are a tough group of people, and yet fear still can control us in strange and unexpected ways in derby.  I think that fear is a nasty little rat that lives in our souls and gnaws away the best parts of us if we let it.

1.  Fear of Injury.  Hell yes, anyone who skates in derby should be a little fearful of injury; I've hurt myself in several different and horribly painful ways.  I've seen teammates and opponents crack bones, tear tendons, get concussions and break noses.  Thankfully I haven't seen anyone lose any teeth!  You should be afraid of getting hurt sometimes; we have to live in these bodies the rest of our lives, and some of the derby injuries we suffer are pretty horrendous. Now we all know that the chances of getting seriously injured are there, but for the most part, we survive each practice, scrimmage and game without getting hurt.  Sometimes you get reminded to be afraid when you have a near miss, but derby players who successfully skate through the fear become very effective on the track.

If you are afraid of injuries, the best way to prevent them is make your body stronger.  Knees, ankles, shoulders, all joints tend to be hotspots for injuries; make them stronger with plyo and weight lifting.  Work on your flexibility with yoga, and pay attention to any injuries you do develop.  If you don't let injuries heal, you're asking for more problems in the future.   Personally, I think it's smart to remember that derby is not a completely domesticated animal, and it truly can turn on you at any moment.  A little fear is ok. 
Owtch!  My dignity!

2.  Fear of embarrassment.  Nobody likes to look foolish; some of us hide our embarrassment with bravado, but that doesn't mean we aren't afraid of being embarrassed.  It's funny, if you ask most adults what they fear more, getting hurt or being embarrassed, most people will say they fear being embarrassed more.  Derby has so many opportunities to look like a jackass on wheels; Saturday night, I almost got pantsed by a teammate.  I was wearing underwear, but she almost took everything down in one fell swoop!  Seriously mortifying!  Even if it had happened, I would have survived the horror of it all and laughed about it later.

The problem comes in when your fear of embarrassment keeps you from trying something new.  People who give into the fear of embarrassment never make it to the next level.  Just remember, you play a sport with roller skates.  You're going to embarrass yourself at some point.  Learn to laugh it off; you won't die from an injury to your dignity.

3.  Fear of Failure.   This fear paralyzes us on the track.  We're afraid to make a decision or commit to an action, and in derby, that means we do nothing but skate.  Ugh.  Roller derby is such a fast paced game, and with the challenge of dealing with simultaneous offense and defense you're going to make the wrong call.  It's bound to happen, and it will cost your team points, or you a trip to the box.  That's ok!  Nobody is perfect, and you're going to have to accept that or be frozen in the field of indecision.  When I was in orchestra, our conductor told us "If you're going to screw up, screw up with confidence!"  I've followed that advice pretty religiously for most of my life, and especially in derby.  Indecision is a paralyzer; if you just freeze up, you're not doing anyone any good.  Make a decision.  The worst thing that can happen is you make the wrong one, and you learn from it.  Sometimes, making the wrong decision is the best learning experience any of us can have.

4.  Fear of losing our spot.  Roller derby is competitive, and even though there you are in a league, being rostered on a team isn't guaranteed.  People are always competing to get on a roster, or keep their spot, and sometimes when we are under that kind of pressure, we let our fears dictate how we act.  When we let our fear of losing our spot rule us, we act like complete a-holes to our teammates.  We play the blame game, we criticize others and fail to admit our own faults.  I'm not sure how to get rid of this fear, because it may be a "rational" fear that you have; some leagues are more competitive than others.  The only advice I can offer is that you need to give each and every practice your best and all.  If you are improving, your captains and coaches should notice it, if they're any good.  If they are biased and unfair, then no matter how hard you try, or who you blame, or how much of an a-hole you become, they won't care.  Sad, but true.

So, the question is, are you going to let your fear rule you as a derby player?  Sit down and think about if you have fears that are messing with your  game that you aren't even aware of?  You might.  It's time to consider which fears you're harboring, and what you're going to do face them. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How do you handle penalties?

