Lesson Twenty-Eight: Get HellBent

Posted on 9:48 AM
I know you're hungry for another set of silliness from your favorite Bunnie.  But this time I want to just say thank you to every last fucking one of you.  I began writing for my own amusement and hell if I didn't actually make a few of you pee a little.  I'm not prefacing a good bye letter! damnit, so keep reading! I just wanted to take a few minutes to tell you about a company that is near and dear to my little black heart.  That's HellBent Helmets. 

A few years ago me and my best girl, Beattie Sedgwick, came up with a brilliant plan for world domination.  It involves lots of loud noises and the end product is a beautiful sparkling custom helmet with a shit ton of attitude.  If you want one of your very own or if you want your whole team to shine like the stars that you are, you can order now at http://www.gethellbent.com/.  The prices will vary but the most basic package is only $100 USD (plus S&H) and  includes a new Triple 8 Brainsaver Helmet (with or without the comfy Sweatsaver lining)- painted any color you want, with your name and number in any font you want, an awesome layer of flake to make it really sparkle, and then clear coated to protect that superfine paint job. 

We put all our heart into this new business and can't wait to see you all in your custom HellBent Helmets!

Lesson Twenty-Seven: We're all in this together.

Posted on 1:21 PM

Can I just get something off my chest? Roller Derby is the best sport on the motherfucking planet. There. Go home if you disagree. It’s not just great because it’s both physically and mentally punishing and inspiring, not just because of the camaraderie, well kind of. But also because this, my friends -the sport of roller derby- is the next great movement that future generations will read about in the history books. Yes, that’s a fact. Roller derby represents our generations answer to the rights and privileges gained through years of struggle by our predecessors. I picture history books saying, they got the right to vote, the right to own a house …and then… they got dressed up and played roller skates. This is what our foremothers dreamed of- a world in which we could be smart, strong, outspoken, any color, shape or size, gay or straight and fully unapologetic- fists in the air.

I think about that a lot when I uhh… disagree with someone on or off the track. Let’s face it. You spend 3 days a week smelling someone and you may get to the urge to throw a helmet once or twice a year. Or maybe you send a shitty e-mail or five. It’s easy to forget your manners. Below are some tips for saving the drama and navigating the art of sportsmanship gracefully.

For your entertainment- How to: Don’t be a douchebag, Douchebag.

Unity as one, stand together

Before you go attacking your own, remember you’re in good company. You could go anywhere in the world and have a friend on account of roller derby. Remember, we’re all really on the same team- Thee roller derby team.

Choose your battles

Leagues have tons of decisions to make and everyone doesn’t always agree. Before you go full douchebag take a step back and look at the big picture. Is this life altering? Is some stupid shit really worth it? Huh? Whether the end of season party has silver or black confetti? If we have that kind of uniform you hate- do you have to burn the whole place down? Get a grip. If you want a successful group- everyone can’t win every battle. Sometimes you have to take one for the team and shut the fuck up.

Don’t take it personal

Everything isn’t about you. Sometimes it’s just about the facts. If someone says something that ruffles your feathers, picture they said it in a baby voice and everyone thought that was weird. Sometimes things really aren’t all that deep.

Keep a level head

Never escalate a situation. Try to reason out a good compromise without raising your voice. Stay calm and carry on a civil conversation. Showing a little restraint will always work to your favor.

You don’t have to like everyone

There are some personalities that are just not going to mix well. If someone gets on your nerves just get some distance. Don’t be an antagonist. Sometimes it’s a tone of voice or the way they said it. Give your teammates the benefit of the doubt. Repeat the mantra: We’re all in this together. We’re all in this together.

Be a gossip stopper

Every time you hear something negative about a teammate behind their back, say something positive about that person. Not only will it steer the direction of the conversation to the positive- it lets the gossiper know that you’re not on that negative tip.

Say it to my face

Don’t spend a week drafting the most perfectly cutting e-mail. These are your friends. If it’s so important, you need to say it their face. That way you can talk it out and there’s less chance that you’re misunderstanding each other.

Fix shit

When a dispute happens be the first to offer an olive branch. If you show someone that you are willing to resolve an issue they are more likely to do the same. A kind gesture or a simple smile can ease tension. Don’t put it off.

