This weekend my team got to be a part of one of the largest tournaments in WFTDA history, Beach Brawl. Goldcoast, with Derbyology, put on an international tournament with 24 domestic and international teams, and they pulled it off beautifully! My hat is off to Goldcoast; the hotel was great, the venue was comfortable and everything ran on time, which is an almost impossible feat in and of itself. I can't imagine having to do that kind of scheduling, organization and patience for that kind of endeavor. Seriously, please stop by their Facebook page and give them some kudos.
The Things I Learned and Relearned on a Tournament Weekend
1. Just because the idea of having a "derby" personality and a normal personality has mostly fallen by the wayside, it doesn't mean that everyone has given up on it. I got to see a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde transformation this weekend, and I had a flash back to 2009. Yes, people let their adrenaline show during a game, but don't use derby as an excuse to be a douchebag. We all have to take our uniforms and skates off at some point and walk amongst other humans. If you give reign to your "derby personality" during a game, don't be surprised if people don't want to forgive and forget your antics when you're without your skates on.
2. Being a jammer takes a lot of moxie. I don't jam anymore, unless I'm taking a panty pass from a jammer, so I really don't know how some ladies and gents step up to that line over and over again without feeling doubts or even a little fear. Jamming takes a special kind of fearlessness; now don't get me wrong, being a blocker is hard and scary too, but you have a three more blockers out there to mentally make you feel better. You don't have a target on your head, literally! I watched Team International's jammers fight and fight against Team USA's brutal blocking packs, and they never gave up. That's moxie, people.
3. Eating and sleeping and stretching should be the most important things during a tournament (after skating, of course). It's HARD to get a good night's sleep sometimes when you're on the road for an extended stay. People cram into hotel rooms, sometimes neighbors are noisy, your brain doesn't want to shut off, or you keep having to pee because you've been hydrating all night. I have found that cutting off caffeine after five pm helps me, as does taking Benadryl. Sometimes those things fail me, but not often. Naps are awesome if you can pull them off!
After you skate in a game, you should be stretching; cool off! This becomes even more important the more you have to skate during a short period of time, and obviously, the older you get. Yes, it will happen to you. Take the time to stretch; sometimes it's hard because you get distracted, or you have to get out of a locker room quickly, or you have a team meeting to go to, so try REALLY REALLY hard to work in that stretching.
Eating is essential, but eating during a tournament can make or break you. I have found that grocery stores have saved my budget and my stomach; if I can stock up on healthy snacks that will feed my body instead of tearing up my stomach, then I may refrain from being tempted to eat crap. My go tos are avocados, bananas, yogurt, Diet Coke (don't judge) peanut butter, whole wheat bread, a salty snack and tart cherry juice. Now I'm hungry.
4. After you've given it your best, you have to unwind. Some people unwind by drinking, or acting goofy, or being quiet. Everyone has his or her own way to let off some steam, and after multiple games in a weekend, you need to find your own way. Sometimes that way might be sitting in your room with some of your teammates watching Game of Thrones. For others, it might be a midnight swim in their jerseys. Don't judge each others methods, especially if they get your stress out. Sometimes playing in a tournament is incredibly stressful, whether you win or not, so learn to let that stress go. No, I'm not going to quote any Disney movies.
5. Finally, don't forget that a lot of athletes go through a dip in energy after a marathon athletic event. It makes sense, because you've spent the time training, anticipating, traveling, and performing. What's left? Sometimes it's a feeling of letdown, which can be like a mini depression. Once again, eating right, sleeping right and de-stressing can help. Also, looking forward to the next goal in your sights may help you lose those after derby blues.