Bogus, dude.  Photo by Becky Wetherington
Damn those refs for doing their jobs and keeping us safe.  Who do they think they are?  Grumble grumble.  Seriously though, everyone, no matter how fantastic they are as a skater has to deal with the possibility of receiving penalties.  It can be frustrating, embarrassing, and down right annoying when you disagree with a penalty; you as a human being have every right to be grumpy about getting a penalty because it literally means you've made a mistake, and NOBODY likes to make mistakes.  Sometimes when we get called on a penalty, it hurts our little feelings, and brings out the worse in us.  Right now, it seems like players are having even more of an issue with receiving penalties because all of the WFTDA teams are in a weird transition with the new rules.  There is no longer a "buffer" of minors, and cutting and multiplayer blocks are weighing heavily on skating styles.  So how can we handle getting a penalty better?

1.  Don't argue with the refs.  Don't argue with the refs.  Don't argue with the refs.  One more time, don't effin' argue with the refs.  Disagree with their call?  That's not your job.  Tell your coach and captain and then shut up about it.  The refs are NOT putting up with BS anymore.  There was a time when some skaters were able to argue refs out of their calls while the game was active; forget those times!  They're done!  If your team argues with with your league's refs during practice, knock it off!  Don't practice bad habits!  Shut your mouth and get to the box.  Let your leaders deal with the refs.

2.  Get your butt off of the track.  Move!  When you hear your color and number, move your butt and get off of the track immediately.  Refs are starting to give more penalties when you dawdle; I know that some refs don't say things loud enough at times, or you're too focused on what you're doing to hear them, but practice it.  You need to be aware if the ref is talking to you, and when he or she is, you need to hustle off of the track.  Our league has been telling the refs to call "bogus penalties" just so we can practice listening for our numbers and getting to the box before we have time to figure out what the penalty could possibly be for.  Think about that part later and get off of the track.

3.  Get to the box.  Someone pointed out that some derby skaters dawdle on their way to the box, which might be taken as a show of defiance...or sulking.  Something.  Anyway, you can sulk in the box!  Get there ASAP!  The only way you're going to stop hurting your team is to get to the box and start your time as quickly as possible.  Once your butt is in the chair, you have a thirty seconds to pout, but then you'd better let it go and make sure you're ready to get back in there and make up for your box trip.

4.  Remember, the refs see it from a different angle.  Yes, that opposing jammer has almost been climbing up your butt with her back blocks and she hasn't been called yet.  That SUCKS, but it's going to happen.  You get away with uncalled penalties too, so suck it up.  If you didn't think you cut that player, remember that the ref is seeing it from at least three feet away and a different angle.  Cope with it; take a deep breath and move on.  Grump about it later on your own time, and away from the game.  Accept the fact that refs will make calls that you don't agree with; I like to compare it to crappy weather.  What are you going to do about crappy weather?  Nothing. 

5.  Forgive yourself.  You're trying to be an asset to your team, and you're pushing yourself.  Sometimes you push the wrong way and you get a penalty.  Nobody is perfect; do you feel like your teammates are going to the box on purpose?  No.  (Not unless they cuckoo crazy pants) So why are you being so tough on yourself?  Yes, you should take in that you got a penalty, and you should try to play cleaner so you won't get another one, but you aren't a perfect player.  Your teammates aren't perfect players, the opponents aren't perfect, and neither are the refs.  Move on.  

I know it's hard; I'm guilty of the grumping part at times when I've been put into the box unjustly.  (It's always unjustly, right?)  We have to learn to be better at the "coping with it" game; derby has enough drama without you losing your crap over a ref call.  Remember, the refs are volunteers too, and if we keep bickering with them, challenging them, scoffing at their authority, then why the hell would they want to keep coming back and volunteer for us? 

Monday, February 18, 2013

What you wear, under there.

Ok ladies, a while ago I asked a delicate or indelicate question on Facebook about what kind of underwear people wear when they play roller derby.  It really was one of the funniest threads I've seen on Facebook. Titillating?  Perhaps.  Informative?  Definitely!

I guess my line of questioning started when a few of my teammates talked about wearing thongs during practice.  I couldn't fathom it because I feel like thongs are the most uncomfortable pieces of "clothing" ever designed for women.  I know a lot of women prefer to wear a thong; my friend Beth Row swears by them, and so do many other people on my league.  "Oh Q, you get used to having this swatch of annoying material crammed in your butt!"  Liars.  I went and tried to exercise with a recently purchased thong after this conversation, and let me tell you, I could not, would not get used to a thong.  No whale tails for this gal.
Them some big undies!  Image found here.
 So what do people like to wear while they're playing derby?  People have different preferences, and no answer is the "right" one for everyone, but here are the few options with pros and cons for each choice.