Don’t look back in anger

Resolve a problem with a fellow skater and leave it alone. Don’t think about what an asshat they were- it’s over. This isn’t some acquaintance. It’s your teammate so give them a second chance.

This isn’t ‘Nam, man

There are rules. The rule is you can’t directly curse someone or physically assault them. Not the refs, not the coaches, not the NSO’s, not the players. You got to keep it clean. First off, if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all. Secondly, don’t do it in practice. And thirdly, if you love roller derby- you’ll want to play the game by the rules. The rules define the sport. And in our sport we respect each other. Plus, you can sit in the box or go home for your big fat mouth. But keeping your trap shut in rough waters is easier said than done. Here’s a trick I use: If you want to say something mean first make up something 20 times as vulgar and depraved and say it to them telepathically. Then laugh to yourself because they can’t even hear you.

Respect your opponent

The hardest time to play nice is when you’re really in a pinch. When a player or team has you in a proverbial choke hold take the opportunity to learn something. Sometimes losing is the best training. Appreciate the gift of knowledge and respect a worthy opponent. Always shake hands. Always say good game. No excuses.

Being a poor sport can sour your roller derby experience quickly. Do your part to make derby fun for everyone by not being douche-y, and I’ll do the same.


Lession Twent Six: "I NEED AN ADULT!!"

Posted on 12:52 PM In:

I once saw a sign in the window of someone’s Camaro, NEED HELP CALL POLICE. It was one of those sun blockers you put on your windshield on hot summer days. For years I thought about that sign. Like, what a weird thing to put on your car. I assumed it meant; if you need help- you should call the police. It was this odd friendly advice sign slash sun blocker thing. It wasn’t until I watched that movie “Alive” where the Brazilian rugby team gets stranded in the mountains and they start eating each other. Then I realized, they should have had one of those signs.

My point is, without good communication we would all be cannibals. It’s science. So, let’s talk. Let’s be friends. And let’s be frank. Just the other day, I found myself screaming “USE YOUR VAGINA!!!” and realized…this is not the most effective communiquĂ©. So what is? LOL

There's a lot to cover when it comes to communication so here are some highlights:

Just do it.

The first thing to remember about communicating on the track is this; Actions speak louder than words. Saying something is no replacement for doing some work. If you miss a jammer call it out while you reposition yourself to block her again. If you get fenced in yell, “I NEED HELP!” while juking and hitting your way out. Don’t yell and wait for someone else to do work- do work yourself. Remember that you are accountable for this jam, this pass, this moment.

Touch me.

When we’re on the track (ok, and at the after party) I want you to touch me. Coming up on the inside? Touch my left hip and let me know you got that line. You see the jammer on my outside? Give me a little nudge in her general direction. Am I running away from you? Grab my jersey- get your wall together. When you’re on the track- think of your teammates as an extension of your body. Check in with them and let them check in with you. All. The. Fucking. Time.

Point.

Give away the opposing jammer’s position with one point of your finger. Point to a gaping hole in your defense and get some help to fill it. This is easy and effective, and I promise the opposing jammer will pretty much hate you for it.

Have a plan.

Size up the competition and get a plan in place while you have 5 or 30 seconds. Now’s the time to use all your new found awareness to the good. Who’s in the box? How does that change the plan? What’s the jammer like? What are you going to do about it? A good Pivot will base her/his plans on the abilities of their pack. You think you can go one on one with that jammer? Speak up. Are you the least experienced? Ask for the inside line, and protect that shit. Do you have 3 minors? Maybe you’re not the one for this power jam. Use that huge brain to beat your opponent before you ever take the track. In fact, use all five of the brains you got.

Be flexible.

Things change and so do you. You had a pack practically stopped when you see the opposing jammer stand in the penalty box. You have ten seconds to get to the front with all your friends and run away from the point maker. While you’re moving to the front you should be shouting, pointing, and pulling at your teammates. We’ve talked about switching from defense to offense in 5 seconds, be prepared to change your strategy that fast if it’s not working. Communication is key in these situations. You need to get everyone on the same page- and now.

Speak up.

