Sunday, November 22, 2015

Finding Your Tribe...Again By Stack'ddd Chassi #9er

You will never have a relationship with a group of girls like the one that forms with your first roller derby team.  Talking like sailors.  Laughing like sisters.  Discovering a more confident you (even when you thought your cocky arrogant ass couldn’t gain more pride).  Laughing to the point of tears which started to help stop the not so happy tears in the parking lot after a rough practice.  Sharing wavering emotions and ungodly smells.
Photo by A Boy Named Tsunami

There are many autobiographical chapters of your own derby experiences that almost every skater can relate to--that first moment your skate hits the track as fresh meat, that time you shared your mouth guard, that life changing bout, acquiring your derby wife/husband/widow and the showing of the inevitable bruised body part that you didn’t know could be injured (or shown) in public.  Now take all those stories, challenges and wins...and start over again...because you transferred; perhaps hours away or across time zones (shout out to Sadie Hellcat and Malice).  But not every skater has had the opportunity to work on those transitions and therefore this move can be tougher than a backwards hockey stop.

Movin’ ain’t easy.  However we boast how this great derby community is nationwide where you have the boundless comradery to where you go could go anywhere without knowing anyone, if you just reach out to your fellow derbyites.  I have allowed some derby acquaintances to know where I kept my spare house key to snag a shower/nap while in town and let strangers sleep at my house for an invitational.  As I have been on the receiving end, I tested the “Derby Generosity Without Borders” theory on a larger scale and reached out to a team I didn’t know in an unfamiliar place.  

I, and my wonderful referee fiance (that’s another story), relocated to Chattanooga where I know absolutely noone and nothing in this highly rated scenic city.  With a simple FB message, the Chattanooga team immediately responded with housing resources and welcomed us to join.  It wasn’t until five months later that I was settled enough to attend a practice and meet the new tribe.  

Gleaming with big smiles and asking the staple “When can you skate/join?”, it reminded me of my early days of bootcamp--butterflies, clammy hands and overwhelming joy and fear.  Similar to that first day of school feeling, where you are so excited and nervous to make new friends (peeing a little is okay) but you don’t know where to start or who to sit by.  So in the few months of my new surroundings, here are a few things I have learned to try and abide by, on and off the track...  

Rules To Follow Upon Entering The New Tribe:
  1. Don’t “One time at band camp”
“Well my team used to...with my league we did this...When I was..”.
You can recall the days/years you spent with your former league but you have to give it a rest.  Lend ideas of how you learned how to skate or play but you have to recognize when it is helpful vs obnoxious.
  1. Don’t be eager beaver to help
Just contribute to the team as a great, dependable skater.  Let the pot simmer cause if you start off boiling, you going to burn your tongue (sounds like the spokeswoman for Popeye’s chicken but you get what I’m saying).
     3.  Remember, you are not going to get along with everyone
    Don’t really need to say more than that. Texas offers clinics and programs to help the transplants adjust so that it is not overwhelming.  If a team has a “Welcoming Committee” or some other resource for the skaters from another stater (you like that?), then it would help on all sides with questions regarding policy & procedures.

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