1.  Boy Shorts.  Boy shorts are comfy in general, but good luck trying to wear them under compression pants. I personally feel like the more material you put on your body, the more you will sweat and possibly overheat.  Boy shorts can bunch up at the worst time, but they are comfortable.  Plus, you will never have an accidental full moon happen with boy shorts.

2.  Regular panties.  Cotton, nylon, whatever!  They provide good coverage without any frills, but can get bunched up too.  Also, if you don't wear the "disappearing" kind, then you might have VPL happening under your pants.  Since derby is so butt-focused, regular panties might cause you to have some lines where you don't want them!  If this doesn't bother you, then don't worry about it, but I'll admit that I cringe when I see pictures of myself with panty lines. 

3.  Pantyhose.  Some derby skaters skate in pantyhose; they protect you from rink rash, and if you wear them high enough on your body, you can successfully hide muffin tops.  My problem with pantyhose is that they are hot as hell, and I hate skating with any kind of socks on other than my miracle wool socks.  Nylons have feet built in and don't work well if you cut them off. 

4.  Thongs, G-strings and other torture devices.  Thongs give you no panty lines, but unless you develop a callous in your nether regions, they can really get on your nerves.  (I kid....sort of)  Also, if you're wearing tight compression pants, avoid any lace on your thongs, or you ruin the illusion.

5.  Commando. Ah, freedom!  Of course, when you go commando, you are taking on certain inherent risks that someone could pants you on the track and you could shock your audience.  The bonus is you literally have no panty lines...ever. 

No matter what kind of underwear you decide to use, be careful.  If you are wearing black pants, do a visual inspection!  Some black pants seem like they are opaque, until a flash of a photographer hits them just right.  Also, health experts suggest you change your underwear after sweating in it to cut down on possible yeast infections.  Gross but true!  You can read all about underwear and health at this site. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The A Word: Arrogance

This sport is fantastic.  It empowers people, it makes you put it all on the line, and it drives you to do better than you have in the past.  Derby does have a seriously positive impact on a lot of people, but there is a dark side to derby.  Just like in Star Wars, the Force has a light and a dark side, and our dark side is arrogance. Maybe it's because a large number of us come into derby without ever feeling powerful or important, but somewhere in our experience, arrogance begins to weasel it's ugly little head into our thought processes.  Arrogance is like dust; it's everywhere, but whether or not you try to clean it up or wallow in it is up to you.  But Q, a little arrogance is good, right?  That depends, are you confusing confidence with arrogance?   Does it blind you to your faults?  Does it put distance between you and your teammates or the rest of the derby community?  Then it's not a "healthy amount of arrogance."  Arrogance comes in so many levels, I'm not even sure people are aware of how insidious its reach can be.

Your internal monologue:
Are you arrogant about your performance?  Your confidence can easily cross the line and turn into arrogance. It starts small, but sometimes it turns into a force that keeps you from listening to feedback, unbiassedly assessing another skater's skill, or just being a smirky little prick in your own mind.  Yeah, I said prick.  Once you start an arrogant monologue in your head, you're going to start acting on it; knock it off before you start making your team hate you.

Your actions:
Original image found here.
You may just think you're "telling it like it is" but other people are interpreting your level of arrogance by your actions and what you say.  Remember the Oprah interview with Lance Armstrong?  He came off sounding incredibly arrogant because he was expressing his internal monologue out loud.  Armstrong felt he was untouchable, and that came across loud and clear during the interview.  Do not be Lance Armstrong!  You may be an amazing player, but that doesn't mean you get to ignore suggestions from your teammates, skip practices whenever you feel like, drop out of endurance, take a pass on putting the track down at each practice, and not doing your volunteer hours.  You may have already been a magnificent skater, but it takes a league to make you a derby skater.  When you join a league, you have to do all of those things.  NOBODY OWES YOU SKATE TIME, even when you're amazing. When you think you're too good to be a team player, you need to reevaluate your level of arrogance.  