We’re not making full sentences. We’re not contemplating the way of the buffalo. Use your outside voice and say it all with a few words. “TO THE FRONT!” “Fall BACK!” “Run!” “Slow!” “Outside/Inside” “No Jammer!” “GET HERRRRR!” “NEED HELP!” By the time you get a complete sentence past your mouth guard, the moment is over.

Say my name.

Say my name and you’ve got my attention- even if I’m not looking at you. So don’t just stand there alone in the back of the pack, say it- “BUNNIE- I NEED AN ADULT!!” and I’ll be there in a flash. Never be afraid to ask for help, we’re always better together. You alone blocking someone with fancy feet? Call a friend to help fence them in. Never be afraid to ask for help, but remember roller girls help those who help they selves.

Shhhhh,

Be a secret squirrel sometimes; everything doesn’t need to be broadcast. Did you spot a goat that needs to be caught? Tap a teammate and give a little nod in the unsuspecting goat’s general direction. Whisper to your jammer before the jam starts, “I’m your offense, follow me.”

It’s a two way Track.

As much as you talk, you should listen. Your own jammer has something to say and she’s not trying to waste her breath if it isn’t important so listen to her when she’s coming up on the pack. Listen for your Pivot- remember the plan can change ten times in one jam and you have to be ready to make an adjustment.

Shenanigans

You got something against shenanigans? How about the time I told your jammer to call it off …and she did. Yeah, totally useless. Take the opposing teams mind and fuck it. Tell them it’s your first bout. You just lost a contact, your vagina hurts. “I can’t feel my feet…Can you feel my feet?” Tell them their jammer went to the box, you love red box, you’re allergic to socks. “Yeah man, I got a rash.” Tell them there’s no pack, you smoke three packs a day, their skates are untied. “This jam is no contact, right?” And while they are thinking about the dumb shit you just said, take action.

How do Bunnie?

Keep constant dialogues spinning in your mind. Remember that awarebearness checklist? Run through that. Get comfortable calling the next play in your head. Start to say it under your breath. Soon there will be a time when your adrenaline is pumping and you realize that voice calling out orders is ::gasp:: YOUR VOICE.

Remember when we talked about knowing what’s up at all times? Now that you are an awarebear- it’s time to clock in. No thinking about jelly beans and unicorns, you are personally responsible for staying alert- and letting your team know it. When you communicate effectively with your teammates you’re nurturing those bonds between you and building your tight knit bee hive. All. The. Fucking. Time.


If there is one lesson you can learn that will improve your play overnight it’s this one. It takes lots of practice but if you get this- everything else will come. It’s simple but it’s not easy.

Take your eyes, and point them …BEHIND YOU! You’ve heard it before, so why aren’t you doing it? Maybe you think you do look behind you…and you do…sometimes. But since you only practice a quick glance to the back of the pack randomly during a drill or jam, that’s just what you do on bout day. If you’re serious about stepping up your game don’t wait until there’s a jammer on your ass to look behind you. If you want to be a better communicator, teammate, or a pivot, you will have a steady stare going on behind you and occasionally you will check out the scenery ahead of you.

And now for a break down:

Next practice is all about looking behind you. Set yourself to swizzle and put one hand out in front of your body. You need that hand out front like an antennae feeling for bodies ahead of you. Turn at your hips and shoulders and check out the scene behind you. Don’t just look, study. By the end of a pace line drill you should be able to write the attendance list for tonight’s practice. Don’t be afraid to amuse yourself. I like to play games like, “Who has the most stripes on their socks?” and “Who’s matching me today?” And my favorite, The-“How long do I have to stare at your forehead before you turn around and look behind you?” Game.

Do it so much that you become very comfortable looking behind you all the time. Then as your skills develop, you're developing along with them the added bonus of having that natural tendency to look behind you.

The next step- Get your peripheral on. Don’t fool yourself, looking behind you may have been the first skill you learned but it’s one of the most advanced skills you can cultivate; it’s an art form. You’ll notice, as you get better at using your peripheral that you don’t have to turn your entire body all the time. A slight turn of the head down and to your left can tell you a lot about what’s happening in the pack while still giving you a full view of the chaos you’re currently dealing with. Move your body out to get a better view while turning your head down and to your left. Then, ever so stealthily, cut inside slightly and grab a view around your right side. Stretch your peripheral vision every time you use it and it will get broader and more reliable. And that’s a promise. The best reward for increasing your peripheral vision is that you gain the ability to hit without telegraphing-and there’s nothing like a surprise attack!

