Monday, February 24, 2014

The surprising things I learn from derby

The longer I stay in derby, the more impact it has on my real life, directly or indirectly; it happens. The effects of derby creep in on your life like the lingering stench of wrist guards on your skin. Suddenly, everything smells like pad funk!  Derby teaches real life lessons, and some of them are kind of hard to swallow at times.

1.  Because of derby, I can now identify a broken bone with decent accuracy. I'm no Doogie Howser, but after you've seen several catastrophic bone injuries, it's easier to quickly diagnose the severity of an injury. I've seen spiral fractures in ankles, fingers broken and most recently a broken wrist. As soon as I saw the injury, I knew it was broken. It was surprising to me that I was able to so easily identify the break; I've had plenty of First Aid training, but this ability to know when someone has broken something comes straight from seeing it in derby. Because of derby, I also know the rehabilitation time that several major injuries take. This is not necessarily wanted information.  Sometimes ignorance is bliss.  No, seriously, it is.

2.  Because of derby, I've learned that you can learn any skill if you put your mind to it. I never wanted to be great at skating backwards, because it wasn't important when I started skating. Then stroller derby happened, and clockwise skating, and all of that "fun" stuff.  Suddenly I had motivation to learn how to do. Knowing that I could learn a skill because I wanted to made me realize that I had the ability to learn things outside of derby if I could motivate myself to do it. Look out Calculus, I have your number!

3.  In derby and the real world, I've learned that people aren't always the best at self evaluation. Some people think they're terrible on the track, and clearly they're wrong, and others think they're amazing....and also wrong. Why are our mirrors so warped? Why can't we be honest with ourselves about ourselves?

4.  The fact that people don't read their emails has been proven over and over again by derby.  I suspected people didn't really read emails carefully in the real, but in derby, I could PROVE they didn't by the number of questions I got every time I sent an informational email. 

"Hey skaters! Please wear sneakers to practice tonight. We're doing an offskates warm up!  Thanks!"

Are we warming up off or on skates? I only have boots, what should I do?  When were we told to bring shoes?????  What email???  It's become a bit of a joke to me, but it's a fact. People do not read emails.

5.  In both derby and real life, people often confuse popularity for competency, especially for elected positions in a league. Look, just because someone is an amazing skater, it doesn't necessarily follow that they would make a good treasurer, or WFTDA rep, or whatever. As in real life, you should choose the most talented for the job, not the most popular.

6.  In derby, as in life, some people are naturally talented, and some people have to work at it. I definitely fall into the second category, so I empathize with people who are in the same boat. It sucks that some people are just naturally talented, but the rest of us just have to work harder to get there. I may not be naturally gifted at skating, twirling, and footwork, but I can work until I get it. I can also work on any other "real life" skills and get those eventually too. I'll never be a protege, but I am a hard worker, and sometimes hard work will take you a lot farther than you think, in both life and derby.


  1. "In both derby and real life, people often confuse popularity for competency" --- this is the phrase I think should be written in permanent marker on every skater's arm during every bout.