Your team's actions:  Sometimes teams can come across as arrogant; back before derby hit its growth spurt, teams were very isolated from each other, mostly because of the distances between them.  They turned inward and regarded anyone outside of the league as an enemy.  Things are slowly changing, but some leagues still think their way is the only way, and all other leagues have nothing they can teach them.  Not true!  It's always great to have a different perspective on the game.  If you just stick your head in the sand and only learn from your own league, you are limiting yourself.  I seriously suggest getting outside training when you get the opportunity, visiting other league practices, and watching footage.   You can learn from anyone, from the newest of newbies to the best jammer in the world.  Approach derby as a learning experience instead of a superiority experience.

How you can stop it.  Coaches!  There is something very easy to do to stop the rise of arrogance in your team.  You MUST intercede BEFORE there is an issue.  Yes, you might have a super star skater on your team, but you need to remind the entire team that while that skater was destroying the jammer, the rest of the girls on the track were doing their jobs too.  One great player does NOT a winning team make!

Let's not turn this sport into a "I'm more important and awesomer than you are contest."   Every time I see arrogance rear its ugly head, I see a team dealing with drama.  Nip that crap in the bud!   

Monday, February 11, 2013

Things you would never do in real life

I was at an invitational this weekend, and one of my derby friends casually suggested that I write a blog post about how there are things that are ok to do in the derbyverse, but are a big nono in the real world.  Genius!  There are so many things that I think are more than perfectly acceptable when I'm surrounded by derby peeps, but there is no way they should ever leave the confines of derby.  Ever.  Seriously, ever.

1.  Swapping your shirts in front of people.  In most scrimmage practices my team uses black and white shirts, and often times we have to switch back and forth between them.  If you come into our league with any kind of modesty, then you probably will have it taken out of you after you've changed shirts three times a week.  We don't judge, we just need you to be in the right color.  We've seen everything; muffin tops, bad tattoos, and ill fitting jogging bras are ok to us.  Derby folk have seen it all, but don't whip off your top during open skate, or the mall, or Burger King.  "Outsiders" might not take well to it.

2.  Borrowing someone's sweaty gear.  Would you ask to wear someone's nasty, sweaty, stinky shoes without socks?  Probably not, but derby folk often swap out or borrow disgusting and sweaty gear, shirts, dirty socks and on the rare but documented occasion, a mouth guard.  I suppose that teammate funk is better than stranger funk, but derby folk will borrow some of the most intimate items and not worry about the icky factor.  God forbid you sit on a public toilet!

It looks like a smiley face!
3.  Pulling down your pants to show bruises.  It's not ok to pull down your pants and show your butt to a stranger, but in derby, you can do that all day long. " Look at my bruise!  Do you like this thong I bought?  Look!  You can actually see the outline of the wheel where I sat on it!"  Imagine if someone in a store came up to you and said "Hey, do you want to see this weird growth on my butt?"  I'm pretty sure I would run screaming from anyone who did that, unless they were on skates, of course.

4.  Reaching out and honking someone's butt.  Derby breaks down a lot of barriers, and the most amusing is definitely being able to touch someone's butt, boobs, or other interesting areas.  You would get slapped for most of the "goofing around" contact derby engenders, but imagine if someone grabbed your butt at the library.  Books would fly!

It's funny that we really do have two sets of rules to live by because of our sport.  You can coexist in two worlds, but let's hope you don't let them overlap too much!

Friday, February 8, 2013

What They Should Have Found on The Bones Episode

I wrote a blog on Wednesday decrying the crappy writing every TV show ever has when they do a "Roller Derby" episode.  Here is a look at what crime scene investigators should find at any roller derby practice space.  I know that TV is not about reality, but a LITTLE reality would have gone a long way in the episode.  Hawaii 5-0 is wrapping a derby episode, stay tuned to see what they do with our sport.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dear Every TV Show Who Features Roller Derby...

Hello TV land, I'm always a little excited and a little apprehensive when I hear there is going to be roller derby episode.  Whenever my parents see one of their "shows" doing an episode, they call me up all excited to tell me, and groan internally.  Usually, these episodes are found in shows dedicated to murder or high crimes, so I already find that I'm flinching even before the episode starts.  The most recent Bones roller derby episode hasn't disappointed my cynical side, that's for sure.  It's like writers hear about derby and then decide that they don't need to actually do any research on it for the script.  Most of the time these episodes seems to be based on roller derby from the seventies; I guess it's more "interesting" as a plot device.  I've seen episodes from CSI to Bones to the Bachelor, and they're all horrible.  Maybe that's the only way screenwriters think they can portray derby, so, I'm here to give all you wanna be writers a guide to pissing off roller derby players all over the world. Clearly I'm joking.  Nobody should write like this, but here goes.