The next step, shhhhhhhh, listen. Can you hear that blocker moving to your right? She’s right behind you and just out of your peripheral, with breath like a dinosaur. You have your eyes attached to a jammer who’s coming up the middle. But you know that blocker’s coming around you because you can hear her trying to flank you. If you take your eyes off that jammer for one second she’s going to juke around you and then she’s gone. So stay ahead of that blocker but get on the jammer, with the knowledge that you’ve got a creeper on your outside. Listen for her skates, listen for her breath, listen for a big inhale-AND- jump out of the way because you’re about to get hit. Practice listening by listening. I know, really great advice! But sometimes it’s the easy shit that we forget to practice.

But but butbut, there is so much sound during a jam- coaches, referees, fans, skaters- all shouting! That’s a valid point, but you’re missing the point. At first, those things distract you. At first. But just like you develop your vision and attention, you develop a careful filtering system for hearing what matters. At first, the only thing you need to hear is the referee saying your number, calling lead jammer, or designating where the pack is. Your coach is talking to the jammer and the pivot. You are listening to your pivot and your teammates, and they are shouting so just keep those ears perky and stay close. Then, you filter out the crowd sounds and you’ll start to pick out the really important shit.

The next step, know what matters. I know it seems like chaos in a pack. Focus on a few things at first, and then gradually add more when you can. Focus first on the opposing jammer. Know where she is, how much time she has left in the box, and what her mouth guard looks like. No joke, I use the mouth guard as an example, but you need to know her …intimately. Zone in to her position like a stalker with a record, man. Then you should have a pretty good bead on who’s in the pack and what they are up to. That goes for both teams. If you have a handle on the opposing jammer and your pack, stretch your awareness and find out where your jammer is. Before long you have the whole scene on lock.

I know it seems so easy, but I want to talk about being a great communicator and a great leader and those things start with a solid foundation in awarebearness. Get this lesson because the rest depends on your ability to know what’s happening. I’ll leave you with a pretty picture.

Someday soon you’ll notice that you aren’t missing the jammer as much as you had before. You thought it was just poor blocking skills or you thought she was just too fast for you. But the truth is, you can see her coming 120 feet away now, and she doesn’t stand a chance.


Lesson Twenty Four: No shame in my game.

Posted on 9:38 AM
When I was a kid the little league baseball coach told my mom I couldn’t play on his team anymore. I had got three black eyes in just a few weeks. “She doesn’t protect her face, and it’s just dangerous at this point.” Cut to me, looking like a little derpette at 7 years old with two big purple eyes. I told my dad I couldn’t play anymore because, “I suck and everyone is better than me.” He said, “Listen- there will always be someone better than you.” At seven I thought he was a dickwad…but now, I see he’s right.

To my ladies on the B-teams and new skaters, you keep your chin up and have some pride. If you’re on the B-team- you’re A-team must be pretty bad ass. If you’re brand new just know- it gets better. But I get it, sometimes it makes you feel inferior. You forget that this league is YOUR league too. You forget that you have the potential to be the best damn skater in the country. If you will it dude, it is no dream.

It’s hard sometimes to keep it all in perspective. On the real, there is an emphasis on the development of advanced skill havers- sometimes to the detriment of the new recruits. I understand it- skaters with advanced skills are going to get bored working on the basics and who doesn’t want to be THE BEST!? But let me tell you why I bristle when I hear the term “Fresh Meat.”

Her kid is wondering where mom is, she spent all her extra money on new wheels and pads, her dude says he doesn’t approve, her family doesn’t get it, she’s not sure she can even do this, all her friends think she’s bat-shit crazy, she’s brand new and hasn’t got one friend on the league. It’s the first day of school all over again. And on top of that? You call her “Fresh Meat” and tell her to get off the track while the big girls play. Fuck that shit.