Step One.  Portray us as unbalanced psychos.  We play roller derby?  Obviously we are all murderers or degenerates, including the fact that we use drugs on a regular basis, hate authority figures (especially the police who are investigating the featured murder) or we are sexually deviant.  When the detectives come in and start investigating, please make sure they find out that the victim, a derby girl, has had several sexual partners and is sexually promiscuous with anyone that she could meet in a bar. Oh, and also make anyone who is a coach a complete perv.  Thanks!

Step Two:  Make sure the world knows the derby girls hate men.  Yes.  We hate men.  All men.  We hate our husbands, sons, fathers, coaches, brothers and cousins.  Men are the enemy.  They're the reason we join derby in the first place, because men all want us to be weak, even the ones helping us meet our derby dreams.  Derby is our revenge on men; and we do it to spit in their faces at every chance we get.  On the Bones episode, the victim was finding random guys and taking them to have sex on her ex-husband's front lawn; clearly she was not pleased with him.  This kind of hatred helps add to the storyline, especially if you have male officers investigating and interviewing the derby girls.

Also, please have one of your stronger female regular characters shame the derby girl into not hating all men.  That would be great.  Drive this point home by having the murderer be a female teammate; that shows how wrong we all are because automatically think that a man did it.

Step Three:  Exaggerate the violence of the sport.  Regular derby isn't exciting enough! Please make sure that there is a great deal of blood or crazy violence when you introduce your audience to the sport.  The Bones episode described derby girls skating through blood; that's a good start, because clearly we all have no fear of bloodborne pathogens.  Also in the Bones episode, one of the "skaters" was just wandering around while bleeding from a head wound.  Fantastic!   Disregard how the sport is actually played and show obvious fouls and make them seem like normal game play.  Show derby players engaged in a fight, and then have them be carried off yelling at each other; the CSI Miami episode did this amazingly well.  Also, please show derby girls not wearing correct protective gear, especially helmets or wrist guards.  We all know that girls are supposed to be sexy, and wearing helmets definitely will mess up their hair; we can't have that.

Step Four: Only focus on banked track and the Derby Dolls.  I love the Derby Dolls, but it seems like they are in every tv show, video or reference to roller derby in popular media.  I know it's because they're close by, but wow.   Clearly, all roller derby is played on a banked track; there is no other derby.  THERE IS NO OTHER DERBY!  Sorry WFTDA, MADE, USARS, you guys don't actually exist in TV land, or movie land, unless you're in a documentary.  (In hindsight, maybe that's a good thing!)

At least she has a mouth guard.  Image found here
Step Five:  Make the murder happen over something petty.  In all of the episodes that I have seen on TV, including two CSI episodes and Bones, the reason for the murder of one teammate was over something ridiculously petty.  This will imply that women don't really understand the definition of team, or teammate (because derby is a spectacle, not a real sport)  "She took my spot on the team, so I beat her to death with my skates."  "She was stealing stuff out of my locker, so I stabbed her in the eye."  Clearly derby girls can't actually deal with irritants in a normal fashion; the only thing we understand is violence!  Nobody who plays derby is actually reasonable!  (On a side note, I hope that no derby girl would use her skates to beat someone with; skates are expensive!)

Step Six: Have an inexperienced skater suddenly be drafted to be on a team.  This is a common meme in derby fictional situations.  Babe Ruthless learns to skate around her neighborhood, and suddenly becomes a jammer on a banked track team in Whip It.  Makes sense; skating on a flat surface that isn't a track is the perfect way to train for a banked track.  Anyone can roller skate, right?  Any woman can handle derby, because all it is skating and being mad, right?  There isn't actually any training or skill involved, right?

Step Seven:  Use the wrong vocabulary for derby.  We play games, so please have every character describe a game by using the wrong word "Match".  On the Bones episode, one of the characters who was the "coach" or "owner" of the team used that word and it just drove home the fact that research was definitely not done to write the plot accurately.  Two characters were describing what I think were supposed to be mohawk turns, and they called them "Fluffy turns."  Maybe that's a local term, but I have never heard any of the trainers, coaches or general derby community use it, so well done!