Come here darling, my name is Bunnie, I was new once, just like you, so was everyone in here. We all started just like you, don’t be shy, before you know it you’ll have as much skill as anyone on the track so let’s start with some basics. See that girl out there getting 35 in 5? Two years ago she couldn’t cross over. Oh, and that one that just laid out one of the guys? Yeah, last summer she was holding on to the walls. You’re going to be great one day. Don’t worry your pretty little head, just get out there and skate.

I put on some confidence, because I know I’ve got some skill I never had before, but let’s be real- I know my weaknesses. I know where I can improve. My turn stops? Slow. Skate backward? Ehh, ok. And ask me to skate counter-derby direction? My legs are like robots that never got that upgrade. Those things can get better. And like I said before, everyone has something to improve. Don’t let that stress you out- just get on the track and do some work.

I wish all the time that I had a video of everyone’s first practice. Just so you know- everyone sucks at first. Even speed skaters have to learn to juke. Jam skaters have to learn some strategy. Everyone has to learn how to hit. And yes. There will always be someone better than you, but they weren’t always. They got that way the same way you will- practice, practice, and more practice. Hold your head up and know that this is a very hard sport. There is no shame in learning. With a little patience and a lot of determination you are well on your way to derby greatness.

My philosophy is this- I believe that new skaters are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the strength they posses in stride. I see a future in roller derby. Someday, everyone will know a roller girl/boy. And the average career for a derby girl is three and a half seasons. So who’s going to lead us into the next century? Junior Derby, Men’s Derby, New WFTDA apprentice leagues, Flat track, banked track, old school rules, new rules, co-ed teams, pickup games, “noobs” and the fucking “Fresh Meat” … the future is bright and it’s full of derby. So show some love to the ones coming up.

Lesson Twenty Three: Are you Bout ready?

Posted on 1:26 PM In: , ,



I had a day before the funeral of my fiancé. Reality still hadn't set in, and it was bout day. In fact, it was my first bout against another team. I was mentally unprepared for anything. It was an away bout in some fucked up old high school gym with particle board taped together to make a track. My mind was a maze, nothing made sense anymore. I was still thinking, maybe this is all a dream. I'll go home and there he will be, waiting at the door. I wasn't focused.




My derby sisters asked if I would still play, but I didn't even have to answer. They could see, there was no other place I could go-nowhere to turn but left. My knees shook. I wasn't thinking about the rules, or the game, or the opponent, or the floor; I wasn't thinking at all. I was there to make big hits. And I did. I was terrible. I spent the whole game on the floor and in the box. This is the conversation I wish I could have had with myself before that first bout, and before every bout.





Real gangsta ass bitches don't flex nuts,



cuz real gangsta ass bitches know they got 'em.



That's not an exact quote…but you know how it goes, you try to be intimidating but it's a little transparent. You hype yourself up all day, then inevitably you play like you played in practice. So we can stop with the bush league psyche-out shit. You're not a raging bull, you're a derby player. Working yourself up to be aggressive can actually hurt your performance on bout day if you're not focusing on the important shit first. Take a deep breath and calm the fuck down. You are a warrior- but you're a smart one. Think first, then annihilate.





Be aware-bear. Knowledge is power. Maybe you did research on the other players, maybe you read the rules five times this week, and maybe you talked strategy with the coaches for hours, maybe you got your whole team together and had a conversation about what you can expect from each of your teammates. And maybe you didn't. Either way, take the time between jams to assess the situation.





In the 30 seconds between jams, find out your penalty count. Know who you'll be on the track with, and study the way the current jam is going. Find the weakness of the other team so you can exploit it. Use a failed jam to recalculate what's not working- and what is.





And I know, you have some concerns that you think are really going to matter. But those are just distractions. For example…you think once the jam whistle blows you'll even notice a crowd? I promise, you won't have time to notice them until the final whistle-pinky swear. Also, please quit bitching about the floor. Once the bout starts, you're stuck with the floor and you're stuck with your gear, so man the fuck up. Accept the things you can't change and let that be something that distracts other people, you have work to do. Don't give yourself any excuse to not succeed.





When it's time to take the track run through this check list to really focus your attention.



Where are your buddies? If you're not the pivot, check in with them- what's the plan? Prepare to get close to your friends. You don't necessarily have to line up together, but you should have a path in mind to pack it up before the jammer gets to you.





Check on the opposing blockers. Size them up, and get in a dominant position on the line. Move your body so close that they move. There, now they are reacting to you and not the other way around.





Find your jammer. What are her strengths? Are you worried she'll have trouble in this pack- or is she a loner? Is she a vet or an alternate jammer? Does she take the outside or fight for the inside line?





Then find the opposing jammer and be thorough. What is she wearing? What do her skates look like? What color is the jammer panty? Is she wiley, are you going to need a partner to block her? Is she going to hit her way through? Is she a speed skater or super agile? Then let her know who you're looking at. Wave at her, or point, tell her you're ready for her. Or… is she in the box? That changes things, go back to the top and get on the same page with your team.





You're a driver, you're a winner. Just before the whistle blows, reassure yourself. You have prepared for this moment. You know what to do and you're going to do it. If you go down you'll get up faster, you'll dominate, and you'll stop the jammer. You're team is the best and no one can beat you.





The truth is, bout day is not as scary as you think it's going to be. It seems that way when you don't know what to expect. You should expect nothing short of the most intense practice you have ever had. You should expect that it will all be over before you know it. Expect to be a little nervous, and expect to overcome it. Expect to wait around for hours. Expect that no one will remember your name; they will remember your team and how well you worked together.





Finally, until bout day get yourself to practice. That's where games are won and lost. You have to imagine when you're there that the other team is practicing just as hard as you. So make it hurt. Push yourself harder. And above all else, focus.


WTF! WFTDA is testing out a new rule set where there’s NO MINORS!? …but I thought refs liked minors? Just kitten, but I feel sorry for the refs if the rules are changed. It’s a fierce look you get when you call a major. Not like Tyra Banks fierce, but like…Are-you-sure?-Because-I-could-come-claw-your-eyeballs-out-if-you’re-not!-type of fierce.
We are the pioneers of modern roller derby. We have to let some change happen to move into the future. I can dig it, just hope we don’t get dysentery along the way. Honestly, my only objection is that I might have to take another rules test. But then, I can be petty.

Before I get to the point, I want to take a second to tell all ref crews everywhere- Thank you! For keeping the game clean and fair. For knowing your shit, and calling us on it. And for… you know, insubordination. In penance, for my fouls, I give you;


The Refs Prayer



Our Ref crew, who art in stripes,



hallowed be thy whistle.



Thy ruling come,



thy will be done,



in scrimmage as it is in bout.



Give us this jam our penalties,



And forgive us our track-cut,



as we forgive those who track-cut against us.



And lead us not into altercation,



but deliver us from foul trouble.



For thine is the track,



the pack and the jammer,



for two minutes at a time.



Good Job.



This whole issue has me thinking about fouls…well, that and the fact that I came one minor from expulsion in our last bout. So here, for your perusal, is a list of foul trouble, and how to avoid or end it.

Failbows

You’re doing one of two things. Either you lead in with your elbows before a hit, or you push off your victim with your chicken wing after you’ve landed a hit. Either way you have to relearn that, because it’s a habit. When you go in for a hit, take your arms out of the equation by pulling them ahead of your torso. Land hits with your body and your hips, not your elbows. Take a few practices off shoulder checks and just use that ass. You could be compensating for weak lateral movement- so work on it.

Sprawling

Getting called for Tripping or a Low block? Work on your four point falls, and tuck like a turtle. In some cases you can avoid a foul by showing a ref that you’re trying to fall small. And work on your foot work- hop like a bunny or skate outside.

Flailing

Flailing is never good, it happens though. Someone hits you off balance and you instantly act like a starfish. Work on your form and your core strength. If you stand up a lot during practice, stop it. Randomly spend time on one foot-arms at your sides-until people at the office start calling you “Flamingo Girl” behind your back, but you don’t care, you don’t flail.

Being a Dick

Passion. That’s your only excuse, and you didn’t think of it until the third shot of tequila at the after-party but now, you are really sorry for that outburst in the second half, and your only excuse for it is passion. So in the future, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. And I’m serious; if you aren’t a captain or alternate, don’t talk to the ref crew until the bout is over. Also, you should probably get laid more often if you’ve got so much passion lying around.