There you go.  Now we can all go out and write scripts for crime procedural shows involving derby.  Why try and educate people that derby is a sport?  It's better to keep it safely in the realm of jello-wrestling and donkey basketball; sexy, degenerate spectacle sells.  Thank goodness my parents are watching this representation and judging my choice of sports by it.  Thanks!

Monday, February 4, 2013

How to Play Coed Derby

Being that we are slowly approaching Valentine's Day, I decided to ask my friend Poison to write a blog entry about how to approach playing a coed derby game successfully.  Poison is the coach for the Carolina Wrecking Balls based in Columbia, SC.   I coach a guy's team, but I have never played in a coed bout; this weekend will be my first, and I wanted to know how to make it an awesome experience!


1) Remember that coed bouts are purely for fun! It's safe to say that most of the players have established leagues that are their primary derby focus. Have fun roughing it up with friends you don't normally get to play with - frenemies, refs, coaches, players, mentors, crushes... and make it a learning experience!

2) Be competitive, but keep things in perspective.  Bragging rights are about the only thing at stake.

3) Don't be a jerk.  Coed bouts often have very new players and a variety of sizes. Use control and don't obliterate someone unnecessarily just because you can. Realize that newer players are probably going to be all arms and legs, even experienced players may get sloppy in all the excitement. It's derby. Let it go.

4) Don't be sexist.

Girls - you agreed to play a coed bout. Men are going to hit you! They may even hit you hard! Don't assume they are being jerks just because they are men. When another female player high or low blocks you or really cleans your clock do you automatically assume they did it on purpose to be a jerk? Do men deserve to be held to a different standard or punished more harshly because they hit a woman who agreed to play coed derby? No. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Play hard, don't be a bitch, play clean and be respectful. Don't whine about being treated as an equal or even a threat.

Guys - you also agreed to play a coed bout. Some players think you should "hold back" on women. I think that's crap. Don't insult me by playing down to me because I'm a female. I have advantages you don't. (There is more than one guy out there taller and heavier than me who has crumbled like a paper bag with a perfectly played hip swipe to the thigh). And there are women of all sizes, including some who hit harder than men. Bring it on. But refer to rules 1, 2, and 3. Use this chance to work on positional blocking and hip checks. Try new things. I've heard some guys say they will only hit a girl as hard as she hits him. Fair enough. Play hard, don't be a dick, play clean and be respectful. Treat the women as equals.

5) Let the refs do their jobs! There seem to be a lot of knights in shining armor in coed derby, although I can't find that position in any of the rule sets. Hockey has enforcers, not derby. Just because a man lays a hard hit on a woman does not mean it was an illegal hit. If it was illegal it probably wasn't intentional. If it was intentional it is still NO different than if a female had done it. Let the officials handle the situation! That's what they're around for! It's not your job "as a man" to go off rescuing or defending us. If you respond in an aggressive manner, or worse escalate the violence, you just look like an ass. You embarrass yourself, your coed team, your primary league, and derby as a whole. And that notion that the men have to defend us womenfolk just smacks of sexism. Would you show your ass if it was a girl on girl incident? Probably not. Keep yourself together. If you can't handle that, don't play coed derby.

Photos by Phil Lackey.
****COUPLES! If you can't handle seeing your significant other be hit by players of the opposite sex, don't play coed derby!

6) Leave it on the track. Make nice. Show good sportsmanship. If you can't be nice in the high five line, don't get in it. If you can't be polite at the after party, avoid whomever you need to or just don't come. Always remember that you are an ambassador for your league and for derby and behave accordingly.

I love playing coed derby. I've learned so much from playing with and against men. I feel a million times more in tune with my "Balls" as a coach because I've gotten to play with them. I think everyone should try coed at least once!

Friday, February 1, 2013

VD Blog, 2013

This year I'm only doing three of these, but I'm bowing to public demand and making one of them a coloring page.  They're all 8.5 x 11 so they should print well.  You can download any of these for free, but if you use them on the web or for posters, please give me credit!  I hate finding stuff I've done on the web without any kind of turns me into a grumpy pants.

I don't like being a grumpy pants.

Major Crush.

Derby Wife

Coloring fun!  If you come up with a cool Valentine, share it with me!