OVER THE LINE!

This is not ‘Nam, there are rules- and lines. You can get yourself in all sorts of foul trouble if you aren’t aware of your position in relation to the track lines. First, you have to really give up the idea that maybe no one saw you cut the track. If they didn’t this time, they will next time. It may seem like the easy route, but making it a habit is a shortcut straight to the box.

Nextly, you have to come correct, when you re-enter the track from the box, you must really come in behind the pack. If you’re re-entering from being blocked out, be certain that you don’t come in ahead of anyone who was in front of you when you went out…and if you aren’t certain, come in behind the pack. Basically, you never want to improve your position on the track by leaving it.

If you’re getting called for out of play penalties it’s because you never give up! But when a jammer is fifteen feet out and gaining speed, you need to really rethink your line of attack. Where are your friends? Go find them.

Those are a few examples but below is a five step program to help us conquer foul trouble.

Step one: Show some respect.

The referees at your practices are volunteers just like you. And they are practicing, just like you. Plus, they have feelings-just like you, and like unicorns. And you wouldn’t scream at a unicorn would you? So don’t be a douchebag, Douchebag.

Step Two: The refs are ALWAYS right.

And before we move on. You’re going to have to get real fucking comfortable with that. Even if you burn an official review, what the ref saw and called is what will stand. So say it with me. The ref is always right. In reality, your job is to play and their job is to determine if you fouled. So do your job and let them do theirs.

Step Three: Read a fucking book.

Read and re-read the rules. Ask questions, do research. Become interested in the rules and use them to your advantage. This is your sport-learn it inside and out.

Step Four: Know thy fouls.

Get very interested in the fouls you get called for. Know what you do wrong so you can correct it. Ask a ref to help you understand the fouls you get. For a few, it will only take a couple humiliating trips to the penalty box before you repent of your foul and change your ways. For the rest of us it’s practice, practice, practice.

Step Five: Sometimes the refs are wrong.

It’s going to happen, you will be called for something you didn’t do. So accept it, and get to the box. Don’t waste time arguing because sometimes you’re wrong. And the refs are always right.

And now for the moral of this story. In all of history, there has never been and never will be another you. Unless you’re a twin… or cloned… then there is kind of another you but generally speaking, you are the only one, whoever gets to be you. Lucky you! And just like we learned last time that your actions are who you are… so will you be remembered. What I’m getting at is, be remembered for all the great things you do, not for being in the box.

…..omg it was sooooo hard to get through that whole post without making a single BOX joke!

It stings. You’re name isn’t listed on the roster or you didn’t make the team. Although you know it’s not, this feeeels personal.

You check the other names on the list, silently cursing each one. You believed you were good enough to make it, and now disappointment sets in. You’re going to need a minute to digest this. It’s ok, take your time. I know. Cry, pout, scream-Get it out. And when you get done chuggin that haterade, get on the track.

“A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do, Nothing else.”

Mahatma Gandhi said that, so did Aristotle and I just said it: All very intelligent individuals. So give yourself a moment to be disappointed that you didn’t make a roster, or the team you wanted, or a league. But don't spend all day. Next take an inventory of your practice habits. Take in some feedback. Then get to work, son.

Above my bed I wrote “You = Your Habits” in big black letters with little stars. So when I wake up every morning, I’m reminded to do the things that I want to be. The stars are just for decoration. I’m reminded that an all-day-hate-a-thon makes me a hater. But a skate-athon? Well, that’s what will put your name on lists.

Remember when we talked about being posi like it’s going out of style? Do that. Instead of focusing on the idea that someone didn’t pick you for their team, find the reasoning in it. Is there anyone who can’t improve? Everyone has something they need to work on.

Focus on your speed, agility, strategy, endurance, thoroughness, teamwork, communication, foot work and foul trouble. Try that Pivot panty on. Triple threat yourself. And try to have a positive fucking attitude! Practice. Practice. Practice.

Be so busy practicing that you forget about the lists. And watch- you start to focus on this moment, this scrimmage, this practice, this drill, that jammer-your coaches will notice. They’ll put a little star right next to your name.

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